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Bloody Scotland Blog Tour 2015 Interview with Lin Anderson


Bloody Scotland is a crime festival that is now in its fourth year, having started in 2012 that is held in Stirling, Scotland. It was the brain child of Tartan Noir Authors Lin Anderson and Alex Gray that draws on Scotland’s love of the literary macabre and celebrating crime writing by bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.


Lin Anderson was born in Greenock. A graduate of both Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, she taught computing in secondary schools before writing full-time. The script of her first film, Small Love (broadcast on Scottish Television in 2001 and 2002), earned her a TAPS Writer of the Year Award 2001 nomination. Lin’s crime series featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod has been optioned for television by ITV. Her second film won a Scottish BAFTA for best fiction and also the Celtic Film Festival’s Best Drama award.


OUT 13th AUGUST 2015

When Mark Howitt is invited back to Leila’s flat and ordered to strip, he thinks he’s about to have the experience of his life. Waking later he finds Leila gone from his side. Keen to leave, he opens the wrong door and finds he’s entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with.

Rhona Macleod’s forensic investigation of the scene reveals the red plaited silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artefact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine powerful men, but who are they? As the investigation continues, it looks increasingly likely that other witches will be targeted too.

Working the investigation is the newly demoted DS Michael McNab, who is keen to stay sober and redeem himself with Rhona, but an encounter with Leila’s colleague and fellow Wiccan Freya Devine threatens his resolve. Soon McNab realises Freya may hold the key to identifying the men linked to the dolls and the Nine will do anything to keep their identities a secret.

How did you get started writing?
I began in Primary School. My first play was about Mary Queen of Scots and featured the murder of Lord Darnley which was performed round the classrooms. I didn’t pursue a writing career seiously after that until much later in life, when I became one of 7:84 Theatre group’s new writers. From then I wrote short stories set in Nigeria where I lived for five years, which featured on Radio 4 and in various collections. Incidentally the first of these, The Snake House, also featured a murder. An STV Drama called Small Love followed, then the first in the Rhona MacLeod series Driftnet which was published in 2003.

What drew you to write a crime novel?
The inspiration for Drifnet came from three sources. My father was a DI in Greenock and was always worrying about his three teenage daughters. Reading an article about the Labour MP Claire Short who revealed she’d given a son away for adoption. The third was the most traumatic. Around the time of the Dunblane massacre, I was teaching Computing Science in an Edinburgh school and had a young son. When we heard what had happened everyone wanted to go home. I had to stay because we were booked to have  a talk by a social worker from Glasgow on the topic of paedophile rings operating there who had just found the internet.  My dramatic premise for Driftnet was born from these experiences.
What if forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod turned up at a scene of crime and thought the dead teenager might be the son she gave up for adoption 17 years before?

Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
In terms of adventure stories and imaging the unimaginable, as a child I loved RL Stevenson, Enid Blyton, JR Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Issac Asimov (in particular the Foundation series) and Alistair MacLean. I loved the drive of their stories, which meant you couldn’t put it down. They were all masters of the art of storytelling, but they also taught me that all drama is a character in action.

When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I sent the script of Driftnet to an agency to read and comment on. They loved it and asked if they could send it to an agent, Sarah Molloy at AM Heath. Sarah tried to sell it to publishers, but didn’t get a taker. I approached a small Scottish publisher Luath Press who published it. Ottakers made it their Scottish book of the month. Luath published two more in the series, Torch and Deadly Code and sold them into Europe. After which I moved to Hodder and Stoughton for Dark Flight, Easy Kill, Final Cut, Reborn and Picture Her Dead. My new publisher Pan MacMillan took over with Paths of the Dead and the next one in the series The Special Dead.
I had written the first three before Driftnet was published, so it definitely wasn’t all plain sailing. 

There are many interesting characters in your Novels, you have a particular favourite one?
Rhona for definite and I have a big soft spot for DS McNab, who has a soft spot for Rhona. DI Wilson is modelled on my father and all the books in the series bar one are dedicated to DI Bill Mitchell, my dad.

What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novels?
Research is the fun part and I do lots of it. The research continues all the way through the writing. For The Special Dead, I had to do a lot of research on withcraft, or the Wiccan religion and found it fascinating and enlightening. Forensics is a constant source of research, which I really enjoy.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Only DI Wilson who is a version of my late father who unfortunately had died before the first book was published. Chrissy McInsh, Rhona’s sidekick is modelled on Miss Toner, from BBC DramaTutti Frutti, not a real person but definitely a ‘character’.

What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Novels out there?
Don’t think I can answer this. There are so many great Scottish crime writers and they’re all unique.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I like Rhona’s tenacity. You need to be tenacious if you want to be a writer. McNab’s capacity for self destruction fascinates me. That’s definitely not me, although when I gave up a well paid position as Principal Teacher of Computing to try writing for a living, many would have said at the time that I must be mad!

If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned?
I’m currently working on the sequel to The Special Dead which is out on 13th August. The new book is called None but the Dead and takes place on the island of Sanday in Orkney, where the past bleeds into the present.

Out of all the novels you have written, what was your favourite to write and why?
Probably Driftnet, because that’s when I first met the characters who were to dominate my writing life.

As a well known crime writer, do you have words of advice you can share?
It’s all about character. Readers enjoy the plots, but it’s the characters that keep bringing them back for more.

Rhona MacLeod
1. Driftnet (2003)
2. Torch (2004)
3. Deadly Code (2005)
4. Dark Flight (2007)
5. Easy Kill (2008)
6. Final Cut (2009)
7. The Reborn (2010)
8. Picture Her Dead (2011)
9. Paths of the Dead (2014)
Blood Red Roses (2005)
Torch / Deadly Code (omnibus) (2009)
CSI Glasgow: Driftnet /Torch / Deadly Code (omnibus) (2013)

Patrick De Courvoisier Mystery
The Case of the Black Pearl (2014)

Storymaster (2012)
The Snake House (2012)

Crimespotting (2009) (with Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Chris Brookmyre, John Burnside, Isla Dewar, A L Kennedy, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and James Robertson)
Shattered (2009) (with Allan Guthrie, Denise Mina and Louise Welsh)
Saving Mr Ugwu (2013)

Dead Close (2011)

Non fiction
Braveheart: From Hollywood to Holyrood (2004)
Twitter @lin_anderson

Amazon Author Page

Lin Anderson will be appearing at the following Bloody Scotland 2015 events

Forensics with Lin Anderson & Val McDermid Saturday 12 September from 10:00 am – 11:00 am | £9.50 /8.50

Forensics with Lin Anderson & Val McDermid Whodunnit? Forensic evidence is a major theme in the novels of these leading crime authors.

Dear Mean Place – Talking Glasgow Sunday 13 September from 11:45 am – 12:45 pm | £9.50 / 8.50 Dear Mean Place – Talking Glasgow with William McIlvanney, Lin Anderson & Craig Robertson

Gallows humour and a heady mix of hard and heart make Glasgow a perfect setting for crime fiction.

Stirling’s own Craig Robertson, doyenne of the forensic detective novel Lin Anderson and the author at the helm of Tartan Noir William McIlvanney will be discussing Glasgow Noir, its dark beginnings and endings, and how Glasgow’s people and history have influenced their own writing.

Bloody Scotland takes places from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2015 in various venues around Stirling, for more information and to buy tickets you can go the website at


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