#Q&A with S.G. MacLean, author of The Damian Seeker series.

I’m catching up on books I’ve had on my shelves for a while or reviews that I’ve not yet written and one of the other things I’ve been really lax in posting is this Q&A session I did with S.G. MacLean, who writes the fabulous Damian Seeker novels.

If her name looks familiar it’s because she also wrote the amazing The Redemption of Alexander Seaton which I read and adored and reviewed here.  I’ve read the first Damian Seeker book, simply titled The Seeker which won the 2015 CWA Historical Dagger and my review of that will be up soon.

Her latest book Destroying Angel has been longlisted for the CWA Sapere Historical Dagger award and her next Seeker book, The Bear Pit is out on the 11th July 2019. Below is the blurb of both Destroying Angel and The Bear Pit and the Q&A.

 

Destroying Angel 

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Captain Damian Seeker has gone north. Charged with preparing the way for the rule of the major-generals, he is now under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne at York. But when Lilburne orders him to a small village on the North York moors with details of the stringent new anti-Royalist laws, Seeker finds that what should be a routine visit will reveal a plot to rival anything in scheming London

An invitation to dinner at the house of local businessman Matthew Pullan lifts the lid on the bubbling cauldron of grudges and resentment that is Faithly village. The local constable, drunk on the tiny bit of power he holds, using it to avenge old resentments. The hated lord of the manor, the last of a staunchly Royalist family who has managed to avoid suspicion of treachery – for now. The vicar on trial for his job and his home, accused of ungodly acts. And the Pullans themselves, proudly Puritan but disillusioned with Cromwell’s government, respected and despised in Faithly in equal measure. The man for whom this unlikely gathering was organised – The Trier, the enforcer of Puritan morality for the local villages – hasn’t shown up. And by the end of the night, on of those gathered around Matthew Pullan’s table will be fatally poisoned.

Seeker must find out the motive behind the death – mushroom misidentification, petty revenge, or part of a larger plot against Cromwell’s government in the north? But who in Faithly, if anyone, can he trust? And when the most painful part of his past reappears after eleven years, will the Seeker meet his match?

Purchase link: Amazon UK

 

Q&A 

For any readers of my blog who are unfamiliar with you and your work, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I was born in Inverness in 1966. My parents were hoteliers and I grew up in small, traditional Highland hotels, with my brother and three sisters. I studied history at Aberdeen University and have a PhD specialising in C16th/C17th Scottish history. I’m married (to a secondary school head teacher) with 4 children, and it was being at home with small children, and living in a northern Scottish town (Banff) which still has lots of remnants of the C16th and C17th in buildings, street layouts and street names that galvanised me to write my first book. About 8 years ago, we returned to live in the area I grew up in. Although my youngest child is now 15, and the rest have left home, the arrival of a Labrador puppy has seriously impacted on my work rate!

 

You’ve studied history and write historical fiction. Where did your interest in history come from?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in history. Any old building, tumbledown wall, evocative name will get me wondering about what that place used to be like, who used to live there. I’ve always been like that. I spent several of my early years in the Seabord village of Balintore, and as children we were very aware of the area’s Viking heritage, although nowadays there is much greater awareness of the importance of that area for Pictish history. My Dad, who was a tremendous reader, would sometimes come home from trips to Inverness with history picture books for me.

 

What got you into writing?

It was something I’d often day-dreamed about. My uncle was the thriller writer Alistair MacLean, so it always seemed a perfectly possible thing to do. It was really only when I’d reached the stage of progressing my academic career after I finished my PhD, but finding myself living too far from the nearest university to commute, and with young children to look after, that I turned to writing to occupy my mind and interest. Writing was my ‘me time’. Living in Banff, as we were, and so close to the North East ‘Castle Trail’, there was inspiration everywhere. I found some of the characters I had spent years studying came back in to my mind, and I used them as ‘types’ in my story.

 

Your first book was The Redemption of Alexander Seaton and your recent books, including Destroying Angel, feature Damian Seeker as the lead character. Do you have any plans to re-visit Alexander Seaton, write more Damian Seeker books or do you have a new main character in the pipeline?

