1. How did you get started writing
I always loved writing short stories at school but it was many years before I attempted to write a full length novel. The seeds must have been germinating in my mind though as I woke up in the middle of the night about ten years ago with a working title and opening scene of a violent murder and that story became my debut novel, Robbing the Dead.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
I had never even read a crime novel until I picked up Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season, about thirteen years ago. I loved the blurb on the back of the book and the fact it was set in two timeframes, present day and Second World War. As soon as I started reading it I was knocked out, not just by the characterisation, but by the strong sense of place Robinson manages to convey in his portrayal of Yorkshire. I knew then that I wanted to write a novel with a strong sense of place. And I knew it would have to be set in Scotland.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I have to admit to being a massive Enid Blyton fan when I was a child. The Secret Seven books were the first series I ever read and I guess the author got me wanting to write a series of my own! Peter Robinson was my biggest influence. I was thrilled when I found out he was giving a summer writing course in Estonia a few years ago. I booked myself on it and flew out. That was quite an adventure. I love Henning Mankell for his characterisation and social commentary. I’m also a big fan of Peter May and Ann Cleeves.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I was incredibly lucky. I waited until I had three completed novels before I started trying to find a publisher. I got picked up by Bloodhound Books who offered me a three book publishing contract last October within eight months of looking for a publisher.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel,do you have a particular favourite one?
I like both my leads, DCI Jim Carruthers and DS Andrea Fletcher. I only noticed when I finished writing Robbing the Dead, that Carruthers is more like me in personality and Fletcher has more of my life experiences.
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novel
I’ve done a lot of research for all of my novels. Robbing the Dead is based on a true event that occurred in the early 1970s. I like to find interesting details about events which humanise them and which we can all relate to. The second novel, Care to Die, was also inspired by events back in the 1970s and how these events have impacted on people’s lives over forty years later. In some ways it’s an even darker read than Robbing the Dead. For the third novel, Mark of the Devil, which is definitely not about the 1970s, I had to do a lot of research on international art crime which was fascinating.
7. Are the characters in your book based on any real life
I think as a writer most of our main characters are based on people we know to some extent but they are usually made up of several different people. A couple of my characters are based on people I used to work with twenty years ago when I first moved to Edinburgh but I had better say no more than that!
8. What do you think makes your novels stand out from all the other Crime Fiction Novels out there
I’ve had some amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for Robbing the Dead which have thrilled me! It’s hard to believe that in the first fortnight of publication the novel sold nearly 1,000 copies. Readers seem to like the fast pace of my novels (no slow burners for me!) the flawed but likeable characters and the fact I try to make my storylines interesting and original.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
In terms of personality I’m probably more like Jim Carruthers than anyone else. We both tend to brood and both like our ‘alone’ time. And we both love the environment. A little known fact about Jim is that he is a member of the RSPB but he won’t admit that to his colleagues. He’s also got his flaws. He’ll cut corners when he thinks he can get away with it, has difficulty with authority figures and can be hot headed but basically he’s a decent guy doing a difficult job.
10.If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned
Care to Die is being published on 1st June 2017 so I’m really excited about that. It has the same set of characters as are in the first novel but their personal lives have moved on. Like the first book it is set in present day Fife but our Inspector Carruthers has to fly to Iceland in this story. The novel has lots of twists and turns so will keep our investigative team busy.
11.What was your favourite Scene to write and why
I’m not sure I have a favourite scene although I do like the early scene where we first meet Inspector Carruthers and see him leaving his Anstruther cottage to go to the locus where the body of the young man has been found. I enjoy weaving in some local colour and history of the place I’m writing about and Fife is full of both!
12. As a up and coming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
Don’t give up! I can’t tell you how close Robbing the Dead came to being ditched. And the truth of it is that early on it just wasn’t good enough to be published. It had two massive rewrites and I’m delighted I persevered. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre. Hang out with other crime writers. They are incredibly supportive of new writers. Last bit of advice would be get yourself a good editor before approaching publishers.
In a small Scottish university town, what links a spate of horrible murders, a targeted bomb explosion and a lecturer’s disappearance? Is a terror group involved? If so, who is pulling the strings? And what does something that happened over forty years ago have to do with it?
Having recently returned to Castletown in the hope of winning back his estranged wife, DCI Jim Carruthers finds himself up to his eyes in the investigation.
Struggling with a very different personal problem, DS Andrea Fetcher assists Jim in the hunt for the murderous perpetrators. To prevent further violence they must find the answers quickly. But will Jim’s old adversary, terror expert McGhee, be a help or a hindrance?
Struggling with his demotion back to DI and his concern for the grieving DS Andrea Fletcher, Jim Carruthers is thrown in at the deep end when the body of an old man is discovered stabbed to death in a nature reserve- a ball of cloth rammed into the back of the victim’s throat. The only suspect is a fifteen-year-old neighbour who is known to the police for antisocial behaviour. But the teenager has an alibi.
When a second elderly man is also found dead at the same locale, with the same MO, Carruthers starts to wonder if they have a serial killer on their hands.
On discovering that the first victim, Ruiridh Fraser, has an estranged son living in Iceland, Carruthers flies out to interview the man, now convinced that the reason behind Fraser’s death lies in his past.
But what does the disappearance of a twelve year old boy forty years before, the brutal murder of a former journalist and a bitter local dispute about a nature reserve, have to do with the investigation?
Can Carruthers and Fletcher solve the case while battling their own demons?
And are they hunting for one killer or more?
Amazon Author Page