Category Archives: Chris Longmuir

Hooray for Read a Book Day! #amreading #amwriting

Hooray for Read a Book Day!

Hooray for Read a Book day! Here in North America, it’s our Labour Day weekend, so we can extend our “bookish” holiday into another full day of reading enjoyment.

Hooray for Read a Book Day!
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

What’s your preferred medium for reading? Are you a fan of ebooks or do you prefer print, either paperback or hardcover?

And then there are genres? Which do you like to read? Crime? Thrillers? Horror? Romance? Historical? Or a blend of all of the above.

I’m lucky in that being an author, I’ve met authors from other countries around the world – England, Scotland, Australia, France, the US, and back here at home in Canada.

I write in a number of genres, but my favourite is romance. You can see my books here. To find out more about any particular title, click on the cover and you’ll be taken to the book’s page where you’ll be provided with the description and buy links should you be so inclined to purchase.

possibly a title or two you might be interested in?

My brand “where fact and fiction meet” stems from the fact I take real events and spin fictional stories around them, changing place and characters’ names to protect the ‘guilty.’ 😉

Now before you think this blog post is all about me, I’m going to introduce you to two authors you might not have heard of before.

I’ll start with Chris Longmuir. Chris and I first met virtually in early 2001 when she contacted me asking permission to use a photograph. We met in person later that same year and see each other as often as possible.

Another is Wendy H. Jones. I’ve not known Wendy as long, but she Chris and I make up the Princesses of Pandemonium. While their books are crime – gritty, humourous or historical – we have a great time when we get together.

Here we are outside the Old Town Jail in Stirling, Scotland.

And inside one of the cells.

I hope you enjoy Read a Book day, and maybe even discover some new-to-you authors.

National Book Lovers Day

Think this girl will get through that stack of books today?



Sunshine Blogger Award Nominee

sunshine blogger award

Sunshine Blogger Award

I’m thrilled to be selected for a Sunshine Blogger award by fellow author, Jo Lambert.

This Award allows bloggers to celebrate other bloggers who are creative and bring positivity to the blogging community.

Part One of the challenge is to answer the questions Jo has sent me.

Part Two is to nominate a further 11  bloggers and send them my own set of 11 questions. My questions for them are at the end of this post.

Jo’s questions for me

What makes me happy?

I love curling up with a blanket and a book on a cold day. Add a mug of hot chocolate, and it’s absolute heaven.

What is my favourite holiday destination, and why?

Scotland hands down, but with my many trips to Vieux Québec, it’s running a close second.

If I could ask one question of a historical figure, who would I choose, and what would that question be?

Bram Stoker. Finally, put it to rest was it Cruden Bay or Whitby that inspired him to write Dracula. Both places claim it was them. I prefer to think it’s Cruden Bay and the ruins of Slains Castle on the north-east coast of Scotland.

Sweet or savoury – what’s my favourite dish?

Savoury, definitely. I don’t eat a lot of sweets. Anything Indian as long as it’s not too spicy, or a Sunday roast with all the trimmings works for me.

If I could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

Somewhere in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, close to where my father was born. I was twelve when he died and, at that age, not interested in my roots. When I got old enough to embrace my heritage, I regretted not doing it sooner.

What is my favourite colour?

Blue, although if you looked at the history of the colour of cars I’ve owned over the years, you would think red. Blue in all of its shades is my favourite of all. It reminds me of clear skies, the rivers and oceans and being outdoors.

What is my all-time favourite movie, and why?

The Guns of Navarone. Yup, a war movie. I think it’s because my Dad served in WWII, and I love to read books set in that era.

How would I prefer to spend your weekend? Trekking in the Brecon Beacons or a relaxing spa break?

Trekking. If I’m wandering about in the Brecon Beacons, I’m not far from Scotland, where I can do more hillwalking.

If I could go back in time, would I have chosen a different career, and if so, what would that be?

I think it would still be something in the financial field, although after having done payroll for over thirty years, I’m not sure what area. Maybe something completely different so I wouldn’t have “auditors” periodically. 😉

Are you happy with the name your parents gave you? If not, what would you have chosen?

