Meet the Author: The Fifteen by Michelle Kidd

Today we travel to Suffolk to chat with Michelle Kidd about how working as a legal executive, dust under the bed, working for NHS, a tabby cat, Enid Blyton, writing long-hand, getting ideas on the treadmill, gardening, Nelson Mandela, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm come together as part of Michelle’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Michelle Kidd – I currently live in Bury St Edmunds, a sleepy little town in Suffolk, although I was born in Cambridge. I worked as a legal executive for ten years, specialising in civil and criminal litigation, but have worked for the NHS for the last 12 years. I still work full time so writing is squeezed into whatever spare time I can muster! I like reading, wine and cats (although not necessarily in that order!)

My first book, The Phoenix Project, was written in 2008, but it spent the best part of the next ten years under my bed gathering dust! It wasn’t until 2018 that I decided I would publish it, and it’s a decision I’m glad I made!

I have an adorable cat called Livi – she’s a tabby cat and we rescued her from a stray cat centre when she was 7 months old. She loves it when I write – if she’s not sitting on my legs, she is trying to crawl across and sit on my notepad. She does make a few cameo appearances in my books…..

In which genre do you write?


How many published books do you have?

At the moment there are three – all in a series (DI Jack MacIntosh series). I am just finishing the editing on the fourth – hopefully to be released in January 2021.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve wanted to be a writer from a really really young age. I always had my head in a book as a child – I blame Enid Blyton! I loved the Famous Five books, and also the St Clare’s and Mallory Towers books. Boarding school looked such fun didn’t it?? Then I got all ‘horsey’ for a while and read anything that had a pony on the front! I began writing my own stories around eleven or twelve years of age. I remember showing my best friend my first completed full length story when I was about twelve and it made her cry – I think in a good way, or at least I hope so!

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I write long-hand! I scribble away in a succession of notepads and then type it up onto my laptop. I find that my head churns out words so much faster than my fingers can type – but I can scribble really quite quickly. The only problem comes when I try to decipher what I’ve written….. But the story has the advantage of having its first edit when I do that first typing session, so I find it works for me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I mostly write on my bed with my cat sitting on my legs! I think she does it to make sure I don’t move and keep writing…because everyone knows you never disturb a sleeping cat….

What are you currently reading?

I am just about to start The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez. It’s a new one for me – recommended by someone in a little book club I belong to.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

The most recent book I have published is The Fifteen. It is the third book in my DI Jack MacIntosh series. By book three, I feel I know my central characters pretty well. As for the ideas for the storylines, they seem to come to me when I least expect them. Mostly it is when I’m doing something else, like working out at the gym, walking to work, or even washing up. Ideas float into my head and I quickly have to try and find a way to write them down (not easy when you’re striding away on the treadmill!)

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I work full time for the NHS at my local hospital. It is a 5-6 day working week, so finding the time for writing is quite difficult. When I do get some free time I like going to the gym and do some gardening.

If you could have a fantasy tea with a famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would like to invite Nelson Mandela to tea! I saw him when I was 17, at the Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley Stadium. It was just after he had been released from prison. I remember walking through the streets of Wanstead with a friend from college, at lord knows what time of night, making our way to where my dad was going to pick us up in Redbridge. This was before mobile phones (giving away my age there…!) and it makes me shudder to this day!

I think Mandela would make the most fascinating afternoon tea guest – just thinking about all the experiences he has had. I would like to ask him how he managed to keep his strength and optimism, and whether he believed he would finally be released one day. And what books does he like to read??

What is your favorite time of day and why?

Early mornings! And I never thought I would ever say that! I love being up in the quiet hours when nobody else is around. Except the cat -she’s always up.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (ie Borat 2). My daughter made me watch it, and although I didn’t really think it would be my thing, I did actually find it to be quite amusing and very clever in the end!

Camilla: This is on my list to watch! Thanks for the reminder.

What are you currently working on?

I am just finishing the editing for the fourth book in my DI Jack MacIntosh series. It is called The Bishop. Hopefully it will be ready for publication in January 2021 – fingers crossed.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is the third book in the DI Jack MacIntosh series – called The Fifteen.

It was great having you on MTA, and learning more about your writing style. Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Blurb for The Fifteen:

The Fifteen

When the past finally catches up with you, is it murder? Or justice?

When a bedbound, defenceless man is found dead in his London nursing home, nobody saw his killer.

But the killer left their mark.

Detective Inspector Jack MacIntosh soon discovers that this was no random killing; this one was personal.

And it was just the beginning.

As the case unfolds, Jack is forced to think the unthinkable as the evidence begins to point disturbingly close to home.

Revenge – how long would you wait?

The Fifteen is the third book in the DI Jack MacIntosh series.

Where to find the book:


About Michelle:

Michelle Kidd is a self-published author known for the Detective Inspector Jack MacIntosh series of novels.

Michelle qualified as a lawyer in the early 1990s and spent the best part of ten years practising civil and criminal litigation.

But the dream to write books was never far from her mind and in 2008 she began writing the manuscript that would become the first DI Jack MacIntosh novel – The Phoenix Project. The book took eighteen months to write, but spent the next eight years gathering dust underneath the bed.

In 2018 Michelle self-published The Phoenix Project and has not looked back since. There are currently three DI Jack MacIntosh novels, with a fourth in progress.

Michelle works full time for the NHS and lives in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. She enjoys reading, wine and cats – not necessarily in that order.


The Phoenix Project (DI Jack MacIntosh book 1)

Seven Days (DI Jack MacIntosh book 2)

The Fifteen (DI Jack MacIntosh book 3) –

Social Media links: (Facebook)

@AuthorKidd (Twitter)

@michellekiddauthor (Instagram)


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Meet the Author: Hiding in Plain Site by Eoghan Egan

Today we travel to County Roscommon in Ireland to chat with Eoghan Egan about how Southern Italy, sitting on his Dad’s knee, Irish Mythology, asking “What if” questions, AC/DC, the spontaneity of youth, Def Leppard, being a book hoarder, being an introvert, and visiting Manhattan come together as part of Eoghan’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in County Roscommon, the 12th largest county in Ireland. At college, I studied Computer Programming and now work in Field Sales Management & Marketing, but I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. (I wrote my first short story aged 9).

