There’s Been a Murder Picks of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 Part Two

Kate Hamer & Doug Johnstone 

 Fri 16 Aug 13:45 – 14:45 


 The Spiegeltent 


 £12.00, £10.00

Kate Hamer & Doug Johnstone


The tenth crime novel from Edinburgh’s Doug Johnstone, Breakers follows a teenager trying to escape his dysfunctional family whilst implicated in the assault of a crime-lord’s wife. In Crushed, Kate Hamer’s follow-up to the bestselling The Girl in the Red Coat, can Phoebe control events to such a degree that when she thinks about murder, carnage occurs nearby? Meet two accomplished writers of lively lawless tales in conversation with writer and broadcaster James Crawford.

Helen FitzGerald & Helga Flatland 

 Sat 17 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 


 The Spiegeltent 


 £12.00, £10.00

Helen FitzGerald & Helga Flatland


Glasgow-based Australian Helen FitzGerald struck gold recently with the BBC adaptation of The Cry; her latest novel Worst Case Scenario covers equally disturbing ground as a family murder is investigated. In Norwegian Helga Flatland’s A Modern Family, adult siblings must come to terms with the news that their elderly parents are divorcing. Together they ask: is it possible to know everything about those closest to us? They discuss their ideas and the inspiration for their new books with fellow author Karen Campbell.

Ambrose Parry 

 Sat 17 Aug 20:30 – 21:30 


 The New York Times Main Theatre 


 £12.00, £10.00



Crime-writing duo Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman introduced the shadowy streets of 1840s Edinburgh in The Way of All Flesh last year. Now they launch the sequel, The Art of Dying. Will Raven is a qualified medical practitioner but becomes embroiled in an effort to clear his mentor’s name following the death of a patient. Don’t miss this highlight of the Scottish literary season.

Arne Dahl & Alex Gray 

 Sat 17 Aug 20:45 – 21:45 


 Spark Theatre on George Street 


 £12.00, £10.00

Arne Dahl & Alex Gray


Two of the finest Eurocrime writers combine for an event exploring humanity’s darker side. Scandi author Arne Dahl puts Stockholm police officer Desiré Rosenkvist in the firing line in new novel Hunted, while Alex Gray’s DS William Lorimer series continues in The Stalker, in which the Glasgow cop shields his novelist wife while investigating the murders of two young women. Join them for a foray into criminal investigation, in conversation with writer and broadcaster James Crawford.

For more information about these and other events going on you can check out the Edinburgh International Book Festival at

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There’s Been a Murder Picks of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 Part One

Parker Bilal & James Oswald 

 Sat 10 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 


 The Spiegeltent 


 £12.00, £10.00

Parker Bilal & James Oswald


New novels from Parker Bilal and James Oswald find investigators at different ends of crime-cracking careers. Following the success of his Makana Mystery series, Bilal’s The Divinities marks DS Calil Drake and Dr Rayhana Crane’s maiden voyage as they attempt to solve a brutal murder in Battersea. Oswald’s Cold As The Grave – complete with mummified bodies in Edinburgh – sees DCI Tony McLean in his ninth outing. The authors talk to Brian Taylor.

Louise Doughty & Stuart Turton 

 Sun 11 Aug 13:45 – 14:45 


 The Spiegeltent 


 £12.00, £10.00

Louise Doughty & Stuart Turton


Meet two British writers of cleverly conceived and suspenseful stories, Louise Doughty and Stuart Turton, who come together to talk about their new novels. The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, Turton’s 2018 Costa First Novel Award-winning debut, sees its central character killed afresh daily until her would-be saviour tries to solve the riddle. Doughty, author of the hugely successful Apple Tree Yard, talks about Platform Seven, which has her protagonist trying to prevent people taking their own lives at a railway station.

Stuart MacBride 

 Sun 11 Aug 20:45 – 21:45 


 Spark Theatre on George Street 

 £12.00, £10.00

Stuart MacBride


With the nation at boiling point, someone’s sending messages in blood in the latest dark thriller from Stuart MacBride. Inspector Logan Macrae is back after a year off, but there’s no rest when a high-profile anti-Independence campaigner disappears amid growing tensions between those fighting for Scotland’s future. Can Logan survive in the cauldron of Scottish politics? Spend an hour with this master of suspense.

James Runcie 

 Mon 12 Aug 18:45 – 19:45 

 The New York Times Main Theatre 


 £12.00, £10.00

James Runcie


Journey back in time with The Road to Grantchester, James Runcie’s superb prequel to his successful Grantchester Mysteries series. The future Archdeacon Sidney Chambers’s young life is turned inside out when the Second World War tears through Britain’s idyll, and he returns from Italy burdened with a secret. Runcie discusses his new book with Jane Fowler, in a perfect introduction for new readers and a deep dive for existing fans.

Chris Brookmyre 

 Mon 12 Aug 20:30 – 21:30 

 The New York Times Main Theatre 


 £12.00, £10.00

BSL EventChris Brookmyre


Sixteen years on from the death of young Niamh on a holiday in Portugal, the glamorous Temple clan hold a fateful family reunion in Fallen Angel, Chris Brookmyre’s new standalone thriller. For Amanda, a neighbouring nanny, fascination gives way to suspicion – what did happen to the girl? Among our finest crime writers and funniest speakers, Brookmyre is back with one of his best stories yet. He talks to Brian Taylor.

Joanne Harris 

 Tue 13 Aug 11:45 – 12:45 

 The New York Times Main Theatre 


 £12.00, £10.00

Joanne Harris


Vianne Rocher is back, but trouble could be brewing in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. Joanne Harris revisits the world of Chocolat 20 years on. In The Strawberry Thief, life has settled down for Rocher, but the death of a local florist brings fresh upheaval to the village, including a new chocolate shop – conflict, or worse, could be waiting. Dip into Harris’s expertly crafted world for an unrivalled sensory experience.

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Book Tour From the Outside By Clare Johnston

Clare Johnston is a journalist and content specialist, and a frequent contributor on radio and TV, having appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, The Kaye Adams Programme and comedy satire show Breaking the News on BBC Radio Scotland, along with STV2’s Live at Five. She is a former editorial director of Press Association Scotland and commercial editor and columnist with the Daily Record. She is currently working with the DC Thomson media group and supports businesses with communication and content creation. Clare is based in Edinburgh.    

1. How did you get started writing?

I’ve worked as a journalist for my entire career so writing is something that I’ve done since university. There was a period of time though when I was working in a senior management job for a news agency and no longer wrote as part of my job. I soon found that I really missed writing. It coincided with my kids being babies and I would put them down to sleep at 7pm and found myself aching to put my mind to creative use. That’s when I started to write in the evenings.


