1. How did you get started writing?
I started writing in 1989. I had some poems published in a local paper, which then led to an invite to join the team of a local free paper called The West-Ender. I lasted there for about half a year before I needed to leave in order to pursue my studies at art school in Aberdeen.
2. What drew you to write a novel?
In 1979 my family and I discovered a dead body of a man hanging from a tree in the countryside. I was nine years old. I felt compelled to write about it some ten years later, perhaps as a way of dealing with it. The idea was to write a graphic novel, but as time went on it developed into a proposal for a stage play, and then, after many years of putting it off, and then dusting it down and looking at it time and again, it finally transformed into the first draft of what would become A Murder Of Crows. It took that long!
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Alan Moore's graphic novel Swamp Thing was an early influence and I'm a big fan of Graham Greene, Ian McEwan and Iain Banks. My writing was once compared to Banks' early work, which was flattering, but I try to just be myself really.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
It was difficult in that there is so much information and so much mis-information it's tricky to know where to start searching. I was lucky in that my novel was snapped up very quickly (after some 28 years of working on it!) and now it's having a bit of a snowball effect. In the end you have to do what's right for you, which isn't necessarily going to be the correct thing for other writers.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
Alice Smith seems to be everyone's favourite and she was my favourite character to write. I enjoyed writing from the perspective of someone who has dementia and it was very troubling living inside her mind for the duration of that story. A challenge, but it was absolutely worth it.
6. What kind of research have you had to undertake for your Novel?
I was regularly in touch with an ex-police officer, who taught me about the procedural aspects of the story. I also did some research on dementia, though it exists in my family, so some of that came from direct experience.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Some of them are, but only loosely, though I did write a short story, Inkling, which featured a deceased acquaintance of mine. I had a really weird dream about him and wrote it down. It was then published in The Speculative Book.
8. How do you feel about being on the list for the Not The Booker Prize?
I was shocked! Pleasantly so. I had no idea I'd been put forward for it. I never got through to the short list, but to be honest, I didn't expect to. The competition was very fierce. But I'm very happy to have been a contender.
9. Do you see any of your characters' personality in yourself and vice versa?
Yes, there are elements of myself in the two protagonists, Jack and Scott. Despite the fact that they are poles apart they both share an introspection and, for Jack certainly, an empathy for others. That's very me.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might have planned.
I'm currently working on the sequel to A Murder Of Crows, which is coming along nicely and has some very surprising twists, some which even I did not see coming! I'm also working on two other book proposals and a short story anthology entitled Borrowed, which is being crowdfunded at the moment.
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any crime writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Whilst I'm carving out an identity for myself as a writer I can't conceive of writing with someone else. Never say never, but I do like the solitary confinement of writing.
12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?
Have courage. Don't procrastinate. Just go out there and do it.
‘There are shades of Iain Banks’ early works in here, and that is a very good thing.’
Russel D McLean, 2014.
A Murder Of Crows is the debut novel by Ian Skewis.
An intriguing dark, crime thriller that is both psychological and unsettling.
The story begins when the most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above the fictional town of Hobbs Brae on the west coast of Scotland – a young couple, Alistair and Carol, take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again.
Jack Russell is the detective who tries unsuccessfully to maintain a relationship with his estranged wife and his all too distant son. Approaching retirement, he agrees to undertake one final investigation as a way of escaping his personal problems and ending his career on a high. He is assigned to the case of Alistair and Carol – a case that he believes will be solved easily.
However, the clues in the forest lead him to the unnerving conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a killer. But the arrival of a stranger with an unlikely alias and the machinations of an ambitious adversary, conspire to lead him unwittingly into a trap devised by a serial killer who knows him all too intimately…
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