Wednesday 17 October 2018

Win tickets to THE STAIRCASE event in Glasgow

Today’s BLOODY SCOTLAND contest offers winners two pairs of tickets for tomorrow night's THE STAIRCASE event at the Glasgow O2 Academy at 7pm where I will be moderating the discussion with David Rudolf.

(venue address: 121 Eglinton St, Glasgow G5 9NT)
The contest closes at 11pm BST this evening (17th October 2018).

Two random entries with the correct answer to the question below will be selected to each win a pair of tickets to tomorrow night's THE STAIRCASE event.

QUESTION: How many different countries were represented last month at the 2018 Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival in its most cosmopolitan programme ever?

To enter the contest, answer the question above giving the number of countries in an email with subject line THE STAIRCASE to

The two lucky winners will be notified by email as soon as possible after 11pm tonight.

Good luck!!!

Update: Correct question answer was 14 countries. The draw has been made from the entries with the correct answer, and the two lucky winners have been informed. (11:20pm 17th October 2018)

Related links;-

Buy tickets for THE STAIRCASE event on 18th October 2018

The Staircase | Netfix Official Site

Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival

Monday 15 October 2018

The Staircase - Accident or Murder?

Have you watched the true crime documentary The Staircase on Netflix? If not I urge you to do so, because what happens in the real world is often far more strange and horrific than anything we crime fiction writers could dream up.

The Staircase documents the extraordinary criminal case against Michael Peterson in Durham, North Carolina, for the murder of his wife, which lasted for fifteen years, eight of which he spent in prison. The case is famous for its ‘bad forensic science’, manufactured by the police and forensic services in order to obtain a conviction.

It is also an extraordinary mystery, because how Kathleen Peterson actually met her death is still not clear.

One thing that is certain however is that David Rudolf, who defended Michael believed firmly in his innocence.

In Scotland, we crime writers are privileged to work closely with Police Scotland and our own forensic services so that we might get our facts right. Police Scotland believe that it’s important that the general public are informed about forensics and related matters as any one of us may be asked to sit on a jury and be required to interpret the forensic evidence being presented.

Never have I believed this more strongly than when I watched the jurors in the Peterson case being manipulated and lied to over the evidence being presented to them.

So when I received a call to ask if I might moderate the discussion with David Rudolf at the O2 Academy in Glasgow on 18th October, I was delighted to accept.

David will be talking about the extraordinary Peterson case, and answering questions posed by the audience.

Related links;-

Buy tickets for event on 18th October 2018

The Staircase | Netfix Official Site

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Day of Thunder in Aviemore

Another amazing day on Saturday in Speyside, with me getting a 'backie' on the 'Thunder In The Glens' rideout, and then a SINS OF THE DEAD book launch event with 'The Ladies of Harley' in Aviemore.
I'll just let the pictures (and video) tell the story ...   (may contain traces of Mary Grant)

I've come to the right place then ... ;o)
Definitely come to the right place !!!  :o)
With my biker (Jim from Dunedin Chapter HOG)
Waiting for the rideout to start with Fran and Jim, 'Mad Dog' McGuire (yellow hi-viz), 
and Alex Saunders, my Editor from Pan Macmillan

 Getting ready to roll ...
And we are off !!!

The Sunday Herald photographer (Paul Campbell) must have been VIP-spotting  ;o)

After a wonderful two hour experience on the rideout through Carrbridge (my village) and over the Dava Moor and through Boat of Garten and Grantown-on-Spey (for a pit stop), it was back to Aviemore for more bikes/books shenanigans ...

First time I've walked into a room where there were 100+ 'Ladies of Harley', the ladies of
Waterstones Aviemore selling my books, and free BLOODY SCOTLAND cocktails from
STIRLING GIN    ...    And the 'Ladies of Carrbridge' hadn't arrived yet!

Two 'Ladies of Carrbridge' were definitely on their way! #ScotrailBookLaunchExpress
Talking books and bikes ...
... more BLOODY SCOTLAND cocktails (from STIRLING GIN) ...
...  then  the 'Ladies of Carrbridge' arrived ...