2. What drew you to write a novel

I had toyed with the idea of writing a novel for a long time. It seemed a natural progression for a professional writer, and around 20 years ago I started work on a YA novel about a young fan who became pregnant in a one-night-stand with a rock star, but I never finished it. A few years later, my cousin sadly died at a young age and it really got me thinking about the afterlife. I have also had a few experiences where I have felt contact with loved ones who have passed away. The combination of events inspired From the Outside.


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

At one point, before kids, I was reading so much it would be almost impossible to say who had most influence. I couldn’t read enough. I am a huge admirer of Ian McEwan’s work, and also prolific writers like Jodi Picoult – a master of intriguing plots – and Anita Shreve. But I enjoy a real range of work – books like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita stand out – so I think I have probably taken on a mix of influences as well developing my own style through years of writing features and newspaper columns.


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

My path to publication has not been a straightforward one. From the Outside was the first full novel I ever completed but is not my first published novel – that was the political thriller Polls Apart, published in 2011.

I got an agent for From the Outside very quickly, before the novel was actually finished, but he was struggling with his workload and that relationship sort of fizzled out. I soon found that while I would receive compliments about the writing style from agents, there was a view that this novel, narrated from the afterlife, didn’t fit neatly in a box which is becoming increasingly important in publishing. After Polls Apart was published I took on a really busy job with a newspaper group where I was also a weekly columnist so I just didn’t have time to juggle everything and I stopped looking for a publisher for From the Outside. It was only a couple of years ago when I listened to an interview with Man Booker-winning author Marlon James, who said his novel has been rejected nearly 80 times, that I thought, “I’m going to give From the Outside another push.” I had exchanged tweets with the publishing director at Urbane and so I dropped him a note with a copy of the manuscript. A year later he told me they wanted to publish it. Sometimes life makes you wait for the right opportunities.


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

Because of the circumstances in which I wrote it, From the Outside is incredibly close to my heart as are each of the major characters in it. I reserve special love for the twins Ben and Harry though. Both are very flawed individuals, but also relatable and loveable in their own ways.


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

From the Outside didn’t require significant research, though there are always factual elements that you want to check out about places that are mentioned. In the time between writing the novel and it being published the world had moved on and I found myself having to swap mentions of Blackberry phones for instance, to iPhones. There was also a very famous block of flats in Edinburgh called The Fort that were referenced in the novel, but they got pulled down a few years ago so I had to change that as well.


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

None of my characters are based significantly on any one person, but there are reflections of people I know or who I’ve met along the way. Ben, who is crippled by a lack of self confidence, and Harry, who is almost similarly crippled by his ego, represent extremes of my own personality, though I err towards Ben.


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

Yes, I’m working (painfully slowly) on a novel about sex trafficking at the moment, again set in my home town of Edinburgh.


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

I think that would have to be Ian McEwan. I could learn so much from him and I bet he tells a really good story down the pub too!


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

I was one of those writers who just sat down and got started without planning out my novel in any great detail. That proved to be a daft approach because I then changed my plotlines multiple times and had to work my way back through the entire novel over and over again to make sure everything stacked up. But it was my way of learning and I think the novel benefitted from the rewrites. I have a colleague who has just written a crime novel and she more or less studied it as an art form for years before she attempted her own work. She took her time and produced a really strong piece of work so there are so many different approaches and you just have to do what works for you. It can be hard to keep the motivation up when you have many thousands of words to write so I say, just get started and keep going, even if it’s an hour a day. You never know where it will take you.

When internet millionaire and philanthropist Harry Melville dies in a car crash at the age of forty four, the lives of his wife, Sarah, and twin brother, Ben, are thrown into turmoil.

Harry seemed to have it all; a close-knit family and a happy marriage – along with all the trappings of wealth. Yet as he recalls his past from the afterlife, a story emerges of the unspoken and bitter jealousies between brothers and of an unhappy wife burdened by loneliness and guilt.

When Ben takes over the running of Harry’s charity foundation he begins to find purpose for the first time in years. But the arrival of a talented young artist brings a series of revelations that expose Harry’s complex and dual personality in full. As he learns his part in the suffering of those he left behind, is it too late for Harry to make amends?

A tale of regret and redemption in this world and the next. From the Outside looks at the futile rivalries that can destroy sibling relationships and the lost opportunity for happiness when ego is allowed to reign over emotion.

From the Outside Amazon Page

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Publishers Website

Gordon Kerr The Partisan Heart Blog Tour

The Italian Alps,1944. The Resistance is fighting a bitter battle against German forces on the treacherous mountains of the Valtellina. Eighteen-year-old Sandro Bellini falls in love with the wife of his Commander. No good can come of it. 

London,1999. Michael Keats is mourning the death of his wife, killed in a hit and run accident in Northern Italy. His discovery that she had been having an affair devastates him and he sets out to find the identity of her lover.

That journey leads him to the villages of the Valtellina, where he becomes embroiled in a crime of treachery and revenge. The brutal repercussions of the war are still reverberating, and as Michael uncovers the truth of his wife’s affair, he reveals five decades of duplicity and deception.

Amazon Book Link

Excerpt from Partisan Heart

he resolved to go down to the sorting office as soon as he

was dressed. It wasn’t far and the air would do him good

after spending the whole of the previous day mooching

around the house and then drinking far too much whisky

last night.


The sorting office had a 1950s feel to it. It resembled a school

building and reminded Michael a little of the large comprehensive

school he had attended what seemed like another

lifetime ago.

 He followed a sign directing him to ‘Collections’, walking

through a swing door into a dingy room with a large counter

at one end.

 In this obviously neglected space, Michael stood feeling

similarly neglected. No one came and there was not a sound

from anywhere. Behind the counter was a low partition

beyond which there were rows of wooden shelving with

pigeon holes filled with parcels of all shapes and sizes.

 Soon a woman appeared and Michael explained he was

collecting a parcel for his wife. The woman absently took the

card, checked the address and disappeared into the dinginess

behind the partition. She returned after a minute or so with

a large brown paper parcel, about a foot by one- and- half feet

in size. A typed, white label showed Rosa’s name. Michael

showed the woman his driving licence for ID, signed a form

and left the office clutching the parcel.

