Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Wonderful Work of Liam Shaw.

A real treat this month as I get the chance to interview the lovely Liam Shaw who has been the talented cover artist for three of my books and is currently slaving away over the design for the first Bobby Normal novelette which is due out next year.

 


Could you please give us a quick introduction to yourself and tell us where you’re based?

I'm a Portrait/Poster Artist based in Wigan, a have a college degree in graphic design and fine art, a university illustration degree and 8 years’ practice in life drawing. For 6 years now I have been creating artwork, working together with creatives or creating fan art of my favourite characters. I also attend comic cons in the UK, mainly in the north areas, but would love to go to other comic cons around the world.

 

How would you describe your style?

My style has always been evolving into something new. I specialise in portraits and posters but I do experiment in new and fun ways of painting digitally and in inks. I take inspiration from incredible, well-known artists such as Drew Struzan, Mark Rahts, Paul Shipper and many other incredible that artists I follow.

 

Do you have a preference of either digital or inks, or does it depend on the project you’re working on?

Ideally digital as the client will have adjustable needs such as changes, altering a pose and it works better for me with deadlines. I would work on inks, watercolour or painting if the project needed it but there has been a decline in that area for me and it takes a lot more patience and time as it’s a delicate process, I normally work with those for events such as Inktober or private commissions.

 

How did you get into your profession? Were you artistic at school or did it grab you more as you got older?

I knew I could draw but I never thought I could earn money from it. Tutors would notice I would excel more at drawing than graphic design.




 

Half-way through university I would not get that praise as my work had no passion in them as the projects weren’t appealing to me and they wouldn't allow me to draw what I wanted. I wanted to draw people and experiment with digital painting and traditional portraits. 

 

After university, I pushed myself towards drawing portraits and posters drawing most nights until 5am, promoting myself online more and attending craft fairs then eventually onto comic cons. I still have plenty to learn.


It’s been fascinating watching your style evolve during the time I’ve known you. What sort of projects are you working on at the moment and what sort of projects would you like to get your teeth into if you had the chance?

The projects I am currently working on are with a company on large wall art, custom illustrations for Dungeons and Dragons characters, a few projects with specific book companies but I'm not allowed to say who. 

 

The projects I would love would be anything movie or game related like posters, merch or even t-shirts. 

 

The dream would be too see my artwork at the cinemas on advertising posters/billboards would just make me so happy and actually proud of myself.

 

 

That would be so awesome! I could stand there and go, “I know him and he’s created cool work for me!” Do you find digitally created art is seen with the same respect as “traditional” formats these days, or are there still some people stuck in the dark ages who think it’s “not proper work”?

There are many ways people look at digital and its always the struggle to make someone realise from time to time that it’s drawn or created by someone as it can be so easily done by applying a filter or tracing but there is no fun or soul into the piece then. 

 

People tend to think it’s just a click of a button and it’s done, but what people don't realise is that so much thought goes into these pieces such as the ideas, planning out, sketching out, drawing the line work, painting your solid colours, adding more layers on top of them the list goes on and you notice all of this when you look closer at the image when you see the markings of a style in there and has a similar process as traditional.

 

It’s the same methods for graphic design and photo editing. 

 

I think digital is becoming more popular now and people are not afraid/not just sticking to traditional as I do love traditional work myself but we have to remember to pay equal respect to traditional artists and digital artists by admiring and supporting them.

 


I encourage anyone who just uses traditional to try out digital as it is so much fun to mess around with there are also free programs out there such as Clipstudio (free trail) Photoshop alternatives and Inkscape (illustrator alternative)

 

And of course, someone might have certain ideas about hands... (Thinks about Face cover... Cough, moving on...) Have you found the COVID situation with a lot of comic cons being cancelled a hindrance or a curious help in freeing up creative time?

Haha don't remind me... 

 

COVID is a weird one as I took 3 months away from working and used that time to study and learn from various online tutorials and build myself a new work station (PC) for bigger projects in future. 

 

I have certainly lost out on a lot due to the comic cons not being active but I have found myself more time to work towards commissions.

 

I know what you mean. It’s been the same here: the lack of income has been a pain but I have written far more than I normally do at this time of year. 

If you could meet an “old master” (and I’m not limiting that to Rembrandt and co.) and have a natter over a pint, who would it be and what would you want to ask them?

