With Bloody Scotland starting in just two days time I am overjoyed to have one of the authors shortlisted for not only the McIlvanney Prize, but also the debut prize as well. I’ve got a Q&A for you all, and in doing this I’ve found someone else who liked reading Dick Francis as a teenager which I definitely wasn’t expecting! Anyway, read on for the Q&A and some information about this potentially prize-winning book. The McIlvanney Prize winner will be revealed at 5.15pm on Friday.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m from Cumnock in Ayrshire but have spent most of my adult life living abroad – mainly in Spain but also in Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Bulgaria. I used to work as a news reporter for The Press and Journal newspaper – based in Aberdeen, then Elgin – but quit in 2009 to try writing novels. Ten years later I got a publishing deal… and here I am! I also work as a tour director for a US company focused on educational travel.
What drew you to crime fiction?
I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries – starting with dozens of Dick Francis novels when I was a teenager. But in terms of my writing, I didn’t intend to write crime at all! But once I started writing more seriously I realised it was my natural style, so I’ve stuck with it. I’m not a planner at all so it can get a little complicated but I do love it when I surprise myself with an unexpected twist!
Where do your ideas come from?
I wish I knew! All I know is that it tends to start with a character and develop from there. I have lots of imaginary people wandering around in my head but when one sticks around for a while, or keeps popping into my mind then I know they’re the one I need to sit down and spend some time with.
You appeared at Crime in the Spotlight at a previous Bloody Scotland. How was that experience for you?
It was my first festival so it was super exciting. It all took place during the Covid lockdown so the event was 100% digital but it was still a real thrill to be involved with a major festival like Bloody Scotland. My section was pre-recorded but I was absolutely delighted when it was aired moments after the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened the event.
And, would you recommend it for other authors?
How does it feel to be shortlisted for not only the McIlvanney Prize but also the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize?
It feels a little surreal, to be honest, but it’s a total honour to be shortlisted for both prizes. It think it’s brilliant for all debut authors everywhere to see two new writers in the running for an accolade as important as the McIlvanney Prize. It’s also great to see the diversity of Scottish crime fiction – both lists have a wide range of themes and styles which is good news for the genre.
Are you working on anything at the moment, and if so can you tell us about it?
I’ve just handed in final edits for my second novel, FIND HER FIRST, released on December 9th. It’s a standalone novel but set in the same community as THE SILENT DAUGHTER so readers may recognise a few faces! It’s another page-turner, this time focusing on the life of a paramedic called Andy Campbell. It’s been quite intense to write and I hope the result is a tense psychological thriller!
What are you reading now?
I’m reading the latest book by Scottish crime writer Allan Martin, The Dead of Appin. I don’t read much while I’m editing but got a huge pile of books to be read, including all the Bloody Scotland shortlisters and the new Ian Rankin/William McIllvanney novel, The Dark Remains.
Deceit runs in the family . . .
Chris Morrison is facing his worst nightmare.
His wife is in a coma.
His daughter is missing.
And the only thing more unsettling than these two events . . . is what might connect them.