 It was soft to the touch and sealed so completely with

brown packing tape that, when he got home, he was forced

to hunt down a pair of scissors to open it. Inside, wrapped

in a piece of thin clear plastic of the kind dry- cleaners use

to wrap clothes, he was surprised to find a man’s jacket. He

searched for a letter or a note accompanying it and found

one in an unsealed envelope, its letter- head denoting that


it was from a hotel, the Lighthouse Inn, in Dumfriesshire,

Scotland. Puzzled, his eyes quickly took in the short message

written on it:


Dear Mrs Keats, we are delighted to be able to return to

you a jacket found in the room you occupied during your

stay in our hotel in April. We hope to see you again at the

Lighthouse Inn soon.’ It was signed ‘J. Stewart, Manager.


 Michael’s eyes returned to the jacket. It was light brown

with a faint check of a darker hue stitched through it.

Expensive, he thought, looking at the label, which displayed

an Italian name of which he had never heard. But that was

no surprise to him. Fashion and clothes had never been much

of an abiding interest with him.

 He put the jacket on, approving of the lightness of its cloth,

but found that its chest size was at least a couple of sizes bigger

than his thirty- eight. The sleeves hung down below his fingertips

and the shoulders dropped a couple of inches too low.

The owner was undoubtedly a big chap, he thought, eyeing

himself in the long mirror that formed one of the doors of

a wardrobe in the bedroom. Shame, he thought. I might have

just hung on to it had it fitted.

 This was obviously some kind of mistake. Rosa had not,

to his knowledge, been in Scotland recently. She had gone

away in April, the month that the note claimed she had

been at the Lighthouse Hotel, but that had been a trip to

Newcastle on a photographic assignment for some magazine

or other.

 Certain that a mistake must have been made, Michael

pulled off the jacket, laid it on the bed and resolved to ring

the Lighthouse Inn later that day to let them know that they

were mistaken and that he would post it back to them.


As he got ready to head into town, however, it nagged at

him, tugging at his thoughts. Whenever he tried to push it

to one side it would return, like one of those irritating flies

that can plague you in a hot climate. You swat them away

and within a minute or two they return to buzz around your

food or drink. How had the hotel come to connect Rosa with

this item of clothing? It was unlikely, after all, that there was

another combination of names like hers in the country – Rosa

Keats – and, apart from that, how would they have come into

possession of her address?



‘Hello, Lighthouse Inn, Mary speaking. How may I help

you?’ The voice was soft and musical. He asked to be put

through to ‘J. Stewart’ and explained the reason for his call.

  ‘Well, Mr Keats, the thing is . . .’ – there was hesitancy in

J. Stewart’s voice because the delicacy of the situation had

suddenly made itself very apparent to her. Husband receives

man’s jacket in post. Jacket doesn’t belong to him but has been

left behind by male companion of his wife. ‘. . . The point

is, we were quite certain the jacket belonged to Mrs Keats’s

companion because we had the room refurbished shortly

before their stay, but found out after they left that the plumber

had made a right mess of some of the pipes and water was

leaking down onto the ceiling of the room below. When the

bed was moved to lift the floorboards, we found the jacket.’

She hesitated, before adding nervously, ‘But, of course, there

might be some other explanation.’ There was a silence at the

other end. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, eventually.

 Surely not, he thought. Oh, Rosa, surely not. There must be

some kind of mistake. Ten minutes after he had hung up, he

was staring out of the window watching the world go about

its business as if nothing had happened, as if everything had

not just taken a step in the wrong direction. He had been too

Gordon Kerr was brought up in the Scottish new town of East Kilbride. After graduating from Glasgow University, he lived in France before working in the wine trade in London for 18 years. He next worked in bookselling and publishing. He has written numerous books in a variety of non-fiction genres – wine, history, biography, true crime, humour, art, poetry and travel. He has a wife and two children and lives in West Dorset and southwest France.

1. How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about fifteen. I enjoyed poetry at school – I know, not normal! – and so, the first things I wrote were poems. The very first I composed in response to seeing a young American girl on television whose boyfriend had been killed in Vietnam. She was about seventeen and I was very moved by her grief and extremely angry about the pointlessness of that war, and of any war. It’s probably a very good job I no longer have the poem! But from that time on I wrote, and still write, poems. These led me into writing song lyrics and I was in a band when I was still in my teens. We got together again a few years ago after 40 years and are writing and recording again. My writing eventually began to get me jobs in marketing and over the years I have written countless catalogues, leaflets and adverts. Finally, someone asked me to write a book  non-fiction  and since then I’ve been fortunate enough to have had dozens published.

2. What drew you to write a novel?

It was the story, really. It kind of arrived fully-formed in my head. George Harrison once said that songs somehow find their writers, not vice-versa and it was a bit like that with The Partisan Heart. It just came together without a huge amount of planning and preparation. The idea came from my many visits to the Valtellina in north Italy where my sister-in-law lives. I heard stories about the war in the area and about the partisans who fought in the mountains there. The area is beautiful and atmospheric and seemed perfect as the backdrop to a thriller. So, I was writing my non-fiction books as my day job and then in the evening jumping into the fictional world I was trying to create. I almost wore out my keyboard!

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

I love all kinds of writing and writers, but I suppose in the genre in which I am writing, I would have to make special mention of the Berlin Noir novels of the late Philip Kerr (no relation!). His creation, the hard-bitten detective, Bernie Gunther, is a masterpiece of cynicism and cunning. The last book has just been published and I will really miss Bernie. Amongst other writers I enjoy are Joseph Kanon, Olen Steinhauer, Alan Furst and Tom Rob Smith. I am a huge fan of the books of the great thriller writer, Eric Ambler. I particularly enjoy stories in which the hero is an amateur who stumbles into perilous situations and in a number of Ambler’s books – such as Journey into Fear and The Mask of Dimitrios – that is exactly what happens.

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

I guess I am lucky in that I have worked in the book world for many years, in bookselling, publishing and as a writer. Therefore, I know a lot of people in that world. I also had a track-record as a writer of non-fiction books which undoubtedly helped. Even with that, however, it can be difficult and I did write another novel quite a few years ago that never found a home. Even if you know the right people, it still has to be a compelling story and the writing has to be up to scratch.

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

I’m quite proud of the female character, Helen, in the book. She’s strong, courageous and she knows her own mind. She uses her initiative and her actions help the hero who sometimes can be a bit weak. She is so strong that in the sequel that I’m toying with at the moment, she isn’t present. There’s too much world out there for her to be tied too long to someone.

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

Part of the novel is set during the Italian Civil War that was fought towards the end of the Second World War. So, I obviously had to delve into that period of Italian history. At the same time, though, I was very conscious that I was writing fiction and not history; so the book is light on historical detail. I think Mussolini’s name is mentioned once, just to give background to the fighting that was going on. I also heard a lot of stories from my sister-in-law’s family about the war. Her father-in-law, for instance was transported to Germany to be used as forced labour. So, it was all around me, especially in the first years when we went to the Valtellina, when the generation that fought in the war was still alive.

