There’s Been a Murder Interview Interview with Deborah Masson

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few. 

Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

How did you get started writing?

I always loved writing as a kid but, as life took over, I left it for a good while. I started writing again when my daughter was two years old. I was at home full-time and wanted something just for me that would keep the old grey matter ticking over whilst she napped. I began scribbling then moved to exploring flash fiction and short stories and then got up the courage to send it out to competitions. I was amazed when I experienced some success.

What drew you to write a novel?

I had embarked on a six-week online Professional Writing Academy course called ‘Introduction to Crime Fiction’ and it ignited a fire in my belly. This led me on to taking the seed of an idea that I created on that short course forward to a Faber online course ‘Write the First 15K of your novel’. By then I was excited to think I might actually be able to write a novel.

Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

I’ve always devoured crime fiction and there are too many writers, past and present, that have influenced my writing for me to be able to narrow it down. There’s a wealth of talent out there but I’m a sucker for a police procedural or a thriller. I guess Mark Billingham’s DI Tom Thorne was the first police procedural series that I was desperate to get my mitts on every book. 

When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I was very lucky in that I sent out the opening chapters to four agents and then got a request for the full MS from my wonderful agent, Oli Munson, at AM Heath. This led to interest and an offer from Random House in Germany, followed by an offer from Transworld UK. It all happened in a matter of months and was a whirlwind to say the least.

There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?

I’d have to say my main character, DI Eve Hunter. She has a special place in my heart. I’ve thrown so much at her and she’s always fought back and taken it on the chin. She’s a strong, determined, capable woman and I admire that about her.

What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novel?

I admit to not doing much research. My debut was born out of years of reading and watching crime. I did have to speak with a specialist at the University of Aberdeen to find out what would happen if your tongue was cut out. I think they were a tad worried it wasn’t purely for research!

Are the characters in your books based on any real in life?

No. I steered clear of that!

Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

It has to be the prologue. It was the first scene I wrote and that’s scene was pivotal for how the rest of the book would go. It was the first thing I posted to the Faber course forum and I was blown away by the tutor and fellow students’ feedback. That prologue largely stayed as it was when it hit the shelves.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

I think I’m quite a determined person and I’ve learned I’m much stronger and more capable than I think at times, so in that sense I do see some of myself in Eve.

If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might have planned?

Book two in the DI Eve Hunter series, OUT FOR BLOOD, will be out in ebook in November 2020, followed by the paperback in December. It explores human trafficking and prostitution in Aberdeen and the glaring divide between the rich and poor. I’m about to start writing book three in the series.

If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Stephen King. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his books for years and own a very battered copy of his writing advice book ‘On Writing’. I love the way he writes and there’s so much to be learned from him – especially when it comes to characterisation and building suspense.

Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?

Make time for it. Place as much importance on it as any other appointment in your week. Keep turning up even on the bad days, but most of all believe.

In the run up to Christmas, a serial killer stalks the streets of Aberdeen . . .

A brutal murder.
A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.
A detective with everything to prove.
This is her only chance to redeem herself.
A serial killer with nothing to lose.
He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun . . .

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, HOLD YOUR TONGUE is your new obsession.

Hold your Tongue Won the 2020 Scottish Crime Debut of the Year at this years Bloody scotland Crime Festival

You can watch a exclusive video of Deborah Masson reading from Hold your Tongue at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDyaL8iKq0g


Amazon Link – Hold Your Tongue: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hold-Your-Tongue-Eve-Hunter/dp/0552176524

A young man, the son of an influential businessman, is discovered dead in his central Aberdeen apartment.

Hours later, a teenaged girl with no identification is found hanged in a suspected suicide.

As DI Eve Hunter and her team investigate the two cases, they find themselves in a tug-of-war between privilege and poverty; between the elite and those on the fringes of society.

Then an unexpected breakthrough leads them to the shocking conclusion: that those in power have been at the top for too long – and now, someone is going to desperate lengths to bring them down…

Can they stop someone who is dead set on revenge, no matter the cost?

Amazon Link – Out For Blood: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Blood-addictive-detective-thriller-ebook/dp/B085RBVZ2L

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deborah_masson?s=11


Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/hold-your-tongue/deborah-masson/9780552176521

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deborah-Masson/e/B07VRT3KW4?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000


There’s Been a Murder Interview with Lexie Conyngham

Lexie Conyngham is a historian living in the shadow of the Highlands. Her historical crime novels are born of a life amidst Scotland’s old cities, ancient universities and hidden-away aristocratic estates, but she has written since the day she found out that people were allowed to do such a thing. Beyond teaching and research, her days are spent with wool, wild allotments and a wee bit of whisky.

1. How did you get started writing?
I think I’ve been writing since I realised you could – I was always scribbling stories, and when I read Agatha Christie when I was eleven, I realised I wanted to write murder mysteries. I’ve never really stopped! I know I have to do other work as well, partly to continue finding inspiration, but writing is what I’ve always wanted to do.

