Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Book Finds: June 2017

Summer - my time for LOTS of reading
The sun is shining (hopefully, where you are) and many of us might be off on holiday. For me, that's a great chance to start chipping away at my ridiculously long To Be Read pile! But, maybe you're not as bad as me. Maybe you're wondering what to read...

Each month I try and share books with you that I've read and loved. Some of them might be bestsellers but most of them won't be. If you're looking for something to read, why not check out one of these?

These are what I have to share with you this month:

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Why do you need to like the protagonist?

Do you need to like the characters to like the book?
Actually, let's go back a step...

DO you need to like the protagonist in a book?

The reason I'm asking is because I was speaking at a book group the other week and we had a fairly lively discussion about whether we ended up rating a book less highly if we didn't like the protagonist. I was firmly in the camp of not needing to like the protagonist to enjoy a book and to rate it highly; others around the table felt that if they didn't warm to the protagonist, they didn't enjoy the book and so didn't rate the book so highly.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Meet the Author: Lesley Kelly

Photo of Lesley Kelly
Lesley Kelly
This month's author is the fabulous Lesley Kelly. Lesley was a "Crime in the Spotlight" author at last year's Bloody Scotland and I recently caught up with her at the mini-meet-up in Edinburgh. Her first novel, A Fine House in Trinity was long-listed for the McIlvanney prize and her latest novel The Health of Strangers, is out this week. I'm delighted to be able to grill her!

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I was a definitely late starter – I was well into my thirties before I wrote anything.  On a whim, I wrote a short story for the Leith Festival Short Story competition in 2004, which I won.  And like a gambler who wins the first race he bets on, I was hooked…

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
"A Fine House in Trinity" was the first novel I wrote and published.  The first draft of it bore the legacy of my brief stint as a stand up comedian; it was basically a string of jokes and set-pieces linked together with the slightest of plots.  I eventually got the hang of the other stuff – you know – characterisation, plotting, back story, all that kind of thing!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Just over a year ago...

...this happened!!

Launch of The Wrong Kind of Clouds at Waterstones in St Andrews

My first novel!
Stuart from Waterstones introducing me
Signing copies

I can't believe that was a year ago. A lot has happened in the year. My hair is shorter now for a start! I had a fantastic "Crime in the Spotlight" slot at Bloody Scotland, I've met all sorts of fabulous authors - both at Bloody Scotland and at Crime Writers Association lunches - and people have read my book and liked it!

It's been a fantastic year. Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me and supported me. Here's to many more!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book finds: May 2017

It's time for my monthly Book Finds. Each month I showcase books that I've loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be.

This month, I seem to have read a number of books that I couldn't recommend 😞 so again, my selection for you is a bit thinner than I'd like!

This month's selection is:

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pen and paper? Or digital?

One of the questions I get asked quite frequently is whether I write my books by hand or directly on a computer. These questions obviously come from those people who don't know that I'm a complete stationery addict. In fact, I've had another blog for years on stationery: http://paperpensink.blogspot.co.uk/ (not updated as often as I'd like these days...).

I do a bit of both to be honest. Most of my planning - character notes, plotting, initial ideas about scenes are done on paper, usually in an A4 Clairefontaine notebook, using a fountain pen. I use a fountain pen because I have arthritis in my hands and with a fountain pen, you don't need to press hard to make the ink flow and therefore you don't need to grip the pen tightly either, making writing an altogether more fun experience than using a biro. Clairefontaine paper is glorious to write on and A4 gives me plenty of space to write, draw diagrams and mind-maps, paste in pictures of buildings, people, rooms, furniture etc. These A4 books end up as a bit of a scrap book for each book and I love looking back through them.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Spotlighter mini-meet-up

Last year, twelve of us were chosen to read a snippet from our books as 'support acts' for the famous people at "Bloody Scotland". The initiative was called "Crime in the Spotlight" and the twelve of us have referred to ourselves as The Spotlighters since then, and used the hashtag #TeamSpotlight on Twitter. It's been brilliant to keep in touch with everyone.

