In conversation with @amandamitchison – The Wolf Hunters – Bloody Scotland 10th Anniversary – #VirtualBookTour @BloodyScotland @Brownlee_Donald @FledglingPress #10YearsofBloodyScotland

I am honoured to be a part of the virtual book tour to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Bloody Scotland. Bloody Scotland is a very special book festival. It really is about books and people. I have made so many lovely friends at the festivals over the years. People who took me under their wings when I was visiting for the first time on my own. Huge thanks in advance to Fiona Brownlee for my gifted press pass. It allows me to showcase authors and the festival on my social media platforms. I am very grateful.

Amanda Mitchison is the author of The Wolf Hunters. Which has been nominated for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year award. Below is my review of The Wolf Hunters and an interview with Ms Mitchison.

Kelly Lacey – Reviews – The Wolf Hunters by Amanda Mitchison

The crime fiction debut you MUST read this year! 

I was taken straight away by the stunning and unusual cover for the Wolf Hunters by Amanda Mitchison. It doesn’t give anything away and it really drew me in. I love when a book comes along that knocks my socks off and hits all the right reader buttons for me.  Although crime fiction at its core the dystopian thread of a harsh futuristic Scotland really grabbed my attention. It is a world I would love to visit again and perhaps even have a prequel where we learn more about Rhona’s family and how their dynamic came to fruition, that would be very interesting.

The Wolf Hunters is most definitely a book that evokes all the senses and I found myself re-reading pages as they were so beautifully written. I have read in other reviews that some readers felt the book to be a slow read. I can understand what they mean. It is not a book that has action past scenes and moves at heart-racing speed and it’s just not meant to either. The pace of the book is similar in nature to its setting. The Highlands has its own natural pulse and the book matches it perfectly. 

The fenced-in Henderson’s estate is a character all to itself and you really feel the sensation of claustrophobia and add in the hidden threat of wild animals and goodness knows what else and the unsettling feeling created a unique reading experience for me. 

The main protagonist DI Rhona Ballantyne is most definitely a marmite character. You will either like or dislike her. I utterly loved her. She is up there only on my list of top fictional characters. I love that she is ballsy and determined.  I enjoyed how honest and unapologetically flawed she was too. All those traits mixed together made her incredibly interesting to read about and to reader ghost her as she goes about her mission to solve the case was such a fabulous journey.

Five huge muckle stars for The Wolf Hunters from me. If you love crime fiction you should order your copy today. I honestly hope Amanda Mitchison creates more Rhona Ballantyne books. There is so much scope to create and grow not only Rhona’s character but also the raw and rough futuristic Scotland too. 

In Conversation with Amanda Mitchison

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?

I used to be a staff feature writer for newspapers and so I was, of course, used to everything I wrote immediately being printed. This was, of course, a lousy introduction to the world of book publishing. I have drawers full of unpublished books. With The Wolf Hunters I approached 20 literary agents, and less than half ever replied. Everyone who did answer told me it would never sell – that you couldn’t write a dystopian novel that was also a police procedural. Eventually – it took me a year – I found Clare Cain at Fledgling Books.

How do you decide who to dedicate your books to?

My husband and I spent the second lockdown living with my brother and his family in Perthshire–we had sold our house outside Bristol and they very kindly took us in. So I dedicated The Wolf Hunters to them. Other books I have dedicated to friends and the children of friends. It is a small return of favours.

What was the inspiration behind your latest release?

I wanted to write about characters in search of extreme experiences. There is a phase in late adolescence and early adulthood when, I believe, many people experience life more intensely than ever before or after. Some people spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate that vivid intensity of being and feeling and will go to any lengths to do so. That, essentially, was the germ of the idea behind the book. The themes of hunting and rewilding, and the setting of the book in the West Highlands of Scotland, and all that followed stem from this initial idea.

Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. After The Wolf Hunters, I felt I still had more of Rhona to explore and some more of her snarky observations about life and about Scotland, kept coming to me. But it took me a year to find a suitable story for a sequel. And even when I have finished the book I am working on now I will still not have resolved one of her most difficult relationships. 

What was your favourite read of 2021?

‘Do Not Disturb’ by Michela Wrong. This is an insightful and brilliant account of how Rwanda became the murderous state it is today. It is a very beautifully written, important and very brave book. Essential reading for the Home Office. (NB I must declare an interest—Michela is my cousin, but it is a wonderful read.)

Who is your favourite author?

Living Authors? Martin Cruz Smith, Cormac McCarthy and Hilary Mantel. Can’t choose which.

Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, and which one?

In my case it wasn’t a book but a very famous Italian love poem, ‘Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi’ (roughly translated: ‘Death will come and will have your eyes’) by Cesare Pavese. I was living in Rome at the time and, after nine excruciating months, I was finally jilted by my boyfriend. I read the poem on the bus on the way to and from work, tears rolling down my face. It’s a fantastically gloomy poem (Pavese eventually killed himself) and I now think I was thoroughly self indulgent and I wallowed like a hippo. But the emotional mudbath cure pulled me through. I’d get off the bus, dry my eyes and resume normal life.

Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing? 

My husband Jeremy who has put up with me being a rotten earner for decades.

If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?

One book? Just one book? How about The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. People need myths, and this is the ultimate myth about the corrosive effects of power. Very relevant today.

What are you working on now?

I am writing the sequel to The Wolf Hunters. It is set on Iona.

Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?

No, I just want to thank them.

The Wolf Hunters by Amanda Mitchison

This debut crime novel is set in a brutal, chaotic Scotland of the near future, where it’s business at any cost for the people who live there. Archie Henderson, a passionate hunter, has rewilded his vast Highland estate filling the mountains and woods with wolves and bears. Here he runs wolf hunts with a terrible difference.

But when a young man is killed by a bear on the reserve, DI Rhona Ballantyne is assigned the case. As her enquiries progress, she begins to unravel the dark secret behind the death, and uncovers a terrifying truth that will put her own life in jeopardy. Will the hunter become the hunted?

A new writer to this genre, Amanda Mitchison has hit the ground running with a new spin to Tartan Noir.

https://www.fledglingpress.co.uk/product-page/the-wolf-hunters

Tickets for the Debut Panel are available here: in person or online!

Physical ticket – https://bloodyscotland.com/events/debut-prize-panel/…

Digital ticket – https://bloodyscotland.com/events/debut-prize-panel-watch-online/…

Festival Digital pass – https://bloodyscotland.com/events/digital-pass/…

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