Claire MacLeary Runaway Blog Tour


The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.



Claire MacLeary: blog tour for Runaway

Having opted to place Cross Purpose, my debut crime novel, in a domestic setting, it seemed logical to develop themes of particular interest to women readers. My protagonists, Maggie and Wilma, two ordinary suburban housewives, face challenges with global appeal: the push and pull of motherhood. The constant guilt trip: having to make daily choices between prioritising children over partner or parents or one child over another. The sheer drudgery: the relentless round of shopping and cooking, washing and cleaning. For, despite the introduction of internet grocery shopping and labour-saving devices, the burden of running a home still falls heavily on the woman.

But just because my protagonists are ordinary women – and my novels are set in suburbia – doesn’t lead me to write ‘cosy crime’. On the contrary, my Harcus & Laird series tackles not the shallow ‘women’sinterest’ topics we are so often told we want, rather the bigger, harsher issues women have to contend with in their daily lives. In Cross Purpose, these include the lack of affordable childcare, where mothers on the breadline may have to compromise their children’s safety to hold down employment. Then there’s the ease of children’s access to drugs, and the corrupting power of the Internet on young minds. Burnout, launched in tandem with Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, tackles white collar domestic abuse: the sexual, financial and psychological control to which even affluent, highly educated women are not immune. In Runaway, home and homelessness are the principal themes: both the mindless routine of raising young children and the physical and emotional toll taken from losing one’s home.

Maggie and ‘Big Wilma’ address these social issues with a fierce determination to combat authority and injustice, but also with a sense of humour. Given thedarkness of the subject matter, Wilma’s couthy wit brings colour to the narrative, the Aberdeen Doricinterest to the dialogue. Think Mannofield meets Happy Valley.

So there you have it, a crime series that is different in several respects: protagonists two non-professional women of ‘a certain age’, Aberdeen domestic setting, tackling big social issues, keeping the Doric alive. And readers seem to enjoy this fresh approach, longlisting Cross Purpose for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book 2017 and Burnout for Hearst Big Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year 2018.

1. How did you get started writing?


I read English at university, and I’ve always written, be it advertising copy, training manuals or short stories. Raising a family and a business career diverted my attention. It was only when my children were at senior school that I returned to writing, first attending P/T classes then pursuing a MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Dundee.


2. What drew you to write a novel?


My MLitt studies under novelist Professor Kirsty Gunn, who encouraged me to expand my 17,000-word dissertation into a full length novel.

As to writing crime, the genre featured prominently on the Sunday Times bestseller lists, so seemed a good place to try a follow-up.


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


Chekov, Katherine Mansfield and Lorrie Moore for their short stories, Alice Munro for close observation, Jayne Anne Phillips for dense, lyrical prose.


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


Surprisingly, no. This was due in part to the literary salons held during my MLitt course, which introduced me to agents and publishers, but principally because I had done extensive research before starting to write.

I submitted my debut novel to two publishers and both made an offer. I opted for a two book deal with Saraband. Sara Hunt ‘got’ Maggie and Wilma, women ‘of a certain age’, straight off, and has been hugely supportive ever since.


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


I love Maggie and Wilma, my two protagonists. They’re an unlikely pair: Maggie petite, conservative, lacking in confidence; Wilma big, bold, brash and a bit dodgy. You can’t help but identify with Maggie’s family problems and Wilma’s yo-yoing weight and faux pas. But I have a soft spot for DI Chisolm. He appears stern and unapproachable, but there’s a back story we haven’t yet been party to, and will he and Maggie ever become an item. Who knows?


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


Now the third in the Harcus & Laird series is about to launch, I’ve learned to leave much of my research until last. That’s because you can spend time on a plot line which later gets excised. However, I did do extensive research on people trafficking and homelessness for Runawayand spent an instructive morning playing FOTBs in a betting shop when I was appearing at Newcastle Noir.


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


I think they’re an amalgam of traits from several people, plus others I’ve conjured from my imagination. Maggie Laird started out narrow, judgemental, something of a snob, but her entrenched attitudes are softening. Wilma Harcus is big-hearted, but always looking for shortcuts.I think both change with experience, as often happens in life.