I’m a graduate of Maynooth University’s Creative Writing Curriculum, and Curtis Brown’s Edit & Pitch Your Novel Course. I’ve had pieces shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Prize, and Listowel’s 2019 Bryan McMahon Short Story Award Competition and my novel was a contender in U.K. literary agent David Headley’s opening chapter Pitch Competition. In March 2019, my submission was included in another U.K. based contest, which I’ll tell you more about anon.

Hiding in Plain Sight is the first in a trilogy, and it was released in January 2020. I divide my time between Roscommon, Dublin and Southern Italy. 

In which genre do you write?

Crime Fiction

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and what ignited your author’s flame?

My earliest memory is sitting on Dad’s knee, listening to him read me bedtime stories. The characters in one of my favourites, ‘Three Boys in a Tree,’ had great names: Dead-Eyed Dick, The Shadow and Fierce Fred.

Dad was an avid reader, mostly crime fiction, true crime and westerns, but he read everything.

When Dad’s uncle, a National School teacher in Co. Monaghan retired, he returned to Roscommon and lived close to our home. Every day, ‘The Master,’ as he became known locally, called to our house for morning coffee, read the daily paper and taught me words. Later, he introduced me to Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, etc. and he got me to transcribe lines from these books.

Dad also loved playing cards. Every Sunday night during the winter months our house became a hub for 6-7 seasoned players. So, between my bedtime adventure stories, ‘The Master’ starting me off on a steady diet of diverse reading material, plus listening to old men reminisce around the card table, it was inevitable one day I’d write something.

I don’t recall anybody reading me any Enid Blyton books, although I’m sure her Faraway Tree series or Noddy collection must have been. I do remember my first Famous Five, though, ‘Five on a Treasure Island,’ a hardback with its dust cover missing. Not sure at what age I read my first crime novel, but it was Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library.

My National School teacher, Brian Mullooly, played a crucial role in widening, developing and nurturing my reading skills. The County library van called to our school every few months and swapped out library books – that’s how I met The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Richmal Crompton’s Just William – but Master Mullooly also had a personal archive he’d built up over the years, and we could read this rich corpus of Irish mythology once a week. It opened my eyes to Irish Folklore: Fionn MacCumhaill, Oisin, Diarmuid & Grainne, Cuchulainn, Ferdia and The children of Lir. He also implanted a love of poetry. I still have great memories of a tome containing verses by Patrick Joseph Hartigan, who wrote under the pen name John O’Brien, Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Goal, Song of the Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village. My favoured picks were The Ballad of Shamus O’Brien by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and decades on, I can still recite (most of) ‘O’Rourke’s Request,’ by T. D. Sullivan – about O’Rourke of Breffni, County Sligo, who, in 1588 helped rescue sailors when the Spanish Armada sank off the Donegal coast. The images these poems and stories evoked, coupled with my home experience, started my lifelong adventure of reading and writing.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Well, you asked, so here’s a current snapshot from my desk, as is … in all its glory.

What are you currently reading?

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten. It’s my Book Club read for June. Yep, even Coronavirus can’t stop us; we’re continuing our book discussions courtesy of Zoom.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

In 2012, I read a newspaper article about a spate of disappearances and wondered how people could vanish, literally, in broad daylight, so I wrote the story, with a lot of “What if” questions in mind.

I set the first (bad) outline of 150,000 words in the U.S. somewhere near Greenville, South Carolina. In my novel, I called the town Gainsville but realised I didn’t have enough geographical knowledge of that area, so I moved the next draft (still bad) to the U.K. between Manchester and York, and my fictitious hamlet became Gainstown. That worked better, but it didn’t feel right. Only after the third draft where I relocated the setting to the Irish Midlands, and the town became Ganestown that everything clicked into place. (I had to change the spelling because there’s a real Gainstown near Mullingar, County Westmeath). Adding in an actual January date and heavy snowfalls, making the weather another character, gave me a perfect panorama for a crime novel.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be, and what would you ask them?

That’s an interesting question, Camilla. I would love to meet Bon Scott, the late lamented lead singer with AC/DC. I remember their first song I ever heard, was the live version of High Voltage from the album If You Want Blood… You’ve Got It. His voice blew me away, and as I got to know more about him, I realised Bon wasn’t just a brilliant, charismatic frontman with a unique voice; he had the soul of a poet as well. I’ve seen the band live dozens of times, but regret never seeing Bon perform. On second thoughts, I don’t think we’d be having tea or coffee, more likely a bottle or two of J.D.

Author-wise, I’ve so many favourites I’d love to shoot the breeze with. Ed McBain, (deceased, unfortunately) or Edward Stratemeyer (the man who championed irresistible juvenile fiction adventure and mystery stories including The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift etc.). Andrew Vachss is a favourite author of mine, very dark writing, but would be an interesting man to have a coffee with. The one author who stands out for me is John Sandford. I still remember the ‘maddog’ character in ‘Rules of Prey’ and have been an avid fan of the Prey series since way back. What would I ask him?

I’d thank him for the many hours of pleasure he’s given me. (I know, I’m gushing).

As a writer, I’m always interested in other author’s writing process, so I’d ask him about that.

Also, what are the common traps for aspiring writers?

What was the best money he ever spent as a writer?

What was his hardest scene to write?

Does he prefer writing about Lucas Davenport, or Virgil Flowers?

Is creating new storylines the most challenging part of his writing process?

Will you read my next novel, Mr Stanford, and endorse it? Please? Or introduce me to your agent? Or all three? (I know, I’m begging).

In reality, I’d probably spill coffee all over him and be tongue-tied, and he’d get up and leave…

AC/DC fan here! I saw them in concert in the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s. What are the most enjoyable things you’ve found through writing?

So many. The great community spirit among writers. Nowadays, with Social Media, getting to know authors is an e-connection away. Case in point: A few months ago, I wrote a blog about taglines, and I reached out to 15 authors, asking if I could include their book slogans from particular works. Twelve of them got back to me immediately saying yes.

One of them, Belinda Bauer,, who is another incredible crime writer, messaged me and we e-chatted back and forth. She was also good enough to include the piece on her blog page, which was a lovely gesture from an extremely busy lady. I’ve e-connected with lots more since, so it’s wonderful to know that most authors are accessible.