Yeah, it’s taken its toll on many people losing jobs but we must carry on and stay strong. 

 

You have stumped me a little there but the person I would love to meet and have a pint with is the one and only Drew Struzan (seems a little cliché) as, since a kid, I have been in love with his work ever since I saw the Hook movie poster and followed by many more of his work, I think I would start off with asking how they are etc. but I would just love to know why he had drawn it that way and what makes him realise that the work he produces really impacts into your memory and gives you a whole story in just one piece of artwork just is something incredible skill and hard work. 

 

It’s crazy as if you list any of the artwork he has done you can just remember it all so well like the first harry potter movie poster or even the Hellboy poster that never got used.

 

It’s something I wish I can accomplish one day where someone would see a piece of my work and still remember that in years to come.

 


 

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to pursue a career in producing artwork?

The advice I can give is keep working hard and don't give up. The start of this career is the hardest part and you need to stick to it in order to succeed. Sometimes other people may get to their goal quicker than others, but never compare yourself to someone who has been doing this for years.

 

And finally, where can people find you and purchase your amazeballs artwork? (Links etc.)

 

People can find me on social media at Liam Shaw illustration and you can buy limited prints and originals at - www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LiamShawillustration

 

Thank you. Austin for the interview it’s been a pleasure.

 

Thank you Liam. It’s always great to catch up and have a natter.




 

Saturday, 15 August 2020

A Quick Catching of Breath...

 Welcome to my monthly roundup for August!

July was an incredibly busy month for me. First, and most

definitely foremost, after many trials and tribulations, Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls finally saw the light of day. Originally due out in the summer of 2019, it was originally set back by my ill health and other issues. It was then due an Easter publication, but fell afoul of Covid-19 and ended up being pushed back to July. However, all good things come to those who wait and, after an immensely successful Kickstarter campaign (again, thank you, thank you, thank you to all my lovely backers) it came out three weeks ago and is flying off the virtual shelves over on Amazon. 


The Kickstarter for Troubled Souls saw something that I hadn’t done before. I offered up the chance for readers to be killed off as characters in my latest book. In this case, a modern copycat of the Victorian Bare Lane Butcher dispatches victims using a good old-fashioned cutthroat razor in the back streets of Morecambe. I had four corpses up for grabs and all went within the first couple of hours. Indeed, apparently there was a virtual “fight” for the one victim which was a speaking role. Who would have known there would have been so much excitement? Due to the popularity of this whole thing, I’ve decided to offer up another speaking victim as a Kickstarter reward for Sam Spallucci: Bloodline when that comes out (hopefully next summer). But more on that another time…


Also on the book news front, this summer saw me complete my next short story anthology which will be out this November, in perfect time for Christmas! Hide Not Thou Thy Face will follow my usual anthology format and will contain a selection of short horror stories. Most notably will be the two interlinked tales: Orion’s Hunter and Disquiet Mind. These, along with Orion’s Child from Mourning Has Broken, will form the prologue for Sam Spallucci: Bloodline, looking at the events preceding the lycanthropic attempt to take over Sam’s beloved city of Lancaster. As I mentioned just before, Face will appear in November after a short Kickstarter in October. All my Seraph level Patreon subscribers will receive a signed copy in the post as soon as I have my physical copies which will be adorned by the amazing artwork of the incredibly talented Liam Shaw.


One piece of sad news this last month was the cancellation of York Comic Con. This is an event that I look forward to each year as I get to meet lots of readers. If you were planning to buy your latest Sam Spallucci fix from me at York, then please drop me a line via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or www.aschambers.co.uk and I will be able to post one out to you.


So, what is currently in the pipeline?


Well, after Hide Not Thou Thy Face comes out in November, I will be taking a much-needed Christmas break before finalising the format of my first Bobby Normal novella: Bobby Normal and the Eternal Talisman. I’ll give more specifics about this nearer the date, but it will be a story set around a couple of orphans in the time post-Divergence. We will finally get to explore the world after the rise of Kanor and the devastation caused by his constructs. This should be out in spring 2021. Close on its heels, next summer will be the aforementioned Sam Spallucci: Bloodline, with my sixth anthology If Ye Loathe Me coming out for Christmas 2021. Also, at some point during this publishing frenzy, I’m hoping to squeeze out a Sam Spallucci Omnibus which will contain the first three Sam books: Casebook, Ghosts and Shadows.This will be a nice glossy hardback to add to the collection. I just need to finalise the cover art and get my head around the new print format. Anyone know how to create clones? I really could do with one…


Anyway, I seem to have rambled on for far too long, so had better let you get back to your life.

