Thursday 31 March 2016

The Reborn - Reformed? Or playing the system?

All of my novels arise from an idea that either scares or intrigues me, or both. The Reborn is from one that scared me. It features dolls fashioned to look like real babies, sometimes created to replace a baby that has died. When I first read about these dolls I was intrigued and a little horrified. They were so real that it was easy to mistake them for live babies. I checked out a website that offered the materials and the knowledge to create a Reborn. I sent for the DVD on how to do this, but couldn’t bring myself to try to make one myself … why? Because it would have been there with me in the house.

I considered keeping my attempt at a Reborn in the boot of my car, but that felt even worse. It seemed I was happy to look at dolls that didn’t resemble real babies. I was happy to look at photographs of babies, even those who had died, but not at a realistic physical replica.

I then came up with the idea of a man who had killed his own baby, and had then tried to redeem himself by becoming an expert in producing replica Reborns for others who had lost a child. In doing so, he had become reborn himself. But what if we weren’t sure whether he was a psychopath who was now playing the system, or someone who had been psychotic at the time of the murder and was now well again due to getting effective medication?

This led me to a study of psychopathic behaviour which was both  fascinating and horrifying. The first time I had met such behaviour in a book was in Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which I read as a teenager. With The Reborn I was back in that territory. In my story forensic science and psychology collide.

A pregnant teenage girl visits a funfair with her classmates. She is no dropout, but a maths genius and from a wealthy family.  Seeing a clown, which is one of the few things that does frighten her, she goes into the nearest attraction only to discover it’s a hall of mirrors. Distorting mirrors make her laugh, because she understands that it is the use of mathematical formulae that creates the distortions. Then the clown appears and, terrified by that distorted face, she runs. But not fast enough. When they find her body, the child has been removed from her womb.

The stuff of nightmares. Just like clowns, and lifelike recreations of dead babies.

The Reborn eBook can be read or purchased from Amazon.

Lin Anderson Amazon Author Page

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Stop the Cuts - Mobile Libraries are Vital

As a child I lived in Greenock, never very far from a library. Having that free access to the world of books probably made me a writer, and, before that,  a teacher for twenty years.

On retirement from the CID in Greenock, my father moved his family to Carrbridge in the Highlands. The closest library there was seven miles away.  By then I was studying at university in Glasgow, spending a large part of my time in the Mitchell Library, a wonderful place, where I still had easy access to books. Had I been in Carrbridge I would have had access to the mobile library, a familiar sight in the village.

Here’s what the mobile library service of the Highlands says about its work:-

Our mobile libraries are on the road almost every day. The routes are tailored to meet the requirements of individual communities to ensure access where there is most need. Stops may be at primary schools, residential homes, community halls, at the centre of villages and even at or near private homes if appropriate.
Mobile Libraries at Hopetoun House

Some years ago I had the privilege  of addressing a gathering of mobile librarians at Hopetoun House, just outside Edinburgh. I gave a talk to a packed hall and had a tour of some of the mobile libraries that had been driven there. What an inspiration!

That day I spoke about the various characters in my forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series, and one in particular, Professor Magnus Pirie, an Orcadian psychologist. Having lived and taught in Orkney, I always knew I would eventually include in my books a character from these islands, with their amazing history of well-educated, and well-read inhabitants.

At Hopetoun House that day I met two librarians who had come down from Orkney with their mobile library, and we chatted about me coming to the main library in Kirkwall to do an event. Since then I’ve been back to mainland Orkney for Library events a number of times.

I also had the chance to visit other Orkney islands when I took part in their 24 islands in 24 hours initiative with Shetland, which brought authors from far and wide to do events in remote communities. My island-hopping visit to Sanday provided the inspiration for my latest book, None but the Dead which will be published in August, and is set for the most part on Sanday.  We’re even planning a launch event on the island.

Like the Highlands of Scotland, Orkney has a scattered population, many of whom rely on the mobile library service, which is currently under threat of cuts. The main library in Kirkwall does a great job in reaching out to their community, and indeed to the wider world.