2. What drew you to write a novel
Long-windedness! I find short stories very difficult. Occasionally I find an idea that fits best as a short story or a novella, and I do make myself write short stories regularly as a discipline, but it’s not my place. I did do the requisite awful poetry when I was a teenager, and I’ve tried my hand at radio scripts, but I feel most at home with what I read most – novels. I like complexity in a story and novels give me the room to bring that in.

3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I suppose most of the writers I’ve read have in some sense influenced my style one way or another, even if it’s thinking ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to do it that way’ or ‘I like that but I don’t think it’s me’. I would love to write like Kate Atkinson or Val McDermid, and I admire Jane Austen, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Dunnett and C.J. Sansom. Intelligence and wit always draw me in.

4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I found an agent pretty quickly but we parted company soon after. It was due to illness but I found the whole experience a bit disheartening. This was back in 2011 when ebooks were just starting out, really. Two friends who had just bought their first Kindle basically locked me in their dining room until I agreed to try publishing via Amazon, and they helped me with the tech stuff which seemed pretty daunting then! I put my first two books up, and was rather surprised that people seemed to like them! I love being indie, having the power to choose my own covers and titles, and go with my own schedule, and though I sometimes find publicity daunting I’m prepared to do it for the sake of my independence!

5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
I enjoyed writing the main character, Charlie, because he grows so much in the course of the novel. He thinks a trip to Aberdeen is the greatest adventure he’ll ever have, and he’s quite content with that – he has no idea how much further he’ll have to go.

6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?
Of course I’ve been to Leith Hall and explored the area, as well as visiting Amsterdam, and taking a closer look at the part of Aberdeen where the duel happened. I visited the Tolbooth in Aberdeen which is a great little museum with a view of the very site of the duel. Down in Edinburgh I looked at all the papers that were brought together for the criminal case (some really interesting witness statements!), and went to several museums to look at clothing and household items of the period. I like maps showing me what the surroundings were like at the time – sometimes they’ve changed more than you might expect. And I read lots of books! I always put together a Pinterest board for a new book to collect images that inspire me so when I’m feeling adrift I can quickly take myself back to the right historical period.

7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
In the case of this book, yes, very much so. John Leith and his wife, mother and uncles were all real. Charlie, the main character, existed, but there was very little about him other than his witness statement. I could decide whether he was young or old, brave or timid, kind or cruel … When I use real characters I’m always a little nervous about messing up history, so it’s much more fun to fiddle at the edges of what we actually know.

8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why
I enjoyed writing Charlie’s arrival in Amsterdam, trying to see it through his eyes, a strange and confusing place, and also trying to see the old city past the way it appears now. Charlie is excited and scared, and doesn’t know where to go and whom to trust, but he’s still taking in all the new sights and sounds, learning his new surroundings, and worried that he will never be able to go home, too.

9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I suppose something of me slips into all the characters. I’m a bit like Charlie in that I’m a cat – I like to stay on my own territory at home. And if I had the chance I’d like to be as good a housekeeper as Harriot! She’s a good strong character, the kind of woman who can run her estate with competence and tell others what’s required. I’d like to think there’s a little bit of me in her, too … maybe.

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
I’m working on the twelfth in my Murray series at present, The Dead Chase, and I’ve reached 1820. I’ve given myself a particularly horribly complicated plot, which I’m regretting! It’s set in London, Brighton and Lewes in Sussex, so I’m also on relatively unfamiliar territory. It’s going very slowly!

11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why
Hm, interesting one! It would need to be someone I admired, obviously, and with whom I thought I would get on well … I think it might have to be Dorothy L. Sayers. We have a few interests in common, but I could learn a huge amount from her. I might not so much write with her as sit at her feet and wonder!

12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel
The best advice you can give to a writer is ‘Write!’ Don’t just sit there dreaming of your acceptance speech for the Booker or the Golden Dagger – and don’t put it off till tomorrow. Write something every day. It doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to be down on the page. The more you do, the better you get, the closer you are to your dream.

Latest Novel

See, Charlie, it might be near twenty year since Culloden, but there’s plenty hard feelings still amongst the Jacobites, and no so far under the skin, ken?’
Charlie Rob has never thought of politics, nor strayed far from his Aberdeenshire birthplace. But when John Leith of Leith Hall takes him under his wing, his life changes completely. Soon he is far from home, dealing with conspiracy and murder, and lost in a desperate hunt for justice.