I never realised the incredible work that book bloggers do for writers. They build costly websites at their own expense and then spend hours writing blogs and reviewing books, purely for the love of literature, with little or no financial reward – and sometimes with zero thanks. So, a big shout-out to all bloggers and reviewers. You’re much appreciated. All of you. And I’m really enjoying connecting with you.

Something else that’s really gratifying is the unpredictability of readers. Most readers either like, love or hate a book, and once it’s read, they put it on the shelf or pass it on. They don’t understand the importance a review is to a writer, and I totally get that; until recently, I never bothered either. It’s an unnecessary hassle that the reader gets no benefit from, but for a writer, reviews are pure gold dust.

My aunt, 83, who’s a teacher and a nun, decided she wanted to read my novel. Now, I certainly didn’t have her in mind while writing it, so I was surprised when she sent me an email on 11th April last:

I hope your book sales are going well. Not long ago, I asked one of the teachers who was ordering from Amazon to include your book for me. It came on Friday, she called me and said she would throw it in at the gate at 6 p.m. I am glad I had asked her to order it, as we have not had mail since mid-March. Of course, we are unable to send out letters/cards. Anyhow, now that we are in isolation, I have plenty of time to read. I will let you know my evaluation of your story when I write again.

My “evaluation??” Ouch.

Fast forward to 30th April, I received my “evaluation.” The email subject line was:


(cold sweat)

I must say the novel is a profoundly riveting story. A novel of continued non-stop action. It surely is a moving meditation, about the best and the worst of human beings. Your story is bursting with unforgettable characters, vividly etched, Adam Styne = power gone mad, Madeline, a type of martyr, as she comes to her senses, and reminisces on all she had endured under Adam.

Madeline’s letter in itself, Eoghan, is a prize-winning piece of prose!

The theme is skillfully handled and developed.

Over time, many similes we use in everyday language, have become clichés – ‘They fought like cats and dogs,’ ‘he is as strong as an ox’ etc. – but, you have used unique and novel similes (and sometimes metaphors) throughout the story, I just loved your creativity! The sweeping dialogue used throughout, is typically Irish.

What I did not like, were the many curse words (and horror of horrors, God’s name used in vain, in anger).

You are a talented author. I am proud of you and thrilled to have read your debut novel. Congratulations!

Hopefully, you will continue writing. I look forward to your next masterpiece.

Phew. That was a relief and a pleasant surprise. Looks like there could be a new book reviewer in town, y’all, and her name is Aunt Ethna. And I didn’t even know she read crime fiction! Hmm, I must find out more about what goes on behind convent doors. Perhaps there’s another book waiting to be written! But seriously, it’s wonderful when something unexpected like that happens.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? What do you do to prepare yourself?

No music. I prefer to be on my own, going through notes, thinking about what I want to say and trying to find ways to make it interesting. Before any public speaking situation, my brain is whirling too much to be fit company for anyone.

What do you miss about being a kid?

1. The Spontaneity of youth. Life makes you cynical and forces you to question yourself.

2. The endless opportunities of where life could take you. Everything is possible. A fireman today, a pilot tomorrow. (I always hankered to be a librarian).

3. The build-up to, and the excitement of Christmas morning.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I once spend a weekend on a rock ‘n’ roll tour in Italy with Def Leppard. (Thanks, Joe Elliot). Motörhead and Whitesnake were also on the card. Having access to backstage and watching band members being interviewed was unreal.

I’m a book hoarder. A few years back, I converted a garage into a library. (see pic for a glimpse) Definitely one of my better decisions! It’s not that I’d too many books, I didn’t have enough shelves.

I enjoy cooking.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Don’t second guess yourself. If there’s something you want to do, don’t think you’re too old to do it. Just … start the process. Want to write a novel? A memoir? A short story? Always wished you could swim or knit? Do it. If it doesn’t work out initially, so what? You’ve learned throughout life not to worry about what others may think about you or your plans; you know that can lead to a cycle of despair. So, begin your pursuit again. Now. Today. Try harder. Keep persevering. This time next year you’ll be glad you did.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Oh yes. I truly believe everything happens for a reason… but you’ve gotta keep your eyes open for breaks and be prepared to go with them. (Sometimes opportunities don’t knock, they tap very softly). For example, answering Camilla’s thought-provoking questions will take me a while: write, edit, delete, change, edit again… you get the picture. This is time I could be adding words to my next novel, or writing a short story, or… whatever. However, when I saw Camilla’s post on Book Connectors,,  asking for writers to contact her, I jumped at the chance, because I’ve no idea where this post might lead. A publisher or agent might read it, like my writing style and look me up. Or, a reader may consider buying the book or audio or perhaps connect with me on Social Media. I see this as an opportunity, and the possibilities are endless. And if nothing happens, so what? I’m having fun here. (Now, if John Sandford reads this and contacts me to meet him for coffee, I’ll let you know).

So, here’s a real-life example.

Remember I mentioned earlier that in March 2019, my submission was included in another U.K. based contest? U.K. Literary agent, Peter Cox, runs a Pop-Up Submission broadcast every Sunday, through his website

This is a window into how Peter assesses and deals with the manuscripts that writers submit. Book blurbs and the opening 700 words are read and reviewed by Peter and two other skilled “Litopians,” while other members comment and offer feedback from an online chat room. For writers, receiving instant manuscript reaction and appraisal is priceless, and every Sunday, I find it compulsive viewing. Over the past year, I’ve learned so much from watching this broadcast. (This, by the way, is not a plug, I’m not affiliated with Litopia at all.).

Past shows are accessible through Litopia’s website, or on YouTube, and any writer, or anyone interested in seeing how the submission works through the eyes of a literary agent, they’re definitely worth a view. If and when you’re ready to submit – and you’ve got the courage – go for it. My piece was read on 10th March 2019:

If anyone’s interested in watching, I’d suggest skipping the first 6 minutes of introductions, and cut straight to the reading and the reviews.