8. How did you feel about being longlisted for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize?


I was thrilled, of course, to win recognition for my debut novel, Cross Purpose, and grateful that readers saw it as a fresh and different approach to the genre.  But it wasn’t until I was standing on stage with the giants of Scottish crime writing – Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Lin Anderson, Ian Rankin and others – that the significance really sank in.



9. Do you see any of your character’s personality traits in yourself and vice versa?


I think Maggie tends to take a run at things, as do I. Otherwise, no. The backgrounds of all my characters to date are very different from my own.


10. If you can, would you give us a sneak peek into any future novels you might have planned?


I’m working on the fourth in the crime series.  All I can say is that it is going to be really creepy.


11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any crime writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?


It’s hard to pin down just one individual from the giants of the genre:Conan Doyle through Josephine Tey to Stephen King and the late PD James, whom I greatly admire. I had the privilege of meeting William McIlvanney, godfather of Tartan Noir. But although he has only written one crime novel – Restless, an espionage thriller – I’ll nominate William Boyd who, for me, personifies all that is admirable in a writer: acute observation of the human condition, elegance of style, wry humour, compassion in spades.


12.  Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?


Persevere. When I first produced a short story for a creative writing class, I wouldn’t have believed I could sustain a full-length novel, far less see it in print. I firmly believe getting published is 95% hard slog and 5% luck, so join a writing group or class to give you the support you’ll need to cope with rejection and keep chipping away.


Runway Amazon Book Page


Claire MacLeary Amazon Author Page









There’s Been A Murder Crime Picks from Aye Write Book Festival 2019 Blog post 2

Val McDermid

23rd Mar 2019  •  1:15PM – 2:15PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Broken Ground

Val McDermid

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. 
Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems. 
Broken Ground is Val McDermid aka the Queen of Scottish Crime Writing writing at the very top of her game.

Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne) 

23rd Mar 2019  •  3:00PM – 4:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 

To Kill the Truth

Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne)

Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been cancelled. Our Box Office will be in touch with ticket holders to arrange refunds.

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland. His first novel, The Righteous Men was a number one best-seller. 

He returns with the taut, authoritative and explosive To Kill the Truth in which someone is trying to destroy the evidence of history’s greatest crimes. 

As Black Lives Matter protestors clash with slavery deniers, America is on a knife-edge and time is running out. This deadly conspiracy could ignite a new Civil War and take us to the edge of anarchy and a world in which history will be rewritten by those who live to shape it.

Chaired by Alan Little.

Louise Candlish & Lisa Ballantyne

23rd Mar 2019  •  3:00PM – 4:00PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Secrets and Liars

Louise Candlish & Lisa Ballantyne

On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it. Our House by Louise Candlish takes a great premise and waves it into a fresh, fun and engrossing novel. 
While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him. 
Lisa Ballantyne’s Little Liar illustrates the fine line between guilt and innocence, and shows that everyone has their secrets…

Antti Tuomainen & Lilja Sigurdardottir

23rd Mar 2019  •  4:45PM – 5:45PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Delicious Nordic Noir

Antti Tuomainen & Lilja Sigurdardottir

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot, and intriguing characters, Lilja Sigurdardottir’s Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Antti Tuomainen’s Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

Simon Mayo

23rd Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 

Mad Blood Stirring

Simon Mayo

Simon Mayo has been one of our most popular radio broadcasters for over 30 years and is one half of the most trusted film reviewing duo around, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. 
He is now enjoying a new career as a best-selling novelist. Inspired by a true story, Mad Blood Stirring tells of a few frantic months in the suffocating atmosphere of a prison awaiting liberation. 
It is a story of hope and freedom, of loss and suffering, and how sometimes, in our darkest hour, it can be the most unlikely of things that see us through.
Chaired by Anna Day.