 

Keep checking for what lurks in the shadows…

Austin.




Monday, 13 July 2020

Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls sees the light of day!


So, finally, after a year or so of teeth gnashing, soul searching and shirt ripping (well, probably two out of three of those…) Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls is finally in print. It’s only a year late, but who’s counting? I’m just pleased to see it happily alive and kicking after suffering from continual bouts of ill health and then the insanity of Lockdown. Hopefully it should be a dose of refreshing summer entertainment for established and new readers alike.


Troubled Souls follows straight on the heels of Sam Spallucci: Dark Justice. We see Sam co-opted into the hunt for a missing angelic companion of the mysterious, librarian styled, Sophia. Along the way he encounters a ghost in a local supermarket who happens to dressed as a Cherokee chieftain as well as an entity from another universe that has possessed an unfortunate teenage girl. 


However, the main connecting arc of the five cases concerns the ruthless serial killer known only as the Bare Lane Butcher. Sam and Spliff first track him down in Victorian Morecambe only to find him resurface in modern day Lancaster. Not only this, but he seems to have his sights set on someone near and dear to our poor hero. 

Throw in a good dose of apocalypse-loving, cowl wearing Kanor plus an actual face-to-face meeting for Sam and a certain fallen seraph, and you have my personal favourite of my Sam Spallucci books to date.


You can buy the book over on Amazon or order a signed copy from Yours Truly by messaging me through my website.

 




Something else which also has me excited is that I will be venturing over to the wonderful city of York on the 9th August for my first comic con since Lockdown began. York Unleashed is going to be a fantastic affair and a much welcome dose of geeky fun. I’ll even get to stalk the amazing David Warner who will be appearing as a guest. I can imagine it will be something akin to me just standing there and squeaking lots at him…

 

Then, once I’ve recovered from that, I will have to sit myself down and crack on with Sam Spallucci: Bloodline which is due out next summer (laughs inwardly at the notion of deadlines). Not only this, but I will be officially be launching my Patreon site. But more on that next time. 




 

All the best!

Austin.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A very big thank you!!!

Welcome to June’s blog!

I want to use this as an opportunity to say a big “thank you” to all those who have helped me out with my Kickstarter for  Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls. It was launched on Monday 1st June and, quite incredibly, reached its target in under two hours! Needless to say, I was totally blown away by this. You guys are all incredibly generous and it has been wonderful to see people getting so excited about my new work.

The Kickstarter will run until the end of June. All the large rewards have now gone. These were the ones where your name appeared as a victim of the Bare Lane Butcher in the book or the sponsor had a talking role before being despatched by the serial killer’s cut throat razor. The most popular reward has been the signed copy of Troubled Souls accompanied by the signed copy of Children of Cain. There are only a few of these left now, so if you want that deal, you had best get in quick. Also running low are individual signed copies of Troubled Souls. I think there may only be about twelve left of these for the Kickstarter. To hop over to the Kickstarter, click here.

Once the Kickstarter has completed, there will be about two weeks where it will be finalised as payments come in. After that, the book will go to the printers and I am looking at a publication date at the beginning of August. Ideal timing for the summer!

But Troubled Souls is not the only book that I have coming out this year. In November, my next short story anthology Hide Not Thou Thy Face will hit the shelves. Following my usual anthology format, it will contain about eight or nine shorts of varying length. There will be two more prologues for Sam Spallucci 6 (Bloodline – due next year) as well as another “Dragon” short. One to really watch out for though is a short story set post-Divergence entitled The Virtuous Man. Those of you who have read Dark Justice should recognise the title from the prophecy concerning the individual who is supposed to be the hope for humanity after the rise of Kanor. More on that another time.

Something else to watch out for is an online store that I am currently putting together. I get asked a lot to post out signed books to my readers. Once this site is up and running, it should make accessing my signed books a lot easier. Again, watch this space for details.

