1. How did you get started writing?
I loved English Literature at school but coming from a working class family on a poor estate I couldn’t see any future where pursuing that was a possibility. I started putting pen to paper about eight years ago when I overheard two women on the bus talking about a friend of theirs and although I didn’t know anything about this person I found myself thinking up a description for them and because they sounded so feisty I thought up some scenarios to go with the image I had in my mind – she later became Detective Alex Moreton.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
I’m crap at sex! I mean writing about it of course! I have great respect for writers of romance and tomfoolery but I think if I tried to write something lovey dovey or steamy I’d die of embarrassment or fall about laughing. Crime suits my personality. I’m a sensitive soul guilty of over thinking things in general which comes in handy when you’re trying to write about the cause and effect of murder.
On a serious note a girl in my class was murdered the week we left school and a friend was convicted of killing her. It made me realise that you can’t ever really know someone, and that’s scary.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I read all the classics as a child, who couldn’t be moved by Jane Eyre? But it was the mad aunt and Rochester’s initial darkness that drew me in, rather than the romance.
I love gritty fiction, the darker the better for with darkness comes humour. For me, Denise Mina and Stuart MacBride nail it, along with Mark Billingham and John Harvey.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
My first manuscript, a novel about a psychic detective, attracted attention from three agents. I signed with Teresa Chris in 2007 but publishers were reluctant to commission it as a couple had been burned from previous encounters of the genre and didn’t want to go there again. I tried a couple of re-writes but the story was getting so far removed from the original it didn’t work.
My second novel, Fragile Cord, attracted attention from Polygon but after a couple of weeks they declined on the basis they were looking for a Scottish based novel (Fragile Cord is set in Salford, in the north west of England). It was then that a friend suggested publishing on Amazon and in 2013 I decided to give it a try!
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novels, do you have a particular favourite one?
Well, I love ex-con Davy in my latest novel, Truth Lies Waiting, which is based in Leith and Craigmillar in Edinburgh. He goes about with a guy called Brad and they are a real pair of scallies with absolutely no airs or graces about them. I like the fact that they think they’re streetwise but they’re not really.
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novels?
Readers are so well informed these days that you have to do your homework! I did a lot of research into parental homicide, particularly Resnick who back in the sixties designed the system which classifies the different categories of child murders by their mothers or fathers. Sadly, there are still reports every week of new cases which continue to shock and fascinate the public in equal measure.
For the police corruption in Truth Lies Waiting, Hillsborough, Stephen Lawrence, Plebgate, need I go on..?
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
That would be telling! No one character has been lifted from someone in real life but there are certainly many characteristics or phrases that people I know or have met use which tickled my fancy enough to include.
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Fiction Novels out there
Rather than whodunit I focus on the why. It’s the why that unsettles people, makes them think there but for the Grace of….
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Good question. I’m not aware that I do this consciously, but I know my mood can impact how my characters behave. For example, my Dad passed away in June, when I came to write the final chapters of Truth Lies Waiting I was hurting pretty bad, and I had to pass this hurt on somehow.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned.
The detectives in Fragile Cord were very popular so I am currently writing a follow up novel due out next month. Also, I have already penned the outline for the follow up to Truth Lies Waiting (released 1 September) as there are still some scores left to be settled!
11. Out of all the Novels you have written do you have a favourite one that stands out to you?Maybe it’s because the birth was so very recent but Truth Lies Waiting really resonates with me on a personal level.
12. As a well known crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
Well, I’m still an unknown on the crime circuit but it’s gratifying when someone contacts me and said they enjoy my stories. The best advice I was given was from Marian Keyes about eight years ago. I like the fact she tackles very serious issues in her novels in an accessible way and I wrote to her for advice: “Make sure your novel is the best it can be.” She wrote back. She’s not wrong.
Introducing Scottish anti-hero Davy Johnson as he takes on the Edinburgh establishment to clear his name.
Davy Johnson is a young man from the wrong side of the tracks with a target on his back. After a spell in prison he is trying to make a life for himself but one cop won’t leave him alone, following him around and carting him off to the station just for the fun of it.
The harassment turns sinister when Davy witnesses his nemesis overstep the mark with a local junkie – and makes the mistake of telling him he’s been seen. What happens next sees Davy framed for a string of murders with no one to help him but the cronies he promised he’d turn his back on when he got out of jail – but what will they want in return?
With the help of an ex con and a local cabbie Davy goes on the run to prove his innocence but as the body count rises he discovers a connection between what’s happening now and a tragedy involving his father many years before.
Will he be able to work out the truth from the lie in time to save the killer’s next victim?
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