Tell me what inspired you to write action thrillers?

Just being a fan of thrillers written by people like Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly, but also enjoying action movies like the Bourne and Bond films. I’ve always enjoyed fast-paced stories that make you want to keep turning the pages.

Where did the inspiration for your main character come from?

The opening line of book one was “The first thing you should know about me is my name is not Carter Blake.” I knew that guy sounded interesting, and I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to write about a classic hero who was resourceful and capable, but one that wasn’t infallible.

What can you tell us about your next book? Will it be another in the same series or something different? When is it due for publication?

The next book is a standalone thriller set in the UK, so a bit of a departure. It’s out in April 2019 and the working title is What She Saw Last Night. It opens with a woman taking the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Fort William in the Highlands. She sees a harassed-looking woman board at the same time with a little girl. In the morning, she finds the woman dead, but no one else remembers seeing the little girl…

How hard was it to get your first book published? Is it just as hard to get subsequent books accepted?

I was lucky enough to get an agent who really helped me make the book as good as it could be, so when we sent it out we managed to get a publisher interested. It’s a little different for subsequent books as you’ve already got the relationship with the publisher, and usually you’ll have a multiple-book contract, so it’s more of a discussion to find out what they want to do next, and how that fits in with what I want to do.

How many publishers turned you down?

A few publishers turned down Killing Season, and the whole submission process was quite nerve-wracking. It was a welcome relief when Orion asked for a meeting and, following on from that, decided they wanted to buy it.

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say Waterstones website?

Yes – I read all of my online reviews! Any author who says they don’t is either lying or they are a mega-seller and can’t keep up with the volume of their reviews. I hope to have that problem one day.

Would you ever consider writing for children or teens?

Sure, if I got a good idea for a book in that market. I have three children and my oldest is an avid reader and thinks I should write something more child-focused. She loves Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike series. I try not to let it get to me that I’m not my daughter’s favourite author, of course.

What did you do before becoming a writer? Or perhaps still do?

I had quite a few jobs – petrol station attendant, Inland Revenue officer, pizza delivery guy. I still have a day job working in the voluntary sector with a digital focus. I think having a day job is often quite a good thing for a writer.

Which author inspires you?

Lots of authors, but if I had to pick one I would go with Stephen King, who got me back into reading and inspired me to start writing stories again.

Which genres do you read yourself?

Crime, thriller, horror, occasionally SF, comic books (which of course encompasses many genres). I like the occasional non-fiction book too.

What is your biggest motivator?

The abject terror induced by deadlines.

What will always distract you?

Social media, general procrastination.

How much say do you have in your book covers?

Not a huge amount. They’re designed completely independently of me and luckily I usually like them. If I really don’t like something they’ll have another go at it, but I’m usually happy to leave them to it

As a child were you a great reader?

Yes, I loved Narnia, The Three Investigators, Doctor Who novelisations, and of course comics.

Which book shop is your favourite?

Waterstones of course! The main Glasgow branch has five floors and is a great place to while away a couple of hours. I miss Borders too.

What can you not resist buying?

Books, predictably. My to-read pile is around the same height as the Burj Khalifa.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?

Not really – I like to sit down with a coffee and work on my PC or laptop. If I listen to music it has to be something without lyrics. Film scores are good: John Barry, John Williams, Lalo Schifrin.

How many books in your own to be read pile?

Waaaaaaay too many. Probably at least a couple of dozen if we exclude the things I know I’m never getting to.

What is your current read?

I’m reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (amazingly for the first time)

Do you adjust the books in bookstores to give your books more visibility?

No, but quite often fans will tag me on Facebook with a pic of a strategically rearranged display, which of course I don’t officially condone…


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