I’ve been a university lecturer, actor, director, TV presenter and held Writing Fellowships at three Scottish universities. My crime novels are set in Scotland. So far, there are four in my police procedural series: Material Evidence, Rough Justice, The Darkness and Shadow Selves. The fifth, Unsafe Acts, will be published early in 2012. The Figurehead (2011) is a crime/romance story set in 1840 and The Sparrow Conundrum (2011) is a crime spoof. It was the winner of the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards’ ‘Humor’ category. The Darkness came second in the ‘Mystery’ category.
I've written and performed skits and songs at the Edinburgh Festival. Three of my short stories have appeared in the CWA’s annual anthologies and one was chosen for 2010’s Book of Best British Mysteries. My radio and stage plays have been produced in three countries and I’ve written a prize-winning verse translation of Molière’s Sganarelle. I co-authored Just Write and, for Pearson Education, I’ve written Brilliant Study Skills, Brilliant Essay, Brilliant Dissertation and Brilliant Workplace Skills.
Under the name Jack Rosse, I wrote The Loch Ewe Mystery, a novel for children which was published in 2011.
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Smashwords book reviews by Bill Kirton
- Acid Jazz Singer, Book One of the Hunger Hurts Series
on Aug. 12, 2011
The popularity of vamp literature means that its stories are becoming repetitive and sometimes appear to be written by people who only know the clichés and not what they represent. On the other hand, there are those with a deeper understanding of the myths and the subconscious urges they represent. Nya Rawlins is one such person. In The Acid Jazz Singer, vampirism is just one of the threads of a gripping, pacey story whose narrator has the sharpness, wit and immediacy of the classic private eye of crime fiction. There’s eroticism, shape-shifting (and perhaps its ultimate manifestation – transgendering), all set in a moral context in which good and bad seem negotiable. The action sequences are breathtaking and Rawlins is in complete control of her medium, whichever of the levels she’s handling.
And these various threads aren’t simply exercises in genre-mixing, they’re woven together in a texture which extends the vamp metaphor of draining the essence from another and fuses it with love and its ambiguities. Travis, the narrator, is far from the conventional hero, the characters who surround him are complex beings themselves who resist easy pigeonholing and, amongst the violence, eroticism and mayhem, there’s a sweet central tenderness between him and RayLee, the transsexual he protects and loves.
This is the first of a series and, even as its resolution answers some of the narratives challenges, it’s clear that there are more ahead for Travis and that some of these outcomes may be revisited. It’s a very satisfying book, an excellent, page-turning read and a story which transcends the limits of genre fiction.