The fascinating part of this preamble is that just after the panel had reviewed my work, the lady panellist, (Emily) mentioned that her brother, had actually worked with a serial killer some years previously when they were both employed as construction workers. Well, long story short, I found out Emily lived about 80 miles from me, and when I contacted her, she agreed to ask her brother if he’d meet up. I met Michael and Emily one evening, and Michael gave me some excellent background on his real-life observations of a serial killer. Also, I learned that Emily narrates novels, and I asked if she’d narrate mine, and readers, she said yes. This has been a bit longwinded, I know, but there’s an example of being open to grasping opportunities. I submitted a story, which led to conversations with someone who knew a real serial killer, and I got a brilliant narrator too. (Oh, and my entry may or may not have won the competition on the day. (Hint… it did).

I’m also one who keeps her eyes open for breaks. It’s fun to see where they lead! You’ve self-published Hiding in Plain Sight. Was that your choice, or did you try the traditional route first? What differences, if any, did you encounter?

As I mentioned, I began writing this novel back in 2012 and, after a lot of mentoring, writing courses, and…. writing, I believed it was ready to submit to agents in 2017. An Irish editor requested the whole script and liked it enough to pass it onto her submissions department. It didn’t get any further. The shortlist in a Novel Pitch Competition? I met with David Headley, but ultimately he decided it wasn’t for him, as he’d just taken on another author with a similar writing style. I continued sending out my work, and in 2018 another agency requested the full copy. The reply? Another positive “no.”

Rejection is a bitter pill that makes staying motivated much harder, but you’ve got to believe in yourself and your work. Writing is subjective. One person’s dismissal is someone else’s masterpiece, so I kept submitting to agents – I’ve lost count of the number, but only a handful bothered to mail me back. I learned that in literary circles, no reply means we’re not interested. Personally, I still can’t fathom that, but there you go.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to publish every manuscript, so literary agents look for reasons to justify a rejection. However, agents aren’t infallible. They don’t always get it right, and I can quantify that in two words: Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling’s first book was passed, as they say in the trade, 12 times, and while the publishing landscape has changed utterly in the past decade, this trait hasn’t altered. Back in 1974, Stephen King’s novel ‘Carrie’ became a bestseller, after being rejected 30 times, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding has sold many millions of copies despite 20 publishers declining it before its publication in 1954. Even earlier, Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 classic ‘Gone with the Wind’ was rejected 38 times before Macmillan published it. It then won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year. In 1902 Beatrix Potter couldn’t get a publisher, so she self-published ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit.’ To date, it has sold 45 million+ copies. The moral of the story is: If you’re writing, don’t give up on your dream. Keep submitting to agents and publishers. Two of my favourite U.K. authors, Mel Sherratt and Caroline Mitchell, had successful self-publishing careers before securing a top literary agent. Listen. Learn. Adapt. Keep reading. Try again. Try harder. Start something new. Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.

At another writing course led by a well-known Irish publisher, I was told to consider self-publishing because “it’s another way for agents to notice your work.” That really was the catalyst that veered me onto the self-publishing track. Also, as I learned more about publishing, I realised that while agents are a superb addition, it’s a myth that they do everything for their authors. Yes, they negotiate with publishers who have the clout to execute a lot of the heavy lifting with regard marketing muscle and distribution before, during and immediately after a book launch, but authors have to promote themselves, now more than ever. When the book launch euphoria dies down, they must keep the momentum going by becoming their own agent, publisher and marketeer, while simultaneously growing their writer platform … and deliver the next book on deadline.

What I like about self-publishing, is that it gives writers creative control, but it requires several extra skill sets. The options are:

1. Do everything yourself.

2. Continue writing, and project manage the operation by delegating social media, book cover design, copy editor, formatting, audio narration, advertising, publicity and promotional activity.

3. A mixture of A & B. It’s an exceptional person who has a flair for every phase of the procedure, so C is the preference for most indie authors. Each writer has to do the best they can with their own talents, and then buy in the services of professionals to cover the rest. Today, freelancers can deliver any piece of the process writers aren’t comfortable doing.

Another alternative – which I didn’t opt for – is hybrid publishing, also called “author-assisted,” “partnership” or “co-publishing.” This model allows writers to find high-quality publishing services within one company. In some cases, the publisher will carry a portion of the financial burden for editing, printing or marketing since both author and publisher will share in profits from the book sales. That’s what differentiates this standard from vanity presses.

What advice would you give people who want to write but don’t know where to begin, or writers who may have a book ready to publish, but can’t find an agent?

To anyone who wants to fulfil their writing dream?:

1. Think about the story you want to write.

2. Plan out the location and add shape to characters.

3. Don’t feel you need to know everything. You’ll learn on the fly. If you wait around to figure out every detail, you’ll never progress.

4. Start writing and write every day. I repeat: Write. Every. Day. Success rarely occurs from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently.

5. Start developing your social media base, and at the same time, attend some literary courses. I guess there’ll be more online now, thanks to Covid-19.

6. Ask your peers to read and critique your work – you’ll never improve if you don’t benchmark yourself against other writers. Listen to their feedback, but remember, they’re telling you how they write and what works for them, so use this advice as a foundation to build your own style.

7. When your manuscript is ready, submit to agents, or self-publish. Acquiring a literary agent is most writer’s popular route to market, and even if you decide to self-publish, I’d recommend submitting to agents. Any feedback you get will improve your manuscript.

There are no short-cuts. Writing is like climbing a mountain covered in mist; the way forward is obscure, yet every step takes you closer to the summit. Then, you reach the top, the fog clears … and that’s when you see the struggle has been worthwhile.

For writers with a book ready, you can upload your manuscript on Amazon in less than an hour, and it won’t cost you a dime. Amazon formats your work, and supplies an ISBN number – plus a book cover if you wish. However, I’m not proposing being that hasty. It’s worth spending money on an editor to proofread your work before uploading, (you don’t want reviews saying “book was fine, but full of typos”) and it’s also worth getting a good cover designer to create the best book cover possible.

Think about your own trips to bookstores. You scan the shelf. Your eyes drift past a dozen books before you pick up one. Why choose that one? Did you recognise the author? Maybe. Was it because you liked the title and cover? Absolutely. Book covers are a writer’s first chance to interact with a reader, so unless you’re a graphic designer or a book cover specialist, I’d suggest getting a few quotes and picking the most suitable.

