Sunday, 11 May 2014

Introducing ... Bill Daly

MM - Hi Bill, welcome to May Contain Nuts. You have 7 words. Describe your new novel:

BD - Adultery, drug-dealing, murder in contemporary Glasgow.

MM - You have another 21. Tell us some more:  

BD - Psychopath on the loose, an assassination in Kelvingrove Park, a planned terrorist atrocity – all set against a background of religious bigotry.  

MM - Why write crime?

BD - The kind of books I most enjoy reading are humour and crime, so it seemed natural to try writing in these genres. 

MM - I don’t normally ask about a writer’s age - but I’ll make an exception with you – what age are you?

BD - I bet you wouldn't have asked that question had I been female! :-)   I've just turned 70.

MM - So, you are in your second flush of youth - what took you so long - and please tell us about your journey to publication? I’m sure a few of aspiring readers will be inspired by it.

BD - While I was working, I wrote humorous articles for various newspapers and magazines, but it wasn't until I retired that I found time to try my hand at writing novels. In fact,
Black Mail is the first novel I've had published by a conventional publisher, but I previously self-published a humorous spy novel, entitled The Pheasant Plucker.

I live in France and when The Pheasant Plucker went on sale in the local bookshops, the Professor of English at Montpellier University happened to pick it up and he was sufficiently impressed with the use of language in the book that he decided to make it a text book for his course in Applied Foreign Languages. The students have to study two books over the course of a year, so he decided to make it a 'Scottish year', the other text book being Ian Rankin's Fleshmarket Close.

At the end of the year, the students were asked to vote on which book they preferred (you may be able to infer the outcome, otherwise why would I be telling the story?). Now I would be the first to admit this wasn't a level playing field - it was more like a pitch with a forty-five degree slope: a light-hearted romp where the action takes place in the students’ home town, versus a gritty Edinburgh-based murder.
I suggested to my publisher that he might like to put a strap line of "Voted better than Ian Rankin" on Black Mail, but for some strange reason he declined. I think he was worried that Ian might sue.

MM - Just turned 70 and your debut (traditionally published) novel is just out. I'm sure a lot of aspiring authors out there will take great heart from hearing that. What’s next for Bill Daly?

BD -My publisher wants we to write a series of Glasgow-based crime novels featuring DCI Charlie Anderson.  The second in the series, Double Mortice, will be published early in 2015 and I'm currently working on the next one - so I'm being kept pretty busy.

MM - You live in France, why not set your book there instead of Glasgow?
BD - My first novel, The Pheasant Plucker, was set mainly in France, but Glasgow is the ideal setting for Tartan Noir. Noir Français somehow doesn't have the same ring to it.
MM - Oh, I don't know. Peter May said he couldn’t write about Scotland until he was living elsewhere. Is that how you feel?

BD - I've never felt like that. But the circumstances are different. It's more than thirty years since I left Scotland - and when I was living there, I wasn't doing any writing. But I get back to Glasgow three or four times a year, so in many ways I don't feel I have ever left.  

My thanks to Bill for his time. You can find buying information about Black Mail here for readers in the UK. And The Pheasant Plucker can be purchased HERE

Thursday, 1 May 2014

April Reading - Fishman, Pizzolatto, Zander, Burnet, Johnstone, Welsh, Iles and Daly

A Replacement Life – Boris Fishman (out in September)

Slava Gelman wants to be a great writer, but can't get past his job as a researcher at a New York magazine. Then his beloved grandmother dies, and his grandfather corners him with a request: to write a few Holocaust retribution claims that aren't quite true. Slava is reluctant, but when he gets into it, his semi-fictional accounts of a generation's real suffering turn out to be the best writing he has ever done - and a surprisingly wonderful way for Slava to reconnect with his family and his own roots. . A beautifully evocative, warm, witty and emotionally powerful debut novel.

Galveston – Nic Pizzolatto

From the creator of True Detective … Roy Cady is by his own admission 'a bad man'. With recently diagnosed lung cancer and no one to live for, he's a walking time-bomb of violence. Following a fling with his boss's lover, he's sent on a routine assignment he knows is a death trap. Yet after the smoke clears, Roy's would-be killers are dead and he is (mostly) alive.

Before Roy makes his getaway, he finds a beaten-up woman in the apartment, and sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that causes a crucial decision. He takes her with him on the run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas.

The writing has a clarity and lyrical quality that had me in awe. This is noir with a warm and beating heart. Loved it.

The Swimmer – Jaokim Zander – out in July '14

An ex- US soldier now living in Sweden is called to a late-night meeting with a former army colleague. Before his friend can explain why he called him out, he is shot by a sniper. And so sets off a cat and mouse chase through a snow and storm-bound Sweden.

The multiple viewpoints gave me some trouble at the start, but once I got my eye in the chase was on and I gobbled this book up like a starving man at a buffet. Apparently this book is everywhere in Sweden right now – come the summer, I expect it to be every bit as popular over here.

The Dead Beat – Doug Johnstone

We're in present day Edinburgh. Martha is on her first day's work experience on the obit desk, when the journalist who normally worked there phoned in his own obituary before killing himself while still on the phone.
There's a lovely slice of black humour right there to kick off this cracking read. I raced through this book about families, lies, secrets and revenge - quite possibly Johnstone's best book yet. More over at Crimesquad

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins – Irvine Welsh

First off, this book has got as much to do with Siamese twins as Trainspotting had to do with, well, Trainspotting. What it is, is a book about a personal trainer who goes just a wee bit overboard while training a client. Well, more than a wee bit, to be honest. She goes postal.

This is fun and funny and written in a way that only Mr Welsh can manage. Not for the faint-hearted, but then you knew that already.

Burning Natchez – Greg Iles

Its so great to see Mr Iles back with a book. This man tells a fantastic tale and if you haven't read him before, you should seriously sort that out.

We are in present day, Natchez which is south of the Mississippi and the sins of the past are about the crash down on a few of the locals. The book was inspired by a series of unsolved race murders during the 1960's and that harsh history is brought to life in this fascinating and utterly consuming novel. It's a bit of an epic at 788 pages – and I lost a Saturday and a Sunday to it. Quite honestly couldn't put it down. LOVED it. Full review over at Crimesquad

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau by Graeme McRae Burnet (pub date - 17 July '14)

The central conceit of this is that the “book” is a found manuscript, translated by the author, Burnet. It tells the tale of the disappearance of a young woman from a small town in France near the Swiss border and how one of the town's male inhabitants is affected by this event.

I am not an expert on modern French literature, but I have read a few crime novels translated from the French and Burnet has completely nailed the tone, colour and sly wit that I enjoyed so much from the natural French authors.

This is a novel that allows the story to unfold at its own pace, so not one for the plot hungry among you - but certainly one for those who enjoy a more measured and cultured read. 

The main character, Manfred Baumann is beautifully and convincingly drawn and you can't help but be drawn into his gradual disintegration. More over at next month.

Black Mail by Bill Daly

Last, but in no way least, we have a new boy on the crime scene giving us a satisfying slice of tartan noir. Along Glasgow's grim streets - according to Daly's vision – one can find an intriguing mix of sexual affairs, corrupt businessmen, revenge, incest, paedophilia, IRA sympathisers and the titular blackmail. Who knew? There's lots going on here and it's all very well orchestrated by Daly. A hugely enjoyable read and well worth your hard-earned.