Fixed Odds by William McIntyre
Robbie Munro returns, defending George ‘Genghis’ McCann on a charge of burglary, and Oscar ‘the Showman’ Bowman, snooker champion, on betting fraud. Genghis has stolen – and lost – a priceless masterpiece, while Oscar doesn’t seem to have a defence of any kind. With another mouth to feed and promises of great rewards if he finds both painting and defence, Robbie has never been more tempted to fix the legal odds in his favour.
Interview with William McIntyre
William McIntyre is a partner in Scotland’s oldest law firm Russel + Aitken, specialising in criminal defence. He has been instructed in many interesting and high-profile cases over the years and now turns fact into fiction with his Robbie Munro legal thrillers. He is married with four sons.
Where did the inspiration come from for your new release?
I’m a defence lawyer who writers legal thrillers, and so inspiration is never far away. The opening chapters to most of my books are based – some more loosely than others – on actual experiences. In Fixed Odds, this is very much the case, and chapter 1 is more or less word for word (with the names changed) what happened to me one run-of-the-mill afternoon. I thought the events amusing, wrote them down and from there on it was just a case of wondering ‘what if…’ and seeing where the characters took me. The benefit of writing a long running series is that pretty soon the characters take over the show. Another storyline that comes into play later in the book arose from a client who consulted me many years ago. He wanted to raise a court action to remove a gypsy curse placed on him by an irate grandmother who had caught him and the elderly woman’s teenage granddaughter in flagrante. I’d been looking for a book to use that in for some time, and was glad to find a home for it in Fixed Odds. I have an author’s note at the end of the books explaining the actual circumstances.
How does it feel to know your characters are out and about in reader’s imaginations?
It’s great. There are now ten books featuring my protagonist, Robbie Munro, and his host of returning characters. I love hearing from readers who feel they know the characters so well and each has their favourite; such as my editor, Moira Forsyth who, strangely as a feminist, declares a fondness for Robbie’s brother, Malky, a man with, shall we say, outdated views on the role of women in society.
Do you miss writing about them?
I don’t write all the time. I know some people advise writing every day to keep the juices flowing, but it’s not always possible, and I can go weeks without putting pen to paper. During those times, however, I’m mulling plots and hearing in my head the voices of my characters spouting lines of dialogue (but not in a psychotic sort of a way) so it’s really a case of how can I miss them when they won’t go away? Taking a break and letting things gestate allows me to progress quickly when I find time to write. I’m fairly sure writer’s block can come about through the pressure of having too much time on your hands.
What was your publishing journey highlight?
I have a busy professional and family life with little enough time to write, and so trying to find a publisher was a time-consuming, not to say infuriating process. As anyone who has read the ‘Origins of the Best Defence Series’ on my website www.bestdefence.biz will have gathered, at one point my opinion on publishers was sufficiently low to slip comfortably under a door. I gave up trying to find a publisher after my first book, and self-published it and others in the series on Amazon Kindle. People in publishing can be disparaging towards Amazon, and, as a businessman, I can understand why, but the advent of the ebook has allowed many a would-be author like myself to showcase their work. The big highlight for me was receiving an out-of-the-blue email from Sandstone Press saying they had come across my books and would like to acquire the next one; which they did, along with the next four (and hopefully others to follow). I remember meeting Keara Donnachie, at that time marketing and publicity officer for Sandstone, and being presented with a pre-release copy of my book ‘Present Tense’. I carried it proudly all along Princes Street and on the train back from Edinburgh. Arriving home, I placed it casually on the kitchen table and then, when no one seemed to notice it, less casually. Eventually, my youngest son, Andrew, picked it, gave it a look and said, ‘This yours? Looks like a real one.’ It’s tough when you’re not even a household name in your own household.
What was the last book that made you laugh out loud?
I find Tom Holt’s writing very amusing and, of course, the inimitable P.G. Wodehouse, whose books I have read time and time again; however, most recently I have come across an old favourite, The Collected Letters of Henry Root. I loaned to a friend a great many years ago and never saw again, so, when I came across a copy in a second handbook shop recently, I bought it straightaway. I can confirm that the intervening years have not made it any the less hilarious, though, to properly appreciate the book, one does have to be of a certain vintage.
What was the last book that made you cry?
I’m not hugely into crying, and can’t honestly remember a book that has caused me to shed an actual tear – apart from one or two crime fiction books with particularly poor endings. You know the type, where the villain makes a full confession at the end. No, the two books I recall (other than Ring of Bright Water, as a child) that I admit may possibly have caused a degree of misting-over in the ocular department were both by the Scottish author Neil M. Gunn: Blood Hunt and The Silver Darlings. He is a legend of Scottish literature, and anyone unfamiliar with Mr Gunn’s work (there will be a few, his last work of fiction was 1954) is in for a treat.
If you were on an island for a year what two books would you bring?
I’m assuming, a la Desert Island discs, that the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, are already on the island. Leaving aside Boat Building for Beginners, I’d take with me a Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe compendium and then it would be a toss-up between the P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves or John Mortimer, Rumpole Omnibus editions.
Lastly, what is your favourite book quote?
There are so many to choose from, and many come from William McIlvanney who couldn’t have written a cliche if his life depended on it. For me, the line from ‘Laidlaw’, a book many regard as the fertile soil from which Scottish crime fiction has bloomed over the years, also neatly sums up the premise for my own books: the idea that it’s best not to confuse justice with the law.
‘Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It’s what we have because we can’t have justice.’
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