Perhaps I’ll secure a traditional publishing deal at some stage, which would be great for foreign rights, pushing books into new territories, potential film deals etc. I’m also curious to see what life is like at that end of the scale, but for now, self-publication has been – and continues to be – scary and at times an overwhelming, but ultimately rewarding practice. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on things regarding editing, along comes a new batch of processes to manage: Q.R. codes, trim sizes, bleed lines, digital rights management, copyright registration, eBook formatting… and once you publish, there’s marketing, Facebook advertising, Amazon advertising, SMO (Social Media Optimisation) – don’t ask, because, I’m only getting to grips with it now – but isn’t life great? There’s still so much to learn.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful, and why?

Deep down, I’m an introvert, which sounds daft for someone working in sales, but there are massive parallels between writing and sales management. Both skills require long periods alone in an office or at a desk, followed by spells of frenzied activity where presentations get delivered, i.e. a story gets told, and products are launched and placed in the public domain.

Thankfully, another of my traits is that I genuinely enjoy meeting and chatting people and learning about their lives (or as much as they want to tell me). Books are a fantastic way to bond and connect.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Manhattan is my favourite city. I’ve been on several trips to the Big Apple – and I’d fly there again in a heartbeat, if I wasn’t self-isolating. I love the bustle and pace of the city. The weather doesn’t matter … because what I really go for are the bookshops. And it would have to be for a weekend because there’s a lot to pack in.


Fly into JFK early afternoon. Taxi to a hotel somewhere around Time Square. Check my bearings, book a Broadway show, grab something from the street vendors and stroll down to Barnes and Noble on Union Square (the best B&N in my opinion) and after an hour or so, take a taxi ride to Warren Street, the home of Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop. For a crime reader and writer, this place is my idea of heaven. Then a taxi back to the hotel, change, go to the show, followed by some decent food. Late to bed.


Breakfast in one of the cafes. Visit Macy’s and buy some clothes, before crossing over to Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue. (Some years back I’d wander up to Murder Inc. on the Upper West Side, and Borders near Lexington Avenue, but sadly, both those great book shops are now closed).

Early lunch in Saks restaurant on 5th Avenue. (Starter and lunch. No dessert). I think the restaurant is on the 8th floor – I know you have to go through a shoe department to get to it.

Then, a walk back to Union Square and a visit to Max Brenner’s for coffee and delicious desserts. From there, it’s a short hop across to Strand Book Store, where I could easily spend the whole weekend. The Strand remains open late so I’ll stay there until 8-30 or 9p.m and then get a taxi to Congee Village Chinese Restaurant and meet up with friends. If there are no friends allowed on this date, no worries, I’ve got a book to read. Either way, it’ll be another late night.


Rise early, and walk from Times Square all the way to Wall Street. It’s a long walk, but I love it, passing through the Soho, Tribeca, Little Italy and stopping off at the World Trade Centre to reflect and remember 9/11.

Taxi back to the hotel and head to JFK.

I know that’s a dull weekend for some people, but for me, it’s heaven. Each to their own, eh?

What are you currently working on?

I’ve finished the first draft of book #2 in this trilogy and working on an outline for #3. I’m also writing two short stories that have to be completed by the end of May, and I’m halfway through putting a presentation together. (Hence the state of my writing space above)

Tell us about your most recent book.

Hiding in Plain Sight is set in the Irish Midlands and tells the story of a successful businessman who has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder. No bodies. No evidence. No suspects. When graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play, high art and low morals collide. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree. When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small rural town has no hiding place…

This had been thoroughly enjoyable, Camilla. Many thanks for interviewing me for Meet the Author. Wishing you continued success and best wishes and happy reading to you, yours and all your readers. Stay safe, everybody. Oh, and please consider reviewing any book or Ebook you read, or audiobook you listen to. Even a one liner would be really beneficial to the author. Thanks for reading.

It was great to have you on MTA, Eoghan. I really enjoyed learning more about you. Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It’s available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audio (through Audible)

Connect with Eoghan:


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Meet the Author: Feather and Claw by Susan Handley

Today we’re traveling to rural Kent, England to chat with Susan Handley. She and I talk about how Agatha Christie, an old Olivetti typewriter, being outdoors, Fredrick Forsythe, a fractured skull, and Scooby Doo come together as part of Susan’s past and present life. Grab the scuba gear, we’re going down deep with this one …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in England, in the Midlands, and although I loved to read, especially crime fiction, I never dreamt of being able to carve out a career as a published writer. I now live in a small village in rural Kent, England, with my husband and three rescue cats, Millie, Charlie and Porridge (aka Podge).

In which genre do you write?

I typically write crime fiction. My novels to date have been based around the experiences of a British detective. The first, A Confusion of Crows, is a police-procedural set in a modern detective squad. The second, Feather and Claw, is set in Cyprus, where the protagonist, rookie detective Cat McKenzie, is holidaying with a friend when one of the other guests meets an untimely end.

I have also published a collection of short stories called Crime Bites. It contains a number of what I call “super-shorts” that can be read over lunch or a long coffee, as well as a couple of longer stories for when you’ve got a bit more time. Although they’ve all got crime at their heart, they vary in terms of setting, period and style. Some are gritty, others a little cosier. Playing with different sub-genres can be a lot of fun: I recently had a great time writing a short story based in 1849 California when the gold rush was at its height.

How many published books do you have?

I have two in the DC Cat McKenzie series: A Confusion of Crows, and Feather and Claw. The Third in the series is due to be published in early 2020.

I have also published Crime Bites Volume 1 and hope to be publishing Volume 2 later this summer.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was an avid reader as a child and always had my nose pressed into a book. I hadn’t considered writing anything until I was in my late teens. My mum had been collecting Agatha Christie books for years. Every birthday and Christmas I would buy her another for her collection. Then the inevitable happened and there were no more books to buy – she’d amassed the complete works. I thought there was nothing else for it but to write her one myself. In the style of Agatha Christie. I bought an old Olivetti typewriter out of the local paper and for several months spent every spare minute tapping away, hoping to create a story Agatha would have been proud of. Needless to say, I didn’t. The end result was pretty dreadful. Even though it was years before I sat down and penned my next novel, I often thought back to that first attempt and how much I enjoyed writing it, despite how badly it turned out.