I’m just preparing to submit the 4th Damian Seeker book, and am contracted for a 5th. I would like to go back to Alexander Seaton – there are things I would still like to do with him and his friends, and I’ve always known how his story will end, but it’s a question of what the publishers want. They made it fairly clear they didn’t want another Alexander Seaton unless I sent him to London, where neither he, nor I, wanted him to go. That lead eventually to the Seeker books which are mainly set in London. My agent advised me that other publishers don’t tend to be keen on picking up a series another publisher has started. My publisher (Quercus) are planning a redesign of the Alexander Seaton covers, because the books are continuing to sell steadily, so they may at some point become more open to letting me finish off his story. My next plan after the Seeker books is for a Scottish standalone set in the 1830s society of Cromarty on the Black Isle. There may be a murder. After that I might be in a better position to go back to Alexander Seaton

 

All of your books to date are set in the 17th Century.  If you could visit that time would you, or would you choose to visit a different period in time?

I’d love to go to Aberdeen in the seventeenth century, and meet some of the characters I studied, and some that I’ve written about – George Jamesone the painter, Lady Rothiemay and others.

 

What are your plans for the next few years?

Finish the Seeker series, write my Cromarty standalone, read more for pleasure, cycle more, train my dog!

Author links:

Instagram: @iwritemybike2

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/S-G-MacLean/e/B0034OGNF0?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

 

The Bear Pit

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London1656: Captain Seeker is back in the city, on the trail of an assassin preparing to strike at the heart of Oliver Cromwell’s Republic

The Commonwealth is balanced on a knife edge. Royalists and disillusioned former Parliamentarians have united against Oliver Cromwell, now a king in all but name. Three conspirators, representing these factions, plan to assassinate the Lord Protector, paving the way back to the throne for Charles Stuart once and for all.

Captain Damian Seeker, meanwhile, is preoccupied by the horrifying discovery in an illegal gambling den of the body of a man ravaged by what is unmistakably a bear. Yet the bears used for baiting were all shot when the sport was banned by Cromwell. So where did this fearsome creature come from, and why would someone use it for murder?

With Royalist-turned-Commonwealth-spy Thomas Faithly tracking the bear, Seeker investigates its victim. The trail leads from Kent’s coffee house on Cornhill, to a German clockmaker in Clerkenwell, to the stews of Southwark, to the desolate Lambeth Marshes where no one should venture at night.

When the two threads of the investigation begin to join, Seeker realises just what – and who – he is up against. The Royalists in exile have sent to London their finest mind and greatest fighter, a man who will stop at nothing to ensure the Restoration. Has Seeker finally met his match?

Purchase link: Amazon UK

 

 

 

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#BlogTour #MeettheAuthor : Chris Brookmyre. @BloodyScotland @cbrookmyre #BloodyScotland

Today it’s my turn on the Meet the Author blog tour, in advance of Bloody Scotland which is on 21st-23rd September this year. For my stop I’m overjoyed to have Chris Brookmyre whose most recent book, Places in the Darkness, has been shortlisted for the 2018 McIlvanney Prize. It’s not long now till the festival itself, which I am looking forward to, but to keep you going till then, dive in and enjoy what Chris said in response to my questions. 

Blurb:  “This is as close to a city without crime as mankind has ever seen.”

Ciudad de Cielo is the ‘city in the sky’, a space station where hundreds of scientists and engineers work in earth’s orbit, building the colony ship that will one day take humanity to the stars.
When a mutilated body is found on the CdC, the eyes of the world are watching. Top-of the-class investigator, Alice Blake, is sent from Earth to team up with CdC’s Freeman – a jaded cop with more reason than most to distrust such planetside interference.

As the death toll climbs and factions aboard the station become more and more fractious, Freeman and Blake will discover clues to a conspiracy that threatens not only their own lives, but the future of humanity itself.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the author of twenty-two novels, beginning with Quite Ugly One Morning in 1996, and including A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away, All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye, Bedlam, which was adapted into a videogame, and Black Widow, which won the 2016 McIlvanney Prize and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year 2017. I have also recently published the historical crime novel The Way Of All Flesh, co-written with my wife Marisa Haetzman, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

What got you into writing?

It is something I have done since I was able to write words and sentences. I started writing short stories when I was about six or seven, and have remained compelled to write ever since. 

You’ve now written more than twenty books under your own name. Do you think your writing has evolved over the years?