At the start of April, five of us managed to get together in Edinburgh for a mini-meet-up:

From L-R: Me, Stephen Watt, Jackie Baldwin, Lesley Kelly, Shelley Day
We met up at All Bar One at lunchtime. It was fantastic to catch up with everyone's news - where everyone was with writing, how they were getting on with their agent or publisher, discussing literary festivals etc. as well as hearing about life in general. There was a fabulous moment when Stephen was in the middle of telling us about how he had proposed to his fiancée and right at the crucial part, the waiter came in to take our order. I felt so sorry for the waiter because we were all desperate to hear the finale of Stephen's tale and chased the poor man away. He obviously forgave us though as he took the picture above for us.

All in all it was an excellent day. It was just a shame that all of us couldn't be there. Next time!

Thank you to "Bloody Scotland" for introducing us to each other and here's to long and successful friendships between us all.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

For my 100th post... meet "Hero"

"Hero" doing some work
(unlike me)
"Hero" sits on the sand timer on my desk. Sometimes he stands on it. I bought him a while ago and have been meaning to blog about him for a few weeks, but then... well.

Although he's called "Hero" I tend to think of the name more like a Japanese "Hiro" rather than 'the hero of the story' though it works in that way too. "Hero" is my muse. Well, he's supposed to be. He's currently sitting on the sand timer clutching a sword (more on that later!) a bit disconsolate because the glorious weather is ruining what little glimmer of writing-productivity I had! He's actually meant to be for artists and I could (in theory) sketch him. If I could sketch better.

He's like the old wooden artists' models, except he's got more joints and can be posed in many more ways than they ever could be. As you can see in the picture, he comes with accessories too. It's an eclectic selection of things... a laptop, two mobile phones, a pen/pencil, a pad, a sword and a gun. He's 'working' on the laptop in the picture (which was taken a few weeks ago), but at the moment, he's sitting on the sand timer on my desk holding a sword across his lap.

He also has a collection of different hands for holding the different objects and for pointing/gesticulating. These are a) a bit fiddly to attach and detach and b) make for a slightly gruesome looking box.

Slightly gruesome box of hands and accessories
Anyway, he's a slightly sulky-looking reminder that I should be finishing the follow-on from The Wrong Kind of Clouds, so I'd better get back to it.

Do others have a muse like this?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Meet the author: Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland
Photo credit: Julie Christie
This month's author is Sandra Ireland. I first met Sandra at Bloody Scotland in September last year and we recently met up again when we went to see Stephen Watt at StAnza. I'm delighted to be interviewing her for my blog.

Your first novel, Beneath the Skin features a man with post-traumatic stress disorder and a taxidermist. What made you choose these aspects of their characters?
The taxidermist came first. I watched a documentary with taxidermy artist Polly Morgan, and she was saying that when she’s introduced to someone, she’s actually checking out their bone structure when she shakes hands! I thought this would be a brilliant quality for a character, so Alys the taxidermist was born. Walt came slightly later. He was a bit bland at first, but once I realised that he was suffering from something you can’t see, his personality came to life and the whole concept of the story became obvious. The scary things are out of sight - Beneath the Skin.

What are you working on at the moment? Amazon says it’s another psychological thriller. What else can you tell us?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Book finds: April 2017

Each month I showcase books that I've loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be. April has been a difficult month, so I only have two to share with you and they are both by an author I've just discovered: Harry Bingham.

They are:

Why do I love them? The main character, DC Fiona Griffiths is just wonderful. Very quirky, totally unlike any other police character I've come across before and very, very funny at times. I love the way her mind works and how she sees things so differently sometimes. The books are tightly plotted and with lots of twists and turns and an enjoyable read throughout. I've been reading a lot of crime recently and these are far and away the best I've read in a while. I hope you enjoy them too!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Forgive me for silence...

My beloved cat, Sylvester, had to be put to sleep this week. He was 15 and, if you are an animal-lover, you will hopefully understand that I'm devastated by his loss.

I can't face writing blog posts at the moment. Forgive me for the silence.
Sylvester, in healthier days. RIP my old friend.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Meet the Author: Liz Mistry

Liz Mistry
This month's author is Liz Mistry whose first book Unquiet Souls came out last year. Her second book, Uncoiled Lies has just been released. Liz is another "Crime in the Spotlight" author who featured in Bloody Scotland last year and I'm delighted to be able to interview her.