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

I think a bird would make a great mascot for a crime writer — they are resilient; many are great at solving puzzles and can work as a team to fend off even the most determined attacks by predators.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My current writing space is pretty much it:

It gets lots of sun (I’m a bit like a hothouse flower and need lots of light and warmth); has got a little reading corner with a comfy chair next to my ‘to be read’ pile; and is full of bits and pieces collected over the years that are a great source of inspiration — my latest finds are 2 large venetian masks that I picked up from a boot fair. Plus, there are enough places for the cats to sit and keep me company; otherwise I’d have no one to talk to all day (I’m not one of those crazy cat ladies, honestly!)

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell: an absolutely brilliant book which brings together crime and comedy for a match made in heaven.

I tend to read more crime fiction than anything else, but do try to experiment and have discovered some fantastic writers as a result. As an author, I know how important reviews are to us (damn those Amazon algorithms!) so I make a point of always leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads; partly to help the author and partly for prospective readers.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I love being outdoors, walking, cycling and gardening (good job too, I have quite a large garden that needs a lot of looking after). In the summer I escape and work on my veggie patch and greenhouse, where I’m trying to grow a wide selection of fruit and vegetables. Apart from the fact I love being outdoors pottering, the veggies you grow yourself always taste so much better than shop bought ones. I’ve been trying to ‘grow my own’ for three years now and have learned a lot about what you should do. And an awful lot about what you shouldn’t! A bit like writing really.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

There are quite a lot of people I think it would be interesting to share a coffee with. I’d love to talk to Agatha Christie and find out what happened in those 11 days in 1926 when she went missing; or Fredrick Forsythe – both a formidable writer and someone who has led such a full life, I think he would be fascinating to talk to. There are also many contemporary authors whose company I would enjoy but the one I would probably like to spend time with is Mark Billingham. I saw him at a literary festival last year and he was interesting, funny, down to earth and just had so much to say. And if we ran out of things to talk about (highly unlikely), he could always entertain me with a song or two from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers playlist.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I am not immune to spending time on social media or just randomly looking at things for the house or garden when I should be writing. This seems to happen a lot when I hit a sticking point in my latest work in progress. One minute I’m trying to figure out how to resolve a plot issue, the next I’ve gone and bought a bookcase from EBay. But hey, you can never have too many books … or bookcases, right?

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Years ago, I was on scuba diving holiday in Cuba and had a horse-riding accident (don’t ask!). It happened on what supposed to be a relaxing trek through the countryside. Needless to say, it didn’t quite go to plan — I fractured my skull and ended up in a coma for a week. When I was cleared for travel, I was flown to a hospital back here in the UK. In the airport in Cuba, waiting for the flight, I was given a sedative. I have no idea what it was but it must have been some pretty potent stuff because at one point I thought someone had stolen my feet. Not my shoes, but my actual feet. It took some persuading before I realised that they were in fact still attached to the bottom of my legs.

The road to recovery was long and sometimes difficult but it made me realise you only have one shot at life, so make the most of it. Shortly after that I blew the cobwebs of my literary ambitions and started to write again.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having lots of time. I remember whole days spent reading. I’d pick up a book in the morning and wouldn’t stop until I finished it before bed. Those were the days. Now I try to make time to read each day over lunch, but sometimes even that’s a struggle with other things demanding my attention.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

It would have to be Scooby Doo – how much fun would it be to ride around in an old camper van solving crimes. Though most of the time all they had to do was look for the grumpy old man who would always end the show by saying ‘if it weren’t for those pesky kids…’

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why?

It’s got to be DC Cat McKenzie – an optimist, with her heart in the right place, yet she can be like a dog with a bone when it comes to sniffing out a murderer. Oh, and she’s gorgeous. What’s not to like?

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He says ‘Which way to the beach?’ having turned up for a little holiday, hoping to enjoy the best of the British Summer – cool days, the odd bout of sunshine and lots and lots of rain.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I used to believe everything happens for a reason, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve changed my view a little. There are some things that are so awful it’s hard to believe there is a ‘reason’ (the death of a relative, friend or pet, for example). What I do think is that every event that happens is a good opportunity to be thankful for the good things in your life and to make plans to stop or change the not-so-good things. I’m now a firm believer that out of every crisis comes opportunity – you just have to have your eyes open to what is possible and seize that opportunity.

If you could ask your pets a question, what would it be?

I’ve three cats and would ask them each the same question: You will eat flies, mice, grass, your own vomit (gross, I know), yet you turn your nose up at pretty much everything I put down the second I get a jumbo box of it… what’s that all about?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

It’s got to be perseverance. When I started to write it was something I did to unwind. Then I got hooked, wrote my first novel and thought it would be a short jump to get published. I know, seriously, what planet was I on? Then I realised two things: 1). There are a lot, no, make that a hell of a lot, of fantastic authors out there who have spent years learning the craft. 2). I had a lot to learn. There were plenty of times when I thought I should give up my dream and just write for enjoyment. But one of the things that make writing so pleasurable is having other people read and enjoy your work. So I persevered and have to say, I think I’m a much better writer for it now.

What’s your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

I live in a rural part of Kent in England, surrounded by quiet country lanes. I’m blessed to be able to walk straight out of the drive and into fields and woodland. I love being outdoors and find the countryside good for the soul as well as being a great source of inspiration. It’s particularly good walking country – ideal for when I’m trying to figure out a particularly knotty problem with a plot.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Feather and Claw is my latest novel and is the second book in the DC Cat McKenzie series.

The story is set on the sunny shores of Cyprus, where Cat McKenzie is holidaying with a friend.

Back in the UK, Cat is a rookie detective in a serious crime squad in the South-East of England and despite her plans for a relaxing vacation, it’s not long before she swaps sunbathing for sleuthing after a fellow guest winds up dead.

It builds on the idea that choice not chance determines human destiny. But on foreign shores not everyone is what they seem and choices can be ill informed, which can have disastrous consequences.

Feather and Claw has sun, sea, sand and suspects a plenty and with romance subtly entwined in a dark web of crime it makes ideal holiday reading.

