1. How did you get started writing?
Possibly in the days of ‘love and peace man (giving my age away!)’ when everyone was writing poems and songs about war, life, love. I never took it seriously until I had a go at writing a play and was invited to a play writing workshop by 7:84, which was a great experience. I think writing dialogue spurred me to writing fiction (easy, just fill in the gaps between the dialogue!), and when I started I couldn’t stop.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
I didn’t really think it was a crime novel until a friend mentioned the first chapter of one of my earlier attempts was like a Quentin Tarantino movie. My writing has always been ‘edgy’, dark, with a bit of sardonic humour, possibly influenced by living in Glasgow.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I like to write what I like to read, i.e. writers that keep you on edge, get your emotions going, stab your consciousness. I loved Dostoevsky and his conscience changing characters, or Luke Rhinehart, the Dice Man, where anything goes; but also been greatly influenced by local ‘noir’ writers like William McIlvanney and his Laidlaw, and of course most stuff from Mr Rankin. I also love Jim Kelman, his fantastic dialogue, and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
Impossible; although as my writing improved the rejection letters became more personal! I think I rewrote my first version of The Father about fifty times and it still wasn’t right. I got shortlisted for the Debut Dagger which was a real boost; an indication for me and prospective publishers that I was on the right path.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
Not really, I think I like ‘bad’ characters more than the heroes; you can do more with them.
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novels?
Spending a lot of time in seedy pubs trying to get grasp of the way people talk to each other. The Web is such a cheater’s source of information and I exploit it shamelessly; but you can’t beat ‘walking the walk’. I have also been a social worker in mental health for over thirty years, so lots to draw on.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Oh yes, some are a composite of some real life characters I’ve known; but sometimes I try to imagine some famous characters and place them in certain scenes. It’s fun thinking about John Cleese as a psychopath.
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Fiction Novels out there
I think I go deep into the characters minds, mess with their heads and their relationships, transform them from good to bad, from bad to good. My tag line for the Father ‘can a good man be made bad’, gives an idea.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I guess there is a lot of the writer in his main protagonist. I see something of him in me and some things of me in him, but I am not an alcoholic, I don’t have a mental illness, and I don’t have a predilection for serial killers who kill by proxy.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned.
The Father is first in the Sean Rooney series. I’ve started writing the second. I’m playing around with having two antagonists at the start with one become the hero as the story progresses, not sure which one though! It’s fun playing God!
11. What was your favourite scene to write in your Novel and why
I like my prologue, which really sets the scene (of the book). I just let it all go, hitting the reader with a barrage of imagery.
12. As a up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
Just keep working it; flex that creative muscle in your head and don’t fear criticism, use it to grow; and write every day, whether you feel like it or not.
Mental illness, alcohol abuse, and the tedium of pursuing typical killers, leave Sean Rooney a pathetic man, a failed forensic profiler, a bit of a loser and definitely retired. DCI Jacqueline Kaminski has other ideas. Faced with a multiple murder – and some headless corpses – she needs Rooney back on the case.
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