Your first two novels, "Unquiet Souls" and "Uncoiled Lies" are the first two in a series. Did you always intend to write a series? How many in the series are currently planned out?
I had the idea for Gus as a character years ago and he kept me company when I went through a very bad spell of depression. His father Fergus came to mind later and I love writing the dynamics between the father and son. Initially, "Uncoiled Lies" was to be the first book in the series but then I got the idea for "Unquiet Souls" and it seemed to sit better as the first book. I think I’ve got at least another three Gus books in my mind at the moment, but I’m sure as I write I’ll come up with more ideas. I also have an idea for a spin off series but that’s in the very early stages.

What are you working on at the moment? I know Uncoiled Lies has just been released. Are you taking a break or are you straight into something new?
I got my publication deal with Bloodhound Books when I was 52, so I’m making up for lost time now. I’m well into book number three which will provisionally be called "Untainted Blood".

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Book Finds: March 2017

Each month I showcase a small selection of books that I've loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be. That said, I didn't do a book finds in February because I had too many other things to share! But, I'm back on track now.

So, what treats do I have to share with you this month?

Well, in some ways this feels like a cheat, because although it's three books, it's a trilogy! It's Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy:

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


I hate being bombarded by emails about stuff, even when I've actually signed up for them. Over Christmas and New Year, with all the sales, I must have unsubscribed from umpteen mailing lists because I was getting them every day. Who has time to look at things like that every day? I don't.

My newsletter comes out just once per month. That's it. The only time I would send a second email in a month would be if there was a special offer for subscribers only - early notification of a price-drop, a money off offer or a freebie for them to thank them for their support.

My newsletters have a reminder of my blog posts from the month and also feature a few things, most of which relate to aspects of my novel The Wrong Kind of Clouds. I also include a short update about what I've been up to over the month.
[Not read The Wrong Kind of Clouds yet? Give it a whirl. The eBook costs less than a decent cup of coffee and lasts longer!]

The two main characters in The Wrong Kind of Clouds are Summer Morris who's a photographer, and LB Stewart who's a detective. My husband is a photographer and each month in the newsletter, I feature one of his pictures (such as this one here).

Boats at Salen on Mull, with double rainbow behind
© Colin Nicol
LB Stewart is a man who likes his food. In fact, he'd rather go hungry than eat a bad meal. Each month, I include in the newsletter a recipe that LB might cook. These might be main courses, cakes, soups... anything really.

Some of The Wrong Kind of Clouds is set in Malawi (a country close to my heart) and features a fictional charity that's loosely based on a real charity I helped to set up. In the book, the charity is called Samala (which means "to look after" or "to cherish" in Chichewa); the real charity is called Chimwemwe Children's Centre (Chimwemwe means "we are happy"). Each month I include a short update about Chimwemwe in the newsletter so you can hear what we're up to.

There's also a few links to things I found amusing or interesting over the month. These expose my eclectic taste I'm afraid and can range from glorious calligraphy, to a video of a dog hilariously failing an obedience test, through miniature mouse shops in Sweden or 3D scanning of a house in Pompeii.

Fancy seeing some glorious pictures, discovering new recipes, or getting my special offers or freebies? Then sign up for my newsletters. No spam, no selling of your details to anyone else and it only lands in your in-box once a month. And when you sign up, I'll give you a free copy of my novella "Gathering Storms" as a thank you.
[already signed up but didn't get the novella? Let me know and I'll send you the links.]

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The first 20 minutes

The first 20 minutes, for me, are the difference between not doing something at all and throwing myself into it wholeheartedly.

After the first 20 minutes of a run (and okay, some runs barely make it past that magical mark), a run can be wonderful. My muscles are warm, my breathing has settled into a pattern... my legs are moving, my shoulders are relaxed and it just flows.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Spotlighter Mini Meet Up StAnza

L-R Me, Sandra Ireland, Stephen Watt
As you may remember, there were 12 new writers selected for "Crime in the Spotlight" slots at Bloody Scotland last September. We've kept in touch and managed a mini-meet-up on Thursday, to support Stephen Watt at StAnza (Scotland's International Poetry Festival, held in St Andrews).