Inspiration for The Slaughter of Leith Hall:

A good friend of mine, from whom I had previously stolen a story about a skeleton, went to work as a guide at Leith Hall, a National Trust property in Aberdeenshire, and came across the story of John Leith, the laird in 1763, who was killed in a duel in Aberdeen. Though it looked very straightforward, the family had always had questions about the incident – why was the duel not properly organised? How had John, a kind and level-headed man, managed to fight with one of his best friends? How many shots had there really been? Why had the killer or killers threatened John’s servant? She thought it would make a great novel, and handed the idea to me on a plate, along with the loan of the printed family history. I was intrigued, and began to have a poke around to see what might actually have happened, and why, and The Slaughter of Leith Hall is the result.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Slaughter-Leith-Hall-Lexie-Conyngham-ebook/dp/B084RRMRJM/ref=sr_1_7?crid=11S00ZFM0JFPL&dchild=1&keywords=lexie+conyngham&qid=1600802861&s=digital-text&sprefix=Lexie%2Cstripbooks%2C201&sr=1-7

Novels Written

The Murray of Letho Series:
Death in a Scarlet Gown
Knowledge of Sins Past
Service of the Heir
An Abandoned Woman
Fellowship with Demons
The Tender Herb
Death of an Officer’s Lady
Out of a Dark Reflection
A Dark Night at Midsummer (novella)
Slow Death by Quicksilver
Thicker than Water
A Deficit of Bones

The Hippolyta Napier Series:
A Knife in Darkness
Death of a False Physician
A Murderous Game
The Thankless Child
A Lochgorm Lament

The Orkneyinga Murders Series:
Tomb for an Eagle
A Wolf at the Gate
Dragon in the Snow

Standalones:
Jail Fever
Windhorse Burning
The War, The Bones and Dr. Cowie


Short Story Collections:
Thrawn Thoughts and Blithe Bits
Quite Useful in Minor Emergencies

Website: https://www.lexieconyngham.co.uk

Blog: https://murrayofletho.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lexie-Conyngham/e/B008XH0YQ2/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Peter Hain The Rhino Conspiracy Blog Tour

A veteran freedom fighter and friend of Mandela is forced to break all his loyalties and oppose the ruling ANC party – a party he’s been a member of all his life – to confront corruption and venality at the very top. As he faces political attacks and sinister threats from a faction in the SA security services the ageing veteran finds his life is now endangered. Recognising the need for help, he recruits a young ‘Born Free’ idealist to assist him. She too is soon drawn into danger as together they stumble upon a clandestine plot at the highest level of government to poach and kill rhino and export their lucrative horns to South East Asia. Intent on catching the poachers and exposing the trade, they manage to install a GPS tracking device inside a perfect replica of a horn which they follow through a diplomatic bag into Vietnam. Anxious that intimidation by the security services will prevent them from exposing the truth, they decide to break cover in UK using a sympathetic British MP to reveal all they know in a House of Commons speech, under parliamentary privilege. But first they must establish the truth. Will they be able to do so, or will they be killed before they can? The stakes are high. Has Mandela’s ‘rainbow nation’ been irretrievably betrayed by political corruption and cronyism? Can the country’s ancient rhino herd be saved from extinction by poachers supported from the very top of the state

About The Rhino Conspiracy by Peter Hain

Crouching high up out of sight when the world watched Nelson Mandela walk to freedom from a prison in the Cape Winelands in February 1990 was a South African army military sniper nobody was ever told about.

He becomes my character ‘The Sniper’ who in middle-age is corralled back into duty to protect a Game Reserve against rhino poacher attacks. And later to be persuaded against his better instincts to deploy his lethal skills against emissaries from the corrupt President behind the poaching.  

The fictional safari park the Sniper helps is inspired by Thula Thula Game Reserve and his employer, ‘The Owner’ by Lawrence Anthony who founded and owned it. 

The Rhino Conspiracy by Peter Hain will be published by Muswell Press in September (£14.99)

You can watch Peter Hain talking about his book The Rhino Conspiracy at https://www.facebook.com/ReadingBetweentheLinesOnlineBookPR and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOOOEWa-kGLkIz_mP5RfRdw?view_as=subscriber

Amazon Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rhino-Conspiracy-Peter-Hain/dp/1916207715/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1600706608&refinements=p_27%3APeter+Hain&s=books&sr=1-1

Labour MP for Neath between 1991 and 2015, Peter Hain was a senior minister for twelve years in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments, where he served as Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and as Leader of the Commons. He was also Europe Minister, Foreign Minister and Energy Minister. He chaired the UN Security Council, and negotiated international Treaties curbing nuclear proliferation and banning the conflict-inducing trade in blood diamonds.

Peter Hain’s childhood was spent in apartheid South Africa, a period that came to an end when his parents were forced into exile in 1966.

A leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Anti-Nazi League in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s, he obtained degrees at Queen Mary College, London, and Sussex University.

Married with two sons and six grandchildren, he is a keen football, rugby, cricket and motorsport fan.

