Crime author strikes again with award honour

Author Alan '˜AJ' Wright has murder in mind as he is the running for a top prize in a prestigious crime writing competition.

Thursday, 29th September 2016, 11:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:47 pm
Alan 'AJ' Wright

Author Alan ‘AJ’ Wright has murder in mind as he is the running for a top prize in a prestigious crime writing competition.

The 65-year-old, who lives in Croston, has been shortlisted by the CWA (Crime Writers Association) to win the Endeavour Historical Dagger, for his book Striking Murder.

The novel is part of a series called The Lancashire Detective, all set in Victorian Wigan.

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Alan Wright's book Striking Murder

His next literary piece, Elementary Murder, is to be released in January.

Alan, who grew up in Hindley, said he owes his success to his local paper Wigan Observer, who published his early works as part of a writing competition back in 1995. But it was his love of comics that started it all off.

He said: “Reading Beano and Dandy made me want to be a writer and I started to do my own. I had a captive audience of one - my younger brother.

“My parents were readers of crime fiction and they were engrossed in the likes of Agatha Christie.

Alan Wright's book Striking Murder

“Life intervened and I started to teach English at Whitley High School and Standish High School. I took early retirement in 2008 and became an education consultant.

“One of my first things to be published was a Christmas story which I sent off to Wigan Observer in 1995.

“I was amazed when they published it.

“I then won a few competitions in the Lancashire and Wigan Evening Posts.

“So I began writing more and my first book - Act of Murder - was published in 2010. I won the Dundee International Fiction Prize, which was the biggest prize in the UK for unpublished authors.”

Growing up in Wigan heavily influenced the father-of-three, with Striking Murder based on a crime in the mines. His own grandfather, William Wright, died as he fell down a mine in 1903.

Alan said: “The book is set in 1893 in the middle of the devastating miners strike from July to November that year.

“In the novel, Arthur Morris is one of the coal owners who demands workers take a pay cut. He is later found murdered in Scholes, which was not a good place for him to be as it was full of working class people and he was not popular there.

“There are lots of suspects and it is a traditional who-done-it.

“I am a huge fan of the golden age of detective fiction. A lot of the settings are very cosy and middle class in London, so I wanted to choose somewhere like Scholes in Wigan which is a very uncosy place. I am fascinated by the history of my home town.

“It is about time murders moved form London to Wigan.”

The winner of the Endeavour Historical Dagger will be announced at a glamorous awards bash in London on October 11.

Alan, who has three grandchildren, said: “I was absolutely amazed when I got the message I had been shortlisted. I have an agent, who has been a great help in getting me a book deal with publishers Allison & Busby,

“It is a great list to be nominated and the others shortlisted are very good.”

Dea Parkin, CWA secretary, said: “The CWA is delighted for all our Dagger shortlisted authors.

“Alan’s novel is terrific and we wish him every success at the awards. I’ve already started reading Striking Murder and can recommend it.”