I am a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with twenty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. I have books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and my work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines with recent sales to NATURE Futures, Penumbra and Buzzy Mag among others. I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I'm not writing I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.
Tell me a little bit about your work. When did you start writing and why?
I grew up on a council estate in a town where you were either unemployed or working in the steelworks, and sometimes both. Many of the townspeople led hard, miserable lives of quiet and sometimes not so quiet desperation
When I was at school books and my guitar were all that kept me sane in a town that was going downhill fast. The local steelworks shut and unemployment was rife. The town suffered badly. I -could- have started writing about that, but why bother? All I had to do was walk outside and I'd get it slapped in my face. That horror was all too real.
So I took up my pen and wrote. At first it was song lyrics, designed (mostly unsuccessfully) to get me closer to girls.
I tried my hand at a few short stories but had no confidence in them and hid them away. And that was that for many years.
I didn't get the urge again until I was past thirty and trapped in a very boring job. My home town had continued to stagnate and, unless I wanted to spend my whole life drinking (something I was actively considering at the time), returning there wasn't an option.
But my brain needed something to do apart from write computer code, and fiction gave it what was required. That point, back more than twenty years ago now, was like switching on an engine, one that has been running steadily ever since.
Which genre do you most enjoy and which have you found most popular?
The answer to both questions is the same in recent years. I always come back to the Occult Detective.
Nowadays there is a plethora of detectives in both book and film who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington's Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.
My interest goes further back to the "gentleman detective" era where we have seekers of truth in Blackwood's John Silence Sherlock Holmes and William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki, and, mixed in with that, a deep love of the American PI books and movies of the '40s and '50s.
I've written numerous stories set in the late Victorian / Early Edwardian era, for Sherlock Holmes, Carnacki, and Professor Challenger. I was raised on Doyle, Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love that historical period they covered in their work. It's also the time period I've come to prefer for my own writing and I can see me settling in there for a long time to come.
My own occult Detective series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a modern day Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of that era where I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the older period of Holmes et al. He's turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all out now in print and ebook at all the usual online stores.
There seems to be quite a burgeoning market for this kind of mixing of detection and supernatural, and I intend writing more... a lot more
A new form of propulsion has the military excited. But why do they need an expert in ritual magic on board their new flagship spacecraft? And why do they need an exorcist? It is soon apparent they are meddling with forces they don't understand. But can they be controlled?
A Lovecraftian short story.
The piano has seen better days. But the wood remembers the old tunes, remembers love and affection. Can Betty find her way back to happy times? Does the music still have its charms? Or are some things better off left quiet?
Published: December 8, 2010.
Fiction » Horror » General
The Auld Mither, a crone-like hag with razor sharp bones for fingers, is killing off the proponents of a new abbattoir in a deer farming community. And Dave Duncan seems to be next on the list. Can he figure out how to stop her? Or will he have to pay for the sins of his father?
These twelve short stories, eight of them previously published in magazines or anthologies, contain magic, monsters, ghosts, history, beer, Scotland, scifi, fantasy, horror, singing, more beer and fun.
Published: December 6, 2010.
Fiction » Horror » General
Between 1878 and 1879 the small town of Amherst in Nova Scotia sees of one of the strangest cases of poltergeist activity in history.
A local girl, Esther Cox becomes the focus of night terrors, rappings, unexplained fires and more.
What is the cause of this outbreak of psychic disturbances? No one knows. But Esther has a secret. And that secret might just destroy her.