We have a few days left of wonderful interviews for you and today is no exception. Enjoy.!
Jackie Mclean ~ Crime Fiction Takeover Interview
Which crime novel stayed with you long after you had finished?
- Ooh, just one? Night Chills by Dean Koontz. I’m fascinated by the power of the subconscious and subliminal messages, and he nails it in a terrifyingly realistic account of what could happen; for all we know, what’s happening right now…
If you had, to sum up, Edinburgh in four words, what would they be?
- Edinburgh in four words – nothing says it better than the well-known “Athens of the North.” I live in Glasgow, but I’m going to break the local bye law and say that I really love Edinburgh – it’s a wonderful city
Who is your favourite fictional crime character and why?
- I have all of Kathy Reichs’s books – she’s the only author whose entire collection I’ve read, so it must be Tempe Brennan. I met Kathy the year she was at Bloody Scotland, and was too star struck to utter a sound! If you’ve only ever come across Tempe Brennan in the Bones TV series, you need to read the books. They are far, far better.
What is your favourite part of Edinburgh and why?
- My favourite part of Edinburgh is the Grassmarket. It’s buzzing, and it’s steeped in history, with new hidden gems every time you look.
If you could have dinner with four fictional crime characters who would they be?
- Four fictional crime characters to dine with would be Lisbeth Salander (needs no introduction); Lieutenant Mario Conde (of the Havana series) – he solves crimes and he knows lots about antique books; Çetin İkmen (of Barbara Nadel’s crime series set in Turkey); and I’d have to say Agatha Christie – how great would it be to have a chat with her (although I might not let her buy me a drink)! With regards to Conde and İkmen, I’d recommend reading crime fiction that’s set in countries whose social and political situations are more complex than our own. It’s a good way of getting a glimpse into why it can be really difficult to resolve problems that you might think should be simple.
About your own work, where do you find inspiration for your books?.
- Inspiration comes from lots of different places. For example, quite often a friend will talk about a situation at their work that leads to discussions about “what if…” If somebody annoys me, they become a victim in the next book. Also, it’s fun to watch people’s body language and try to work out what they’re hiding. Not to worry you if you’re friends with a crime writer, but that’s what we do…
If your current book had a theme song what would it be?
- The theme song would have to be Britney’s Toxic, because the book is called Toxic! I’d love for her to read and review it. I’m secretly a big fan of hers. Well, it’s not a secret now, is it?
Write the scene of a crime for us, set in Edinburgh, one paragraph long. Include these three items ~ Banana, Greyfriars Bobby and The Wash Bar.
And can you describe the banana?”
“About six feet tall, slender build, um, yellow. Oh, and he was waving a knife in the air. Quite a big one, but not as big as the claymore.”
“What happened next?”
“Well, he shouted for everyone to lie down on the floor, so we did. Everyone, except for
“What did they do?”
“It was hard to see them from where I was, on the floor. But I heard them clapping their
“Like a round of applause?”
“Didn’t that strike you as odd?”
“All sorts of odd things happen in the Wash Bar.”
“How would you describe the mood of the group?”
“Oh, they were in high spirits. They were downing the whisky like it was shots.”
“Did they seem aggressive at all?”
“No, although I can understand why the banana got scared. The claymore did look real, and I’d have run off, too, if they’d come rushing at me with it like that.”
“Do you know which direction they ran off in?”
“I can’t be sure, but they were going on about Greyfriars Bobby. You could hear them
shouting a mile away. You, um, said something about a reward?”
“If your information leads to us finding out how the hell five American tourists and a six-foot banana vanished somewhere between the Wash Bar and Greyfriar’s Bobby, it’ll be yours.”
Do you have any events lined up either online or in person that my readers could attend?
- I run Get Writing Glasgow, which is a kind of “weight watchers” for writers – that is, anyone who has written or who would like to try writing for the first time. I believe everyone can write – if it comes from the heart, it’s going to be good. Nobody should tell you otherwise. We’re a friendly, supportive group, and after we’ve had a catch-up chat, we spend some time writing. We don’t read each other’s work, as that can be off-putting for people who lack confidence. It’s in the Braehead Waterstones fortnightly on Monday evenings (right next to the cakes). Also, watch out for Murder & Mayhem, a tour of libraries and bookstores that I’m organising along with some fellow crime writers (Wendy H Jones, Chris Longmuir, Lesley Kelly, Tana Collins and Amanda Fleet). We’re
hoping to do something a little different to the usual author Q&A, with a view to introducing readers to some new crime characters.
Could you tell us about your current novel and how you got inspired to write it?
- My current novel, Toxic (published by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd), is a race against the clock to find an illegal stash of the deadly toxin that caused the Bhopal disaster (the world’s worst industrial accident). The two senior detectives leading the hunt are as volatile as the substance they need to find. I began to write it because I wanted to write something set in my home town (Arbroath). Famous for its cliffs, it lends itself to a smuggling story. When I asked my nephew, who’s a forensic toxicologist, about a suitably dangerous substance for my smuggling story, he told me about Bhopal. The more I looked into it, the more I became determined to highlight the terrible injustice that happened there – nobody was ever held to account for the disaster. My second novel, Shadows, is currently in the publication pipeline (also with ThunderPoint), and it’s about a murder hunt which starts out looking like a serial killer at work – but it’s worse, mwahaha!
In the Scottish university city of Dundee, life and all its complications are proceeding much the same as usual. The recklessly brilliant DI Donna Davenport, struggling to hide a secret from police colleagues and get over the break-up with her partner, is in trouble with her boss for a fiery and inappropriate outburst to the press. DI Evanton, an old-fashioned, hard-living misogynistic copper has been newly demoted for thumping a suspect, and transferred to Dundee with a final warning ringing in his ears and a reputation that precedes him. And in the peaceful, rolling Tayside farmland a deadly store of MIC, the toxin that devastated Bhopal, is being illegally stored by a criminal gang smuggling the valuable substance necessary for making cheap pesticides. An anonymous tip-off starts a desperate search for the MIC that is complicated by the uneasy partnership between Davenport and Evanton and their growing mistrust of each other’s actions. Compelling and authentic, Toxic is a tense and fast paced crime thriller.
Thanks Jackie for taking part in my wee special.
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