... and I eventually got to sit down and relax.
Did I mention that Mary Grant (left) is in SINS OF THE DEAD?

Related links:-

Dunedin HOG Chapter

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Books and Bikers in Festival Edinburgh

Amazing day yesterday in Edinburgh with SINS OF THE DEAD events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and then at Waterstones bookshop on Princes Street.

 I 'll pretty much let the pictures (and video) speak for themselves ...

Meeting up with the Dunedin Chapter on Castle Street
Can we ride six Harleys into the Edinburgh Book Festival please?

Harleys, a Bloody Scotland umbrella, tartan tights, my new book ... what more do you need?
SINS OF THE DEAD - Book 13 in the Rhona MacLeod Series
The Ladies of Harley ...
... and with the boys
... with the boys again in the Spiegeltent (Antti Tuomainen and Russel MacLean) ...

... talking about books
...and signing books ...
... beside a man who makes me look small!
Then celebrating SINS OF THE DEAD at Waterstones West End ...

... and the perfect end to the day : BLOODY SCOTLAND cocktails from Stirling Gin
Related links:-

Dunedin HOG Chapter

Sunday 19 August 2018

The Voice that Changed My World: My Voice

The Voice that Changed My World: My Voice
By Soraya Mohamadi (Read by Lin Anderson)

There is a sports stadium full of people. There must have been about 4000 people. Young boys and girls, men, women, parents… Teachers… workers…

All are paying full attention, waiting, curious to hear more. On all sides red banners and placards are seen, with ‘8 March 2003’ in large letters, and more about it: March 8. International Women’s Day.

It’s my turn. The programme presenter calls me by name on the microphone. I am in black, my head covered with a horrible black shawl that I am forced to wear. I feel its heaviness on my head, but you can be sure I will just use it as a weapon against them. However much they want us to be made invisible by it, they can never stop me from voicing my beliefs.

I step toward the stage: light, heavy, anxious, proud, tall, straight and firm. For a second I glance round, scanning all the eyes and ears waiting to hear from me. Wow, this is just amazing and exactly what we wanted. I know I need to speak with my biggest voice to be heard by the world. I
start loudly, saying “Happy 8th of March, the symbol of freedom and equality, to you all great comrades and to the world.”

I really want the world to hear me. I am sure it is my loudest voice – but not sure if it is loud enough. But I am certain that it will be heard again, on five continents through satellite and social networks, by tonight at the latest.

I am quite anxious to let people hear all I want them to before I’m forced to stop by the enforcers of authority. I carry on, loudly announcing that the execution of prisoners by the Islamic regime is systematic murder arranged by a system that is supposed to be in power to protect citizens’
life. Moreover, it’s against human rights law, which condemns execution.

I feel, and hear, such strong power in me and my voice. I feel as string as a mountain and loud as a waterfall. Such an amazing moment. That day passed and we said what the public needed to know, before the darkness returned to enfold the daylight.

My comrades and I wanted our voices and strength to stir up a storm that would disturb the sweet dream of oppression. And before we were squashed back in to silence, at least we had broken the icy wall of fear that had locked the voices in our chests over more than 20 years of the regime’s power.

We still have a hard battle.


Thursday 31 May 2018

SINS OF THE DEAD Are All Consuming

I have always been fascinated about what happens to our brains when we sleep. I’m a dreamer (in more ways than one), and generally remember my dreams. I also often dream in story form. Once earlier in my writing career, I dreamt what seemed to be the synopsis of a book. I woke up and wrote it all down, but have yet to write the book, although I can still remember the idea clearly.

As a maths student at University of Glasgow I also found that I often solved maths problems during sleep. I decided that if your brain is not fully occupied with being awake, it can provide solutions and also be incredibly creative. Paul McCartney apparently composed songs in his sleep and Einstein is said to have dreamt his theory of relativity.

