Halloween... 2018...

So, after all the business of promoting my first book and doing various public appearances I'm now finally getting to grips with BOOK TWO.

I was actually well into writing a sequel to A Murder Of Crows when I realised several things: Writing a sequel bogs you down in the predecessor's history. Now, whilst this is no great insight and no real negative, I began to realise that it was killing my writing. The text was staggered, it wasn't free-flowing, because I kept having to check it for accuracy so that it tied in with what I had written before.  I also felt that it was too soon to be able to be objective. Some projects have to rest before they can be returned to, and given that I want to do Jack Russell justice (in more ways than one, given how I left him at the end of his first adventure!) it seems sensible to let the Crows nest for a while before they take flight again. 

So, there will be a sequel to A Murder Of Crows - but not yet.

Instead, I've started research for a brand new psychological thriller that will become a possible series in the coming years - yes, I'm thinking that far. 

Suffice to say the research and the tentative ideas I have are coming along very nicely. The writing is easier and flowing much more freely, and I've assembled a great new cast of characters, who I hope you will love as much as I do. This new story is every bit as dark and atmospheric as its predecessor (and then some) and there are many great twists and turns along the way. I'm aiming that it has the Ian Skewis trademark (so I've been told) of high drama, grounded characters, and a twisted sense of location. I've prepared a rough draft of the prologue which I will be debuting at Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh on November 30th.

And since it's Halloween I can tentatively announce that this time next year I will be taking part in a very exciting project. But I can't say anything much about it just yet, except that it will be very spooky and a whole lot of fun.

Watch this space, and thanks you for your support.

 

Bloody Scotland and Beyond

When I was asked to appear on the New Crimes panel at Bloody Scotland with three other debut authors I literally jumped for joy.

Bloody Scotland, for those of you who don't know, is a crime writing festival, and the biggest of its kind in Scotland. It attracts writers of all levels from all over the world; Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Lynda LaPlante, to name but three. To be asked to take part in something of this scale was a great honour. And I had a ball.

I was very nervous on the first day and felt I had a permanent rictus grin on my face, but I was made to feel so welcome by everyone. We were all taken to Stirling castle for some VIP treatment - a piper piped us in, we then had champagne, and photos were taken. In the attached picture I'm standing to the left with a glass in my hand, right next to Christopher Brookmyre, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, amongst others. That was the first thing that struck me about this festival. There is no pecking order, or even so much of a whiff of corporate. Everyone is equal, no matter how advanced or famous they might be. I loved that. 

I then met the amazing Alex Gray and she took me to the front of the procession for the opening Gala March and we were all given wax torches to light and take with us on our journey. Imagine my surprise and delight when a tall, dark-haired man in a suit turned round to speak to Alex - and it was none other than Ian Rankin! Alex kindly introduced us and he then lit my torch with his. (later that evening I was raving on social media about how Ian Rankin had 'lit my candle!') And we were off, with everybody coming out of their homes to watch the spectacle. It was truly magical. We then arrived at the Assembly Hall and I watched Ian talk about his career, and of course, his most famous creation, Rebus. Later, Val McDermid and others performed a medley of crime-related songs to conclude the evening's entertainment. They were brilliant. It was an amazing first day. 

The next day it was my turn. I was nervous at first, but as the morning progressed and I mingled with everyone, I began to feel more focussed and ready for my event. Hosted by Alex Gray, the New Crimes panel went very well and it was nice to see a full house of about 120 or so people had come to see us. 

I spent the rest of the day, and the following day watching other writers perform and talk about their work; Christopher Brookmyre, Caro Ramsay, Lynda LaPlante and many others. I was sad when the festival ended and I reluctantly went home - but I have lovely memories and lots of new ideas.

And yes, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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Out of darkness cometh light...

Crime novels often come from a dark place. Mine is no exception.

My debut novel, A Murder Of Crows, was inspired by a childhood experience: I found the dead body of a man hanging from a tree in the countryside. The year was 1979. I was nine years old.

Fast forward some 38 years later and now this book, once a dream, is now a reality. It feels strange to reflect on how it came to pass that a quiet and thoughtful little boy saw something that day which took him all that time to put into words, all 94,428 of them.

I used to pretend that I wasn't traumatised by that dark day in the country, but having written this book I now realise that perhaps it affected me more than I cared to admit. But at the same time I wonder - if that day had not come to pass, then what might I have done with my life? Would I still be filled with joy at seeing my book in print? Would I be writing this blog? Would this website even exist?

The truth is, I don't know.  

What I do know is that the events of that day inspired a story, and that story became a book, and that book is now inspiring others to write. And now there's a website too. Feel free to browse and enjoy...