Over nearly 50 years in politics Hain has written or edited twenty-one books – including his biography Mandela (2010), memoirs Outside In (2012), Ad & Wal: values, duty, sacrifice in apartheid South Africa(2014), and Back to the Future of Socialism (2015).  He is also the author of numerous pamphlets and media articles, and has appeared widely on radio and television, as well as being an experienced public speaker.

Website – https://peterhain.uk

Twitter – https://twitter.com/

Publishers Website – https://www.muswell-press.co.uk

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peter-Hain/e/B001HPRWAS?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1600707295&sr=1-1

Lexie Conyngham The Slaughter of Leith Hall Blog Tour

Lexie Conyngham is a historian living in the shadow of the Highlands. Her historical crime novels are born of a life amidst Scotland’s old cities, ancient universities and hidden-away aristocratic estates, but she has written since the day she found out that people were allowed to do such a thing. Beyond teaching and research, her days are spent with wool, wild allotments and a wee bit of whisky.

‘See, Charlie, it might be near twenty year since Culloden, but there’s plenty hard feelings still amongst the Jacobites, and no so far under the skin, ken?’Charlie Rob has never thought of politics, nor strayed far from his Aberdeenshire birthplace. But when John Leith of Leith Hall takes him under his wing, his life changes completely. Soon he is far from home, dealing with conspiracy and murder, and lost in a desperate hunt for justice.

Book Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910926590/?ref=exp_kellysloveofbooks_dp_vv_d&author-follow=B008XH0YQ2&

Excerpt The Slaughter

No doubt this would be the last of these mornings before winter set in properly. Or the

last when they could all be together like this, laughter steaming from their lips in the startling

bright air.

James Abernethy, their host here at Mayen, laughed more than anyone, which was no

bad thing, Charlie Rob thought, for James Abernethy of Mayen was easily the worst shot of all of

them. He was a great affable man, good enough to make sure there was hot wine around the

firing point for the servitors as well as for the gentlemen. Charlie Rob was fairly new to the game

of attending his master, John Leith, in his business and his pleasure, but he had seen enough to

know that servants were not always treated so generously, and he already felt well disposed to

Abernethy of Mayen – not that Abernethy of Mayen was ever likely to notice him.

‘Charlie, reload that, would you?’

Charlie Rob shook himself and took the pistol from his master’s outstretched hand.

‘Aye, sir.’ He was aware of John Leith watching him, a little absently, as he carefully

packed the charge into the pistol. It was a new skill, and his master had taken pains to teach him.

Charlie did not mind being watched: he would rather get it right, and the pistols frightened him.

There was plenty to try to remember in this new job, and though he was doing his best, he was

fairly sure there were mistakes he was making. But if he did make a mistake, John Leith would

be kind enough in his correction.

Leith nodded in satisfaction as Charlie handed the pistol back, and returned to take his

turn with the other gentlemen, their easy gossip punctuated by the metallic pops of shots in the

clear air. Charlie Rob, relieved, felt a nudge at his elbow.

‘Aye, it’s no so bad when your master’s a good shot, eh?’

Charlie grinned, turning. It was Lang Tam beside him, the black haired, skinny servant

of little Matthew Keracher. Keracher was notorious, his shooting almost as bad as Abernethy’s –

in practice like this, at any rate. Lang Tam swore his master was a danger in battle, when his

blood was roused, but it was never clear whether Tam meant a danger to his enemies or his

friends. Matthew Keracher took his place now on the firing point, the pistol already wavering in

his hand. There was a sudden interest from the crowd, both gentlemen and servitors. Was it time to duck?

Read her Blog at http://www.murrayofletho.blogspot.com

Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Author/Lexie-Conyngham-826936964051013/

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lexie-Conyngham/e/B008XH0YQ2/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Rebecca McKinney Siren Song Blog Tour

Rebecca McKinney is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, living and working in Midlothian, Scotland. She shares her home with her husband, two teenagers, three cats, and a growing collection of musical instruments.

A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.

Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

Quick Q and A with Author

What kind of research did you have to undertake for Siren Song?

I have to say, I delved into an awful lot of websites that might now have me on some kind of watch list. I had to read about everything from human trafficking to psychedelic drugs…

Do you have a particular favourite scene in Siren Song and why?

I really love the scene in Harrison’s kitchen where he is making Amy breakfast and she’s questioning him about what it means to be psychic. It’s a meeting of two minds— quite a gentle and domestic scene. I loved writing that.

There are many interesting characters in Siren Song, do you have a particular favourite one?

Harrison, the male protagonist. I drew inspiration from so many of my favourite characters from other books and films and just poured them into him. He’s smart and troubled and quite sexy beneath his slightly geeky intellectual exterior. I love spending time in his company.

If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned to write after Siren Song?