Stay safe and look for what lurks in the shadows,
Austin.




Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls - Your Questions Answered!

In this month’s blog, I’ll be chatting about my forthcoming book, Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls which, all being well, should hit the shelves in August this summer. The fifth book in the Sam Spallucci series, I’ve been asked loads of questions regarding it, so I thought this would be a good time to deliver some answers for those who are hungry for their next dose of Lancaster’s beleaguered investigator of the paranormal.

When is Troubled Souls set?
This next set of adventures is going to be set straight after Dark Justice and will deal with the fallout in Sam’s life, both professional and personal, that he suffered at the end of the last book. It will take place over about three weeks, bridging the festive (or not so festive) season and will climax in the new year.

Is this book a single storyline or a set of separate cases?
The easiest answer to that is probably, “both.” There are five cases in total: The Cherokee Checkout; The Distressed Demoniac; The Time Travelling Tearoom; The Dabbling Dominion and The Bare Lane Butcher. However, there are two strong over-riding arcs: one regarding Sam’s relationships with the supernatural beings that continually interfere with his life and the other being the Bare Lane Butcher, a serial killer who Sam tackles first in Victorian and then in modern-day Morecambe.

Is it true that you will be using characters from another author’s book?
It is indeed! I am delighted that Peter Cakebread allowed me to use Mulberry and Touchstone his detectoratorsfrom the fabulous Morecambe Medium. I read the book a few years back and fell in love with his style and, as I was reading it, wished that I could use the loveable detectives in one of my stories. I originally bounced the idea off Pete a couple of years ago and he gave me the go ahead. He was the first person to read the finished story that they appear in (Time Travelling Tearoom) and was delighted with the finished product.

Is there a real-life character appearing in Troubled Souls?
Sort of. There is going to be an author called Craig Shaw making an appearance as a researcher in the Bare Lane Butcher. He is actually based upon a good friend of mine, author Craig Hallam (click here for his blog). Craig loves all things Victoriana and Steampunkery, so I couldn’t resist using a character based upon him and he jumped at the chance to appear.

Will there be reappearances from characters in Sam’s universe?
Most definitely! I think it is safe to say that it is crammed full of readers’ favourites. As the cover art shows, Sophia plays a very central role as do her little travelling companions. Mister Tibbles, the familiar of Boom Box Betty will reappear in Tearoom and Dominion, causing chaos as he interferes with Sam’s life. Alec, Grace and Spliff will obviously be around as will a new love interest for one of them. I’m delighted to have DCI Jitendra Patel back in The Bare Lane Butcher where he enlists Sam’s help in hunting down the modern-day serial killer. Perhaps most excitingly though, two of Sam’s phantasmagorical nemeses will finally appear in the flesh: fallen seraph Lucifer and bringer of the divergence Kanor. I don’t want to say too much (spoilers and all), but the scene where Sam finally gets to meet Lucifer has to be possibly my favourite scene in the whole series so far.

Are there any new characters?
Off the top of my head, there are two new faces that we can expect to see again. The first is a ghost who is haunting a local supermarket whilst dressed as a Cherokee chieftain. He turned out so well, that I shall most likely use him again in a few books’ time. The second is a police officer by the name of Becks Mullen. WPC Mullen is driven and ambitious and will first appear in Bare Lane Butcher. Passionate about what she does, she will be butting heads with her ordered boss and will definitely be a character to watch when she reappears in Bloodline.

Is there going to be a Kickstarter for Troubled Souls?
I was very nervous about holding a Kickstarter for Songbird, but it was a resounding success, raising funds for the publication process and introducing new readers to my books. So, most definitely yes, there will indeed be a Kickstarter.
As well as the varying levels of backing which will give you access to artwork and books, there will also be two levels which will let you actually appear in the book! At one level you will have the chance to be named as a victim of the Bare Lane Butcher and on the highest level, you will actually have your name used for a speaking character in the book (before being brutally murdered of course).
All details will appear on my Kickstarter campaign which should launch in June. Here’s the link to my Kickstarter profile. Make sure to follow it to get more details as they are launched. I will also be posting updates on my Facebook page and in my Facebook Group, so make sure to subscribe to those and keep your eyes peeled!
 
