R.M. Greenaway had to write 12 crime novels before she could finish the first one.
The Nelson author, who has been concocting an elaborate North Vancouver milieu for her RCMP Constable Cal Dion mystery novel series for the last 25 years, was recently awarded The Unhanged Arthur award for best unpublished manuscript. The judges selected her book Cold Girl, which is the introduction to the series, for the top prize.
“I really didn’t expect to win,” said Greenaway during a recent interview with the Star. “I know it’s a really competitive field.”
The award, which came with a cash prize, will likely catapult Greenaway towards publication. Since the announcement of her win she’s been taking meetings with agents and publishers, but hasn’t settled on one in particular yet.
“I’m meeting with agents and I’m hoping they’ll help me figure it out,” she said.
Greenaway said her protagonist started as a sidekick in her imagination, but as she worked on fleshing out his world he started to “take over”.
“Dion is a young detective with a bright past and a dark future, after a car crash has left him a stranger in his own body. He’s dogged, and smarter than he thinks, and he’s good. He doesn’t quite know it yet, but he is. That’s why I like him,” said Greenaway.
Cold Girl tells the story of his struggle to recuperate from the accident. He’s posted to a northern community near Smithers.
“For this story he’s been dispatched to the Hazeltons to look for a missing girl,” said Greenaway. “He’s having a hard time and basically he’s just trying to come back.”
Greenaway said her manuscript may not have existed were it not for a workshop she took with writers Deryn Collier and Holley Rubinksy last summer.
“They convinced me to go back to the start,” she said. “I’m glad I did because they really helped me hammer it into shape.”
Reached for comment, Collier praised Greenaway’s book.
“Her manuscript stood out from the get-go. She’s a naturally talented writer. Her characters are dark and understated and they often make bad choices, which makes for very compelling reading. I’m just thrilled to see Rachel win this award. It is so well-deserved, and I’m delighted to have been part of her journey,” she said.
The Unhanged Arthur is given out annually by the Crime Writers of Canada. For more information visit crimewriterscanada.com.