I’m currently working on the follow up to Siren Song with the idea that this will be a three-book series (or more if there is an appetite and I have the energy!). I always have about three or four novel ideas bubbling around in my head at any one time. I’ve got a couple of other more realist/literary projects that are half-finished, which I want to return to at some point.

Excerpt of Siren Song

PROLOGUE

Before dawn, in the coldest hour of the morning, two men launched their inflatable dinghy out of a remote, rocky cove. There was no village here, no fishing boat, only a rutted dirt track and a stony, inhospitable beach. The two men breathed hot vapours into the air and rowed for an hour without speaking, pulling hard against the tide, keeping their strokes as smooth and quiet as possible. If either of them had qualms about the nature of their task, they harboured them in solitude.

Far from shore, they started the outboard motor. The lights of the land faded and a swell began to rise around them. Half an hour later, they cut the motor, searched the night for other boats and listened hard for any signs that they were not alone. They saw only faint starlight reflecting from the rolling hills of water and heard the only slap of waves against the boat.

Their inert passenger lay in the bottom of the boat, clothed in an anonymous grey tracksuit. The two men manhandled the body overboard and watched it slip into a trough between waves. There were so many bodies drifting about in this sea now, one more made no odds. The whole Mediterranean had become a mass grave, a purgatory for thousands of nameless, unidentifiable refugees. This one wasn’t nameless or a refugee, but who would know the difference? 

The hair had been cut off and the water would disfigure the features and discolour the skin. Possibly the fish or the birds would feast on the flesh before it became too putrid.

The younger of the two men wasn’t religious but he prayed for the body to float out to sea and for the soul to float up to heaven, and he prayed that this evil business would not blow back at him later. When he’d finished praying, he spat into the water and picked up his oars. The body rose high on the shoulder of a wave and sank again. Within a couple of minutes, it was gone.

Amazon Link to Buy Siren Song

There will be a special promotion during the blog tour of Siren Song where you can buy the ebook for 0.99p

Twitter @BexMcKinney

Instagram @Bexmck1971

Website rlmckinney.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-McKinney/e/B08FRRH2NG/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

There’s Been a Murder Interview with Rebecca McKinney for Launch of Siren Song

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

Amazon Siren Song Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08FDWX713/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

Rebecca McKinney was born in Boulder Colorado, raised in Northern California, and has spent her adult life in Scotland. She is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, and lives near Edinburgh.

1. How did you get started writing?


When I was nine or ten, I wrote and illustrated a mythical story for a local library competition, and won! To be fair, I may have been the only entrant. I’ve been writing ever since.

2. What drew you to write a novel


I love creating characters, stories and worlds and then escaping into them. I suppose, being an introvert, it’s sometimes easier for me to spend time in the company of fictional people. I finished my first novel in my late twenties, but it remains unpublished. Call it a practice piece!

3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?


Many. I grew up in the United States and have lived in Scotland for twenty-six years, so I draw on both American and Scottish literary traditions. There are some similarities— the close linking of people and place, the gritty realities of life, the celebration of people whose stories might otherwise go unnoticed. In high school, I read a lot of Steinbeck, and he’s always there. But so too are Scottish writers like Iain Banks, William McIlvanney and AL Kennedy. Khaled Hosseini, for his ability to write about the heart-wrenching realities of war and displacement in a way that is still beautiful and hopeful. Barbara Kingsolver. I also draw on a lot of fantasy, which I read so much of as a young person.

4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I tried to find a publisher for my first novel, without success. That’s probably for the best, because it wasn’t ready. Writing is like any other craft: it takes a lot of time and practice to hone your skill. A lifetime, really. Very few people get it right on the first go. I feel so lucky to have found Sandstone Press, the wonderful Scottish indy who published Blast Radius and The Angel in the Stone. They’re not big commercial stories. I write the stories that interest me, rather than the ones I think will land me a huge deal.

5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?

Harrison, the male protagonist. I drew inspiration from so many of my favourite characters from other books and films and just poured them into him. He’s smart and troubled and quite sexy beneath his slightly geeky intellectual exterior. I love spending time in his company.

6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?


I have to say, I delved into an awful lot of websites that might now have me on some kind of watch list. I had to read about everything from human trafficking to psychedelic drugs…

7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

No— they’re purely fiction, although I have certainly drawn on a few quirky folks I’ve met over the years for inspiration. The previous two, Blast Radius and The Angel in the Stone, are about different aspects of trauma and grief. Real and difficult stuff. One of my motivations for writing a crime novel with a psychic theme was that it allowed me to break away from reality a little bit while still exploring some pretty dark themes.

8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why

I really love the scene in Harrison’s kitchen where he is making Amy breakfast and she’s questioning him about what it means to be psychic. It’s a meeting of two minds— quite a gentle and domestic scene. I loved writing that.

9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?