Sandra Ireland (author of the fabulous book "Beneath the Skin") lives not all that far from me, so I collected her from the train station and we headed to St Andrews on a gloriously sunny day. She was going to another event before Stephen's so I dropped her off at the Town Hall and headed for The Byre Theatre to see if I could find Stephen. He was indeed there and we had a natter and a walk around St Andrews (managing to freak out The Byre Theatre in the process who thought they'd lost him!).

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Meet the Author: Stephen Watt

This month's author under the spotlight is another fellow Spotlighter at "Bloody Scotland" - Stephen Watt. Thank you so much for letting me grill you, Stephen!

You’re a poet and a spoken word artist. How did you get started in this field?

When I was 19 I was mugged twice within six months by drug addicts from Drumchapel and Renton. It shook me up. I never wanted revenge but I wanted to understand what led people to lives where they prey on the vulnerable to feed their habits. It was therapeutic to write poetry at the time – in between counselling sessions – and pick myself back up in a creative way.

You’ve won a number of poetry slams, perhaps most notably in 2011 when you beat 8000 others to win the Poetry Rivals Slam in Peterborough. Did that open a lot of doors for you? If so, what? What are your favourite memories from the event?
It was my first Slam so I didn’t really know what to expect. I travelled south with a friend with the intention of savouring a bit of poetry and then going out on the piss, having a laugh, do what we do. It completely caught me off-guard that I won the event. We celebrated until nearly 4am that night – such an unbelievable high. I’m sure it did open doors – it put my name out there (I had been performing for just 6 months when I won the Poetry Rivals competition), it earned me a book deal which led to a 100-person attendance in Waterstones, and of course led to a number of book sales which familiarised people with my writing.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

It's been one of those weeks...

Just 6 things? I wish!
I've had one of those weeks... you know, the ones where your To Do list looks just about manageable but you wonder if you might have put a few too many things on it. One where you think if you can just have a couple of solid days at it, you'll be fine...

And then the world and his brother interpret the phrase "I'm a writer who works from home" as "I do nothing all day. Please offload a ton of things on to me."

Well, that's been my week.

Don't get me wrong. Many of the things I've had offloaded on to me have been quite fun and interesting. Most of them have been related to my charity work and being a Rotarian and I certainly don't regret doing them at all. They've just taken me away from writing for most of the week.

If only my list looked like the one in the picture. Unfortunately, my current To Do list could fill a small book. Better get back to it!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Goodbye to Tom, Alys and Hannah. Hello to...

... Jason Isaacs!*

Naturally... but I'm really welcoming to my desk, brain, life and dreams: Alexander, Jemima, Fee and...

LB and Summer.

Yep - the next project will be to finish writing the second book to feature LB and Summer. It's already about half-written. I started it ages ago (2013!) and then realised that I didn't like the ending and instead of keeping my backside in the chair and figuring out what the ending should be, I got distracted by other, new, shiny things (um... an urban fantasy trilogy for the most part, plus Poisonous Minds and launching The Wrong Kind of Clouds). So, I never got back to fixing the ending and now lots of people want to hear more about LB and Summer. Which I accept is a nice 'problem' to have!

I currently have a more significant issue to sort out than the ending though (which I think I've fixed. Or at least have lots of ideas about how to fix). No, my major problem at the moment, is that I nicked the main character from this book, lock, stock and barrel, and put him in Poisonous Minds. Oops. But, creating a new main character is huge fun and I have a lot of ideas about him. He's already beginning to walk out of my brain and talk to me - both a good sign and a slightly crazy one.

So, it's time to re-open that notebook, fill up my favourite fountain pens, get that play-list back on a repeating loop and finish what I started all those years ago.

Tinkerty tonk, old fruits (and down with the Nazis).*

[*If you don't listen to Wittertainment (The Kermode and Mayo Film Programme on BBC 5 Live), those two phrases will make no sense at all. All I can say is that you really should listen to it because it's brilliant.]

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Meet the Author: Tom O Keenan

Tom Keenan
This month's author under the spotlight is fellow Spotlighter at "Bloody Scotland" - Tom Keenan. Thank you so much for letting me grill you, Tom!

Your first novel, "The Father" features a detective and a forensic profiler. Tell me more about them?
"The Father" features Jackie Kaminski, a detective inspector, and Sean Rooney, a forensic psychologist, erstwhile partners in love, but now partners in crime. Sean has retired. Too many murders, too many psychopaths, too many failures, had taken its toll. Jackie, however, tempts him out of his retirement with the one he has always wanted, a proxy killer. Can he do it, can he cope with this one?

