Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I always wanted to be an artist of some description. I suppose like many people I’d have loved to have been a musician, but when your a kid it seems such a long journey to embark upon. First you have to find the money to pay for an instrument (that alone could take years) and then you have to spend many more years learning how to play the damn thing, with no guarantee that you ever will. Alternatively, you could simply walk a hundred yards to the local newsagent, but yourself a nice, pristine pad of A4 paper and a Biro and, hey bingo – you’re a writer!
So, writing always seemed the most accessible art form to me and it gave me total freedom as well. It was the ultimate escape. I penned my first crime story, featuring a serial killer, when I was seven, in a writing competition at primary school. It was forty pages long in an exercise book. The winning entry was about a frog on a lily pad – and was one paragraph in length. Hmmm, maybe a lesson in there.
Anyway, I carried on from that point, but I only acquired the stamina necessary to be a writer after attending Staffordshire University as a mature literature student in the early 2000s, at the age of 30, where writing 10,000 words a week was not uncommon. Literally the day after my graduation, in 2004, I wholeheartedly began my vocation as a writer and began work on my first short novel about a Glasgow man who sets up a school for disadvantaged teenagers in the Scottish Highlands. The choice of locations was no accident. Thinking up plots and story lines had never been a problem for me, but trying to work out precisely where I would set my stories was. Imagine if Dostoevsky’s novels had been set in Milton Keynes rather than during the summer white nights of St Petersburg, or if a Tale of Two Cities had been depicted in Lichfield and Dunkirk. No, neither can I. So, I felt like a bird with a belly full of eggs, only without a nest to lay them in. Until, that is, I discovered Glasgow, with it’s sharp-edged masculine streets, atmospheric alleyways and brooding weather. Like a toilet wall or a birthday card, it is a city that was made to be written on.
Tell us about your books.
My books are all Glasgow-based crime novels, with a strong sociological element. After Guilt Tripper, I began a series of detective novels, featuring a dubious DCI called Patrick Curzon – AKA The Dirty Rouge.
How did you go about getting published?
I took the self-publishing route, uploading material onto the amazon kindle platform.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
The main part of my writing process is invisible and could quite easily misconstrued a laziness. Basically, I just lie in bed or sit around thinking, or go for long walks, read a book, watch a film. This goes on for a few weeks and it’s where ideas are hatched and plots formulated. Then, hopefully bursting with inspiration, I get a couple of A4 pads and a pen and just scribble, anything and everything in my head. (This to me is the most enjoyable part of the process and it’s always a surprise, even to me, some of the situations DCI Curzon takes me into.)
This done, I then start the longest and most demanding part: typing my longhand work onto a computer before reading and re-reading dozens of times while editing and amending.
As regards a daily routine, I realized long ago that you just have to plough into your writing whenever an opportunity presents itself. Wanting a particular environment or set of circumstances before you can write can end up being a handicap. For me, with writing, I just have to dive in, otherwise I’d wait for ever for the ideal situation to do my work in. Ideally I’d like to write in the back garden of a Tuscan villa or in the bow windowed corner turret of a Glasgow redstone, but for the time being I’ll just have to make do with wherever is most peaceful in a busy home.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
My writing is all consuming. If I’m not actually doing it then I’m thinking about it. Not a week goes by when at some point I don’t consider jacking it all in to lead a normal life. There’s a great line in a song by a Glasgow band called the Blue Nile which goes ‘a poet is selling his typewriter to learn to live’. The only thing I do other than writing is go for long walks really, punctuated by the odd night out, but there less and less frequent because I simply can’t take the hangovers anymore.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Unfortunately I’m not qualified to give any advice on this front. I love writing my books and seeing them published, but all the rest of the stuff feels like a real distraction from creating stories.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
I’m a writer, no a marketer. I probably need the services of the latter, truth be told.
What’s your favorite book?
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
What are you reading now?
Nothing at the moment, though I intend to open Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness now that I’m between books.
What’s your next book project?
My next project hasn’t begun yet, but it’s most likely to be book four in The Dirty Rouge detective series.
Author Websites and Profiles
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