Book Week Scotland 2017 is taking place from Monday 27 November – Sunday 3 December.
Welcome to our Book Week Scotland 2017 special. Every day we are featuring guest posts from various Authors with a variety of genres to suit every reader.
Book Week Scotland is a week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.
During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.
Owen Millen joins us today on Love Books Group with a guest post for you to enjoy. And So it Began is out now in paperback and kindle form.
Scottish Book Week
Bayou Noir By Owen Mullen
In a recent review of, And So It Began, the Sunday Times said, ‘Tartan Noir gritster Mullen shifts location to New Orleans for his latest book. His rough edges and sharp wit are not lost in the move to warmer climes.’
The Times didn’t ask why, but there were reasons for the change.
The first goes all the way back to my initial forays into the world of attractive tough guys guided by their own moral compass, and the beautiful but faithless woman who invariably crossed their path. Like so many people, American crime fiction has always held a particular fascination for me and, although written before I was born, I grew up reading about hard-boiled detectives like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. The impression they made is with me to this day and I was keen to set aside my original creation – Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron – and find out if a ‘Tartan Noir gritster’ could cut it on the other side of the Atlantic.
Other writers had done it successfully, John Connolly and Lee Child came to mind, so what about me?
Before a word was written a couple of major decisions had to be taken: who would the protagonist be, and where would he ply his dangerous trade. Surprisingly, neither presented much of a difficulty. I prefer my heroes to be human, [although arguably the star of And So It Began is a dog] somebody who, like most of us, almost has his life together. The almost is where the interesting parts live.
Vincent Delaney – Delaney to all but his sister – needed to be believable as a person. Real people don’t have super powers and neither would he. In adding flesh to the character I drew from my own background. The result is that Delaney, a retired NOPD detective, sings and plays guitar in a band made up of ex-cops. Both him and his dog are rock and blues fans; the canine hates Country music and howls when he hears it. The possibilities were obvious.
From the beginning the person I was writing had to be clearly defined: I wanted the Main Man to be hard but not cruel, witty without being flippant. His foibles, those aspects of his nature which encourage us as readers to identify with a player, demanded to be treated with care. For example: every morning in summer he cycles to his office in the French Quarter, playing a harmonica, with Lowell running beside him. Easy for this and his relationship with the dog to become comedic at the expense of drama. That said, I did see him as dryly humorous. Scottish people, especially in the west of the country, have a tendency to add a funny aside to even the most solemn of moments. I was looking to fold that quality into the mix which would soon become Vincent Delaney PI.
The second decision – the location – wasn’t a difficult choice, either.
New Orleans is a city where anything can happen and often does. I was attracted to it long before I went there. The ‘Big Easy’ – probably a reference made by musicians about the ease of getting work – has a seedy past and a gaudy present: in the beginning to get the population moving, women were released from prison in France and shipped over to become the wives of the early settlers. The slave trade played a significant role in the city’s history; at one time the largest slave market in the South was here. Many claim it as the birthplace of the ‘blues’. These days almost ten million tourists visit it each year. But draw it’s theatrical veil aside and you’ll quickly realise this is a city that is broken and violent. For somewhere so alive, respect for life seems to be lacking. For decades it was the murder capital of America, with a homicide rate higher than New York and on a recent Saturday, thirteen people were shot. Sad stuff certainly, but fertile ground for a crime fiction author.
I attempted to capture the laughter as well as the tears on the banks of the Mississippi. Readers will tell me how far I succeeded. All I can say is that writing the first book in the series was a joy. The stories appeared on the PC screen with little help from me. When I’d finished, And So It Began, the next tale was already in my head; and the one after that.
I’ve been to Louisiana many times and can’t get enough. Meanwhile, the second book in the series is already complete – if I told you the title I’d have to kill you – and finds Delaney [and his dog] deep in the bayou with the gators and the snakes.
Now pass that plate of jambalaya over here, will you?
PI Vincent Delaney thought he was done with the NOPD until a string of seemingly unrelated child murders brings an unexpected invitation from the FBI, and his old boss.
A serial killer is roaming the South, preying on children appearing in pageants, and the police want him to go undercover using his own family. Accepting would mean lying to people he loves and maybe even putting them in harm’s way.
In Baton Rouge, a violent criminal has escaped and is seeking revenge for the brother Delaney shot dead. But Delaney isn’t going anywhere. He has unfinished business.
Meanwhile, north of the French Quarter, shopkeepers are being extorted and ask for Delaney’s help. Extortion is a matter for the police.
But what do you do when those responsible are the police? Delaney has his work cut out and he’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this alive…
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