Charlie Wiggs is a quiet, unassuming accountant who has worked in a Glasgow firm for thirty years.
When he agreed to look after a package for a work colleague he didn’t expect to be flung from the roof of a forty storey building. He didn’t intend to be caught up in a world of money laundering and blackmail. Nor did he ever think he would find himself being hunted by a vicious criminal gang.
Forced to flee for his life Charlie is reluctantly joined by George, a maintenance man and George’s girlfriend – Tina.
The trio find themselves falling into a world that they are ill equipped to deal with. A world populated by criminals and death. A world that gives them three choices – to run, to die or to fight back…
When it comes to revenge – timing is everything. Enter the world of a Glasgow criminal as he rises to become one of the most powerful crime lords in the UK, only to have it all ripped away from him. Imprisoned, then reduced to a life on the street, he becomes hell bent on vengence.
Craig McIntyre, ex US military turned bodyguard, has a powerful and uncontrollable affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action.
When a US senator sees the unique potential to create the ultimate assassin he orders a covert agency to capture Craig and Craig’s wife, Lorraine.
In an attempt to mould him into a lethal weapon, the senator has Craig drugged and tortured and forces him to witness Lorraine’s murder.
Craig escapes and, distraught at the death of his wife, he vows to kill the senator. But he has to act fast because the agency has orders to hunt him down and bring him back: dead or alive.
1. How did you get started writing?
When I was a kid I used to love writing short stories but my ambition to become a writer kicked off when I read James Herbert’s ‘The Fog.’ Until then I’d been reading books such as the Hardy Boys or even Nancy Drew. When I was fifteen I was on holiday at my Gran’s and one day she asked if I wanted any books from the library. Being a lazy teenager I nodded my head. She returned with ‘The Fog’ and my eyes were opened to the world of adult literature.
2. What drew you to crime fiction?
I wasn’t drawn to the genre. It found me. When I started my first novel I had one line in my head – ‘Falling is the last thing I wanted to do.’ In turn it was a criminal who was throwing the main protagonist off a building and it morphed into a crime book. Until then I was until then, a reader of thrillers and books of facts.
3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Crime writers have not influenced me as such. My main influences have been authors such as Stephen King, Larry Niven, Tom Sharpe, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Lee Child etc. I’m a page-turner kind of guy.
4. Out of the three books you have written so far, which one has been your favourite and why
My newest one – ‘The Catalyst’. It’s an ‘out and out’ thriller. I set it in Iraq and the USA and it’s written from an American’s point of view. I changed my writing style a little to accommodate this and the words flew out. I wrote it in the first person and in the present tense to give the narrative both focus and drive. I also introduce Craig McIntyre – a man with a powerful and uncontrollable affliction; his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action. I’m writing the follow up to this and if it gets traction I can see Craig becoming my central character.
5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
Roll on thirty years from reading ‘The Fog’ and I have a stack of novels, short stories and other material scattered across the house. By now I’m finishing a jobas Marketing Director of STV and decide to give myself one last shot at getting published. I set a target of writing a novel from scratch over the summer of 2008. I finish ‘Falling’ the day before the kids head back to school. I tidy it up over the next month and send it to four publishers – and one of them picks it up.
6. Did you find the experience of writing your first novel an easy task or a quite daunting one?
I found it quite easy but I had done a fair amount of writing up to that point. I simply set out to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day and stuck to that schedule. I had no plan. No blueprint. I wrote for three months and then stopped. I left it alone for a few weeks and then edited it for a month before sending it off.
7. Why did you decide to set your books in Glasgow?
Two reasons. In the first instance it makes it easier to write. I know Glasgow well and when I’m describing people moving around the landscape it comes naturally. By setting it in Glasgow I don’t have to remember the geography of a strange city. It’s all in my head. Secondly Glasgow has a grit and history to it that gives my first two books a great backdrop. It may no longer be ‘No Mean City’ but it still has that air about it.
8. If you can can you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned
Craig McIntyre is embarking on another adventure in a new book. I’m starting where the last one finished and having fun giving him a bad time.
9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book
Mostly it’s my imagination. Although the one thing I do like to do is to place the action in places I know something about. I recently attended the Left Coast Crime Festival in Colorado Springs and Craig will probably make a visit. It means I’m giving the narrative a real background. One that I can see in my mind and I think this helps bring the story to life. The other big aid is the internet. In The Catalyst the action moves across America and although I had been to many of the places Google Street-view was a great tool to fill in the gaps.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Probably but not on anyone who would recognise themselves. I find characterization is an amalgam of many people’s traits but in the end there is more of me in them than anyone else.
11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice
Not really. Most authors plough their own field. That’s not to say that if you are stuck or have a question that they won’t help. On the other hand editors and publishers are full of advice.
12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Yes. Although people make the mistake of thinking that every one of my character’s words, deeds or thoughts reflect mine. I sometimes get comments about something a character has done or said and I’m asked if that’s what I’d do or say. The simple answer is maybe. But imagination is a wonderful thing. Look at Facebook or Twitter – some people have invented whole new personas that they live out online. How much of it is true is another matter.
13. In your book 59 Minutes it is written as if the main character is giving you an autobiography of his life, as it easier to write like this or do you find it easier to write novels where someone else is telling the story
I love first person. Mamie Lang, the then writer in residence for Glasgow South, told me, many years ago, that first person was for me. It gives pace and focus. Although it has its challenges. When you write this way you are creating a world as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist. As such you have to be quite inventive to give the reader a helicopter view when they need it.
14. At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest
I’m not sure that I can answer that as I’m not sure that where a book is set is that crucial. I think it gives flavour and a canvas to write on but for me it’s about the story. On top of that my new book moves from Basra to LA to Florida and the only connection with Scotland is that Craig’s mum is from Glasgow. In addition it is a thriller and not a crime novel – so it is all change.
15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
The real change in my approach was after reading Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’. That gave me an approach to writing that so far had eluded me. I’d recommend it to any writer. From this I took four pieces of advice that have served me well.
a) Start writing. As soon as you put finger to keyboard you move from the phrase ‘I am going to write a book’ to ‘I’m writing a book’ – that is a huge mental wall to overcome. And if you share this fact with friends and family it spurs you on to complete it – as they will ask you how you are getting on.
b) Set yourself a target – a hundred words a day, a thousand words a day, five thousand words a week and try to stick to it. I’m not advocating writing for the sake of writing but it works for me as it disciplines me to sit down and over the weeks, as the word count grows, you can see your goal getting closer.
c) Keep reading. Inspiration comes from stimulus and the best stimulus you can find is in other people’s work. Although there can be a downside – I’m reading William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw and you can get a little depressed when you compare the quality of his writing – but it’s also a driver to improve my writing.
d) Last, but not least, write about something you like and enjoy. Don’t try to write the next Harry Potter or 50 Shades etc – unless you love this stuff. The reader will see through it. Passion for your writing shines out and, for me, that only comes if you enjoy what you’re writing about.
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