But bad things can also happen during sleep and sleep paralysis is definitely one of them. I have on a few occasions experienced the feeling of being seemingly awake but unable to move my limbs or cry out. Very scary.

If it was to happen too often, would you ever want to go to sleep again?

Sleep paralysis was thought in medieval times to occur when you had unforgiven sins. Thus the feeling of a crushing weight on your chest was usually personified in paintings by a demonic figure. For the most part the subject of the painting was a young and beautiful female.

Also in medieval times, dying without having confessed your sins was a terrible torment, and in such circumstances a sin-eater was employed to feast beside your body, thereby consuming your sins and allowing you to enter heaven. Interestingly sin-eater images also tend to feature beautiful young females, with the sin-eater often depicted as an ugly and demonic old man.

With these ideas and images in mind, I wrote the prologue to Sins of the Dead:

It was happening again. The crushing weight on his chest suffocating him, the paralysis of his limbs and his voice. Fear was the only thing that moved, surging through him like a bolt of lightning, tingling his skin. He tried again to open his eyes. If he could do that the night paralysis would end.
    His eyes finally sprang open on darkness and the realization that something was still wrong. Usually once the bond was broken, he could move again. He would be shaking with shock, but around him the normal images of his bedroom would take form and reassure him.
    Not this time.
    This time his eyes had opened on something entirely different.
    A figure was crouched next to him. Formed by shadows, he still recognized it as human.
    Then the figure turned and he saw the face, and with horror he remembered.

Chapter one opens with four female Harley Davidson riders, led by Ellie, McNab’s current girlfriend, illegally racing in the old railway tunnel under London Road in Glasgow. Their discovery of a body laid out as though in state with a glass of wine and partially eaten bread alongside, provides Rhona with her latest forensic case.

 Thunder in the Glens 2017

I’m not a biker myself, but I love the annual 'Thunder in the Glens' gathering of Harley Davidson riders in Aviemore. That in itself led me to create Ellie for McNab. Thunder in the Glens has been visiting Aviemore, seven miles south of my own village, Carrbridge, for over 20 years. Around 4,000 bikes attend making it the biggest and best Chapter-organised Harley gathering in Europe.

The people of Aviemore and the Spey Vally love their visit, and you’ll not be surprised to learn that 'Thunder in the Glens' features in the book, thanks to the help I received from the Dunedin Chapter of Harley Davidson who organise the event.

This is the thirteenth book in the series, and it’s certainly unlucky for Rhona.

Seeking an elusive link to a forensically aware killer, Rhona gradually suspects she too is being stalked and that the perpetrator she seeks knows everything about her and the sins of both her past and her present.

Sins of the Dead is now available to buy (published on 9th August 2018).

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Blood Red Roses - The Scent of Death

If any readers of my Forensic Scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod series of crime thrillers have wondered how Rhona originally met her live-in lover Sean, then the answer can be found by reading BLOOD RED ROSES, a prequel to DRIFTNET (Book 1 in the series).

BLOOD RED ROSES was originally published in the Sandstone Press Vista Series of 'Quick Reads', and the challenge I set myself when commissioned to write this novella was to tell a 'full' crime thriller story in around 12,500 words. The other novels in the Forensic Scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod series can run to 90,000 words or more, so this was a significant challenge which at the outset I wasn't certain could be done.

However, by sticking to a single 'A' story, and keeping the 'B' story mainly to Rhona first meeting her lover Sean, I succeeded in moving from the opening incident, where a bride-to-be is murdered on her hen night, through twist and turns in the darker side of Glasgow, to Rhona solving the case, all in just over 12,500 words. The story was well received on first publication in the Sandstone Vista Series, and was credited with a number of instances of helping emergent readers to make the breakthrough to reading full-length novels.

When does desire become obsession? A hen night in Glasgow leaves the bride-to-be dead on a toilet floor. Her body is twisted, her face a mask of terror. Who would kill a girl just before her wedding? Dr Rhona MacLeod and her team are called in to find out. As they go through the evidence, they find themselves in a world where sex is bought and sold, and more violent death is lying in wait.
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