I got my name from my mother’s favourite character in the movie Gone with the Wind. Back when I was born, there weren’t many girls around with that name. I think that’s cool. My father wanted to name me Heather, but I’ve never seen myself as a Heather. So at the end of the day, I’m Melanie Heather Ann Robertson (happily married to a King) and love it.

Who is my favourite actor/actress, and why?

I love Maureen O’Hara. I should say loved since she passed away in 2015. The characters she played were larger than life, spunky, yet could be tender and loving. My two favourite movies she starred in are The Quiet Man and McLintock!

There are my eleven questions answered, now to move on to the next part.

The eleven bloggers I nominate are:

  1. Joan Y Edwards
  2. Chris Longmuir
  3. Beverly Stowe McClure
  4. Maggie Wheeler
  5. Rosemary Gemmell
  6. Ali Bacon
  7. Sandra J Jackson
  8. Jennifer C Wilson
  9. Suzy Turner
  10. Dr. Bob Rich
  11. Lizzie Lamb

My eleven questions:

  1. If you won the lottery, how would you spend your winnings?
  2. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
  3. PC or Mac. Which camp are you in?
  4. Which is your favourite blogging platform? WordPress, Blogspot, etc.
  5. What is your favourite summer past-time and why?
  6. Do you prefer print or ebook and why?
  7. What is your favourite food and why?
  8. Are you a fitness freak, couch potato or somewhere in between?
  9. Share a single photograph that depicts who you are (adventurous, laid back, etc.)
  10. You have the chance to take a once in a lifetime train trip. Which one would you choose and why?
  11. When you’re watching TV, do you prefer sitcoms or dramas and why?


#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 22 Kelso to Broughty Ferry


Sept 22 – Kelso to Broughty Ferry

Castle and a Cold War Bunker, too


Jeff, our host at Duncan House, and his black lab joined the group of folks in the dining room. He apologized profusely for not remembering me (actually, putting the name with the face). With the number of people who stay in his wonderful Georgian B&B, I’m not surprised, nor was I offended.

After a hearty breakfast, including porridge, we set out. Shortly before we left home for Scotland, we received an email telling us that Craigmillar Castle would be closed until Sept 20th. The picture of the property included in the Historic Scotland email intrigued me and it being after the 20th, and the castle being close to (if not in the ‘burbs of Edinburgh) so en route to Broughty Ferry, the satnav was programmed to take us there.

I ended up driving Monty further into the city than I wanted thanks to roadworks (as in a humungous hole) in Craigmillar Castle Road. So I had to drive by that end of the road, follow the diversion signs … AND ignore Satnav Sally.

Two school buses (not like our North American ones) parked back to back on opposite sides of the car park. No way on earth Monty would fit between their snouts.

I parked sort of on the edge of the road and we strode to the ticket office/gift shop. “One concession (aka senior), one adult and toilets,” was the buzz phrase of the day. He stamped our “zero charge” receipt with the combination we needed to gain access to the facilities and off we went.

Sept 22
Craigmillar Castle
The entrance to Craigmillar Castle
The entrance to Craigmillar Castle inside the outer curtain wall
Sept 22
Don standing by the yew tree inside the inner curtain wall of Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Me standing by the yew tree inside the inner curtain wall at Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Stairway to … at Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Sign indicating the direction of the wine cellar

My favourite place! I’ll even do the spiral stairs to get there… 😉

Sept 22
Spiral staircase leading to the wine cellar
Sept 22
Sign describing the room. Note the windows on both sides of the fireplace and the stonework on the mantle

Years later, the windows have been filled in but the fireplace remains.

Sept 22
As the room looks now
Sept 22
One of the massive fireplaces
Sept 22
Me standing inside the fireplace

The school children were amazed that in two different towers of the castle there were bathrooms. One group called over to the other, “we’ve got a loo!” and the other replied “So do we! We have a loo, too!”

