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.
Today Ian Skewis is closing our Book Week Scotland 2017 feature with an exclusive guest post and a review of A Murder of Crows. Thanks for all your visits and shares for all our author feature this week.
The Mad, Bad World Of Books
In 2013 I was a novice. A nervous novice.
I’d written two short stories, which I’d entered for a national competition. Out of 200+ entries, they both came somewhere in the top 30. It was a start.
Then it all went pear-shaped. Bad advice. Bad experiences. I nearly gave it all up. In a last-ditch attempt to try and keep my enthusiasm going I dusted down an old short story and half-heartedly entered it for an international competition. I then forgot about it. Completely. Three months later I remembered it and checked my junk mail. To my surprise it had become a Finalist. It was then published in an online newsletter. I was to get paid a fiver for it. My first payment as a writer!
Except, I never got my fiver.
The administrator promptly died and so the money never materialised. And of course, I didn’t have the heart to ask. Well, would you?
I was certain that my next short story, Inkling, was my best work yet. And lo and behold it was published! In a book! A bloody lovely paperback anthology thingie called The Speculative Book, sweetie dahlings! I turned up at the launch absolutely overjoyed. I read my story to the audience. I was hooked. There was no going back now.
And this year A Murder Of Crows came out. My debut novel. Since then it’s been No.1 chart positions on Amazon, bestselling notices, a listing for a national award, and festival appearances and newspaper reviews and all those amazing and vital things that make up an author’s life.
But above all it’s the spirit of the writing community that has kept me going. From those quiet words of encouragement in the early days and that lovely woman who thought my wee story was worth a fiver and an appearance on her website, to those brilliant people who believed in me at Unbound and the wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic and totally unpretentious (well, mostly) crime writing community, it has been an absolute blast.
The Bloody Scotland festival, in particular, made it clear to me that no matter what your background is, no matter where the hell you come from, you are welcome. The crime writing community is all inclusive and I feel particularly lucky to have chosen this genre. Witness me at Bloody Scotland on the opening gala night – where else can you be standing chatting to fellow writers about the state of publishing today and have Ian Rankin suddenly turn round and talk to you?
But it isn’t all authorly and writerly, sweetie dahlings. The people at the West Dunbartonshire Carers Group, for example, were also very welcoming. I was a bit nervous about reading from my novel in front of them. I chose a popular passage which sees Alice, who has dementia, endure a very frightening episode where she can no longer recall where she’s been or what time of day it is. Thankfully, it struck a resonant chord with them. They appreciated the trials of Alice’s long suffering carer Helen, and that was very touching that people recognised something there. These are the special things that bind us authors into the wider community at large. And I am very proud to be a part of it.
I’m conducting research for my second novel. I’ve written a rough draft of a possible prologue – all I’ve got time for just now, what with the day job and all – but I’m moving forward at least.
There’s that feeling of having to succeed all over again. That old dread of failure creeping in. It’s akin to going on stage to perform (I was once an actor) but as well as fear there’s also that heady feeling of being alive, in the moment. That’s what this feels like right now. It’s exciting dammit!
I’ve got loads of ideas and things in the pipeline, some definite, some not, some half-formed, some complete. So much to do and so little time.
It’s like a certain character says in A Murder Of Crows: ‘Nothing ever ends, everything is a prelude, a prologue, to something else… ‘
At the heart of this book lies a mystery. A disappearance, a murder and a selection of witnesses some more reliable than others. There are all the characters one would expect the tired, yet diligent policeman, the upstart, the victim, the family, the ex and yet it manages not to feel clichéd. There are lots to like in this debut novel and I would certainly recommend it. Four Stars.
The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland.
A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…
DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine.
But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…
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