Absolutely. I think to write authentic characters, you always have to invest your own emotional experiences and quirks into them. As as I once heard Bruce Springsteen say about his songs, they’re not about me, but they are at least partly ‘emotionally autobiographical’.

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.

I’m currently working on the follow up to Siren Song with the idea that this will be a three-book series (or more if there is an appetite and I have the energy!). I always have about three or four novel ideas bubbling around in my head at any one time. I’ve got a couple of other more realist/literary projects that are half-finished, which I want to return to at some point.


11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why


I don’t actually think I could write a novel with another person, no matter who they were. The process is such a deeply personal one: a love affair between the writer and their own creations. I wouldn’t want to have to share that!


12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel

Read, write, read, write, repeat. Read widely and diversely. Read poetry, because it helps you learn rhythm and pacing, which is important in novels too. Just keep writing, and don’t let anyone tell you to stop!

Other Novels

The Angel in the Stone (Sandstone Press, 2017)

Blast Radius (Sandstone Press, 2015)

Links


Website – rlmckinney.wordpress.com

Twitter – @BexMcKinney

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/R-L-McKinney/e/B00K3LNXLY?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

There’s Been a Murder Interview with Leela Soma

Leela Soma was born in Madras now called Chennai, in India and arrived in Glasgow in 1969. So she claims both India and Scotland to be her home. That dual heritage often is reflected in her writing, both in prose and poetry. She worked as a Principal Teacher of Modern Studies and started to write after retirement. When she is not writing she likes to travel, read a lot, does a bit of yoga or gentle exercise and has rather a lot of coffee morning or lunches with friends.

1. How did you get started writing?

I always loved reading. We were fortunate to be surrounded by books from early childhood. Dad used to take us to Higginbotham’s in Madras, the oldest bookstore and treated us to books. As for writing it started while I was teaching. I used to write pieces of satire as more and more ridiculous policy changes appeared on a regular basis in education. For example Munn and Dunning became ‘Munch and Dunkin’ and I enjoyed writing these short pieces for my teacher friends. I discovered I enjoyed writing so took up some Creative Writing classes at Glasgow University, then joined Strathkelvin Writers Group who encouraged me immensely to pursue my love of writing.

2. What drew you to write a novel?

The main reason for writing was to fill the void in the book shop shelves which had very few Asian writers and even fewer Scottish Asian books. I also was spurred on when I won the Margaret Thomson Trophy at Strathkelvin Writers Group, mentioned above, for New Writing. The adjudicator Robin Lloyd-Jones said to me ‘most writers start a novel but make sure you finish it.’ So I took his advice and completed my first novel ‘Twice Born.’

3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

As a school girl I read Richmal Crompton, Enid Blyton, Daphne Du Maurier and the Indian superb collection of legends on gods, goddesses, and myths in the various editions of Amar Chitra Kath. I also read Agatha Christie, but world literature is so interesting from Salman Rushdie, Elif Shafak, Isabel Allende, and many others. For crime genre I do like Ian Rankin, Hakkan Nesser, and I do enjoy Alex Gary’s novels.

4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

I was rather naive and had no idea about the publishing industry at all. Just as I finished my first book Arts Council England offered publishing on ‘You Write On’ and I published ‘Twice Born,’ on that. While I was writing that novel a photo in The Times newspaper caught my attention and I started novel 2 immediately. I was lucky that it was picked up immediately by a small independent publisher in England so ‘Bombay Baby’ was published by Dahlia Publishing. Now Ringwood Publishers will be publishing ‘Murder at the Mela’ novel three.

5. There are many interesting characters in your book; do you have a particular favourite one?

I think the main protagonist DI Patel is my favourite, as he’s just started and I can see him progressing through the ranks and trying to solve his personal life too. Lots of interesting storylines there as my novel is very much character led. 

6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your book? 

Quite a lot, to be honest. Police Scotland have a lot online about some of their procedures but it is nothing like getting information from the ‘horse’s mouth’. I am very fortunate to have had a lot of help from a retired Detective Chief Inspector to detective Constables and also helped by officers working now in the ‘productions’ side of a murder enquiry.

7. Are the characters in your book based on any real life?

None at all but as all fiction is based on fragments of characters and idiosyncrasies of people one has met it seeps into your consciousness and surfaces as one writes.

8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

I relished writing the scene of the party when Patel’s family celebrates his promotion as an Inspector. It gives a good introduction to his strong character and the views of the Asian community on choosing a career in the police force.

9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

Not really. This is pure fiction and characters formed in my mind as I wrote them and they have a life of their own. They are more interesting than me!

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned?

This is the very first crime novel I have attempted, but I would like to write more in this series. I’ve a few interesting plotlines for DI Patel in my notebook. Would any publisher be interested or readers want more? We have to wait and see.

11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I love Alex Gary’s novels so I would be thrilled if she would be willing to write a novel with me. Perhaps Detective Chief Superintendent Lorimer and DI Patel could meet up on an important case in the future?