After Troubled Souls, what will be next?
I have already started on the next two novels, Bloodline and Fury of the Fallen.
The first of these sees the Bloodline of Abel descend upon Lancaster. It will tie together all the little Easter eggs that I have been laying down since Shadows of Lancaster (I hope you’ve been watching carefully…) and will follow on from the three prologues from the anthologies Mourning Has Broken and Hide Not Thou Thy Face (this book is due out later on this year). Again, not wanting to give spoilers, but tears will be shed as there will be death and heartache… 
Fury of the Fallen will follow on directly from Bloodline and will have the fallen angels Asherah and Asmodeus interject themselves into Sam’s life. Sparks will definitely fly.





Well, I think that is all for now. I had better get back to causing chaos in Sam’s life.
Take care, stay safe and remember to look for what is lurking in the shadows…
A.S.Chambers.


Monday, 6 April 2020

Interview with Douglas Lindsay (Part 2)

So, carrying on from last month’s blog, here’s the second half of my interview with the awesome Douglas Lindsay, author of the Barney Thomson series. I’ve just finished reading this latest outing for the dour Scots barber who seems to have all manner of murder and mishap follow him, and absolutely loved it. Curse of the Clown is available to buy over on Amazon right now and I highly recommend it!

6. What are your future plans for Barney?
After seven Barney books, I'd kind of thought they were done, and then several years later, number eight just sort of happened, and now it's happened again. They're good fun to write, fairly easy, very free form, with no need to hold to any kind of convention. They're not police procedurals, and really, I feel I can do whatever I like with them. So, I have other writing plans for another couple of stand alone or books in other series, but I'm fairly productive, and I expect Barney will come back soon enough.

7. You mentioned earlier that you’ve both had a publisher and also self-published. Which method do you prefer? 
There's a good question. I do like self-publishing. The speed of it. The freedom to do what one feels like doing, without an editor's expectations in the way. Cover choice, and everything else. I finished Barney 9 in February, and it's coming out mid-March. That kind of speed is way beyond the traditional model. So, I'll run the book by my wife, who's good at saying, 'Really? You're writing that??' Then I'll get someone else to proof it, and I have a few processes I'll do myself. I enjoy the whole thing really. Plus, I like numbers and statistics, so I enjoy all the Amazon sales data (even though the numbers may be smaller than one would prefer...)

One downside of self-publishing, is that one's social media game has to be pretty good. I don't have a social media game. Not a fan. Don't really like to interact with anyone. I even get social media angst when people are nice to me. Never know what to say. So, that doesn't help.

Being regularly published obviously has its advantages. There's someone else to sell the books for you, and there's the possibility of them getting the books into bookshops. Of course, publishers still want you to have a social media game, so there's a bit of pressure there. Perhaps the best thing with having a publisher is the validation. I don't worry about that with Barney, because I never offer them to anyone anymore. But after Hodder published the three Westphall books last year, I offered them my next, a literary crime novel entitled These Are The Stories We Tell, and they turned it down. My agent has currently been unable to place it elsewhere. Ultimately, I'll likely end up publishing it myself. Since it's not part of a series, it probably won't get much attention, and it won't be submitted for prizes etc. So, it will vanish, more than likely. And I really like it. So a publisher would've been nice. But that's the way it goes...

Oh, and I should say, that the third Westphall book, The Art of Dying, I'm really keen on, and my editor at Hodder did a great job of steering it in the right direction, and was a great help. I think with something like Westphall that matters; with Barney, which is much more about me writing whatever the hell I like, it doesn't so much. I wouldn't really want an editor saying, why don't you have Barney become a Buddhist, or something?


8. Having the different series of books, do you find your writing style differs between them? Also, are they in separate universes or would there ever be chance of a cross-over or two?
The styles are all very different. Barney: kind of daft, anything goes in the name of comedy, occasionally brutal, occasionally melancholic. Hutton: more visceral, a bit more serious, the humour is earthier, pretty vulgar, contains actual sex scenes, heavy use of the word fuck. Westphall: heavy on the melancholy, a slightly supernatural feel, no attempt at comedy, although I think my dry sense of humour likely still comes through with the man. In my head these are literary crime novels, even if no one else sees them like that. Jericho and Pereira are closer to straight-ish procedurals. Of the stand alones, Ballad in Blue and Mr Kite are heavily influenced by Haruki Murakami, Lost in Juarez is a fairly straight thriller, and Room With No Natural Light is a literary romance. So, I've covered a few different things.