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

No, I’m afraid they are entirely fictional, both the characters from the war and the ones in more contemporary times.

8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

There is a recurring dream that the main character has. It has no real meaning, although it appears at first to be heavy in symbolism. I like the randomness of it. I think stories benefit sometimes from having a passage like that, that really doesn’t drive the action forward in any way, but ladles on the mystery and the atmosphere.

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

I’d love to think that I would be as enquiring and as bent on the truth as Michael Keats, the journalist who is the hero of the book, but the truth is that I would probably run a mile from some of the situations he gets himself into. Still, you never know how you might react when you are thrown headlong into a certain scenario. He is driven by grief and anger, I guess, and perhaps if the same thing happened to me as did to him, I too would want to seek out the truth in order to obtain some closure.

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

As I said above, I am planning a second novel featuring Michael Keats. It seems silly not to and these days people seem to enjoy seeing a character develop as he or she gets into scrapes through a series of novels. He’ll be in Italy again, and perhaps there will be another link to the past that informs a set of circumstances in the present. It’s all still some way off, though, and I have a history of the Korean War to write before I get to it.

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

I wouldn’t mind going on a car journey across America with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady at the wheel, writing and shouting poetry as we went. Although I would be a stumbling wreck by the end of the journey, it would have been a lot of fun! And what a novel we would have. Maybe call it Off the Road!

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

My advice would be to just DO IT! I have so many friends who talk about writing their novel, but for some reason they don’t. For me it was a natural thing because writing is just what I do. Even if I wasn’t being paid to do it, I would still do it. If you’re a writer, write!

Amazon Author Link

There’s been a Murder Interview with J D Kirk

JD Kirk lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife, two children, and a number of sturdy umbrellas. Despite writing from a young age, ‘A Litter of Bones’ is his first novel, and combines his love of the Highlands, crime thrillers, and cats.


Was the biggest case of his career the worst mistake he ever made?

Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed ‘Mister Whisper,’ earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process.

Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow’s Major Incident Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw.

And what he did.

When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home.

But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?

And, if so, is the real Mister Whisper about to claim his fourth victim?

1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve been writing pretty much for as long as I remember. I used to fill notebooks with short stories and comics, most of them insanely violent and full of gore. ‘Disembowelled’ was my favourite word for a while, and not a story would go by without at least one character having their bowels forcibly removed by something sharp and pointy.
I was nine years old when I decided that I wanted to do it as a career. We’d just done a project in school on Roald Dahl, and that was the first time I found out that being an author was an actual job. I’d written stories all the time for my own amusement before then, so when I found out that I could make ACTUAL MONEY from doing what I loved, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
2. What drew you to write a novel
I actually started off by writing screenplays. I wanted to write big cinematic movies that would play in the cinema for a while, then I realised that it was VERY difficult to get something like that made, so then I started writing much smaller, low-budget screenplays. I had a few of those picked up by production companies, but even at the low-budget end of the spectrum, producers have to raise millions to get a movie off the ground, so none of them ever went into production.
I realised that it was much cheaper for a publisher to put out a book than it was for a studio to put out a movie, so I took some of the stories I had planned writing as film scripts and started adapting them into novels. I found I enjoyed the process of writing a novel far more than I liked writing screenplays, and so all my new ideas tended to be for the page, rather than the screen.
I think there’s something about being able to get inside a character’s head that really appeals to me in writing a novel. In a screenplay, you can only really write about what the audience can see and hear. In a novel, you can do anything, go anywhere, and show the thoughts of the characters. There’s also no special effects budget, so you’re only limited by your imagination.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
I don’t think it was any one writer, but more a big amalgamation of all the thousands of books I read growing up, and through my teenage years. After I discovered my local library, I’d go through three or four books a week. I always went against popular advice, and very much judged books by their covers. If the cover grabbed me, I’d have a go, often not paying attention to the author or title.
I tend to gravitate towards anything with humour in it, no matter the genre. I’m not saying everything has to be comedy, but I tend to get through life by laughing and joking, even during the darkest times, and I like a book to reflect that. I think Chris Brookmyre is a great example of that. Often very dark plots, but with a rich seam of humour running through them that just lifts the stories to another level.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I think what gave me an advantage is that I wrote every day for about twenty years before I submitted a single novel to a publisher. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the earlier stuff was good enough (although, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t). It was that I enjoyed the writing process so much I didn’t want to get bogged down with the submission process.
When I finally decided to submit a novel I’d written to an agent, she signed me up pretty quickly. She then submitted the book to HarperCollins Children’s Books (it was a horror novel for 9-12 year olds) and they came back soon after to ask if I’d write a series of six. There were no rejections at all, as far as I can recall. I put it down to all those years of practice!
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one?
I enjoyed writing all the characters, and wanted to make sure they were all fleshed out with their own goals, ambitions, flaws, etc. As such, I like pretty much all of them – even the villainous characters – but DCI Jack Logan has to be my favourite. He’s often rude, sometimes harsh, but has that streak of humour running through him like I mentioned earlier.
He’s tormented by things that have happened to him in the past, and things he has done, but he also genuinely cares about people. He just sometimes shows it in a funny way…
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel?
Mostly, it was stuff about police procedure. I was fortunate in that I got to know a couple of serving police officers online, and they were happy to give me some advice. I read a lot of police manuals, too, and generally spent a few weeks immersing myself in the intricacies of Police Scotland.
In the end, very little of that actually makes it into the book! For me, the characters and plot come first, and the actual nitty gritty of police procedure is a distant second. I try to sprinkle just enough to make it seem convincing to the reader, but never in a way that sacrifices story or character.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
Not specifically. I mean, there’s no one character who is based on an individual person I know, but they’re probably all a bit of a mish-mash of characteristics from various people I’ve known over the years. The only exception is DS McQuarrie in A Litter of Bones. She’s what I imagine the policewoman who attended the scene after I’d been involved in a car crash would be like, were she to become a detective. She was fiercely officious to the extent that, after giving me a breath test to make sure I hadn’t been drinking, she made me climb back in through the boot of my upside-down car to retrieve my insurance documents from the glove box. I was literally crawling over broken glass with her standing outside watching me.
I set out to make DS McQuarrie a version of that police officer, but ended up making her a bit nicer somewhere along the way.
8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why
The opening scene of A Litter of Bones is set in a place called Leanachan Forest, where I often take my dog for a walk. Without giving too much away, the events of this first scene kick off the whole story, and it’s based pretty closely on something that happened when my daughter and I took the dog out at that same spot. She was around seven, and what happens in that opening scene is almost exactly what happened with my daughter and I (only with a happier ending…)
And I shall say no more than that. 🙂
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
I think DCI Logan is sort of how I can see myself in the future. I think he was probably quite positive and idealistic once, but time, life, and the realisation that there are a lot of horrible people in the world have all conspired to turn him that bit wearier and more cynical. At his core, he still has that hopefully, idealistic spark, but dealing with murderers and psychopaths has buried it deep.
I’m currently still at that mostly-positive stage, but I can feel myself getting increasingly cantankerous and irritable as I get older. I don’t think I’m anywhere near Logan yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
Sure! The second DCI Logan book, “Thicker than Water” comes out in June. When a mutilated body washes up on the shores of Loch Ness, the media goes into a monster-frenzy. But the real killer is very much human, and it’s up to Logan and the rest of the Major Investigations Team to find them.
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any writer alive or dead, who would it be and why
Hmm. I’m not sure. If it’s a 50/50 royalty split, I’ll go with JK Rowling. 🙂
Seriously, though, one of the things I most enjoy about writing a novel is that it’s solely my vision. When I was writing screenplays, you had to try to second-guess what the budget would allow, then the best case scenario was that a director and producer would come along, take your script, and then stamp their own creative vision all over it.
I like the fact that a novel is just mine. Sure, there’s an editor to think about, but I have final say, no one else. I’m not sure if I’d be able to collaborate on a novel if it meant giving up that control.
That said, I’d love DCI Logan to do a crossover with someone like LJ Ross’s DCI Ryan. Something like that could be a lot of fun.
12.  Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel
The obvious one is to write lots. The more you write, the better you get. But we’ve all heard that before.
So, instead, I’ll say: Live. It’s hard to write about being scared if you’ve never done anything scary. It’s hard to write about love if you’ve never experienced it, or about the thrill of driving a fast car around a racing track if you’ve never gone over thirty.
Go out and experience as many things as possible. Travel. Have adventures. Make friends. Laugh, love, experience loss, and all that stuff. The more of life you experience, the richer your writing will become.