12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?

Read, read, read and write a lot. And believe in yourself.

Other Novels Available

Although a romantic at heart, Sita consents to an arranged marriage to a medic Ram and starts her new life in Glasgow. Her feisty, confident, vivacious personality wins her friends. ‘Here comes chapatti and curry,’ laughs the big guy of the tipsy duo.’ Aye and what are you, mince and tatties?’ retorts Sita, ‘Learnt the patter, hen?’ smiles the big guy. It is in contrast to the introverted Ram who says little, seems obsessed with his work, politics and cooking. He is content, a pragmatist, not for him the gush of desperate love. ‘Saying I love you, is a western concept, it’s unnecessary,’ he states. Sita yearns for more. Incompatible in every way, yet, they stay together. The unplanned birth of their daughter Uma brings them closer. Though there is no love in the marriage, there is mutual respect. ‘Twice born’ peels away the layers and presents the simmering progress of their life in Glasgow. Their struggle is heightened by her family’s rosy view of ‘life abroad’.

Some elders in the Glasgow, living in a time warp resent any change in their perceived idea of Indian culture. Aunty BB, a gossipmonger and hypochondriac is the bane of Sita’s life. BB clings to her like a leech directing her bile in broken English on all, claiming to uphold the Indian culture. ‘Shameless girls, showing, showing skin, mini skirt bad, all forget everything Indian, I blame parents,’ is her rant. Straddling the two cultures, putting down her roots while not forgetting her own liberal family values steeped in an ancient culture is a delicate balance for Sita.

Glasgow in the 1970’s, the soot encrusted, blackened, smudged city creeps into Sita’s soul. As it unravels its beauty as the European City of Culture, she develops affection for it and a feeling of belonging deepens. As the family searches for its identity, Scotland’s political future parallels with its fight for its own Parliament. Ram’s interest as a SNP activist gives a unique perspective to a changing Scotland. ‘What’s the use of Indian politics? We’re living here, this is what matters. An Independent Scotland is the future.’ Ram’s challenge to Indian friends, fall on deaf ears as Indian politics interests them more.

In an unexpected twist in her life, a middle aged Sita falls in love with Neil, a new colleague at work. Her heart yearns for the life of love with Neil but the freight of family and the fear of the Indian community’s reaction leaves her in a quandary. Glasgow, an upside down world now becomes her hesitant new reality. Neil, Sita’s soulmate tries to persuade her to leave all she knows and loves, the hardest decision of her life. Could she face the life ostracised by the close- knit community that had stood by her? She is truly ‘twice born,’ entwined in two cultures enriched by the Indian womb that had nurtured her soul and the Scottish cradle that had nurtured her being, her heritage unique.

The ‘baby’ of the title is Tina who sets off to find her biological mother and in so doing another ‘Bombay Baby’ is uncovered and lives are changed. Tina’s adventure is well-plotted and the reader is led through Bombay’s busy streets, through wealth and poverty in the search for her mother. The girl grows up and finds peace. A great read and worthy of a place alongside any modern fiction.

Tartan & Turmeric is her latest collection of poems. It was nominated for The Pushcart Prize. 2020 and shortlisted for The Erbacce Prize out of 9000 submissions! An eclectic collection of poems that reflect the Indo -Scot heritage of the author.

Murder at the Mela available for Pre Order from https://www.ringwoodpublishing.com/murder-at-the-mela-tartan-noirs-next-classic/

Newly appointed as Glasgow’s first Asian DI, Alok Patel’s first assignment is the investigation of the brutal murder of Nadia, an Asian woman. Her body was discovered in the aftermath of the Mela festival in Kelvingrove Park. During the Mela, a small fight erupted between a BNP group and an Asian gang, but was quickly quelled by police.

When Nadia is accused of having an affair with a local man, even more questions about her death arise. Was her murder a crime of passion, or was it racially motivated? Could it be an honour killing? The deep-rooted tensions within Glasgow’s Asian communities bubble to the surface as DI Patel struggles with his parents, who disapprove of his relationship with his Muslim partner, Usma.

As DI Patel struggles to gain any help from the Asian community, another body is discovered in the West End- the body of a white man. Is this new murder fuelled by revenge? Killed by an Asian gang? As the list of murder suspects grows, DI Patel finds himself grappling with the pressures of his new rank, including the racism of at least one fellow officer.

This novel peels away the layers of Glasgow’s Asian communities, while exploring the complicated relationships between Asian people and the city.

It is also an entertaining crime story in its own right, and adds an exciting new author to the ranks of Tartan Noir, and a fascinating new Detective to the fictional pantheon of Scottish police investigators.