As a result, I'm not in favour of a crossover. Not really a fan anyway. I did do a kind of minor one, once. Lost In Juarez was set during the days of the Brown government, and featured an unnamed, but obviously Brown, PM, and a Damian McBride-esque right hadn't man named Bleacher. A year later I wrote an online Barney story called The Westminster Christmas Massacre, in which Barney gets hauled down to London to be personal barber to the PM. The PM was unnamed, but obviously Brown, and again I used Bleacher as his right hand man. This story is now The End of Days, btw. It's kind of out of place, because it's set after Book 7, but doesn't feature Detective Sergeant Monk, so it's a bit rogue. I do like it though.

9. You mention Murakami as one of your influences. Who do read for fun, for down time and who else influences you?
I read a fairly eclectic mix of things. Literary, I suppose, most of them might be called. I don't read crime novels, or any other genre really. Big fan of Murakami, although latterly he's gotten a bit wordy, so I guess I prefer his earlier books when he was able to fit his story into three hundred pages or so. 1Q84, for example, has no more narrative than one of the old stories, but runs to 1,300 pages. When I'd just started, my biggest two influences were The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, in terms of blunt writing style, and (not a book obviously) Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
My most recent reads have been Lord of the Rings, Pride & Prejudice, Life of Pi, Solar, Metamorphosis, Great Expectations, The Miniaturist, Goldfinger, A Farewell To Arms, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead.
My favourite was last one. I suppose it was a crime novel, though I don't think the writer sees it that way. And I'm not sure how influenced I've been by any of them, other than that one is constantly influenced by everything one reads, watches, hears...

10. So, as a final question, what pieces of information would you a) give to your younger self and b) give to any aspiring writers out there?
As a liver-in-the-past, I've given this a lot of thought, and I've no great idea. What would I do differently? Maybe I'd tell my past self that the world of publishing will change beyond recognition in the next couple of decades, so none of this laggardly book every eighteen months nonsense. Get on with it, you'll be able to publish everything in a few years.

As for aspiring writers. Crack on. Try not to get bogged down. Write, write, and write some more. Don't make excuses for not writing. If you get stuck on a section, or a word or a detail or a name, don't allow yourself to get stuck too long. Move on to something else, come back to the tricky part. When you think, hmm, I think I'll make this character Polish, I'll just have a look at the internet to see what makes a good Polish surname, don't look on the internet! Park those bits. Do them all at once at some future time. Stay off the internet!

And then, when you've finished - and this is tough - try to leave it as long as possible before doing anything with it, so that you can look at it again a few weeks, or a couple of months later, with fresh eyes. The fresh eyes are so important, and the longer you can leave it the better.

If you've got this far, and read everything above, you may be thinking, hang on a second, you just finished a Barney Thomson book and you're literally publishing it within a month! Well, that's partly do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do territory. I also have slightly different rules with Barney. Barney is the comfortable old pair of slippers. With other books, I do try to listen to my own advice.


Many thanks to Douglas for agreeing to be interviewed. Douglas Lindsay’s Curse of the Clown is available from Amazon on right now. Click here for more details.
For more information on all his works, click here for his website and here for his Twitter.

Next month I’ll be chatting about my next Sam Spallucci novel, Troubled Souls which is due out later this summer.







Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Interview with Douglas Lindsay (part 1)

An absolute treat for this month (and indeed next month). As many of my readers know, I love the Barney Thomson books which are the brain child of Douglas Lindsay. The next adventure of the barber cum former accidental serial killer, Curse of the Clown, is due out on the 23rd March and Douglas very kindly allowed me to interview him. 
It’s a wonderfully substantial interview and, as a result, will span both this month’s blog and April’s.

1. For those who are not familiar with your books, could you please introduce yourself and your works?
I've been writing for about twenty-five years now. Have been extremely lucky to be married to a career diplomat, which has allowed me to do this full-time for most of those twenty-five years, while travelling the world. Having said that, we've had three postings to eastern Europe and one to West Africa, so there are a few bits of the world we've missed.

