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Dundee's female answer to Rebus: Meet Shona McKenzie

Dundee's female answer to Rebus: Meet Shona McKenzie

How far would you go to see your own novel published?

For one Dundee author the answer is simple: set up your own publishing company.

Wendy H. Jones, 53, could have the female version of Ian Rankin's super sleuth on her hands. So why she couldn't find a publisher is a mystery that not even Rebus could crack.

Instead of getting down about it Wendy took matters into her own hands, setting up Scott and Lawson Publishing, and her first book will be published later this month.

"I set up my own company, firstly to publish this book but also to give other people the chance to get their work out there too," Wendy told STV Dundee.

"The big six publishing companies aren't looking at any manuscript unless you've self-published first. They want to pick up people like E.L. James who wrote 50 Shades of Grey.

"It’s so hard to get your foot in the door."

Killer's Countdown is the first in what will hopefully be an eight-part series featuring DI Shona McKenzie, a grumpy and cynical but charismatic Dundonian detective.

  (Wendy Jones)
via STV via STV

Struggling to deal with her job and earn the respect of her colleagues after a recent promotion, the last thing DI Shona McKenzie needs is the hardest case of her life.

But that, and a whole lot more, is exactly what's waiting for her when she returns to Dundee after spending nearly all of her life in Oxford, having moved there at the age of two.

"She’s just moved back to Dundee from Oxford, although she is from Dundee originally," Wendy said.

"She was two when she first moved to Oxford as her father was a lecturer at the university. When she moves back, her husband leaves her so she’s got a bit of a love-hate relationship with men but she does have a thing with Procurator Fiscal.

"People who've read it in advance say that she comes across as being sharp and fair. She’s not based on anybody I know, just an amalgam of people in my life – I've met quite a few."

After leaving school Wendy joined the Royal Navy and undertook nurse training before joining the Army.

She served for 17 years, even reaching the prestigious rank of Major.

After undertaking postings in Hong Kong, Germany and Israel, Wendy left the military to pursue a career in academia, lecturing in nurse education and education.

  (Wendy Jones)
via STV via STV

Returning to Dundee

Like her character Shona, Wendy has recently returned to Dundee and said she was determined to set the novel here.

"I wanted the book to be set here because I'm from Dundee, and although we do have another few crime writers, the place isn't awash with them," she said.

"But Dundee is a great place to write about; it’s got anomalies, it got good areas and bad areas, and the people are lovely.

"I have to say that Tayside police have been absolutely brilliant in giving me lots of information - and the local police sergeant is even coming to the book launch."

Killer's Countdown has already acquired positive reviews and Wendy has been named Upcoming Crime Author of the Month on the There's Been A Murder blog.

And another author, Liz Strachan, was also very praising when giving her assessment of the book.

She said: “Set in Dundee, this is no run of the mill detective novel. The all action plot is unique and so are the characters.

"DI Shona McKenzie is grumpy, cynical and work-obsessed but yet she has charisma, and her subordinates and the reader love and respect her.”

High praise indeed.

The book is available online and the printed copy will be launched at Waterstones in Dundee on November 17.

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