Luca Veste Introduces… B.P Walter & G.R Halliday

23rd Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 

Aye Write Introduces

Luca Veste Introduces... B.P Walter & G.R Halliday

Luca Veste of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast introduces two page-turning crime debuts. In B.P Walter’s A Version of the Truth a devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over 25 years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find? 
G. R Halliday’s From the Shadows is a stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Shaun Bythell Introduces… Daisy Johnson and Alan Trotter

24th Mar 2019  •  6:30PM – 7:30PM  •  Mitchell Library 

Part of the Aye Write introduces series

Shaun Bythell Introduces... Daisy Johnson and Alan Trotter

Shaun Bythell, owner of the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland and author of Diary of a Bookseller introduces these two extraordinary debuts.

Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under turns classical myth on its head and takes readers to a modern-day England unfamiliar to most. As daring as it is moving, the novel is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that saw Daisy shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2018. 

Drunk on cinematic and literary influence, Alan Trotter’s Muscle is a slice of noir fiction in collapse, a ceaselessly imaginative story of violence, boredom and madness.

Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald

24th Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 

As (Crime) Scene on TV

Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald

As the authors of Killing Eve and The Cry, Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald have seen their novels turned into must-see television. 

In No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings the duel between Villanelle and Eve Polastri intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity. 

Helen Fitzgerald’s latest book Worst Case Scenario is a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book – a heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour.

Chaired by novelist and screenwriter Chris Dolan.


There’s Been A Murder Crime Picks from Aye Write Book Festival 2019 Blog post 1

James Oswald, Neil Broadfoot & M.R Mackenzie

14th Mar 2019  •  6:00PM – 7:00PM  •  Mitchell Library


A Central Belt in the Mouth

James Oswald, Neil Broadfoot & M.R Mackenzie

With crime novels set in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh, these three writers are packing a punch with their latest work.

James Oswald’s Cold as the Grave is the ninth book in the Inspector McLean series which opens with a mummified body hidden in a basement room. 

Neil Broadfoot’s No Man’s Land introduces the rough and ready Connor Fraser as he deals with a mutilated body dumped in the heart of historic Stirling. 

Glasgow librarian M.R Mackenzie’s debut, In the Silence, follows Anna, a criminology lecturer who finds herself as the star witness at the centre of a murder investigation.

 Chaired by Caro Ramsay.

16th Mar 2019  •  6:30PM – 7:30PM  •  Mitchell Library 


The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Hallie Rubenhold

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. 

They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but ‘Jack the Ripper’, the character created by the press to fill that gap, has become far more famous than any of these five women. 

Historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight in her extraordinary new book.

‘A powerful and shaming book, but most shameful of all is that it took 130 years to write.’ (The Guardian)

‘A poignant, absorbing read’ (The Times)

Ursula Buchan

17th Mar 2019  •  1:15PM – 2:15PM  •  Mitchell Library 


A Life of John Buchan

Ursula Buchan

John Buchan’s name is known across the world for The Thirty-Nine Steps

In the past 100 years the classic thriller has never been out of print and has inspired numerous adaptations for film, television, radio and stage, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s version. 

Yet there was more to him. He was a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda and a member of parliament. 

Ursula Buchan, his granddaughter, has drawn on recently discovered family documents to write this comprehensive and illuminating biography of a remarkable man and his times.

Anna Mazzola, Douglas Skelton & C.L Taylor

17th Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 


These Bloody Islands

Anna Mazzola, Douglas Skelton & C.L Taylor

Three Scottish islands provide the setting for these spell-binding crime novels.
Anna Mazzola’s The Story Keeper is set on the Isle of Skye in 1857 where the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. 
In Douglas Skelton’s Thunder Bay, Roddie Drummond’s return to the fictional island of Stoirm causes a sensation as fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover. 
C.L. Taylor’s Sleep sees insomniac Anna takes a job at a hotel on
Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat turns into a deadly nightmare.
Chaired by Theresa Talbot

Alex Gray & Ann Cleeves

22nd Mar 2019  •  6:00PM – 7:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 


Catching Up with Lorimer & Perez

Alex Gray & Ann Cleeves

A very warm welcome back to two of our favourite crime writers discussing their latest novels. 
Alex Grey’s The Stalker is a twisty, heart-stopping crime novel. When Detective Superintendent William Lorimer’s wife, Maggie, publishes her first book, he is thrilled for her. But joy soon turns to fear when a mysterious stranger starts following Maggie on her publicity tour. 
Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves has Shetland detective Jimmy Perez called in to investigate the hanging of a young nanny and rumours of her affair with her employer.

