Crime writer Quintin Jardine was born in Motherwell in 1945, and studied law at Glasgow University. A varied career followed, including as a journalist, a political information officer, and media relations consultant. He gradually turned to novel writing, and his first book, Skinner’s Rules, was published in 1993.
The Bob Skinner novels are set in Edinburgh, and feature deputy chief constable Bon Skinner, marketed as “Britain’s toughest cop”. His second series of novels feature private detective turned Hollywood actor Oz Blackstone. The first of these novels was written under the pen name of Matthew Reid, but subsequent books used the Jardine name. Oz Blackstone died following the events of the novel For the Death of Me, and Jardine has continued the series but now features Oz’s ex-wife Primavera, and moved the setting to Spain. In the Oz Blackstone novels, Oz occasionally appeared as an actor in fictional films based on the Bob Skinner novels.
Novels featuring Bob Skinner
Skinner’s Rules (1993)
Skinner’s Festival (1994)
Skinner’s Trail (1994)
Skinner’s Round (1995)
Skinner’s Ordeal (1996)
Skinner’s Mission (1997)
Skinner’s Ghosts (1998)
Murmuring the Judges (1998)
Gallery Whispers (1999)
Thursday Legends (2000)
Autographs in the Rain (2001)
Head Shot (2002)
Fallen Gods (2003)
Stay of Execution (2004)
Lethal Intent (2005)
Dead and Buried (2006)
Death’s Door (2007)
Fatal Last Words (2009)
A Rush of Blood (2010)
Grievous Angel (2011)
Funeral Notes (2012)
Pray for the Dying (2013)
Novels featuring Oz Blackstone
Blackstone’s Pursuits (1996)
A Coffin for Two (1997)
Wearing Purple (1999)
Screen Savers (2000)
On Honeymoon with Death (2001)
Poisoned Cherries (2002)
Unnatural Justice (2003)
Alarm Call (2004)
For the Death of Me (2005)
Novels featuring Primavera Blackstone
Inhuman Remains (2009)
Blood Red (2010)
As Easy As Murder (2012)
Deadly Business (2013)
Stand Alone Novels
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (2010)
The Loner (2011)
The Block (2011)
1. How did you get started writing
In response to a challenge from Irene, mylate wife, 25 years ago; I read a book that I didn’t enjoy much and made the mistake of saying that I could do better myself.
2. What drew you to crime fiction
No single thing. When I started to write, I fell into it. I didn’t read crime exclusively, but somehow I felt that the genre suited my personality, my background knowledge and my outlook on life.
3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
My style is my own. Ask me who I read before I started to write myself, and I’ll offer up Ed McBain, Dasheill Hammett, Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham. I’d be ungracious not to admit that I was influenced by Taggart, if only in my determination to ensure that none of my characters were anything like Wee Jim, or his hapless sidekicks.
4. You have written novels in the first person, in the third person and in Funeral Note where each chapter was told from the perspective of a different character, which of these writing styles do you prefer
I enjoy first person, single perspective, but it’s very difficult to pull it off in a cop book, since the narrator has to be in every scene, and that’s tough to do in a procedural. It can only work in a prequel, where the character is looking back on times past and telling the story from a distance. On the other hand PI stories lend themselves to first person treatment. The real challenge might be to write a Blackstone novel in the third person.
5. Out of all the novels and characters you have written about, do you have a favourite one or one that stands out to you
Nah, they’re all my children. The youngest is always the cutest, I suppose, but I don’t play favourites. To reverse the question, I’ve always felt that Blackstone’s Pursuits didn’t turn out quite as I intended, but Headline and I are going to do something about that. I’ve reworked it, call it a director’s cut if you like, and it will be re-published soon, probably as Dangerous Pursuits, but only inebook form.
6. Your books are popular all over the world, have you been surprised by all your success
I’m very grateful for it. You’re right, I have a loyal fan base throughout the English speaking world, with lots of feedback from Canada, the USA and Australia. The UK too, but I do feel that the further south you travel in our own island the more parochial people become in their reading choices. I did an event in London once when a clown in the audience said that there was no decent crime fiction north of the Watford Gap; no kidding.
7. Why did you decide to set your Skinner books in Edinburgh and your Primeverabooks in Catalan, Spain
Short answer. I know both. I worked in Edinburgh for 25 years, I live just outside the city and I have a place in Catalunya.
8. If you could write another standalone novel featuring any of your characters, whowould you choose
I can do that any time I like. Indeed I am considering taking two recent characters out of the Skinner sphere of influence and giving them a story of their own. Whether that will be a standalone though, is another question.
9. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your books
I’m researching all the time. Much of it is done on line, but last month I took a trip to Madrid. Watch this space.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life
No, no and no again!
11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice
I don’t know any who are brave enough! I would never dream of giving another published author unsolicited advice, any more than I would expect to receive it. I’m asked for advice often enough, by would-be authors, and I’m happy to give it. These days the most practical suggestion I could make would probably be that they should write in a Scandinavian language and have their work translated into English, with the proviso that they should take antidepressants while they’re doing it.
12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa
I wouldn’t wish my personality on anyone. Some of my back-story is in Neil McIlhenney, but that’s it.
13. If you can would you give us a sneak peak into any new books you have in the pipeline
The fifth (and final) Primavera As Serious as Death is out this month. (November 2013) Skinner 24, Hour of Darkness will be published in May 2014. After that, maybe next year maybe later, there will be another standalone. It’s done already and it will be a big departure for me.
14. At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Edinburgh, and they have mentioned that you were a big influence to them. How do you feel about that
15. As a well known crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
1) Check out my response to question 11. 2) Failing that, try to find a Unique Selling Point; by which I mean don’t write yet another fucking book about a dysfunctional city cop. That market is not infinite. 3) When you have a finished manuscript, don’t yield to the temptation to do it the easy way and shove it on the Amazon Kindle platform,where no form of quality control seems to exist; instead, find yourself an agent, who will make the most of what you’ve done. 4) Don’t build your hopes up.
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