"The Father" is the first in a three-book series. Did you always intend to write a series? How many in the series are currently planned out?
I was encouraged to write a three book Sean Rooney series by my publisher who believed there was more to come from him and this pair, and he was right - book two is with him to be published. Draft one of book three is pouring out of my mind into my computer.

What will you be working on once the series is complete?
I have another couple of books under way, but at an early stage. They will be very different in genre and content. I also fancy writing a children’s book, which hopefully will please my grandchildren; or historical crime fiction, which won’t.

The Father
You’re an independent social worker in the area of mental health and are a Safeguarder in Glasgow Sherriff Court. What does a Safeguarder do?
A Safeguarder protects the interests of vulnerable and incapable adults where legal proceedings in the sheriff court are being taken to transfer their decision making to another person or the local authority. My role as a social worker is much broader, providing reports for solicitor agencies supporting and defending clients also involved in legal proceedings.

That’s a big change from writing! When did you first start writing novels? And what made you start?
I started writing novels about ten years ago after completing a legal book across mental health legislations in Scotland. I had always written stories, however, and poems, songs, and plays after doing a playwriting course with 7:84 theatre company.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote (I realise this is not necessarily the same as the first you had published)?
"The Father" was my first full-length novel, although I had written a couple of books in its various incarnations, self-publishing under other titles. It really helped to see my work in a physical self-published form, then to polish it and get it right.

Do you have any regrets over choosing writing as a career? If so, what are they?
No regrets, although to be a full time writer is my goal. I still need a ‘day job’ to keep the wolves from the door.

You were one of the “Spotlight on Crime” authors featured in “Bloody Scotland” in 2016. What are your favourite memories from the event?
I just loved wandering around, taking in the event and the amazing atmosphere, seeing all of those famous authors face to face. However, appearing before Nicci French, husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who also write psychological thrillers, and to over one hundred people, was the highlight for me, and to hear about their particular writing technique.

Where is your ideal writing space?
I moved home about a year ago, opening a B and B in a farmhouse in the highlands of Scotland, so I lost my garret (in my attic) which had been my writing space for a few years. Now I write in a room which was used as an abattoir for the farm, I suppose an appropriate place to write about the dark world of murder and mayhem.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
Dexter Petley of the Writers Workshop said of one of my first drafts: “On the whole, an enormous edit is needed, re-routing the stronger material through a better narrative.” I did this, changing the point of view to first person, giving it a personal voice, changing the whole book for the better. Also, I think Hemingway’s “The writer's job is to tell the truth," is hard to beat (A Moveable Feast) and for ‘writer’s block’, “do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. Write the truest sentence that you know and then go on from there.”

Now time for some more random questions...

What’s your radio tuned to most often?
Radio Scotland for current affairs and Scottish culture and Radio 4 for the drama and any book stuff.

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.
A limitless supply of paper and pens. Then I can write without the distraction of having access to the internet and I can use the countless scrunched up papers used in editing as loo paper (sorry toilet humour!).

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.
Green, to reflect my Irish genetics.

Jason Bourne or James Bond?
James Bond every time, but only with Sean Connery!

Cats or dogs?
Border collies any day of the week!

City or country?
Country, since I moved to the Highlands. City, when I lived in Glasgow. I am a city boy who loves the country!

Real book or e-book?
Real book every time, although I must confess to downloading lots of e-books (for reference purposes only you’ll understand!).

Fountain pen or biro?
Fountain pen is my preference, but I rely on biros for everyday use.

Thank you so much to Tom for letting me grill him!

You can keep up to date with all of Tom’s news on his website at: https://www.tom-odgen-keenan.co.uk/ 
You can follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TOKeenan
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tom.keenan.54584

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Book Finds: January 2017

Each month I showcase a small selection of books that I have loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be.

So, what treats do I have to share with you this month?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Goodbyes are always difficult...

I've finished editing "Poisonous Minds" (crack open the fizz!) and so it's almost time to say goodbye to this lot of characters...