Pre Order DCI Logan Novel 2 – Thicker Than Water – Out 30th June 2019

Not all monsters are make-believe.

When a badly mutilated body washes up on the shores of Loch Ness, DCI Jack Logan’s dream of a quiet life in the Highlands is shattered.

While the media speculates wildly about monster attacks, Jack and the Major Investigations Team must act fast to catch the killer before they can strike again.

But with Nessie-hunters descending on the area in their dozens, and an old enemy rearing his ugly head, the case could well turn out to be the most challenging of Jack’s career.

And, if he isn’t careful, the last.

Links are:

There’s Been a Murder Interview with Allan Martin

Allan has worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and university lecturer.  Itook early retirement and now live in Glasgow.  My wife and I visit the Hebrides and Estonia regularly. Before retirement, his writing was mainly academic work. In 2013 he edited (as well as co-authored) M. Lamb, J. Macmillan, & A. Martin, Bute Connections, Rothesay, Bute Natural History Society(a collection of biographies of historical figures connected to Bute).Since then He has concentrated on writing fiction.

1. How did you get started writing?

I’d written various bits and pieces (e.g. two school pantomimes when I was a teacher) and plenty academic stuff, but it was only when I took early retirement that things took off. Now I could focus on what I really wanted to write. To start with that was history. I did some family history, and then things relating to the history of Bute. Then I thought about fiction.

2. What drew you to write a novel?

We visit Islay regularly, and seeing the remains of the World War Two airbase triggered the idea of a novel related to it. I wrote the first draft of The Peat Dead without any idea of whether it was any good or not. It was only when my wife Vivien, who’s an honest critic, said how impressive she thought it was, that it became real.

I was then lucky enough to have it assessed by a published author through the Xpo North Emergents Programme. That was very encouraging and also gave me some good practical advice, a key point being to cut out 40,000 words! I had to sacrifice some beloved characters and scenes, but I learnt the lesson that you’ve got to focus on the plot and keep it moving. And that the first draft is only the first draft.

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

I’ve not consciously modelled my writing on anyone (I don’t think many authors do), but I guesslots of writers I’ve read have shaped my writing in one way or another. As a teenager I read Agatha Christie, Dennis Wheatley and Sax Rohmer, so they may be in there somewhere (though I’ve managed to resist writing about puzzle-solving amateur sleuths and oriental criminal masterminds). Eric Ambler probably influenced my mixing of crime, history and politics in the plot. Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios is a brilliant mixture of all three, as well as a powerful evocation of the atmosphere of the late 1930s. Lots of others will be in the mix too, as I do a lot of reading; I think all of your reading shapes what you write. Writers I’ve read more recently and very much admired are Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald and Peter May.

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

I didn’t think seriously about getting The Peat Dead published until I came second in the Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect event in 2016. Then I wrote to agents and publishers, and got plenty of polite refusals and even more total non-responses (‘If after six months we haven’t responded, please assume we’re not interested’). So you can imagine how excited I was when the lady from ThunderPoint said yes!

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

Angus Blue is the lynchpin of the book. He’s the one I started with, and he drives the investigation from start to finish. He has a strong moral sense: he believes in right and wrong rather than law and order. Justice is for him a moral imperative rather than a legal quibble. He has passions, but keeps them below the surface. And there’s a tragedy back there too. He is a team player, and builds a small team, each member of which has a distinctive character. There are lots of other characters in the book too, and I wanted each one to be different, and real. If the next Inspector Blue novel is published, there are characters who will return and who will need to be developed further, starting with Angus Blue himself.

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

The plot and the characters are all my own. But the action has to take place in a plausible context. The locations on Islay are known from frequent visits. There are some very evocative places too which I wanted to include because they add to the sense of the past never being absent from the present.

One or two little tweaks were necessary in the service of  the plot. I had to add a cafe to the museum, create a fictitious distillery, and transform the police station from a small bungalow into an Edwardian villa.

Distilleries are an important part of Islay’s identity, as well as its economy. Angus Blue tries a different Islay whisky most nights. You can imagine that this necessitated many hours of careful tasting! I had to select the right whiskies, and describe the tastes as I experienced them. There’s only one fictitious whisky in the book, but Blue doesn’t get the opportunity to try it.

The plot hinges on historical events during World War Two. The airbase is real, but the events that happened there in the book are made up. However, some historical research was needed to make sure that the main events might have happened. The level of secrecy was so high during the war that, who knows, maybe they did happen!

