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July 2016 author of the month interview with Ian Simpson

1. How did you get started writing? 

I always had a hankering to write a book. When I had to take early retirement on health grounds I had the time to do it.

2. What drew you to write a crime novel

 I had done a lot of criminal defence work at the Scottish bar then, on the bench, I dealt with a huge number of criminal cases. Latterly I was a temporary High Court judge and sat in the High Court in Glasgow handling serious crime. They say you should write about what you know. Also, I have always loved Agatha Christie’s work

3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing? 

When I read a well-written book I try to absorb the best aspects of the author’s style. Two authors whose style I particularly like are John Mortimer and Christopher Brookmyre.

4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

 Almost everyone does. If you’re not a ‘celeb’ it’s very difficult. There are a heck of a lot of books and wannabe authors out there. This is the main plot-line of my first book, Murder on Page One.

5. There are many interesting characters in your Novels, do you have a particular favourite one? 

In my two Sheriff Hector Drummond novels, Hector is my favourite. He’s quite easy to write as he is similar to me. I put myself into the mind-set of 1930 and react accordingly. Hector is more conservative than I am but braver, driven by a strong sense of right and wrong. In my contemporary novels, I like Baggo best. He is a young, intelligent Indian from Mumbai who has joined the police. He has a great sense of humour and a strong interest in the opposite sex. He’s very enterprising.

6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novels? 

In all my novels I try to get the details right and the internet is invaluable for that. The Hector Drummond novels required a lot of research, not just to take the reader back to St Andrews in1930 but to get right things like charges for trans-Atlantic telephone calls. To give authentic accounts of the championships Bobby Jones was playing in I consulted a number of books plus newspaper archives. When I mentioned historical figures like Churchill I took particular care, down to House of Commons debates he actually spoke in. My knowledge of St Andrews (I was brought up there) was a big help.

7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life? 

I often take an aspect of a real person and embellish it so my fictional character is unrecognisable. In my legal career I encountered some police officers who were quite prepared to bend the truth in order to convict known villains. My Inspector No is based on them, only I have made him a slobbish buffoon, a figure of fun.

8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Scottish Crime Fiction Novels out there

 I don’t do noir; I had my fill of that in the criminal courts. Most of the nasty stuff happens off the page and a vein of humour lightens my contemporary books. They have been described as cozy but I don’t see them as that. The protagonists in the contemporary books, Flick Fortune and Baggo Chandavarkar, are not Scottish although, apart from Murder on Page One, the books are set in Scotland. In the Hector Drummond books I weave murder mysteries into true accounts of important golf championships and I doubt if anyone else is trying to do that.

9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa? 

Yes. A friend recently told me they could hear me and Annie, my wife, in exchanges between Hector and Lavender Drummond. 

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned. 

 A man is murdered during the fourth round of the 1984 Open. The man convicted is dying and is released in 2015, still protesting his innocence. He goes to live with his daughter in St Andrews. A political campaigner is murdered and attention is focused on a group of solicitors who call themselves ‘the Jolly Boys’. It should be out next year.

11. Out of all the Novels you have written do you have a favourite one that stands out to you?

I think The Andrean Project is my favourite; I really like the characters, I enjoy the mix of fact and fiction and I feel that I keep improving as a writer.

 12. As a up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

Read well and write better. Never give up.


Sons of the Father

Murder in Court Three

Murder on the Second Tee

Murder on Page One

The Andrean Project
TWITTER @simpso30



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