A lot of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and much of it uses the history and folklore. There’s just something about the misty landscapes and old buildings that speaks straight to my soul. Bloody Celts… we get all sentimental at the least wee thing.
I grew up on the West Coast of Scotland in an environment where the supernatural was almost commonplace.
My grannie certainly had a touch of ‘the sight’, always knowing when someone in the family was in trouble. There are numerous stories told of family members meeting other, long dead, family in their dreams, and I myself have had more than a few encounters with dead family, plus meetings with what I can only class as residents of faerie. I have had several precognitive dreams, one of which saved me from a potentially fatal car crash.
I have a deep love of old places, in particular menhirs and stone circles, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling in Scotland just to visit archaeological remains. Orkney in particular got inside and took root in my soul – Maes Howe haunts my dreams.
I’ve also been influenced by many Scottish writers. Stevenson in particular is a big influence. He is a master of plotting, and of putting innocents into situations far out of their usual comfort zones while still maintaining a grounding in their previous, calmer, reality. His way with a loveable rogue in Treasure Island and Kidnapped in particular is also a big influence. Other Scottish writers who have influenced me include John Buchan, Iain Banks and, more in my youth than now, Alistair MacLean and Nigel Tranter. From them I learned how to use the scope of both the Scottish landscape and its history while still keeping the characters alive.
But I think it’s the people that influence me most. Everybody in Scotland’s got stories to tell, and once you get them going, you can’t stop them. I use to love chatting to people, usually in pubs, and finding out the weird shit they’ve experienced. My Glasgow PI, Derek Adams is mainly based on a bloke I met years ago in a bar in Partick, and quite a few of the characters that turn up and talk too much in my books can be found in real life in bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews.
Newfoundland has settled into my head now and I’m setting a lot of stories here, but I keep going back to the homeland. I’ve recently finished a new Hebridean island horror novel, and a new Carnacki story set in Edinburgh, so the auld country isn’t done with me yet.
My most recent novel set back home was THE EXILED. Get it here.