Sept 22
View from the castle ramparts
Sept 22
Craigmillar Castle from the highest level you can access

The view from the castle ramparts is amazing. The clear weather made it easy to see and recognize North Berwick Law (we’d seen it last year on our way to Dunbar and on the train to Edinburgh).

Sept 22
View from the castle rampart – the visible hump in the center of the background is North Berwick Law
Sept 22
Salisbury Crags
Sept 22
Busted taking a photo
But so was someone else
But so was someone else…

Driving towards Craigmillar Castle, we had spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat but no place to pull over for a photo op. I was chuffed to bits to get this view from Craigmillar’s ramparts.

Sept 22
Edinburgh Castle on the left and Arthur’s Seat on the right

As we approached the Forth Road Bridge, the first of many signs for Scotland’s Secret Bunker popped up. It had been a possibility on previous trips and we happened to have the time, so decided to make it a reality this trip. Canada has the Diefenbunker (which we’ve visited) so we needed to compare the two locations.

Imagine a Cold War Shelter capable of running the country from under an innocuous farm house? Now that the cold war threat is over (or is it) things aren’t so secret anymore.

Unfortunately, the roads leading to it aren’t so smooth, so again the buzz phrase when we bought our tickets was “One concession, one adult and toilets” but this time I added “and not necessarily in that order”.

Sept 22
The cottage that the bunker “hides” under
Sept 22
Page from The Courier
Sept 22
Inside the bunker
Sept 22
Barracks room inside the bunker
Sept 22
Bulletin board with related photos and articles
Another bulletin board
Another bulletin board
Sept 22
The chapel
Sept 22
The switchboard
Sept 22
A place to take selfies… or of each other
Sept 22
A place to take selfies… or of each other
Sept 22
A “rat” on the conduit
Sept 22
Military vehicles outside

Finally, we reached our destination for the night. When I booked, I thought we’d get the same room as last year but this time we got one on the ground floor at the front of the hotel (corner of Queen Street and Claypotts/Westfield Road). Finally, a place where we didn’t have to lug everything up at least one flight of stairs!

Sept 22
Our room at the Hotel Broughty Ferry
Sept 22
Our room at the Hotel Broughty Ferry and our champagne waiting for our arrival
Sept 22
In the bar at the Hotel Broughty Ferry where we had our evening meal

Tomorrow morning, we’re catching the train in Dundee to Edinburgh where we’ll spend the day with our good friend (fellow author and crime writer), Chris Longmuir.


DEVIL’S PORRIDGE by Chris Longmuir #authorinterview

devil's porridgeWelcome back to Celtic Connexions, Chris. I see you’ve brought your latest novel with you. Can you tell us about Devil’s Porridge?

Devil’s Porridge has been on my radar to write since 2008, but I kept putting it off, mainly because other things got in the way, like winning the Dundee International Book Prize in 2009 which meant I had to concentrate on my contemporary crime novels, namely the Dundee Crime Series. So, Devil’s Porridge had to take a back seat for several years. But it’s always been niggling away at the back of my mind, demanding to be written. We authors are slaves to our books and characters.

The book is a historical murder mystery set in Britain, during the First World War. I have mixed real events as well as fictional ones into the story. For example, I start off in East London with the massive munitions factory explosion which almost obliterated Silvertown. How could I resist an event like that, it made a great start to the story. The secret service plotline features Captain Vernon Kell and William Melville who actually did exist and were part of MI5, and the visit to Gretna by King George and Queen Mary did take place on 18 May 1917, although my assassination attempt is purely fictional.

I suppose you could describe Devil’s Porridge as a murder mystery with bits of sabotage, spying and an assassination attempt thrown into the mix. I must warn you there are quite a lot of characters in Devil’s Porridge, and varying subplots. I should also say I write in a multi-viewpoint style in a modern fashion rather than a historic one. So you won’t have to cope with any outdated language. And, for those readers who like to delve into the history behind the book, I’ve included a historical endnote.

Did this book require you making a trip to visit the locations used in your book or were you able to get everything you needed online?