Links

Website: https://leelasoma.wordpress.com/blog/

Twitter: @glasgowlee

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leela-Soma/e/B00412LLCE/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

There’s Been a Murder Interview with Kerry Watts

Kerry Watts was born and grew up in a small town in the East of Scotland where she still lives today. She is always writing and carries a little notebook and pen with her wherever she goes because at her age ideas need to be captured before they disappear. She began writing over twenty years ago after reading Isla Dewar’s book Giving up on Ordinary and decided she wanted to do that. Becoming a best selling author is a dream come true.


Kerry specialises in crime fiction because she enjoys pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human. The nature versus nurture debate fascinates her. She loves to put her characters in impossible situations just to see what happens. Her experience as a psychiatric nurse heavily influences her writing. She also wants to create characters that people can relate to who might be facing the same struggles as anyone else.
Authors who inspire her are anyone capable of creating a character who lives inside her head long after she has closed the book.

Her favourite fictional character’s are Dexter Morgan, created by Jeff Lindsay as well as Hannibal Lechter created by Thomas Harris. She doesn’t have a favourite genre as a reader. Kerry will read anything. Written by anyone. If the blurb has a good feel about it she’s hooked.
When she’s not writing she loves to spend time following her other passions – dogs, particularly rescue mutts and horse racing. The sight of a thoroughbred race horse at full stretch has been known to move her to tears, not just lump in the throat stuff but full on blubbing. And for that she is unashamed. One day she’s going to buy a racehorse filly and call her Into Darkness.


She also had a small role in a film called The Rocket Post but decided acting wasn’t for her. She would rather create a character than play one. All of her books are brought to you through the super powers of Tetley tea.

1.How did you get started in Writing and what drew you to write a novel?

Great question. I got started because when my daughter was a baby almost twenty five years ago, I read a book called Giving up on Ordinary by Isla Dewar who quickly became my favourite author and I had a sense that I’d like to do that. I wrote several terrible books and shorts stories over the years, but I think and hope that time and experience has ironed out most of the terrible bits. When I began I read an article about a single mum, which I was at that time, who used to write in a local café because it was warmer than her flat. She really inspired me. Her name was JK Rowling – I wonder whatever happened to her!

2.Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

I think I’m inspired a lot by the Harlan Coben school of ending chapters on cliff-hangers. I also write in a very simple, easy to read kind of way, a lot like James Patterson and many others. In a third person narrator way. I like to be told a story, so I suppose that’s reflected in the way I write.

3.When you first started writing did you find it hard to get a publisher interested?

In a word Yes! I believe had it not been for the explosion of Kindles and self-publishing I would not be where I am today. Starting out in self-publishing helped me gain a small following which helped me gain a publisher. Having a social media presence also helps. 

4.There are many interesting characters in your novels, do you have a particular favourite one?

5.It would be wrong not to say Jessie Blake. She is a character who in some ways is closest to me. She looks like me which makes it easy to remember how she looks. I also love Chardonnay as much if not more than her!

6.What kind of research have you had to undertake for your novels?

I usually incorporate some form of mental health problems into my books purely because this is what I know. I trained as a psychiatric nurse many years ago. Other research is done through asking friends and my old friend google. I have learned so much over the years.

7. Are the characters in your books based on real life?

Not always but I have just written a very dark book with a character loosely based on the serial killer Aileen Wuornos. 

8.Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

My love of horse racing makes the scene near the end of Her Secret Past when Rachel is saddling her horse at Perth races is one of my favourites. I could see it and smell it like I was there. Another favourite was the unmasking of Daniel in Heartlands, when Tom arrives on Rob’s driveway and says, ‘Hello Daniel.’ It gave me goose bumps to write because I’d planned it in my head for so long. I literally made my stomach flip.

9.Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

The way Jessie needs to see things through is a bit like me. If I’ve got something on my mind, a challenge that needs sorting, I can’t settle until it’s done. I can’t imagine what I’d be like as a detective. I’d probably never sleep. 

10.If you can, would you give us a sneak peek into any future novels you might have planned?

I have so many projects on the go I wouldn’t know where to start. I have recently written some books with several unusual characters playing out some unusual stories. Some crime and some psychological thrillers. 

11.If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d probably love the chance to co-write with Harlan Coben, the reason for choosing him I can’t explain.

12.Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?

A first draft isn’t perfect no matter whether you’re a first timer or an experienced writer. Just get it down. It can be edited and tinkered with later. Enjoy writing your story. You have to believe in it or nobody else will. If it bores you it will bore others.

Novels

Jessie Blake Series

Heartlands – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07M5KPPJ9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i1

Her Missing Child – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07VJNKXYZ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i2

Her Secret Past – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0813N28BD/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

Joe Barber Series

Into Darkness – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07CJHTZZ2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i3

Under Dark Skies – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07PN339NF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

Links

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kerry-Watts/e/B01F7D6T5E/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Website – http://kerrywatts.simplesite.com