I like to think that the twenty-six-year-old who wrote Quite Ugly One Morning would be quite impressed by Black Widow, Places In The Darkness and The Way Of All Flesh. However, there is a part of the fifty-year-old me who is jealous of the younger man who was able to write an action comedy such as One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night.

Can you tell us why you chose to set a crime novel on a space station?

I wanted to write a crime story that would explore aspects of what it is to be human in a way that would be impossible in a contemporary setting. The book deals with the ways that technology affects our humanity, and just as importantly the ways in which it does not. Optogenic mesh technology allowing the upload of non-native memories is a fun concept for crime fiction, but we are a long way from making it real.

Do you have any plans for more crime stories set in space?

I do intend to return to Ciudad De Cielo, the City In the Sky, as there are more stories to be told about Alice Blake and Nikki Freeman, but I have a few other projects ahead of that in the queue.

If you had a time machine, where would you travel in it and why?

The far future. Every writer, like every reader, primarily wants to know what happens next.

Is there a question you wished someone would ask but no-one has?

“I have a lifetime supply of Punk IPA I’d like to give you for free. Can you please sign here?”

What are your plans for the next few years?

I have a new stand-alone novel coming out next June, and a second Ambrose Parry novel following close on its heels.

Bloody Scotland established itself as the leading Scottish International Crime Writing Festival in 2012 with acclaimed writers Lin Anderson and Alex Gray at the helm, then joined by Craig Robertson and Gordon Brown. Based in Stirling, Bloody Scotland has brought hundreds of crime writers new and established to the stage with always enthusiastic attendees who make the festival every bit as much as the writers do.

Priding ourselves as the literary festival where you can let down your hair and enjoy a drink at the bar with your favourite crime writer, we strive to put on entertaining as well as informative events during a weekend in September, covering a range of criminal subjects from fictional forensics, psychological thrillers, tartan noir, cosy crime and many more. With an international focus at the heart of Bloody Scotland, we are always looking to bring in crime writing talent from outside of Scotland whom you may not have heard about. You might, however, knows us for our annual Scotland vs England football cup which always draws a crowd and inevitably ends in tears for someone…

The Bloody Scotland Team 2018: Lin Anderson, Gordon Brown, Craig Robertson, Jenny Brown, Muriel Binnie, Catriona Reynolds, Bob McDevitt, Laura Jones, Abir Mukherjee, Fiona Brownlee & Tim Donald

 

#BlogTour #Q&A : Julie Newman, The Kindness of Strangers. @UrbaneBooks @Lovebooksgroup #KindnessofStrangers

Today I am delighted to bring you a Q&A with the author of this book, Julie Newman. My thanks therefore must go to the author for answering my questions and to Love Books Group for having me on this tour.


Blurb:  Secrets  and  lies  abound  in  Julie  Newman’s  breath-taking new novel.  When  Helen’s  chance  at  happiness  is  threatened  what lengths  will  she go  to  in  order  to  hide the truth?  Deceived  by her husband  and  desperate  for  a  ‘perfect’  family  life,  Helen  will do everything  she  can  to  get the  life she wants.   

Following  the  gripping and  controversial  Beware  the  Cuckoo, Julie Newman’s  new  novel  lifts  the  lid  on  family  secrets,  and  the dark past that haunts a seemingly happy household… 


Author Q&A : Julie Newman 

Tell us about yourself

I was born in East London but now life a rural life in North Essex. I am married with two children. I have been: a shop assistant, a carer, a saleswoman, a secretary, a driver, a painter and decorator, (yes, I really have), an invigilator and I have made umbrellas. I have had a small publishing business, but always wanted to be a writer. 

What made you start writing?

Reading made me start writing. The joy I got from reading was something I wished to share with others. 

Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. A news item or a snippet of a conversation may spark an idea.

How do you manage to create such varied characters?

By observing people, the world is full of varied characters.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Just do it. By that I mean write whenever and whatever you can. I have kept a diary since I was eight years old and I like to write poems. Also read, lots. 

When you aren’t writing, what would we find you doing?

If I am not doing something with my family, you will find me reading, listening to music, running or cycling. If I’m not doing any of these things I am probably at the theatre. 

What are you reading just now?

I have just finished The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal and plan to read The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford. I’m also reading Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. I always read a non-fiction title alongside a fiction one.

Any plans/ideas for the next book?

Yes, the next book is underway. All I can say at the moment is that it is a story set across two continents with a strong female protagonist.