Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His sixth novel, The Dead Beat, was published by Faber and Faber in May 2014. Gone Again (2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre. His seventh novel, The Jump was realised in August 2015
1. What have you been up to with your writing since we last spoke?
Well, I’ve been working on The Jump, getting that to the point where it was as good as I could make it, and now I’m working on the next book. The Jump went so well, that in comparison I’ve struggled to get into the next one a little bit, but it’s slowly coming together. It’s set in Orkney in winter and starts with a plane crash, so good fun all round. I’ve also got a short story coming out soon in Gutter magazine called Beyond the Heliopause. I’m not even sure if that’s crime or not, but I like writing the occasional short story as a kind of fun release.
2. So far what was your favourite book to write in terms of characters and plot?
I know all writers probably say the most recent one, but it really ha been The Jump. Everything seemed to fall into place with the plot, once I had the characters sorted out in my head. Ellie, the main character, I just love her, although she is deeply flawed, suffering terribly, and she does some terrible things, I suppose. But hopefully the reader understands why she does what she does. I felt as I was writing it that it couldn’t really go any other way, you understand what I mean? Like fate was intervening or something. Inescapable fate.
3. You were recently a part of an event that pitted East Coast Scottish Crime Writers against West Coast Scottish Crime Writers. How do you get involved in that?
I think author Douglas Skelton put that together with Waterstone’s where we held it, and he asked me to come along. We’ve actually done two of them now, one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, and us east coasters have lost both times! Of course, I don’t believe there’s really any difference between east and west coast writing, it’s all good crime writing, really, but these events are a great laugh with lots of banter on stage. It’s all in fun, and the audience seems to get a kick out of it too!
4. Have you any events coming up that you can share with us?
Yes! I’m on at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with the amazing Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen on the 26th of August, then I’m at Toppings book shop in St Andrews the next night. Then I’m taking part in the Literary Death Match in Edinburgh on the 30th August, then I’ll be back at Bloody Scotland in Stirling in September too. Busy, busy!
5. Have you had any ideas about what you would like to write about next?
I wonder if it’s time to set something completely outside of Scotland for once. I fancy a road trip novel, like Thelma and Louise, but I’m not thinking too much about it at the moment until I get this Orkney book finished and out the way.
6. What has been your stand out moment so far as a Scottish crime fiction writer?
Scoring a double hat-trick for Scotland Crime Writers FC against the England Crime Writers team at Bloody Scotland last year. We won 13-1, I think. There’s a rematch this year, though of course we’ll never win like that again, surely.
***** 5 STARS
Struggling to come to terms with the suicide of her teenage son, Ellie lives in the shadows of the Forth Road Bridge, lingering on its footpaths and swimming in the waters below. One day she talks down another suicidal teenager, Sam, and sees for herself a shot at redemption, the chance to atone for her son’s death. But even with the best intentions, she can’t foresee the situation she’s falling headlong into – a troubled family, with some very dark secrets of their own and that soon puts her dangerously out of her depth.
Doug Johnstone in recent times, has become the master of writing gripping thrillers that include Gone Again, Hit & Run and The Dead Beat. In his latest novel The Jump, he again returns to his home territory of Edinburgh in a pulsating psychological page-turner which blends edge-of-the-seat suspense with a searing exploration of love, loss and parenthood. He combines his trademark gift for combining superb plotting with sizzling action, that will keep you glued to your seat, take you on a roller coaster of a ride of action and emotions and keep you up all night reading, as you wont want to put the book down.
In the Jump, Doug Johnstone does what he does best in his novels and he brings his characters to life and making them so realistic, that it seem as the characters are playing out their lives in front of your eyes. This is achieved by the way in which the backstory of the characters and main storyline is weaved together, in The Jump Ellie Napier and her husband Ben have still not come to terms with the death of their 15-year-old son Logan six months ago. He left no suicide note, had made no previous attempts to kill himself and had never made a cry for help. Ben fills the void by chasing bizarre conspiracy theories as to why Logan killed himself while Ellie ransacks her memories for glimpses of her lost child and makes daily trips to the bridge to linger on its footpaths and swim in the waters below. And the way the author Like to play with the emotions, past memories and and experiences of the main character. In The Jump, Doug Johnstone uses guilt,emotional paralysis, obsession, isolation, despair and recklessness that combine together as a lost and bereaved mother decides that you can do anything… if you have nothing left to lose. It will be exciting to see what Doug Johnstone produces with his next novel, and I for one look forward to reading it.
Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 Aug. 2015)
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