I was born in Glasgow and studied English Literature at Stirling University before taking my Masters Degree in Education at Newcastle University. I worked as a manager in Children’s Services in England where I wrote a book on leadership (Chance Favours The Prepared Mind) before writing this, my first novel. The sequel is called Dixon’s Revenge and part of it is also based out on the Dhiobadail moor on the Isle of Lewis. I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne with wonderful Angela and our two sons.
What inspires you to write?
When I started writing The Machair Crow I was inspired by Lee Child’s novel ‘Nothing to Lose.’ It was the idea of the police being in the pocket of a secret organization and the police trying to move Jack Reacher out of town in order to stop him asking questions. That’s what got me started. It’s a combination of secret societies, freemasons, corruption, and standing up for what’s right. Western societies are riddled, no redolent, with corruption. You’ll see shades of that scenario with Helen Riley – someone who refuses to take ‘No’ for an answer.
Tell us about your writing process.
I plan an outline with Scrivener. I have a template based on the work of Larry Brookes’s Story Engineering. So I’m definitely an outliner. I can’t imagine how to do an outline if you are a so-called Pantser? I haven’t written enough to be confident about how I write, but I seem to start with an outline, then I do dialogue, then I fill in description where needed. I need several pre-circulation versions where I make lots of first draft corrections before I’ll let key people loose on the basic first draft. Then there will be another four (at least) drafts until the book is almost ready for publication. Ater that I’ll let a group of final readers give me their thoughts before it finally gets submitted to Amazon. I loose count of how many drafts are involved in this process.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’m not sure that I even understand this question. When I’m writing, I am that character. Helen Riley, my heroine, is a real person. I know where she lives, what she has for breakfast, who she is in love with, how she keeps in shape and how she prefers to make love. She’s a real person, at least in my head she is a real person.
What advice would you give other writers?
I’m not sure. I read a lot. I’m currently reading a famous Scandie novelist. The later novels are excellent but the first novel is very poor. This seems to be true for many novelists. Then there is the case of great novelists losing the plot, literally, as they become famous. So my message is, even the finest novellists started off poorly and some of the finest ones lost the plot. You can at least do as well as them.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve self-published on Amazon eBooks for several reasons. I took advice from Mary Wood who was selling well without a publisher after she received numerous rejections. I also watched Ian Rankin’s TV video diary as he worked to a six-month deadline while writing ‘Standing in Another Man’s Grave.’ I really didn’t want a publisher’s deadline hanging over me while I was learning how to craft my first novel. At the moment I’m on target for two thousand copies sold in my first year, which seems adequate for a first novel, so I’m pleased at how it’s going. I’d recommend eBook self-publishing but with the proviso that you really need to create a good product before you publish. I won’t tell you about my horrific typo that an astute reader had to point out to me!!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I liked the comments of Steven King “If you drop a paper book in the toilet, you can fish it out and dry it off, but drop your Kindle in the toilet . and .it’s gone! The book format is just the author’s delivery system, but the more important part is the core story and the the author’s talent.”
I studied Everett Rogers’s innovation theory and at that time (many years ago) eBooks were full of emergent and dramatic potential. eBooks really needed the Amazon KIndle to move the innovation forward. It has been a slow process for eBooks to reach mainstream. According to innovation theory, eBoooks and paper books will exist side by side for a long time, but ultimately only one version will survive. Paper books will disappear. It is simple logistics and economics.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Thriller, crime, detective
What formats are your books in?
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