Regarding police procedure, we are fortunate to know a retired detective who had worked in, among other things, the Vice Squad, and their advice on the activities of the police officers was very useful.

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

All the characters I create are I guess drawn from my take on real life. However, only three minor characters are based on specific real people, and they are very positive characters. I should stress that no character in the book is based on anyone resident on Islay.

8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

Not one particular scene, but there are several which I particularly enjoyed writing. The car chase (on an island!!) and Blue’s conversation with his reporter friend about the possibility of aliens being involved. I also surprised myself when I read some of the scenes in which older people remembered the distant past and found how moving they were. But I’ve just been reading a recollection of Wilkie Collins that on checking over a manuscript he reached a part so moving that he wept, and had to rewrite the page as his tears had caused the ink to run.

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

I think it would be a dishonest writer who did not admit that their own personality had been invested somewhere in their books. But we have to look through the eyes of each character, and so I suspect every character has got a tiny bit of us in them. I would of course like to be like Angus Blue. We all have our fantasies!

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

I’ve written the first draft of a second Angus Blue novel. It’s set on Jura. A cabinet minister is shot outside his mansion. But when Blue and his team try to investigate, they find themselves hampered by political policemen, who want to cover up what’s been going on at the house, and replace the truth with a fake narrative. Blue travels to England, Ireland and Germany before the truth behind the events on Jura emerges. That involved more research, including a visit to a small town on the Polish-German border.

The third one is still in the planning stage, but it will involve an Estonian woman, married to a Scot and living in Oban, who disappears on a visit to family in Estonia, and whose body is then found floating in Lake Peipsi. Blue works with local police to uncover some murky deeds harking back to the country’s communist past, and linked to dodgy goings-on in Scotland.

The reason I chose Estonia is that we go there regularly, so know the country quite well. I’veeven attempted to learn the language. I’ve translated a closed room mystery published in 1937 from the Estonian, and am currently working on a second novel by the same author (Elmar Valmre). It’s hard work, but very satisfying.

Finally, continuing the Estonian theme, I’m working on a crime novel set in 1930s Estonia, a small newly-independent country trying to forge its own identity. A senior policeman falls from a viewpoint in central Tallinn and is impaled on a flagpole. Chief Inspector Hallmets investigates, whilst two journalists develop their own take on events, and get sucked into them. Is this a new genre: retro-Baltic Noir? This book is involving us in some interesting historical research. It was weird to actually stay at the same hotel where DCI Hallmets stayed (in the book) some eighty-odd years ago.

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

That’s a scary prospect, as I suspect the best writers aren’t good at working together, they’ve got too many of their own ideas, and their own writing style. It would have been interesting though to spend a week observing Raymond Chandler or Ross Macdonald at work.

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

No published author is short of such advice!

a. Don’t stop reading. It’s what you’ve read that makes you the writer you are.

b. Find the genre you’re happy with. And you own voice. Don’t try to emulate your favourite author.

b. Write regularly. It doesn’t have to be the same hours each day, but writing eighty or ninety thousand words is a big job and you have to keep at it. And even if you just get a few hundred words done in a session, you’re making progress.

c. Find a First Reader: someone you can trust to read your work carefully, and give you honest and constructive feedback.

d. Expect disappointments, setbacks and rejections. But don’t give up.


Published Fiction


The Peat Dead, published April 2017 by ThunderPoint Publishing

ISBN 978-1-910946-54-1 (paperback); 978-1-910946-55-8 (eBook)

On the Scottish Hebridean Island of Islay, five corpses are dug up by a peat-cutter. All of them have been shot in the back of the head, execution style.

Sent across from the mainland to investigate, Inspector Angus Blue and his team slowly piece together the little evidence they have, and discover the men were killed on a wartime base, over 70 years ago.

But there are still secrets worth protecting, and even killing for.

Who can Inspector Blue trust?

Short Stories:


Issue Date





December 2017


A Place for Inspiration



March 2018


Across the Bridge



April 2018


Darkness (as ‘Elspeth Forrest’)



April 2018


The View from the Balcony



May 2018


Seen but for a Moment



June 2018


The Man who hated Pillars



June 2018


Incident at Dunagoil


404 Ink

July 2018


Letter from America



August 2018


Out of the Rain



September 2018


Trouble with Chickens



October 2018


Somebody trod on your Grave



November 2018


The 4.30 from Wenbury Junction



December 2018


The Book of Names



January 2019


The Bridge at Siebenhäusern



Feb/March 2019


The Crypt



March/April 2019


The Rise and Rise of Carlotta Morazov



April/May 2019


Death by Chocolate



Website links:

ThunderPoint Publishing:

Amazon Author Page:



Val Penny Hunter’s Force Blog Tour

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature:

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?


DI Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son, Cameron. Who has murdered the young student who shares Cameron’s flat? Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?

Now that the united police force, Police Scotland exists, Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation. Hunter’s ability to investigate anything further is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks? 

Hunter’s team must work closely with MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taught crime thriller. 

Except from Hunters Force

Chapter 23

Hunter was still hurting in the back of the car. His breath was gone. He tried to stay calm because he remembered that, if he didn’t struggle with it, his breath would come back. Still, he felt as if somebody was holding his head under water.

“Hunter?” John’s voice came from the front of the car.

Hunter could not reply. He had no breath, and Squires kicked him again, this time hard in the side of the head. He rolled onto his back and saw stars. His chest started hitching and his breaths finally started coming in small grateful sips. Squires kicked his head again. Hunter felt blackness seep into the edges of his vision. His eyes rolled back. His stomach clenched and he thought that he might be sick. Hunter was so confused that he actually thought the missing carpet was a good thing. The metal floor would be easier to clean if he vomited.

“How do you like my brand of punishment?” John asked. “I had to leave the force because of you, and you’re lost to the force because of me. Neat, isn’t it?”

Scuttling to the far side of the car, Hunter said, “John, this is madness! We can sort this out and nobody needs to know, I swear!”

Hunter pressed his back against the car wall. The bar with the handcuff was above his left shoulder. Squires kept staring at him. Hunter didn’t move. He was trying to buy time. Catch his breath. Think straight. His head was still sore, making everything hazy, but he found the pain was an efficient way to bring clarity back to his life: the present.

He pulled his knees to his chest. Squires never stopped looking at him. Hunter felt something small and jagged against his foot. Bare feet can be useful. He thought it was probably a shard of glass or a rough pebble, but with mounting dread he saw it was neither. It was a tooth.