I also love being outdoors, going for walks. It’s a must for me! I grew up with Scooby Doo and love the original version, reminds me of being a kid again. And, oh my goodness! A fractured skull and stolen feet! WoW! I’m so happy you made it home safely, recovered, and resumed  your literary ambitions. It was a great pleasure Susan, having you be a part of MTA. Thank you! – Camilla

Feather and Claw is available from:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Find out more about Susan and her books at:



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Meet the Author: Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Today we’re traveling to the outskirts of Gretna Green, Scotland to chat with Graham Smith. We’ll talk about how weddings, dialogue tags, Alistair MacLean, getting thrown out of a church, and the Simpsons come together as part of Graham’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a hotel and wedding venue manager on the outskirts of Gretna Green. I’ve been writing for eight years and am a time-served joiner.

In which genre do you write?

I write at the gritty end of crime fiction.

How many published books do you have?

At the time of writing I have twelve books published.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I tossed so many books across the room muttering that I could do better myself that it became time to put my money where my mouth was. Once I started writing, I found that I loved it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I am not a fan of dialogue tags such as “said”, “asked” or “replied” and to date I have written over a million words without using one.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’d chose a faithful old lab. Man’s best friend has earned that title for a reason.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would look like the library in a country house. There’d be a big desk, an internet connection, a radio and a kettle.

What are you currently reading?

Deadland by William Shaw. I’ve only just started it so haven’t yet formed an opinion, but what I have read so far has been excellent.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I enjoy watching football and spending time with my son.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’m lucky enough to have met most of my writing heroes, but I think I would have to choose Alistair MacLean and ask him about the Russian convoys.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I think the answer to this would have to be how wrapped up in the story I get. If I’m writing an argument, my jaw clenches to the point where it physically aches and I can get emotive when I’m putting my characters through emotional distress.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I once managed to get myself thrown out of a church while conducting research. I got talking to one of the priest’s helpers and they showed me the back rooms of the church and there was a safe that was six foot high by three foot deep and wide. I stupidly asked what they kept in there and the helpers stopped answering my questions and started crowding me out of the door. I realised my faux pas, apologised and left without pressing the matter further.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I have never kept a journal or diary.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Becoming an international best-seller despite twice failing my English exams. I have also been quoted on the websites of New York Times best-sellers when reviewing their books which is fantastically cool.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

I would focus on practising reading the passage aloud and making sure I didn’t come across as a terrible public speaker.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The family members who’re sadly no longer still around.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

The Simpsons so I could join Homer for a beer or two at Moes.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

I’d be Jake Boulder, as he’s all the things I’m not. I’d probably do what he does best which is fight for justice.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

It was called Breakers and it was on late at night when my family had gone to bed and I watched it because there wasn’t anything else on and I couldn’t be bothered to go upstairs and get my book. (I really really wish I had made the effort to get the book.)

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“I bet you’re wondering how I knocked on your door, why I am wearing a sombrero and how I can speak aren’t you? Well, if you tell me who the killer is in Fear in the Lakes, I’ll answer your questions.”

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Life is very much about what you make of it. If you have a positive attitude, good things are more likely to happen to you than if you have a negative one.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

These but only if said in a mushy and patronising way.

Who’s a good boy?

Are you a good boy?

You’re a good boy, aren’t you?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I am a workaholic and this really helps me balance writing with my day job and family life.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Home, because there’s nowhere better.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc

It’d be a sunny day, I’d be at a quiet country pub which served great but simple food. I’d be sitting in the beer garden with a good book and the sun on my back.

It was great to learn more about you Graham. Thanks much for being a part of MTA. –Camilla

Book blurb

Detective Beth Young traced the body in her mind… His skull wasn’t harmed and neither was his spine… as if someone wanted him to survive only to experience the utmost suffering.

When Laura Sinclair arrives home, she is horrified to discover her sweet, kind, husband James close to death. But this is no robbery gone wrong. There are over 200 breaks to his bones, each apparently applied carefully, symmetrically, methodically…

Laura insists that James is a man with no enemies. But how much does she know about her husband? And what secrets are hidden in the email account she discovers, filled with cryptic messages?

When two bodies are then pulled from Lake Windermere exhibiting similar injuries – it becomes clear that the killer they are calling the Sculptor is on a mission.

But Detective Beth Young is too. She knows that if she can work out the secrets of James’s past, she has a chance of locating The Sculptor’s next victim… and maybe the killer too.

More about Graham:

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His latest series features DC Beth Young and after the first in the series, Death in the Lakes, was released to critical acclaim, Fear in the Lakes was highly anticipated before its July release.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Where to find the book:

Fear in the Lakes –

Connect with Graham:





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Meet the Authors: Not the Life You Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

Today we welcome Anne Pettigrew as we travel to north Ayrshire overlooking the lovely Firth of Clyde, learning how Glasgow University, a career as a GP, The Herald, a meerkat, Judi Dench, Snow White, Ailsa Craig, and the Exuma Cays in the Caribbean come together to form Anne’s past, her present and her writer’s life. Come in closer, we’re sharing all the secrets in this one …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Glasgow-born, haunted local libraries as a child, graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1974 and enjoyed a career as a GP in Greenock for 31 years. I also dabbled in homeopathy, acupuncture, BMA media stuff, wrote columns in The Herald and medical press (mostly funny) and tried to improve patient care by serving on many (tediously un-funny) committees up to EEC level.

In 2001 at a crusty old 52, I shot off to Oxford for a sabbatical MSc in Medical Anthropology looking for new ideas for health promotion. To my surprise, I found the best thing you can do to improve a society’s health is to educate its girls past 12, hence my sponsorship of girls in India and the channelling of funds from my novel into PlanUK who aim to help the 130 million denied schooling.

My other passions are travelling (although mosquitoes find me so attractive my husband doesn’t need insect repellent), painting wonky landscapes, gardening and my writers groups: one local, of inspiring, if bonkers, people, and one in the city, of candid editors.

