How did you get started writing?
I came to writing through an academic route. I worked for many years in academia and wrote books and journals. After a period of illness I decided it was time to change direction and I moved back to Dundee, the City where I was born and grew up. I love murder mysteries and had the idea for a book in my head. I was challenged to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) and started writing fiction.
What drew you to write a crime novel?
I have been reading crime books almost since I could read. I started out with The Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. By the age of ten I had read everything in the children’s section of the library. Being a feisty Dundonian I got my own way when I asked for an adult library card. I moved on to Agatha Christie, and have probably read every Crime author since. It was a natural progression to write crime.
Which writers, past or present, have influenced your style of writing?
I would have to say that my writing would be an amalgam of them all. I am an avid reader and have read so many different crime authors that it would be difficult to pick just one.
When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
It is very difficult to get publisher interest these days. Publishers, and agents, are inundated with submissions. Many publishers and agents are now looking at people who have self published successfully and already have a fan base.
There are many interesting characters in your novel. Do you have a favourite one?
My favourite would have to be Shona McKenzie. She is the Inspector in charge of the CID team at, what was then, Tayside Police. She is a feisty character, definitely in control, sharp and yet funny. Her team love her and criminals get on her bad side at their peril.
What sort of research have you had to undertake in order to write your novels.
I was fortunate in that my nursing background helped a lot with any medical information I needed. I have taught medical law, but that was in England. I had to research Scottish Law, which is, of course, completely different. The police were extremely helpful. Just as I was starting the second novel, Tayside Police became Police Scotland and my local police sergeant came round to my house and explained the implications of the changes.
Are the characters in your books based on any in real life?
No, I have deliberately avoided that. One name is mentioned who is a real person and that person then becomes a character in their own right in book 2 in the series. I also ran a murder mystery dinner party in aid of charity. During this there was a raffle where the prize was to have your name as a character in my book. Although the winner is named the character is not based on them.
What do you think makes your books stand out from all the other Crime Fiction novels out there?
Although my books are gritty crime books, and there are plenty of dead bodies, they are also meant to be funny and down to earth. It is not all doom and gloom.
Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I’ve deliberately tried not to base any of the characters on me personally but I suppose it cannot be completely avoided. The most obvious is, that both Shona and I have a dry sense of humour. I’d say she is funnier than I am, and gets away with a lot more.
Can you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned?
The next book in the series is almost completely written. In this Shona and her team are dealing with a number of murders and are wondering if it could be another serial killer. They are hampered by the fact that Dundee is in the grip of a blizzard. There are some gruesome scenes, but also moments of laugh out loud fun. I have ideas set out for a further seven books in the series. I am also bouncing around ideas for a completely different crime series.
What was your favourite scene to write in your novel and why?
It is difficult to choose just one but I would say the prologue. This is a flash-forward to a scene later in the book and it is very atmospheric.
As an up and coming crime writer do you have words or advice you can share?
The best piece of advice I was given is just sit down and write. You will never complete the novel if you do not start. Once you have completed the first draft then edit, edit, edit. Also use a professional editor and get a few people to edit the book. The on piece of advice I will give anyone when writing, is have fun. If you are not enjoying writing the book then this will come across in your writing. Enjoy the ride; writing is a great way to spend your time. Your characters will develop minds of their own and drag you along on their coat tails.
First book in the DI Shona McKenzie Series
A Ruthless Killer.
A Detective with something to prove.
Newly Promoted DI Shona McKenzie struggles to cope with her new job, the respect of her colleagues, and the need to solve the hardest career of her life.
Will she succeed.
Amazon Author Page