His breath caught in his throat. He glanced over at Squires, who continued to stare at him. Then Hunter watched as Squires opened the box he had seen in the corner of the car. Hunter felt sick again when he realised the contents were old rusty tools. He saw a set of pliers, a hacksaw, a hammer, and then he stopped looking. He didn’t like to think about how the tooth came out or who it had belonged to.

“Are we having fun yet, Hunter?” John asked.

“We need to talk this through, John,” Hunter said. “This is crazy.”

“That is a very disappointing attitude,” John said, shaking his head.

Hunter watched Squires. The huge man remained impassive, waiting for his instructions. But now the box was open his attention was distracted from Hunter to the tools.

“Squires, cuff him now. He is getting on my nerves,” John commanded.

Hunters Force Amazon Page

Val Penny Website

Val Penny Amazon Author Page

Val Penny Twitter


There’s been a murder interview with MR Mackenzie

M.R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

1. How did you get started writing?

I suspect I’d credit my granny with infecting me with the writer’s bug. She was a wonderful storyteller with an incredible memory for events that had taken place eighty years ago or more. A lot of people have fond memories of their grandparents reading books to them as children, but with my granny, she always told her own stories. Unfortunately,when, I told my guidance teacher I wanted to be an author, not long after I started secondary school, she replied that hardly anyone made a living as a writer and that I should aspire to become a vet instead! As a result, I didn’t actually return to writing in any serious way until my mid-twenties… and have been making up for lost time ever since.


2. What drew you to write a novel?

At first, there was an element of expedience involved! When I returned to writing in my mid-twenties, I initially pursued a career screenwriting, seeking to combine my passion for telling stories with my love of film. (In fact, my first novel, In the Silence, was originally written as a screenplay.) Ultimately, though, despite making some promising connections and having some positive feedback from submissions to the likes of Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting and the BBC’s Script Room programmes, my big break never materialised, and I initially turned to novel-writing almost by necessity – concluding that, despite the challenges involved in getting a novel written and published, there are comparatively fewer hurdles to getting it out there than there are to getting your spec script turned into a feature film!

It’s probably somewhat fortuitous, then, that I quickly realised I actually enjoyed writing novels more than scripts. Something about that expanded canvass, that ability to really get inside my characters’ heads without that constant feeling of a need to hit an arbitrary page count, and (perhaps most of all) the lack of a need to satisfy an army of executives, producers and script editors, really clicked with me, to the extent that I’m extremely happy with where I’ve ended up. I certainly don’t miss having to format everything in 12pt Courier!


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

I read more Enid Blyton than was healthy when I was younger, and I’m inclined to credit her with my fondness for writing about amateur sleuths. I find them so much more interesting than professional detectives, possibly because I can relate to the life of a civilian thrust into unfamiliar circumstances in a way that I can’t an officer of the law.

Denise Mina, with her Garnethill trilogy, shattered my preconceptions about what Glaswegian crime was, eschewing hard-bitten, hard-drinking, middle-aged male policemen in favour of characters who were a whole lot more colourful – and more relatable. Her early novels in particular are chock-full of wonderful observations about the human condition and the weird and wonderful characters that exist in everyday life, and I try to capture some of that in my own writing.

Finally, Tana French showed me that crime can be literary. I’m not nearly as good a writer as she is, but I’m constantly inspired by her command of language and her ability to evoke atmosphere with nothing but text on a page.


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

I was actually very fortunate, in that In the Silence was both the first novel I wrote (as an adult – we’ll overlook my no doubt completely embarrassing efforts from when I was younger!) and the first one I ever submitted to any publishers. I spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting it as much as I could, then went through the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbookfrom cover to cover, identifying every publisher who accepted unsolicited submissions in my genre, then fired off a bunch of query letters and sample chapters. Bloodhound Books weren’t the only publisher to express an interest, but they were the first to get back to me and seemed eager to snap me up when they heard I’d submitted to other publishers, so I figured I was onto a good thing with them!


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

Zoe! It has to be Zoe! When I initially wrote In the Silence as a screenplay, my protagonist, Anna Scavolini, wasn’t all that well defined and it took a number of drafts before I started to get more of a sense of who she was and what made her tick. But Zoe, her red-headed, larger-than-life best friend, sprang off the page fully formed from the very beginning. She’s such a flamboyant and iconically Glaswegian character, and, when the time came for me to write the sequel, Cruel Summer(releasing on 28 May), I knew I wanted to switch gears and tell that particular story through her eyes.

Of course, that’s not so say that I’m not also very fond of Anna, and in fact I’m currently in the early stages of work on a third instalment, in which she once again assumes the role of protagonist. But I’ll always have a soft spot for Zoe and herlack of an internal filter. There’s something incredibly satisfying about writing a character who always says exactly what she thinks!


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

Research is probably my least favourite part of the writing process, as it invariably leads to the realisation that a particular plot development I’m desperate to include would never happen in real life. It’s also why I prefer to write about amateur detectives than the professional kind – because they’re so mired in rules and bureaucracy that I’d have to research and then present accurately in order for my writing to have any pretence of authenticity. But that’s not to say I don’t do any research. Right now, for example, I’m completely immersed in Frank Hagan’s Introduction to Criminology. My character, Anna Scavolini, is a criminology lecturer, and, in the in-development third novel in the series, her job comes to the forefront in a way that it hasn’t in the first two, so I feel it’s incumbent on me to get a decent grounding in the topic before I put pen to paper and completely embarrass myself.

Of course, working in a genre with a higher than average body count, part of the research process also involves figuring out gruesome and inventive ways to kill people and making sure I’m describing the effects as scientifically accurately as possible. I don’t mind THAT kind of research!


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

To some extent. I think it’s impossible not to incorporate elements of people you know in real life into your characters, and I think just about everyone has met a Zoe at one point or another! But I try to avoid basing anyone too closely on any single person, not least because a lot of the characters I write about tend not to be particularly nice people, and I don’t want to put anyone’s nose out of joint!


8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

There’s a scene, about a third of the way through Cruel Summer, in which Zoe, who has been conducting an unofficial investigation into a high-rising politician accused of assault, is confronted by a tag team consisting of her girlfriend Carol and her best friend Anna, who are trying to dissuade her from her current path. It’s a small scene but I think it captures the individual personalities of the three characters very nicely, and also manages to convey both the inherent absurdity in what, to Zoe, resembles an intervention or laying on of hands,and her burning anger at the sense that these two people are trying to control her life.


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

I reckon Zoe is just about the polar opposite from me in every respect. Honest, if I met her in real life, I’d probably be a bit intimidated by her! But I’ve said before that, while Anna is very different from me in a lot of respects, we actually do have a fair amount in common. We’re both PhD graduates, we’re both introverts, we were both born in Glasgow within a couple of years of each other, and we share many of the same socio-political views, though we disagree on certain key issues I won’t go into here for fear of spoiling too much of the story.


