Twenty years ago I wrote a short film script to obtain a place on an intensive weekend scriptwriting course and that was me hooked. I was heavily pregnant and easily the least cool person in the room but it didn’t matter. Peter Mullen was one of the speakers and I got to see his short film, ‘The Fridge’ which just blew me away.
2. What drew you to writing a crime novel?
The words flying about at the time were ‘write what you know.’ My life was far from exotic in rural Scotland so I figured that as I was working as a solicitor and had attended the local convent school, I would write a crime novel featuring a former Roman Catholic priest. As a fledgling writer I liked the fact that the police procedural genre would give me a scaffold to hang my words on.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Well, I read quite eclectically as a child. Predictably, I was a massive Enid Blyton fan, particularly the Famous Five. However, I also loved Isaac Asimov’s ‘Caves of Steel’ series, and Jane Austen. I liked the way she focused in on Elizabeth so you could see right inside her head. I became attracted to crime because I always found complex, flawed characters more interesting to read about and I read loads of Ian Rankin, Patricia Cornwall, Peter Robinson, and Caro Ramsay. I also love books with big ideas that make me boggle like those of
Greg Isles, Alastair Reynolds and Peter James (Perfect People).
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to attract the attention of a publisher?
To be honest, I had never really thought about submitting to a publisher direct before. I thought you had to get an agent first. I sent it off to a few and got loads of rejection letters but also some positive feedback from a few which gave me some hope. I decided to have a massive rewrite and then start another book. I had just finished that when someone put up on my writing group Facebook page that Killer Reads were open to submissions. I fired it off never expecting anything to come of it and two weeks later was accepted. I was so shocked!
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel. Do you have a particular favourite one?
I would have to say, DI Farrell. At times he is at war with himself but he strives to do the right thing. He is naturally hot-headed and self-control has been hard won.
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake in your novel?
I was lucky enough to be invited into Dumfries Police Station and allowed to ask heaps of questions. I have also lived most of my life in Dumfries, where the novel is set so that made things easier as did the fact that I practised criminal law for a time in the town. If I came up against something I didn’t know I would research it online.
7. Are the characters in your book based on any in real life?
No, definitely not.
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Fiction Novels out there?
Gosh, scary question! I would say the fact that Farrell is a former practising Catholic priest and ‘technically’ still a priest in the eyes of the Church coupled with the fact that he had a psychotic break when younger give the book a slightly different flavour.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I probably overthink things like Farrell and can struggle to feel at ease in social situations sometimes as he does.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned.
I am writing a second DI Farrell novel and also planning an American serial killer novel and a science fiction novel. I had no notion of writing a serial killer novel but the character arrived in my head and took up residence. I hope there are no psychiatrists reading this!
11. What was your favourite scene to write in Dead Man’s Prayer and why?
The scene set in the abandoned convent as that is where I went to school so I could see it really vividly in my mind.
12. As an up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share.
Well, based on some of my own mistakes along the way, I would say get the first draft bashed out. Don’t get hung up on editing as you go along. No matter how sparkly and shiny you make your prose at some point it will probably be rewritten or cut out entirely so just keep going until you finish. The other thing is to find a likeminded group of writers to celebrate success with and commiserate failures. It will help you to persevere and stay motivated until that acceptance comes through. Above all, do not give up. I nearly did!
Due: 2nd September 2016
Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood fifteen years ago.
With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inextricably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when twin boys go missing. One twin is recovered in an abandoned church. But where is his brother?
Are the two cases linked or is the church just a coincidence? It’s clear someone is playing a sinister game and Farrell can’t help but feel it is directed at him. Either way, it’s a game he needs to win before someone else turns up dead.
Facebook Page: Jackie Baldwin Author