The novel would never have seen light of day without them and the Creative Writing tutors at Glasgow Uni, where the undergrads egged me on to write of a life before mobiles, the internet and the pill (unavailable for the unmarried on the NHS in the 60s). How did we manage? Not sure I’m managing now with all this web/social media stuff – see my blog post at

I live in north Ayrshire overlooking the lovely Firth of Clyde and am the proud owner of a new titanium knee (never jump off a boat in Kerala).

How many published books do you have?

My debut novel Not The Life Imagined has been published by Glasgow non-profit Ringwood Publishing as ebook (December 2018) and paperback (January 2019).

I also had some award-winning short stories published in a 50th anniversary Anthology by Greenock Writers Club in 2018. My second novel Not The Deaths Imagined is in editing.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

My first novel was written age eight: an illustrated medieval whodunnit called Bridget’s Key. Sadly I knew little about the Middle Ages and couldn’t draw for toffee!

But by ten, I’d decided on being a doctor and didn’t start Not The Life Imagined until retirement. This book was ignited by the discovery that there were no books about UK women doctors, only pioneers, pathologists and the odd Mills & Boon. I felt the struggles of female medics in the 60s was worth recording, though decided it had to be fiction, not memoir, since I was reluctant to write about living people without seeking their permission; doctors of course, are taught to keep secrets.

The first book concerns an arrogant womanising surgeon; the second has a Shipman villain, also unmasked by the main protagonist Beth. I discovered writing about complete monsters can actually be quite fun.

Is there an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I am prone to ‘tics’ as my tutor called them, first drafts are awash with excess ‘just’ ‘seem’ ‘merely’ ‘very’ ‘somehow’ ‘maybe ‘and ‘quite’ which need ruthlessly eliminated.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

An albatross; they can fly for hundreds of miles effortlessly out to sea, mate for life and are the longest-lived bird by far. Or maybe a meerkat… they are very cheeky and bossy.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

See attached photo – Big desk with wireless keyboard and mouse, hate the narrow laptop one. Behind laptop I have a propped-up pinboard with teaching prompts eg ‘Hook -Move- Intrigue- Paint a picture- Pace- Perspective – Voice’ to remind me what I am meant to be doing as I write- not ambling endlessly through Twitter or checking my emails.

What are you currently reading?

Just started Middlemarch by George Eliot after being told it’s one of best novels ever written.

Love eg Joanne Cannon, Joanne Harris, Martin Walker, Peter James, Andrea Camilleri, Anthony Horowitz, Chris Brookmyre, Daphne Du Maurier, Philippa Gregory, Taylor Caldwell, John Le Carre, Douglas Kennedy etc

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Cook, walk or snooze in front of Scandi-noir TV… do lunch.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Judi Dench- ‘What would you like to drink?’

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I can be wide awake at 2 am if on a roll with an idea.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

For my second book I Google-searched ‘Where are the saunas in Edinburgh?’ for my seedy villain, and the next night around eleven I was playing solitaire on my iPad, when up popped an Ad showing a well-rounded young lady in suspenders offering a hotline for her services in my locality. Big Brother Google indeed watches us!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

Never- the girls in my book, however, keep them.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose?

The only one I remember is Snow White- of which I was terrified! Not going there ever again, I mean, those red pointy talons on the Wicked Stepmother? I was taken out of the cinema screaming by my Dad when I was 4.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

Rosie maybe- she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is also very smart and doesn’t need to study as hard as I did!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Wild Rose – about a Glasgow girl who follows her dream to become a country and western singer. I liked the parallel to Beth in my book following her dream to be a doctor; Rose’s life turned out not to be the life she imagined either. I enjoyed it, but felt it but it had scope for more humour.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

I don’t give him a chance but shut the door immediately: all that ‘inspirational’ Sauvignon is obviously giving me DT hallucinations. I will go and have a wee lie down and some vitamins .…

What’s your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

The cliff walk at Culzean Castle down the Ayrshire coast from here; wild sea, distant misty island on the horizon (Paddy’s milestone aka Ailsa Craig- halfway between Ayrshire and Ireland): tall grasses whisper in the breeze beside my bench beside the path, purple and red wild flowers dance, seabirds cry as they whirl overhead and dive off the cliff. There may be a seal or two on the beach. No traffic. Of a morning, usually no people either.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

A seaplane trip down the Exuma Cays in the Caribbean, obviously best if it’s not hurricane season. Lunch time? Calm azure blue sea and cloudless sky- solo picnic on a deserted island- iced fresh lemonade and today-caught prawns barbecued with crusty bread. Sitting under a palm tree with pink crabs scurrying past. Mind you, I couldn’t be completely solo- there would have to be a pilot since I can’t fly a plane! Tom Hiddlestone would do.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Not The Life Imagined is a darkly humorous, thought-provoking story of Scottish medical students in the sixties, a time of changing social and sexual mores. None of the teenagers starting at Glasgow University in 1967 live the life they imagine.

Beth Slater is shocked at how few female medical students there are and that some, like Conor Towmey, think they shouldn’t be there at all. Devastated by a close friend’s suicide, Beth uncovers a revealing diary and vows to find the person responsible for her death.

Struggling with the pressure of exams while supporting friends though disasters, Beth charts the students changing, often stormy, relationships over two decades against a contemporary backdrop of Free Love, the Ibrox Football Disaster, the emergence of HIV and DNA forensics. In time, indiscretions surface with dire consequences for some. A Ten-Year reunion is a watershed: devastating crimes past and present are exposed.

Relevant to present-day narratives concerning mental health and #MeToo, this award-winning novel (runner-up in the Constable Award 2018) has wide appeal and already has attracted 5 star reviews (see below).

Thank you Anne for joining us on MTA! I had a great time getting to know you and learning more about your debut book and upcoming book! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

Available from Amazon, Ringwood, and Waterstones.

UK Amazon:

US Amazon:

Connect with Anne:

Email: [email protected]

Website and blog:

Facebook @annepettigrewauthor


Twitter @pettigrew_anne

Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

***** Superb ***** difficult to put down

***** Cracking read ***** such a great book

***** A Must read … ***** a whirlwind of wit and emotional ups/downs

***** Entertaining tale ***** a really good read

***** Up market rite of passage *****a good picture of sexual discrimination

***** The light and dark lives of medics  ***** A great read, super pace

***** Medics with a twist ***** A compelling read ….

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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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