I mostly write crime novels, something that happened entirely by accident. I neither read crime novels, nor watch crime shows on the TV. Nor, indeed, commit crime for that matter. In my head my first novel, The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson, was a comedy. However, bookshops don't have comedy fiction sections, but they do have very large crime fiction sections. The presence in my comedy novel of detectives, a serial killer and a freezer full of body parts allowed my publisher to put my comedy novel in the crime section, and the die was cast.

My longest running series is Barney Thomson, which is now nine books and counting. They're definitely comedies, if occasionally macabre. Then there's the Detective Sergeant Hutton police procedurals, which are vulgar, violent, and sex and alcohol fulled; there's three books with Detective Inspector Westphall, more sedate police procedures, with a hint of the supernatural; then there are a couple of books each with DCI Jericho and DI Pereira, which are more straightforward procedurals.

I should clarify that the character of Detective Sergeant Hutton is sex and alcohol fuelled, rather than me being fuelled by sex and alcohol when I write them.

I've also written a few definitely-not-crime novels along the way in an attempt to escape the crime fiction circuit, but people don't really buy them, so it hasn't worked yet...


2. As many of my readers know, I am a huge fan of the long-suffering Barney Thomson. What or who influenced you in the creation of him? When I was a kid my mum always took me to this elderly barber who had one single style that he inflicted on every lad in town. Did you suffer a similar barbering hell as a child?
There was a guy in my home town who cut my hair, this would be in my early to mid-twenties, who was the original model for Barney. The chip on the shoulder, the apparent resentment of his colleagues, and possibly of customers. I have no idea if the guy would have recognised himself in Barney.

There's a scene in the first book where Barney is shunned by an entire shop full of customers, all of whom prefer to wait for one of the other two barbers. I witnessed this happen one late afternoon, with men preferring to wait well over an hour for a cut, than submit their hair to this guy. That was pretty brutal. I didn't even think he was that bad a barber.

Barney's mother was, in part, based on my gran, who smoked sixty Woodbine a day and loved watching game shows on TV. I tweaked my gran's personality a little, and made her a serial killer. Emma Thompson, when portraying Barney's mother in the movie, made a massive tweak, adding foul language and prostitution. If you've only seen the movie, that character was not based on my gran!

After three books of Barney being this fearful, resentful, rather dour character, I kind of tired of writing him, so used the circumstances of the novels to take the opportunity to change his character. These days he's a pretty cool, relaxed, somewhat melancholic chap, with a dry sense of humour.

3. I thought Emma Thompson was brilliant in the film as was Robert Carlyle. Mind you I tend to think he’s brilliant in most things, which is why I wandered into my local indie cinema one day to have a gander at his latest film and walked out 90 minutes or so later with tears of laughter streaming down my face. This then obviously led me onto devouring the books. How did the film come about? Did he just ring you up one day and say, “You know what? I’ve always fancied being a serial killer barber."
The idea of the film happening started so long that I first heard about it by letter. November 1998. The book was due for publication the following February, and an agent in London wrote to say he had a guy interested in the film rights, and that he was shopping it around other companies in the hope of getting a bidding war going. De Niro was mentioned. Being old and cynical and from the west of Scotland, and following the movie business far more closely than the publishing business, I knew that films rarely happen - even though films obviously do happen, percentage-wise, they don't - so I never really got too excited. There was no bidding war with just the one guy interested. His name was Martin Rosen, and his main movie claim to fame had been writing, directing and producing Watership Down. He asked me to write the script, and he brought in David MacKenzie as director. At that point, David hadn't directed anything, but he's now a thing. Him being a thing had nothing, sadly, to do with Barney in the end. This being the movies, big acting names were tossed around like kites in a hurricane, in particular Ewan MacGregor, as David was currently working with him, trying to get a film called Young Adam underway. This despite Ewan MacGregor being thirty years too young for the part, and looking about sixty years too young. Young Adam did happen. At this point, Barney Thomson didn't.

Martin Rosen never got the film made. A couple of years later the rights passed to Sigma Films in Glasgow, who were intent on making the movie with Ford Kiernan. They dispensed with my script writing services. I don't know who they got to write the script, or what happened with it, but the movie didn't get made.

