On the lead up to the big event on Wednesday, I have author Chris Longmuir here with an exclusive guest post for you. Enjoy.
Chris is an award-winning novelist and has published three novels in her Dundee Crime Series. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the Scottish Association of Writers’ Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award. Missing Believed Dead is the third book in the series.
Chris has recently published the first book in a new series set just after the Great War. This series features Kirsty Campbell, Dundee’s first policewoman. Her next book, to be published soon, is another Kirsty Campbell mystery set during the First World War.
She has also published a non-fiction book entitled Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution. This is an examination of crime fiction as well as an evaluation of independently published books in this genre.
Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain. However, A Salt Splashed Cradle is the only historical saga currently published. Writing is like an addiction to me, Chris says, I go into withdrawals without it. She is currently working on a new Kirsty Campbell novel.
Chris is a member of the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers Association and the Scottish Association of Writers. She designed her own website and confesses to being a techno-geek who builds computers in her spare time.
Life and Times of a Writer By Chris Longmuir
Even when I was a child I wanted to write but never thought that was possible. I read voraciously but at that time the writer was invisible. A name on a book. There were no author tours, book signings, or promotional events. The writer was allowed to remain in his or her writer’s cave and concentrate solely on the next book.
How times have changed. We creep out of our caves into the full glare of publicity. Demands are made, and we become dizzy in the spotlight. For someone brought up in the Scottish ethic of hiding your light under a bushel, this is not very comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong. I love meeting readers. We have something in common. A love of books. I could quite happily spend the rest of my life reading if it wasn’t for that damned writing itch.
You don’t know about the itch? Let me enlighten you. Writing is like an addiction and many writers, myself included, suffer withdrawals if we are prevented from lifting our pen or pencil, or tapping on our keyboard trying to create the next blockbuster. Of course, blockbusters are difficult to achieve but that doesn’t matter because most of us are happy if readers enjoy our stories.
I used to suffer dreadfully before I gave up work to concentrate solely on writing. I was a social worker in quite a senior position so there were no 37 hour weeks for me. It was more likely to be 50 hours or over. So you can imagine the torment I went through when I was prevented from writing.
I’ve been writing now for over thirty years and before I became a full-time writer it was mainly articles and short stories which were published here and in America. Becoming a full-time writer allowed me to develop into a novel writer. Initially, it was a bit of a shock to the system because, as anyone who has ever tried to get a book published will tell you, the road is rocky and littered with rejections.
The first book I wrote was a romantic historical saga. I bet you didn’t expect that because I’m better known for my crime fiction. Anyway, the saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, was considered by a publisher but that was the year sagas went out of fashion. It’s called ‘Sod’s Law’. So, although I had started the sequel I decided there was no point in continuing if no publisher would be interested. That was the reason I turned to a life of crime.
I’m quite interested in social history. How ordinary people lived in the past and I had researched the origins of women police for one of my articles. Did you know the first women police services were set up by the suffragette organisations? This fascinated me. And in the course of my research, I discovered that there was a policewoman in Dundee in 1919. That was enough to set the creative juices flowing and my Kirsty Campbell was born, fully formed, and in a police uniform.
Kirsty first came to life in The Death Game set in a bleak Dundee just after the First World War. In this book, Kirsty becomes involved in ritualistic murder, missing children, and a deadly game of sacrifice and death. I acquired a publisher for this book after it won an international competition for the best unpublished crime novel. It was one of twenty winners and we were all given a contract with the promise of publication within a year. But at the end of the year, only five of those books were published. My guess is that the publisher, who was a new kid on the block, overestimated what they would be able to do. It was Sod’s Law again.
I’m never one to give up without a fight so I thought to myself, ‘Well, the saga didn’t work, the historical crime hasn’t worked out, I’d better try contemporary crime fiction’, and that resulted in the first book of what was to become my Dundee Crime Series.
Since then my Dundee Crime Series has become really popular but that didn’t happen overnight. Night Watcher the first book went the rounds of the publishers with the usual round of rejections even though it won the Scottish Association of Writers Pitlochry Award for best crime novel. So I wrote Dead Wood. It suffered the same fate, rejection after rejection. But it too won the Pitlochry Award and then it went on to win the Dundee International Book Prize, and that was my breakthrough to publication because the prize came with a publishing deal. I’ve never looked back since that day.
Following the publication of Dead Wood, I published Night Watcher, as well as the third book in the series Missing Believed Dead. Then The Death Game was published and following that Devil’s Porridge.
So, you could say that when Dead Wood was published I became an overnight success. Such a pity it took me thirty years!
I’m off to scratch my itch again. You’ll find me in my writer’s cave.
Connect with Chris ~
Check out Chris’s books ~ Amazon UK
Murder, Mystery, and Munitions
East London, January 1917:
“He pulled her into his arms and kissed her long and hard before he strangled her. With a last glance at the fire, he turned and ran for the door to escape the inevitable explosion.”
Sixteen-year-old Munitionette, Sally, witnesses the saboteur escaping from the explosion at Silvertown Munitions Factory. When their paths cross again at Gretna Munitions Factory, he knows she can identify him, and that he dare not hesitate to kill again.
The explosion has set off a lethal chain of events, and when Policewoman Kirsty Campbell, and MI6 agent Beatrice, join forces to protect Sally, they find themselves following a murderous trail that entangles them with saboteurs, Irish revolutionaries, a German spy, and a plot to assassinate the King.
The body count is rising. The clock is ticking. And the stakes are higher than Kirsty could ever have imagined.
To order your copy and have sneak peek, click below ~
Before you go please check out an interview we did with Claire MacLearly last month, Click to read.
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