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

Well, I’ve already mentioned the third instalment in the Anna Scavolini series, which I’m in the process of plotting at the moment. My intention is for it to serve as the conclusion of sorts to a loose trilogy that began with In the Silence and continues with Cruel Summer. It’s very likely that I’ll continue the series beyond that – in fact, I already have rough ideas for Books 4 and 5 – but I envisage them being more standalone in nature, whereas In the Silence, Cruel Summerand the as-yet-untitled Book 3 are much more intertwined – though they can, of course, be read independently as well.

I’m also working on a standalone mystery called The Library Murders, which draws on my day job experience and which I hope will see the light of day as some point this year as well. Stay tuned for more info on that one in the not-too-distant future (hopefully)!


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

That’s a tricky one to answer as I’m not, by nature, a particularly collaborative person. On the contrary, I tend to resist any and all attempts to change My Vision™, and often have to be dragged kicking and screaming back to my manuscript by admirably patient editors. In contrast to writing for film or television, writing a novel is a very solitary pursuit, and I suspect most authors would probably struggle with the idea of writing with another author, particularly one with their own distinctive style – though I know there have been many successful partnerships, either by established writing teams like Sjöwall & Wahlöö or Nicci French, or one-off pairingslike James Patterson’s recent collaboration with Bill Clinton.


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

I’d definitely encourage anyone thinking about writing a novel to put pen to paper and go for it. The rise of eBooks, self-publishing and independent publishing houses means that the process has been democratised like never before, and while I think that invariably presents challenges of its own when it comes to getting noticed in an increasingly crowded field, I genuinely think this is a really exciting time to be a writer, and that the opportunities are just waiting to be grasped.

I’d also say try not to be too discouraged if you don’t achieveovernight success. Very few authors shoot to the top of the charts and receive critical acclaim right out of the gate. It takes time to build a profile – I’m only in the early stages of it myself – and it can feel like an uphill climb with the summit nowhere in sight. My long-term goal is definitely to be able to make a living doing this full-time, but until then, I would much rather my work was out there and being read by however many people it can reach – whether that’s a bajillion or just a handful – than locked away on my hard drive being read by no one.

In the Silence (2018)

Anna hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years. And for very good reasons…

When Anna, a criminology lecturer, does return to Glasgow from Rome, during the coldest winter in memory, tragedy strikes. While out with her best friend from school, Anna has a chance encounter with a former flame, Andrew, and later that night discovers Andrew stabbed and dying on a blanket of snow.

Soon Anna finds herself at the centre of the investigation as the star witness for the police, and embarks on investigating the case herself. But Anna doesn’t realise the danger she is in and soon finds herself in trouble.

When another body shows up, who has links to the first victim, it appears that the motive may lie buried in the past.

As Anna gets closer to the truth, the killer starts closing in.

But can she solve the gruesome mystery before the killer strikes again?

Cruel Summer (2019)

Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere, and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to distract herself with a noble cause, and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people – people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

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Sue Lawerence Down to the Sea Blog Tour

As well as writing three very popular and well-reviewed historical mysteries published in the UK and overseas, Sue Lawrence is one of the UK’s leading cookery writers, with eighteen published cookbooks. Having trained as a journalist in Dundee, she won BBC’s MasterChef in 1991 and became a food writer, regularly contributing to Scotland on Sunday, as well as being the Sunday Times’ food writer for six years. Born in Dundee and raised in Edinburgh, she now lives near Newhaven, Edinburgh – the setting for her latest novel. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards and a Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award, and now focuses on researching and writing historical fiction.

When Rona and Craig buy a large Victorian house up from Edinburgh’s Newhaven district – once teeming with fishing boats – they plan to renovate and set it up as a luxury care home. But something is not quite right: disturbing sounds can be heard when the sea mists swirl; their unpredictable neighbour makes it clear that the house was not always a happy family home. And their ‘characterful’ historic pile has a gloomy cellar harbouring relics from days gone by.

Excerpt from Down to the Sea

What d’you mean, they grind up dead babies’ bones?’

Jessie turned to the tall boy who was holding out his tin bowl for porridge. He had just told her he was now old enough to be working with the men, even though he was only fifteen, and their job today was to crush babies’ bones.

The boy leant in towards her. He smelled funny so she wanted to draw back, but he started whispering. Jessie glanced round to where Molly was talking to Matron at the door. They were no doubt discussing whatever delicacy Molly had for Matron and the Governor today. Molly said Matron seemed to take little interest in food, whereas the Governor enjoyed both food and drink. His red nose reminded Jessie of Old Tom who was to be found every day at The Stone Pier Inn opposite the harbour. In summer, he was given a chair outside. He always had a tankard of ale in his hand. Jessie’s mum used to say not to go near him – he would lash out at the children nearby the more he had to drink. The one time she and Dorrie had no choice but to pass close by, the stink of him was enough to make them want to vomit.

‘The dead babies have their bones all hacked up then pounded up into dust and made into porridge.’ The boy nodded at the pot in front of her. ‘That porridge.’

‘That’s not true. It can’t be true.’ Molly waddled back over to the serving table, so Jessie asked, ‘This isn’t made from dead babies’ bones, is it?’

‘Billy, is that you telling tales again? Of course not, Jessie. Now get on with your work. And you, Billy Muir, be on your way.’ Molly thumped down the ladle and said to Jessie, ‘You’ve been here a good few months now. You know that boy’s trouble. Ignore him. Stay clear of all those boys.’

Once the last bowl of porridge had been ladled out, Jessie looked over the dining room where the Governor had finished morning prayers and was sweeping past them with his usual scowl. Squashed side by side on rickety benches at four long tables were the residents, heads bent low over the thin porridge. Two tables were for men and boys, two for women and girls. There was no conversation – no talking was allowed. Everyone had their heads bent low, concentrating on eating. Jessie started clearing the serving table ready to take the pan and ladle back to the kitchen.

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Free Book Giveaway – Lethal Injection

Last week I interviewed the author of Lethal Injection Dave K MacDonald, up for craps is ten free copies of the book for the first ten people to email him on x

It looked like a routine homicide with traceable DNA and a witness that never lies.

However this was a high profile murder and the stakes were equally high.
The death penalty was on the table.
This case would cast serious doubt over the validity of capital punishment.
It would question the infallibility of forensic evidence.
The political fallout would reach the White House.
What nobody realised was that someone had committed the perfect crime not by
planning but by accident.