This book needed a lot of research. I stumbled across information about Gretna and the munitions factories when I was researching the origins of women police. Did you know that the Ministry of Munitions (a UK government department) contracted with the Women’s Police Service to supply women police to patrol and work at Britain’s munitions factories? So, my initial research originated in Joan Lock’s excellent history of the origins of women police ‘The British Policewoman’. After reading that I sought out other books, and did a lot of online research, both about women police and munitions factories.

I also visited Gretna and Eastriggs where the main action takes place. Unfortunately I couldn’t access the ground the munitions factory occupied because it is owned by the MOD (Ministry of Defence) and no one is allowed access. Goodness only knows what they do there! However, they have a fabulous museum in Eastriggs, also called Devil’s Porridge, and the secretary allowed me to access the archives.

I also had to do research on the Belgian situation during the First World War, because Kirsty teams up with Beatrice, a Belgian refugee. And because I have Irish revolutionaries working as navvies at Gretna, I had to research the Irish situation and the Easter Rising of 1916. I also delved into how German spies operated at this time, and the handlers of my German spy were real people based in Antwerp. I could go on and on, the research was a massive task.

This book is set, two years (I believe) before The Death Game so Kirsty has yet to arrive in Dundee.  Is she a member of the Women’s Police Service in Devil’s Porridge?

Yes, Kirsty joined the Women’s Police service when it was formed in 1914. Did you know that the women police were initially voluntary organisations formed by suffragette societies when they gave up their militant activities at the start of the war? There were actually two different sets of women police at this time. The Women’s Police Service, and the less militant Women’s Patrols. Kirsty was in the Women’s Police Service which was contracted to police the Gretna munitions factory. The agreement was signed in October 1916, and at its peak there were 167 policewomen serving at Gretna. I have included details of the different organisations in my historical endnote.

The title is unusual. How did you decide on Devil’s Porridge? Is there a meaning behind it?

Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, visited the Gretna munitions factory in 1916 and wrote an article based on this visit, which was published in the Annandale Observer. You have to understand that Gretna Munitions Factory was a vast place. Nine miles long and two miles wide, and they built two new towns, Gretna and Eastriggs, to service it. At the Eastriggs end the munitionettes mixed guncotton and nitroglycerine together, with their bare hands, into a paste needed for the manufacture of cordite which was the propellant used in bombs. The paste the munitionettes kneaded in lead drums was likened to a porridge consistency, and it was this that Conan Doyle named Devil’s Porridge. Here is what he said “Those smiling khaki-clad girls who are swirling the stuff round in their hands would be blown to atoms in an instant if certain very small changes occurred. The changes will not occur, and the girls still smile and stir their ‘devil’s porridge’, but it is a narrow margin between life and death.” The name caught my eye and I thought it would make a great book title. As I said before there is also a museum with this title so they must have had the same thought I did. If you are ever in the Gretna area you really must visit this museum, it’s something special. Here is the online link for it

Do you prefer writing Historical Crime as opposed to your Dundee Crime Series?

I really don’t have a preference. I like writing both contemporary and historical, it’s the crime and the mystery I find intriguing. I’ve read a lot of crime fiction over my lifetime. I like the darkness of Scandinavian crime fiction, and I find the American and Canadian style of writing has more action and suspense than a lot of traditional British crime fiction which seems to be more cerebral. But on the other hand, I like the puzzle element of British books – Agatha Christie was superb at this style of writing. So, I think my crime fiction is a cross between the crime thriller, mixed in with the puzzle element. It seems to work, and readers seem to like it.

What’s next for Kirsty Campbell? Are you working on another novel featuring her?

I’m tossing up at the moment as to whether to write a Kirsty Campbell book next, or a DI Bill Murphy one. I have readers clamouring for both. But, be assured, both Kirsty and DI Bill Murphy will be back.

If you, or any of your readers are tempted by Devil’s Porridge, there is a description of the book on my website, plus a link to read the first chapter.

Thank you for having me, Melanie. It’s nice to visit Canada again, even though a virtual visit doesn’t let me explore your lovely town. I have fond memories of my last visit when I did the Thousand Islands boat tour, as well as the creepy witch walk in the evening.

Check out Devil’s Porridge on Chris Longmuir’s website

And while you’re at it have a look at Chris Longmuir’s blog


N is for Night Watcher #AtoZChallenge

Night Watcher

N is for Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir


night watcher

Blurb: (from Goodreads) A mysterious stranger arrives in Dundee, Scotland, with a mission to find a new Chosen One to punish. His inner voices guide him to Nicole, a ruthless business woman with a weakness for the husbands of other women.
One of Nicole’s paramours is found hanged and everyone assumes he has committed suicide. However, his estranged wife, Julie, knows better and blames his death on Nicole. Obsessed with the need to punish Nicole, Julie stalks her, unaware that there is another stalker, the deranged and dangerous Night Watcher.

Who will exact punishment on Nicole first?
What price will Nicole have to pay for her misdemeanors?
Will Julie’s mind games drive Nicole over the edge?
And what price will Julie have to pay for her obsession?

Only the Night Watcher knows!



D is for Dead Wood #AtoZChallenge

Dead Wood

D is for Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir

Dead Wood

Blurb: (from Goodreads) Award winning crime novel set in Dundee, Scotland, A mystery and detective story which is a combination of police procedural, and woman in jeopardy. Book 2 of The Dundee Crime Series, with the popular DS Bill Murphy.

Kara owes money to Dundee gangster Tony and takes to the streets to earn the cash. She narrowly escapes the clutches of a killer on the prowl, but stumbles across the bodies of his other victims. Hunted by the serial killer and the gangsters, Kara goes on the run.

DS Bill Murphy teams up with newcomer, DC Louise Walker in the murder investigation. But Murphy is heading for a breakdown and it is up to Louise to catch the killer.

One of the murder victims is the daughter of Dundee gangster, Tony, and he vows revenge. He is determined to mete out his own kind of justice to the killer.

Who will find the killer first? Tony or the police. And what will happen to Kara? In the end what kind of justice will prevail?

Buy Links

Dundee International Book Prize winner 2009

Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist. Her previous crime novels have won the Pitlochry Award, and the Dundee International Book Prize.


My wishlist for 2016…


and things I’m looking forward to this year


1.  My husband being cancer-free for a year. It’s been a battle since his initial diagnosis in 2013 so fingers crossed this is the year.

2.  Having the sequel to A Shadow in the Past accepted for publication. I know if I want that to happen, I have to get my skates on and get the synopsis and back cover blurbs done.

3.  Reading the 40 books I’ve committed to reading in the Goodreads 2016 challenge.

4.  Curling up with my good friend, Chris Longmuir’s, 2016 release which will knock 1 of the 40 books off the list *grin* She’s put it in writing that there will be a book out this year, so I’m holding her to that.

5.  Spending evenings with my hubby on our new reclining sofa being delivered on January 9th (doesn’t it look comfy?) in front of our new fireplace. We didn’t buy each other Christmas presents in 2015 but rather these instead.

6. Having my #NaNoWriMo project completed and released this spring… again this is something I have to commit to. It’s coming along so I’ll keep my fingers crossed (although that does make it rather difficult to type) and will need occasional kicks up the backside to keep me on track.

7. Another trip abroad?

Well those are things on my wishlist. What do you have on yours? I’d love to hear about them so leave me a comment.


#Scotland 2015 Day 10 – Day trip to Dundee

#Scotland 2015 – Sept 20, 2015

Today we were off to Dundee to wander the streets and see the locations my crime-writer friend, Chris Longmuir, used in her novels.

We decided to take the 10:34 train from Broughty Ferry into Dundee so we would have the entire day to see and do things. The only train that stops there on the return trip leaves Dundee at 17:22 so we’d have plenty of time and not feel rushed.

The station in Broughty Ferry is unmanned and not even a machine to buy your tickets before boarding the train. This meant having to purchase them after we got on. We chose the last carriage because that’s usually where the conductor starts coming through to sell tickets. And since you need your ticket to get out of the station, the idea (while somewhat appealing) to ride for free doesn’t work. Since we were only going one stop, it made no sense to try to find a seat so we stood. The conductor started toward the front end of the carriage then stopped, turned and headed back the other way. Hubby followed him and in so doing, found Chris. What were the chances of the three of us meeting on the train instead of trying to find each other somewhere in the station?

Our first stop was at the RRS Discovery. Being Sunday, Discovery Point didn’t open until 11:00 so we had some time to kill before we could purchase our tickets and tour the ship. RRS Discovery is mentioned in Chapter 1 of Night Watcher.

Warning sign on fence by the RRS Discovery

I’m not sure exactly where the underwater hazards are because there was no water. RRS Discovery was in drydock!

RRS Discovery

Once Discovery Point opened, we went in and bought our tickets. We bought the pass that would also give us access to Verdant Works (a former jute mill turned museum).

Before we toured the indoor exhibits, we found a table in the cafe where we could make the exchange… sounds sinister doesn’t it? Not really, I bought print copies of Chris’s books and she’d brought them with her. I got the books, she got the money and hubby got to carry the books in our ‘jute’ Aberdeen bag.

Chris ‘steering’ the ship
Don at the wheel
Dundee Law in the distance from the RRS Discovery

We walked up to the Overgate Shopping Centre where scenes in Chapter 1 of Missing Believed Dead take place.

Before we went inside, we saw the domed building Chris used in Night Watcher and the close across the street that graces the cover of the same book.

The domed building on the right is used in Night Watcher

I’m not sure who dressed the penguins but it looks like a wedding and bridesmaid dresses. Apparently, this happens frequently and their attire chances.

The penguins at Steeple Church

Once inside the Overgate, our first order of business was to find the EE store. I had bought a pay as you go sim card that came with what I was led to believe, a prepaid top up card when we were in Huntly for my unlocked iPhone but could never get the top up card to work. I had followed all the instructions from the packaging and on their website. Come to find out, the £10.00 I paid was only for the sim card and I had to pay another £10.00 to be able to use the card to top up the phone. That wasn’t how it was explained in the shop where I bought it so needless to say, I wasn’t best pleased. At least the kid working in the EE store was helpful but the whole experience left a bad taste.

We finished our tour of the shopping centre and headed off to the Verdant Works. In The Death Game, Kirsty comes here to see her father who worked at the mill.

Don and Chris near Verdant Works
Verdant Works

I was amazed at how soft the jute fibres felt. At one of the displays in the museum, you could feel the softened and combed strands. I thought I was stroking hair!

Chris told us that she worked in one of the jute mills for a time operating a spinning machine. She explained what you had to do if one of the strands broke to us and the interpreter working in this area.

Spinning machine
Sheriff Court

We walked by the Sheriff Court and the police station tucked away behind and made our way to The Howff – a cemetery that was used from 1564-1857. I love a walk through a graveyard and the older the better. This fit that bill perfectly.

Path through the Howff
The monument featured in The Death Game

You can get a feel for Chris’s historic crime novel, The Death Game, from the prologue.

Interesting stone in the Howff

The McManus Galleries were nearby so we wandered through the various galleries. The Making of Modern Dundee, Dundee and the World, and the Pictish sculptured stones were my favourites.

The McManus Galleries
Pictish stone on display at the McManus
Pictish stone on display at the McManus
Pictish stone on display at the McManus

We made a stop at Waterstone’s where I picked up a novel by another one of my favourite crime novelists and one I’d not heard of before returning to the Overgate with a stop for photos at the Dragon Sculpture

The Dragon Sculpture

and further up the High Street with Desparate Dan.

Desperate Dan

There were demonstrations going on in the City Square so we went over. One tent was set up with Raspberry Pi computers connected to weather stations. We had to try it out. Another was reading a weather forecast in front of the green screen which was recorded for the readers but those watching could see it live. It was primarily kids doing this and their performances were priceless.

On the other side of the square, a tent was set up with a display of computers over the years. Two of the ones that stood out to me were the Commodore 64 and the Commodore PET.

In another tent, you could get your photo taken with a Dalek but we didn’t bother, although I did get a photo of said Dalek before we moved on.

A Dalek

By now it was time to walk back to the railway station. On the return trip, we were able to get three seats together so it was nice to be able to chat about the day before having to say our goodbyes at the Broughty Ferry Station.

Author Interview with Chris Longmuir, Scottish Crime Writer

It’s my pleasure to welcome Scottish Crime Writer, and my friend, Chris Longmuir to Celtic Connexions. I can’t wait to find up what you’re working on now. So, shall we get started?


You’re working on another historic crime novel in the Kirsty Campbell series. What is the title? Can you tell us what this book is about?

I’m keeping the title under wraps at the moment, it’s quite distinctive, and I hope unusual, so I’d hate to see it on another book!

The novel is a murder mystery, of course, with a spying sub plot. It’s historical, set during the First World War, so I have a cast of characters that includes women police, a Belgian refugee, munitionettes, Irish revolutionaries, MI5 agents, I even give a walk-on part to the Prime Minister of the time, Lloyd George.

It starts off with the Silvertown explosion in January 1917. This is based on an actual event, the explosion of the munitions factory in Silvertown. It was catastrophic and destroyed most of the area (70,000 properties were destroyed or damaged), with the effects felt miles away, there was even damage across the river on the Greenwich peninsula where a gasometer was blown up creating a massive fireball. This is the area where the Millennium dome is situated. The Silvertown explosion was an accident, although in my book it is something much more suspect, and sets the scene for a spy chase which leads us to Gretna Munitions Factory on the border of Scotland and England.

The Death Game was set in 1919 after the Great War. This book is set in 1917 during the action. Would you consider it to be the prequel to The Death Game?

That was certainly my intention when I started this book because it was intended to be a Kirsty Campbell novel. However, my characters often have different ideas to the ones I plan for them, and at the moment, my Belgian refugee, Beatrice Jacobs, is jostling for the top spot. She is a very interesting character, and I think I may give double billing to Beatrice and Kirsty. I will just have to see where they lead me.

What motivated you to depart from your contemporary Dundee Crime Series to historical crime?

I actually wrote The Death Game before I started the Dundee Crime Series, but I had an unfortunate experience with a publisher who contracted it. The publisher made so many demands for changes that the book became almost unrecognisable as the one I’d written. And, of course, as a new writer at the time I was anxious to please and thought they knew what they were talking about. So, I made the changes they requested, and in the process destroyed the book! When I came to my senses I did my best to get out of the contract, which fortunately had an expiry date, and put the book in the bottom drawer where it languished while I wrote the Dundee Crime Series. That series has proved to be very popular with readers, but I always had a niggle at the back of my mind about the Death Game which I had so successfully destroyed.

I decided to resurrect The Death Game, but because it was in no fit state to be read by anyone following the editing changes I decided to rewrite it from the beginning rather than mess about with it again. The book is now how I wanted it to be, but the style is different to that of the Dundee Crime Series, which is multi-viewpoint. The Death Game is much more focused on Kirsty, but my new Kirsty book, the one I talked about earlier, is more like the Dundee Crime Series in style, because it is also multi-viewpoint. But that is simply the result of my writing style having changed as I became a more experienced writer.

Will there be more books in your Dundee Crime Series starring DS Bill Murphy?

Yes, there will be more of the Dundee Crime Series, DS Bill Murphy would start to feel neglected if I didn’t pay him some attention. However, the conundrum will be, how I divide my time between DS Bill Murphy, and Kirsty Campbell.

You published a non-fiction book last year based on the blog posts you wrote as part of the Edinburgh e-book Festival. Can you tell us about it?


I did indeed. It’s called Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution. It’s a study of independent publishing, and the focus is on ebooks and the independent authors known as Indies, who write them. I examine all aspects of publishing and make comparisons between the traditional and the independent models, pointing out the pros and cons of each. In conjunction with this I look at crime fiction, how it has developed over the years, and all the different subgenres. One thing I found out while doing this, is that what we in Britain refer to as crime novels, are more commonly seen as thrillers in the US and Canada.

I include discussions of 71 books written by indie authors or published by indie publishers in order to assess whether they meet the standards we expect from traditionally published books, and I read every single one of those books. These books were by authors unknown to me, and the book includes authors who probably have no idea I’ve included their books.

Writing this book was completely accidental. I did a series of posts for the Edinburgh Ebook Festival in 2013 – I was the Writer in Residence for the festival that year – and a lot of people followed the posts. However, after the festival finished, the posts were no longer available online, and readers were looking for them. It was a fellow writer who suggested I take the posts and make them into a book. Great idea, I thought, the posts were already written, so it shouldn’t take long! Well, you’ve heard the saying “Famous last words”, that could quite easily have been attached to those thoughts of mine. For a start, the posts were far too bloggy for a nonfiction book, so they had to be rewritten. Still, the information was there, so that wasn’t too onerous. But the main problem was that there just weren’t enough words for a whole book. So that meant a lot more research, extra sections added, and a lot more reading of indie novels. Anyway, I won’t go into details, but the end result was excellent, and I was pleased with it. The people who have read it have been very complimentary, even going as far as to saying it should be compulsory reading for anyone who writes, or wants to be a writer.

I know it’s still early days, but have you noticed a significant change in your sales since the changes to the EU VAT rules?

I’ve done a couple of blogs about these rules. I did one aimed at readers for my own blog, here is the link to Paying More for your Digital Downloads? Here’s Why.  (Editor’s. note: I re-blogged this last Saturday.) The other one I did was for writers and it’s posted on the Authors Electric Blog site, and here’s the link to ‘EU VAT Changes Are Doing my Head In’.

These new rules have created havoc within the writing community, particularly for those authors who want to sell directly to readers through their websites. But apart from that, it’s pushed the prices of ebooks up in the UK and the EU countries. Where before, there was 3% VAT on ebooks (no VAT on printed books, they’re exempt), there is now 20% VAT on ebooks in the UK. That has had the result of pushing prices up for readers, and I think that is totally unfair considering the exempt status of print books.

I did worry that readers would think that we, the authors, were putting our prices up, when in fact it had nothing to do with us. However, because ebooks are relatively cheap in comparison to print books, the price rise is not extortionate. I think it’s added about 60 pence onto the price of each of my books. I know that some authors are saying their sales have gone down since the introduction of this tax, but I must say it doesn’t seem to have had any effect on my sales. I think that if a reader likes the way you write, and likes your books, they will still buy them. I know that if I want a particular author’s books, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.

However, I’m really sorry that readers are having to pay more, and I can only hope it doesn’t stop them buying books from their favourite authors, or those authors who have been recommended to them by other readers.

* * *

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Melanie. I’ve enjoyed the interview, and if any of your readers want to ask me anything, feel free. Your readers can also contact me through the contact page in my web site, and if they do, I promise to reply in an email.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Chris. I’ve enjoyed our visit as I’m sure everyone who stops by Celtic Connexions has, too.


You can follow Chris and find her books at the following links:

Dundee Crime Series New



Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Apple iBooks UK:

Apple iBooks US:


B&N Nook:

Nook UK:


Paying more for your digital downloads? Here’s why!

Re-blogged from Chris Longmuir, Crime Writer (with permission):

Paying more for your digital downloads? Here’s why!

If you live in the UK or any of the EU countries and are in the habit of buying digitally provided services, then this post is for you. It doesn’t matter what you buy, whether it’s music, ebooks, software, apps, films, games, screensavers, even crochet or knitting patterns, I could go on for ever, then you have been paying more for them from the beginning of this year. In fact, anything you download from the internet to your computer, mobile phone, android tablet or iPad etc, is now costing you more!

The reason for this is quite simple. It’s the new EU VAT rules on the supply of electronic services to the consumer, that’s you.

 You can read the entire post on Chris’s blog:  Chris Longmuir, Crime Writer.