1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve been writing in some form or other most of my life. My first love was humour and I’ve had a lot of light-hearted articles published in various newspapers and magazines over the years, but it’s only comparatively recently that I started writing novels.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel?
In fact, I didn’t start off with crime. The first book I wrote was called The Pheasant Plucker. It’s a humorous (I hope!) spy spoof about an eccentric Scotsman from Kilbirnie called Frank McClure. The action takes place mainly in Kilbirnie and Montpellier in the south of France, where I’ve been living for the past twenty-odd years. The Pheasant Plucker may well be the only novel ever written in which the opening word is ‘Kilbirnie’, but I’m not sure the Kilbirnie tourist board would want to make too much of that when they read the description! Having tried unsuccessfully to interest a publisher in The Pheasant Plucker, I ended up self-publishing it.
However, the genre I enjoy reading most is ‘crime’, especially Scottish crime, so it seemed natural to try my hand at that.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
On the humour side, undoubtedly Tom Sharpe, though I tried to steer away from being quite as outrageous. On the crime side, I’m been impressed by several Scottish writers, though they haven’t necessarily influenced my style of writing. Willie McIlvanney has to be number one. I was blown away when I first read Laidlaw in the 1970s, long before the genre of ‘tartan noir’ had even been thought of. More recently, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, among many others.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I tried to interest a lot of publishers in The Pheasant Plucker, with no success – it’s a soul-destroying process. However, when I wrote Black Mail, I got an offer from the first publisher I sent it to – Old Street Publishing. There’s an awful lot of luck in this game in sending a novel to a publisher who happens to be interested in publishing a book in that genre, at that time.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
I suppose it has to be the principal character, DCI Charlie Anderson. Black Mail is the first book in what will be a series featuring Charlie, so I’m going to be living with him for some time. However, I also quite like my psychopath, Billy McAteer – I don’t know what that says about me!
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novels?
I haven’t had to do much by way of research. My novels are all more or less contemporary and the action is based in places where I’ve lived for a long time.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
They are the kind of people you might meet in and around Glasgow, with elements of typical Glaswegian humour – and also Glasgegian bigotry, but none of them are based on actual people.
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Fiction Novels out there?
I tried to do something different with my central character. Most fictional detectives have some hang-up or other in their personal lives: they’re either divorced, they’re having an affair, their partner’s having an affair, they’re drinking too much, they’re estranged from their children etc. Charlie Anderson has none of these problems. He is a happily married man and he dotes on his daughter and his grandson. However, he is nearing retirement and he is very ‘old school’. He insists on his officers doing everything by the book, but he isn’t ‘politically correct’ himself. He still believes that giving someone a clout around the ear can be the best option in certain circumstances. He can’t keep up with modern computer technology – he can’t even cope with emails and, as he tells us: “they don’t make keyboards to fit my kind of thick, stubby fingers”.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I hope not!
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned.
As I mentioned above, Black Mail, which was published in April 2014, is the first book in what will be a series based on DCI Charlie Anderson. The second book in this series, Double Mortice, will be published, also by Old Street Publishing, in April 2015 and, hopefully, the third book in the series will be out sometime in 2016.
11.What was your favourite scene to write in your Novel and why?
Probably my favourite scene in Black Mail is when DS Tony O’Sullivan is sent to arrest the psychopath, Billy McAteer, in Tennents bar in Byres Road in Glasgow as it gives scope for building tension while using typical Glasgow, understated vernacular in the interaction that takes place between the two men.
12. As an up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share?
For those starting out, there are a lot of excellent writing groups throughout Scotland, under the auspices of the Scottish Association of Writers (website http://www.sawriters.org.uk), where writers of all standards can attend regular meetings and get critiques of their work from their peers. Writers, in general, are a very supportive community and these groups are an invaluable source of information and advice. Also, the SAW annual conference is an excellent forum where both aspiring and experienced writers get together and share ideas.
Murder and drug-dealing are all in a day’s work for DCI Charlie Anderson, but everything’s on a different scale now that psychopath Billy McAteer is back on the streets of Glasgow. Simon Ramsay, a successful and seemingly respectable businessman, receives an email with a photograph attached. If he doesn’t come up with £50k, the sender will release it to the press, and Ramsay’s career will be over. In a state of panic he contacts his mistress, Laura. He tells her a blackmailer has managed to get his hands on a compromising photo of them in bed together. Terrified of what her violent husband will do if he finds out about her affair, Laura enlists the services of McAteer to deal with the blackmailer. It is a moment of madness, with disastrous consequences. And it falls to DCI Anderson and his sidekick to unravel the trail of death and destruction
DCI Charlie Anderson 2 – Double Mortice Due Out 21st April 2015
The Pheasant Plucker
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