Life of crime pays for journo turned author

Crime author Tony Black has returned to Australia after successfully publishing a series of crime novels.
Crime author Tony Black has returned to Australia after successfully publishing a series of crime novels.

WHEN Tony Black packed up his Warrnambool home five years ago, he returned to Scotland with one dream - to become a published author.

Now the former The Standard journalist has relocated back Down Under with that dream achieved.

Black is the author of four crime books starring Gus Dury, a washed-up journo with a serious alcohol problem and a knack for sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.

With each tome, Black's star has risen in the UK. His latest, Long Time Dead, even comes with a glowing quote on the front from Irvine "Trainspotting" Welsh proclaiming Black to be "his favourite British crime writer".

"That just blew me away," Black said.

"I've been a huge Irvine Welsh fan for years so to get that kind of backing is amazing. It still doesn't seem real."

Long Time Dead, which was launched in Melbourne this month, sees Dury going up against a Skull and Bones-type society that is leaving a trail of bodies at an Edinburgh university.

"I looked into a lot of the background to some of these American outfits like Skull and Bones," he said of his research.

"I have to say it wasn't very interesting - it seemed like a lot of school-boy nonsense. If there's people in power taking this garbage seriously then the world's in worse shape than I thought."

His preparations for the book also took him to a local Masonic Lodge, where he was invited to dinner and received a friendly request that the Freemasons wouldn't turn up in his book.

"I haven't heard another word (from them), thankfully," Black laughed.

His next project will see the debut of a new character - Detective Inspector Rob Brennan - as Black gives Dury a rest and tackles the police procedural genre.

"I'd never really had that much interest in writing a police procedural, I love them on television, but have struggled to get into them as novels.

"This one really wrote itself though and my editor and agent both think it's the best thing I've done so far, so I must have been onto something."

Black said he has another Scottish crime novel on his contract, as well as a novella that he's going to set in Australia.

He said he hoped his return to Australia? - he's now living in Melbourne - will provide inspiration for more "Aussie-set novels".