22nd Mar 2019  •  7:45PM – 8:45PM  •  Mitchell Library 


Aspects of Gothic

Craig Russell & E.S. Thomson

The Devil Aspect is best-seller Craig Russell’s masterpiece. 
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets. 
E.S. Thomson’s latest book, Surgeons’ Hall: A Jem Flockhart Mystery, divides its time between Victorian Edinburgh and London in a macabre world of mortuaries, anatomy lessons, harvested organs and a bloody pact of silence.

22nd Mar 2019  •  9:00PM – 11:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 


Back due to popular demand: Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste 

The Return of the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers

Back due to popular demand: Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste AKA The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers with their unique brand of rock and roll. 
Their set features some new murderous ballads, grisly grooves and bloodthirsty beats to add to their criminal repertoire. 
Like Hendrix at Woodstock, The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall or Oasis at King Tut’s – you want to be able to say ‘I was there…’


V.Clifford Who is She Blog Tour

Vicki Clifford was born in Edinburgh and until recently taught Religious Studies at the University of Stirling. She has an unusual background as a freelance hairdresser with a Ph.D on psychoanalysis from the University of Edinburgh. She had her first book, Freud’s Converts, published in 2007. She lives in Perthshire, Scotland. When she isn’t writing she’s cutting hair, walking her dogs or making unorthodox tray bakes.

Beyond Cutting was shortlisted for the Rainbow Awards 2014
Digging up the Dead received an Honourable mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016
The Viv Fraser Mysteries were shortlisted for a Diva Literary Award 2017.

Who is She? No one knows that the past is a strange country more than Scottish sleuth Viv Fraser. In this, the fifth Mystery, Viv is compelled to investigate a series of misadventures that are too close to home. Unravelling a veil of deception she discovers just how much of her past is in the present. No stranger to a challenge, she risks more than her pride hunting down the people who have threatened her family. Mac is on hand to help but will she let him?  

Viv sighed and reminded herself that when people revelled in tiny victories it indicated their actual insecurity. But that didn’t justify inappropriate behaviour. You just had to look at the legacy of Hitler or Stalin to witness what insecure people were capable of. Viv was convinced that her mum was unhappy with the way she was treated by this woman but she had too little proof. Once or twice recently when Viv had said she’d ‘get the warden onto it’ her mum had made excuses so that Viv wouldn’t take action. Viv’s mum was no shrinking violet yet this warden had some sort of power over her. Viv glanced round the small tidy room. A box of tissues disguised under a satin and lace cover crouched on the window sill, a bookcase with a few ‘how to’ books sat beneath a framed certificate on the wall stating that the woman had ‘attended’ a course on communication with the elderly. The warden caught her reading it and glared. The place smelled of mock lavender, definitely more chemical than organic and barely masking another stale smell, which Viv recognised as overfull vacuum cleaner. 

The call took two minutes. The warden conceded and turned her computer screen round so that Viv could view it. A few clicks later she watched the film that Mand had talked about. There definitely was a man going directly up a ladder to her mum’s first floor windows. Why would he do that if he was there to do the whole building? Surely he’d start at the top and work down? She stared at the paltry attempt he’d made at cleaning the window. There was more looking in than cleaning. What was he up to? Viv zoomed in to look for a logo on his clothing but she couldn’t see anything. The company that the housing association employed had to wear uniforms. 

The warden said, ‘He’s definitely not one of the usual men. They’re all vetted and I haven’t seen him before. Also, they’re not allowed to work without uniforms and ID cards.’ There was a knock at the office door. A resident wanted help to open the clothes drier. Reluctantly the warden went with the woman, which left Viv free to download the footage onto a USB stick. It was possible that she’d find the man on another database but not one that she would access easily from a public network computer.

She left the office without saying goodbye and nipped upstairs to her mum’s flat. There was no answer when she knocked. She went back downstairs to the public rooms and through a window in the top of the door she saw her mum with a group of men and women concentrating on a watercolour class. Best leave her to it. She jogged home.

Who is She Amazon Page

Amazon Author Page