Denzil Meyrick was educated in Argyll, andafter studying politics joined Strathclyde Police, serving in Glasgow. After being injured and developing back problems, he then entered the business world and has operated in many diverse roles, including director of a large engineering company and distillery manager, as well as owning a number of his own companies, such as a public bar and sales and marketing company. D. A. Meyrick has also worked as a freelance journalist in both print and on radio, his first novel, Whisky from Small Glasses, was published by Ringwood in 2012.
1. Your new novel THE LAST WITNESS is due out soon, can you tell us a bit more about it?
It’s a bit darker than WHISKY FROM SMALL GLASSES, though with the same dark humour and local ‘Kinloch’ colour. A notorious Glasgow crime boss, James Machie, is killed in the back of a prison ambulance. After being arrested by Daley and Scott, two of his senior lieutenants turned on their boss in return for immunity from prosecution.
Five years later, one of these men is killed in a suburban Melbourne street. All of the evidence points clearly to the identity of the killer – it’s James Machie.
Staggered by these events, Daley and Scott are further unnerved when it turns out that Frank MacDougall, the main witness for the prosecution and Machie’s second-in-command, has been living in a remote farmhouse near Kinloch, anonymously, on the protection programme.
Machie is out for revenge, and nothing – not even death – ever stands in Machie’s way.
2. Did you find it easier writing your second novel, or your first, WHISKY FROM SMALL GLASSES?
I suppose there was more pressure on me when writing THE LAST WITNESS. My first book had been such a success, that I was conscious of the fact that the next book would be have to be of that standard. I believe it is, everyone who has read it think it’s even better than my first. I wrote the new book in a much tighter time-frame than WHISKY. Having changed publisher, and now having a London agent, both were keen to see the finished manuscript.
Conversely, as the main characters and the setting were established in the first book, the second one is faster-paced and therefore slightly easier to write. Swings and roundabouts, really.
3. There are many different and interesting characters in your novels, do you have a favourite one?
I like to have as rounded characters as possible. This helps them live in the mind of the reader, if you like. It was something that was often mentioned by reviewers of WHISKY.
I have a soft spot for Annie and Hamish; they are composites of so many people I have known and they are great to write. Also, Brian Scott; in a rough and very unscientific poll of readers, carried out on social media recently, he turned out to be the narrow favourite, just ahead of Daley, himself!
At the end of the day, I enjoy writing them all; new characters in THE LAST WITNESS were fun to breathe life into.
4. What has been your favourite scene or chapter you have written in either one of your novels?
I love some of the Kinloch scenes, funny to write and re-read. I try to get at much of the atmosphere of the real Kinloch, Campbeltown, as possible. Some of the more violent passages can be more difficult, but it’s great to experience the rush of excitement that hopefully will transfer to the reader, when characters are in a tight spot. Some of the final scenes in THE LAST WITNESS are, in turn, thrilling and poignant; I hope everyone will enjoy them.
5. Is there anything you would change, if you had the chance, about WHISKY FROM SMALL GLASSES?
I don’t think there is a writer who doesn’t look back at their work and wonder if they should have changed X, Y, or Z. I’m no different.
I regret some aspects of the presentation of WHISKY, both as a book and an eBook that, most frustratingly, weren’t quite right. That’s why it’s great to be with Polygon now; their approach and professionalism is refreshing and will be reflected in the quality of the final product, whether it is the book, eBook, or any other version.
6. If you were give the chance to write a new series of novels, what genre would you chose and what would it be about?
Good question. I would love to write historical novels; indeed, I have one roughly plotted. To make historical fiction convincing, the writer needs to make sure he or she carries out a mountain of research. One of these days I’ll get the time to do the book that’s in my head justice.
I’m also reading a couple of the late, great Iain M Bank’s Culture Sci-fi novels that I hadn’t already devoured – magnificent! He’s such a loss, not to just Scottish writing, but the world of literature in general. I would love to have a go at the space opera genre one day.
Of course, I think most of us would like to write the definitive literary novel. Thankfully though, I think some of the snobbery surrounding so-called genre work is beginning to fade, especially since the success of the likes of Hilary Mantel.
7. What makes your novels stand out from other Scottish crime fiction on the shelf?
I think that every writer has their own style and things they want to say. I like to create and atmosphere, and ambiance if you like, that will draw the reader in. As you know, I reckon humour plays an important part the creation of realism within a book. We see this now with some of the excellent TV drama coming out of the USA at the moment. Think of the The Sopranos for instance, some of the most harrowing and visceral scenes of violence ever portrayed on the small screen, all leavened by a healthy dollop of humour.
There are so many magnificent writers emerging from Scotland at the moment. I think everyone has their own style, ticks, or characters that make their books different.
8. If you could pick any actor to play any one of your characters, who would you choose, and why?
This has been much discussed by those who have contacted me on social media, recommending various actors to play characters from my books. I suppose I don’t know, really – that is apart from one. I think Brian McCardie, ex of Rob Roy and the UK version of Low Winter Sun, would make an excellent DS Scott. Google him and have a look.
9. You are now being compared to some of the established names in crime fiction, how does this make you feel?
It’s enormously flattering to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Rankin, Mina, MacBride, et al. I can only aspire to attaining their standard, the high bar they have set, making Scottish fiction so highly regarded throughout the world. I hope that THE LAST WITNESS will contribute towards this.
10. Since we last spoke you have been picked by a major publishing house, how has that changed your novels and your writing?
I was thrilled to sign with Birlinn/Polygon, they are a great company and have published many of the true greats, like A L Kennedy, George McKay Brown, Ian Rankin, and now of course, Alexander McCall Smith. Certainly, the forensic and detailed way they have approached the edit of THE LAST WITNESS has been a joy to experience. Over all though, my writing is evolving naturally; I don’t think there are any of us that don’t change and mature as our work progresses. I’ve learned some really valuable lessons in the last couple of years, in life as well as art.
My wife and I were left to do all of the leg work for my last novel, as far as getting it out there, was concerned. All those helping me at Polygon are excellent, not just with the writing and edit, but also design and their plans to promote the books. I’m very lucky to now have such a highly respected and effective publisher behind me.
Vive la difference!
James Machie was a man with a genius for violence, his criminal empire spreading beyond Glasgow into the UK and mainland Europe. Fortunately, James Machie is dead, assassinated in the back of a prison ambulance following his trial and conviction. But now, five years later, he is apparently back from the grave, set on avenging himself on those who brought him down. Top of his list is his previous associate, Frank MacDougall, who unbeknownst to D.C.I. Jim Daley, is living under protection on his lochside patch, the small Scottish town of Kinloch. Daley knows that, having been the key to Machie’s conviction, his old friend and colleague D.S. Scott is almost as big a target. And nothing, not even death, has ever stood in James Machie’s way …
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (3 July 2014)
The link for pre ordering your kindle ebook copy is
The link for pre ordering your amazon paperback copy is
https://www.facebook.com/DenzilMeyrick is the link for the DCI Daley Thrillers page. The Last Witness will be available on all platforms from 3 July and currently It is now available to pre order from Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwell’s WH Smith and all good book stores