1. How did you get started writing?
Just after Christmas 2017, in that limbo state before Hogmanay, I sat at the kitchen table with a Toblerone overdose and started typing a story on my laptop. It was the prologue to One is One, my first ever attempt at a novel, and I have no idea where it came from or why.
2. What drew you to write a novel
I’ve always been an avid reader, and I suspect all readers at one time or other have wondered if they have a book inside them waiting to get out. My gestation period was just longer than most.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I can’t really answer that with any degree of authority because my writing just happened spontaneously; there was no period of study, of analysing writing techniques or practicing my craft. I guess my style will be a synthesis of those writers whose magic worked for me – a very mixed bag ranging from Mervyn Peake to Iain Banks, too many to mention.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
There must be a method to a publisher’s madness, but I don’t know what it is. After I’d written my first novel I sent the obligatory first three chapters and synopsis to publishers and a couple of agents. I had a lot of rejections and enough non-responses to make the rejections highly prized. In the end I self-published and that has been quite instructive. My second novel, Whirligig, was snapped up by Fledgling Press last year. It’s a chicken and egg situation really – I’m just lucky getting an offer.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
I have a soft spot for my DI James Corstophine, and how he flounders in a very human way whilst trying to solve a complex case.
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?
Clocks, lots about clocks and clockwork mechanisms – far more than I needed for the plot. Clocks and neurotoxins. Google probably have a warning flag against my name.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
The only character who comes close to anyone I know is PC Lamb. His off the cuff comments remind me of some of the things I’ve said. There was a time when I wasn’t allowed anywhere near a microphone, but I think I’m safe now…
8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why
I tend to write in a highly visual style – running an internal private screening in my mind. I do like the first death, when a pastoral scene albeit with an undercurrent of impending doom reaches a conclusion and sets the story into inevitable and inescapable motion.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
As mentioned, PC Lamb and his inappropriate comments. They all sprang fully formed from my mind so I guess in some metaphysical way they must all be inside me somewhere – spooky!
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
I’m writing a second Corstophine novel, Jane Eyre meets The Shining featuring Scotland’s wonderful mountains and bothies (that’s not the title). I’m attempting to deal with the difficult subject of mental illness. This short excerpt (which as a first draft may not even make the book) gives the first insight into Phoebe’s backstory:
Someone else was in the mirror, staring at her – always watching her. She’d look away then slowly slide her eyes back towards the glass. Whoever she was, Phoebe caught her slyly watching, waiting for the moment. Sinister told her to break the glass, use the shards to stab and tear and wound. Righteous told her it was just her reflection. Fist broke glass. Cut hands left red trails. The wolf had fangs.
She’d been left alone in her hospital room, door locked from outside. With nobody to attack, Sinister told her to cut and slash her own flesh. Light fought dark; darkness won. Her arm and stomach were tattered threads of hanging flesh by the time they reached her. White uniforms stained with her blood.
When she returned from intensive care the mirror had gone and her flesh bore cuneiform scripts, death white against her olive skin. It was a message, one only she would be able to understand – with help from her voices.
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why
What a great question! I’d love the opportunity to write a Culture novel with Iain M Banks. Iain created an entire universe in his Science Fiction and was such an inspiration before being taken far too early. His humanity shone through everything he touched.
12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel
Absolutely – just do it. Don’t worry whether people will like it or not; the journey is in many ways more important than the destination. If a publisher doesn’t want your offering just remember you’re in good company.
Just outside a sleepy Highland town, a gamekeeper is found hanging lifeless from a tree. The local police investigate an apparent suicide, only to find he’s been snared as efficiently as the rabbit suspended beside him. As the body count rises, the desperate hunt is on to find the murderer before any more people die. But the town doesn’t give up its secrets easily, and who makes the intricate clockwork mechanisms carved from bone and wood found at each crime?
Whirligig is a tartan noir like no other; an exposé of the corruption pervading a small Highland community and the damage this inflicts on society’s most vulnerable. What happens when those placed in positions of trust look the other way; when those charged with our protection are inadequate to the challenge; when the only justice is that served by those who have been sinned against?
This debut crime novel introduces DI James Corstophine – a man still grieving for a wife lost to cancer; his small close-knit team of passed-over police and their quiet Highland town. He’s up against a killer who plays him as easily as a child. For a man whose been treading water since the death of his wife, he’s facing a metaphorical flood of biblical proportions as he struggles to understand why these murders are happening, and who is behind each carefully planned execution. All the time, the clock is ticking.
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