Then a Canadian fellow named Richard Cowan, who'd been a long-time assistant director in Hollywood, took the rights to the script. He was going to write and direct, and it was going to be his breakthrough into the next level of filmmaking. Ultimately, it was Richard who made the film happen, but sadly for him it didn't really work out the way he intended. He had the film rights for years. Every year he'd send an update, and try to sound like things were happening, but they weren't really. One year (around about 2010 maybe) he mentioned the script being with Robert Carlyle, but since virtually every British actor alive was mentioned at some point, that didn't seem particularly exciting. But then a year later, when he renewed the option, Carlyle was mentioned again, and then the next year there started to be talk of Carlyle directing. When the movie finally happened, there were other producers involved, and Richard had lost the directing role. Before filming began, Carlyle handed Richard's script over to a Scot, and so Richard's work kind of got lost along the way. Indeed, it was at this point that the book really got completely rewritten.

The movie finally went into production in June 2014, not kicking the pants off sixteen years after that first letter. With Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone on board it has the look and feel of a studio movie; but all along there was no money, and they were scrimping and saving and muddling by. A real low budget independent film. And when it came to it, despite the cast, it never really got much of a release in the UK, and wasn't a huge success. But the movie was fun, and it opened the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2015, and I got to briefly hang out with movie stars and walk on the red carpet, and meet James Cosmo, who's obviously like the coolest actor in all television. And I also got to meet Emma Thompson on set, though she stayed in character of a 75 year-old Glasgow woman while I talked to her, so that was weird.

As for the book. It had gone out of print in around 2002. ie I was dropped by the publisher. I put it back in print myself, because no one else would take it. Then, when the movie came along, the ebook rights were with a digital-only publisher, and I couldn't get a mainstream London publisher on board, despite Emma Thompson, because I couldn't offer digital rights. In the end, the movie tie-in paperback was published by Freight Books, smalltime, but up and coming Glasgow publisher.

They folded a year later. Barney Thomson killed the publisher. Around the same time, the digital publisher folded as well. Barney really is a serial killer.

And now The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson resides on the shelves of Amazon, digital and print on demand, a forgotten masterpiece. Or, my naive early work, as I like to call it.

4. You’ve set the more recent Barney books in Millport on the island of Cumbrae. Was there a particular reason that you chose that location? Does it hold any personal significance for you like Lancaster does for me in my Sam Spallucci books? Also, does the real life town share an identical layout with the books or have you tweaked it?
Millport is one of those towns on the Clyde where Glasgow used to go on holiday, before the introduction of cheap flights to Spain. We had a small flat there, so we'd go several times a year, including for three or four weeks in the summer. I feel much more affection for Millport than I do my home town, which incidentally is where I set the Hutton crime series. I took my kids to Millport often enough, and like to go back when I can.

It has the feel of an English, Victorian seaside town, promenades and palm trees and crazy golf.

The town is exactly as it's painted in the book. From the town you look across the water at a nuclear power station. Not the most attractive view. Around the west coast of the island however, and one is transported to the Highlands, looking out on the firth, with Bute and the mountains of Arran beyond.

5. So, the next Barney Thomson book, Curse of the Clown, comes out on 23rd March. Without being too spoilery, what are you going to inflict on the poor chap this time?
So, in the first Barney novel the killer cuts off a body part of each victim and sends it to the victim's family. Just out of badness, really. There was one day in London, sitting with the Watership Down guy, and his partner in the movie, James Lee, and we were tossing around ideas for the film, and decided that instead of various body parts, wouldn't it be funny if the killer always sent the penis? So we had a scene with the police looking at oblong boxes of various sizes, and the opening scene of the movie was DI Holdall showing a woman into a lab and asking, 'Is this your husband's penis?' I thought that would be one of the all-time great first lines in a movie. Then that particular movie never happened, and the line was lost.

So, at some point, when thinking of what to do with the next Barney novel, I decided to resurrect my lost movie line. This means that the killer has to sever his victim's penises. (Spoiler: this won't actually happen to Barney.) I sent the men of the shop to a fictional barbershop convention in a fictional hotel in Perthshire. The killer himself is a barber, somewhat mirrored on the type of man Barney used to be back in the beginning.


Douglas Lindsay’s Curse of the Clown will be available from Amazon on the 23rd March. Click here for more details.
For more information on all his works, click here for his website and here for his Twitter.

The second half of this interview will pop up in this blog next month. Until then, beware of what lurks in the shadows.