It is social media phenomenon, with over 25,000 twitter followers (with an Orkney population of 21,000) and recently Stewart Bain, who manages the Twitter account, invited JK Rowling to come to their book club … and she did!

The Orkney library (2015 library of the year) is harnessing all the tools at its disposal, and going forward it is vital that this should continue to include their wonderful Mobile Library Service, at its present level or better.

Let the people read, wherever they are in Scotland.

Please sign this petition to stop the custs to the Orkney Library mobile service.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

New Website Launched for Socially Enterprising Book Business

On Monday this week I had a great visit to Bookdonors to help launch their new website. It’s the first time I’ve taken the train to Tweedbank on the new Borders Railway. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was fantastic. Highly recommended.

Tom Kenny, the Bookdonors MD met me at the station, which is a short walk from the Bookdonors warehouse and offices. It’s such an impressive set-up with an enthusiastic staff. I had a full demonstration of the new website.

I love the author pages and of course the Bloody Scotland / Tartan Noir selection of Scottish Crime books. I then had my photo taken with MY van!

Or I should say the Rhona MacLeod van, as she’s the star of my forensic series advertised on the back. There are also vans for Bloody Scotland authors Alex Gray, Caro Ramsay and Val McDermid … which seemed perfect for this week's International Women’s Day

Lin and Zoe

While there I met Zoe, a real life Wiccan who had read The Special Dead. It was great to hear from someone from the world I had written about. She gave the thumbs up to my research, but also pointed out that Wiccan men are usually called male witches, rather than warlocks. I rather like that… 

Bookdonors Press Release

Bookdonors has launched a dedicated eCommerce web site, to capitalise on its strong links with charity shop book suppliers. Leading crime fiction author, Lin Anderson, who officially launched the site commented, “By offering used and new books side by side this web site gives customers real choice. Purchasing books from Bookdonors will support an organisation which has strong social and environmental objectives, which provides an alternative ethical choice to larger ecommerce sites.”
Bookdonors is a leading not-for-profit Social Enterprise based in Tweedbank, just outside Galashiels, in the Scottish Borders, where it employs 32 staff.  It trades in used books for the benefit of people, charities and the environment. All of its sales are used to fulfil the triple social mission; to provide flexible and adaptable employment opportunities, to help protect the environment by promoting re-use and to provide additional income to a range of charities. 
To achieve these goals it collects and processes over 600,000 books each month, from Charity Shops across Scotland and N E England. That translates to sales of over 8,000 books per week, which helped the company to a turnover of £1.4m last year, with corresponding payments to charities of over £200k for supply of books in the last 2 years. “Much of this growth has been driven by adding a range of new sales channels, but research that we commissioned identified that many customers are seeking alternative suppliers that are less commercially focused and a have strong ethical or environmental dimension, ” comments, Managing Director, Tom Murdoch-Kenny. By putting our inventory of 250,000 very good quality second hand on-line, and adding options to buy new for a further 50,000 titles we feel we are giving the customer real choice from an alternative source,” he added

The achievements of Bookdonors have not gone unnoticed and The NatWest Social Enterprise 2015 SE100 Index which tracks and recognises the performance of social enterprises, rated Bookdonors #8 in the UK Retail (Including Fair Trade) Sector. So Bookdonors has clearly already made an impact. Local Author, Historian and Director of the Borders Book Festival, Alistair Moffat commented, “Bookdonors is a great idea very much worth supporting. And while I am slightly taken aback at the number of my books donated, they couldn't have been given away to a better cause.”
The company is not content to rest on its laurels however, and Bookdonors is keen to leverage its exports to the USA and Canada, by adding a Scottish dimension to the web site to promote Scottish literature. Lin Anderson added, “I was so pleased to see strong Scottish themes running throughout the web site. In particular the showcase of our ever growing stable of 'Tartan Noir' crime authors is to be commended. Showing books in series order and proper author biographies are nice touches too.”

Bookdonors website for online purchase of second-hand and new books: