Welcome to series 2 of Debut, where Charles E McGarry chats with fellow crime fiction authors about their journeys from bedroom to bookshelf. Here Charles speaks with the amazing Alan Parks about how he moved from a career in the music industry to the instant success of his brilliant debut, Bloody January. It is set in the gloriously grimy Glasgow of the 1970s, and we discuss how memory plays its part in crime writing.
Welcome to Season Two of Debut…
After being the subject of Season 1, this time Charles E McGarry chats with fellow crime fiction authors about their journeys from bedroom to bookshelf.
Here Charles speaks with the brilliant Denzil Meyrick (below) about how he turned to his home town for inspiration for his stunning debut Whisky From Small Glasses, and how his days as a Glasgow cop give his writing an authenticity and a profundity that are second to none.
Charles E McGarry has spent years trying to get his debut crime novel published. Finally, he found an agent – only to lose him within 48 hours.
How did he get here? And what does he do now?
How Charlie landed a book deal with the publishers behind Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series – without an agent. His new editor explains what attracted her to the novel and its lead character.
Just as his novel is being readied for print, Charlie makes an alarming discovery and has to go back to the drawing board. Once that emergency is dealt with, we take a tour of the Glasgow in habited by Leo Moran, the detective at the centre of The Ghost of Helen Addison.
‘It’s the kind of lake you could see a hand reaching out of…’
I follow the path of Charlie’s detective, Leo Moran, out of Glasgow and into the beautiful West Highlands of Scotland, on, it turns out, the Hogwarts Express. Kind of.
At Loch Awe, the inspiration for Loch Dhonn in The Ghost of Helen Addison, Charlie takes us to some of the locations he used in the novel. On the way, I learn a surprising amount about rhododendron.
‘The first review I ever got was also one of the worst – they said it was thoroughly unpleasant and horribly nasty’
Don’t feel too bad for Christopher Brookmyre – since that eviscerating review of his 1997 debut, Quite Ugly One Morning, he has acquired a huge audience for novels that combine classic thriller tropes with social commentary and dark humour.
Chris and Charlie talked about their shared experience working for newspapers, the benefit of getting out on the road and meeting your readers, and of course Chris’s own experience of being a debut crime writer.
Chris spoke to Charlie when he had just about finished promoting his brilliant new book, Want You Gone.
‘Murders are not solved the way we write about them in our books. But I try to be authentic were authenticity is possible’
Charlie met Val at the National Library of Scotland, in Edinburgh, about 30 years after she had been where he is now, awaiting the publication of a debut crime novel.
They talked about Val’s first steps on her journey to over 10m global sales, keeping it real in detective fiction, why Charlie really should get an agent and loads more.
Val’s latest novel, Insidious Intent, featuring Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, is out on August 24.
HAVE you ever wondered how an idea gets from a writer’s brain to the bookshelves of a High Street retailer? We were more than a little curious, so we decided to tell the story of Charles E McGarry, a writer whose debut crime novel – The Ghost of Helen Addison – will be published on July 6 2017.
The name on the cover will be Charles E McGarry. The guy in this series – we’re going to get to know him as Charlie. Along the way we’ll find out more about what it takes to get a great story into mainstream publishing, and what that means for everyone involved.
We’ll hear about agents found and lost; how one rejection note, among dozens of rejection notes, can hold the key to success; how your lead character is sometimes not quite the guy you think he is; and much more. The final episode will coincide with the actual publication of Charlie’s novel.
Over the last nine months, Charlie’s story has taken us to the wilds of the West Highlands of Scotland to Catholic cathedrals in Glasgow, and beyond.
I hope you enjoy listening to the series as much as I did making it.