It can be difficult. I've lived with these characters for years now. They've gone from initial scribbles in a notebook to feeling like real people to me. I've laughed with them, cried over them, loved them, wanted to murder them. Have murdered some of them... but now, it's time to open a new notebook, fill up a fountain pen and start living with some new people.

Many years ago, I wrote a short story that was selected for the book "Almost An Island (An Anthology of Fife Writers)". The story was called "The Writer" and in it, the characters from a writer's book emerged from the ether in her head and into reality. They were physically real and started to badger her about the plot of the book. They didn't like what she was doing and wanted her to change it all. The book reflected how I feel about my characters. They become so real to me that they do talk to me. They do want to change the plot (sometimes for the better, but not always!) and I do feel bereft when their story is finished and it's time to focus on someone else.

My head is a crowded place a lot of the time, full of characters nagging at me. I write to get them out of my head and onto the paper because (mostly) they shut up then. Although, that then just leaves a space for someone new to fill.

So, at the moment, it's farewell to Tom and Hannah and Alys - the three main characters in "Poisonous Minds" - and hello to...

Ah. Yes. Who is shouting the loudest at the moment? Summer and LB from their next book? Finn and Reagan from The Trilogy? Or James and Anna from another thriller?

You know... they're all being pretty loud and obnoxious right now, yelling, "My turn! My turn! Me! Pick me!"

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The End is Nigh...

Well, only the end of editing "Poisonous Minds" which will hopefully be the next book to be published, but that feels like a massive milestone, given how much I've been struggling with it and how long it now is since I first started writing it!

I started "Poisonous Minds" in 2013 and finished the first draft by early 2014. It then got left alone while I wrote the first two books of an urban fantasy trilogy (written during 2014-2015). That done, I went back to "Poisonous Minds" (which at this point was still called "Six Deaths").

Roughly this time last year (January 2016), "Six Deaths" went off to beta readers with a feedback sheet and an alternate ending and two alternate titles ("Adapt or Die" and "Poisonous Minds") and I edited what I'd done of the urban fantasy trilogy while I waited for their feedback to arrive.

Most of my beta readers got their feedback to me by the end of March and I made various changes to "Poisonous Minds" over Spring of 2016 - just before and just after the launch of "The Wrong Kind of Clouds".

And that's when it all started to grind to a halt!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2017... plans, plans, plans!

Books, books, books!

I have a slight feeling of deja vu as I write this... I seem to recall writing a post about this time last year on my plans for 2016, most of which didn't quite pan out as hoped. I got a lot of stuff done in 2016, it just wasn't necessarily quite what I'd planned to do!

But, ever the optimist, I've put pen to paper (naturally... I'm an analogue lass!) and drawn up a scarily large list of writing projects that I want to complete. This year, however, I've not put any deadlines on the list. Cunning, huh?

What I would really like to achieve this year is to get "Poisonous Minds" published and have at least one other book ready to publish (if not actually published). I have a whole heap of other writing-related goals too, but those two are the main ones.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Meet the Author: Jackie Baldwin

Jackie Baldwin
Photo credit: Kim Ayres
This month's author under the spotlight is fellow Spotlighter at "Bloody Scotland" - Jackie Baldwin. Thank you so much for letting me grill you, Jackie!

Hi Amanda,
First of all, I would like to wish you and your followers a very Happy New Year!

Your first novel, "Dead Man’s Prayer" features a detective who’s an ex-priest. What made you choose this unconventional background for him?
I didn’t do it to be different. It was simply that as I had attended the local Benedictine Convent School I grew up steeped in that background. I came across various priests. It seemed to me a rather lonely, isolated life where, of necessity, at times you must be at war with yourself. It also lends itself to such meaty themes as guilt and redemption. I wanted to write about a Detective who is a bit ‘other.’

"Dead Man’s Prayer" is described as the first in a series. Did you always intend to write a series? How many in the series are currently planned out?
I certainly hoped to write a series. I am currently writing the second book but do have lots of ideas for future stories.

You’ve also had short stories published. Do you have a writing preference: short story? Or novel?
I have only had one short story published and definitely prefer novels. I believe a lot of novelists start off by writing short stories but I started off writing drama as that was what was happening locally at the time. Short stories rather terrify me, to be honest. I will have to apply myself to learning how to do them.