As I have a VSB (very significant birthday) this week, I asked my pal to guest for me so I have more time to eat cake. He is the ‘Frankie’ of The Frankie Fruitie in the Cook Book. He escaped from doing a stint at the Killer Cook Off at Bloody Scotland by using the lame excuse that he was flying out to Bouchercon. My revenge for his lack of loyalty and good sense was to extract this blog from him. On pain of death...
Now to be clear….. this is Frank Muir…
it says something like 'Strategy is buying a bottle of wine when taking a lady out to dinner.
Tactics is getting her to drink it!'
But the Frank Muir blogging here is this one…
Although he is known by another name in the USA. T Frank Muir; and in the UK - TF Muir I think. Confused? So is he most of the time. I think it might stand for 'The Frank Muir.'
He has less money than his namesake, but at least has a pulse. The other passed away some years ago. Which begs a question... Frank (the crime writer) tells a funny story about his first ever event at The Edinburgh International Book Festival selling out. He was stunned. He couldn’t believe he was so popular, that being his first book and all. Then realised that the crowd were actually there to see the other Frank Muir. That gentleman had been dead for a few years so what were the public expecting to see?
As for what you are expecting to see? Be warned those readers of a sensitive disposition - this blog contains a picture of a crime writer wearing shorts.
Here is Frank explaining himself, a Glaswegian writing about the East Coast...honestly, can't trust some folk....
I am often asked why, having been born and raised and now living once again in Glasgow, I chose St. Andrews as the setting for my crime series, and I always give some version of the same answer – my wife, Anne, and I had driven up from Glasgow for a long weekend in St Andrews, a place we visit more than any other, and on a cold winter’s night, with not a cloud in the sky, while walking back to our hotel after an evening in the pub, we turned into a side-street and I just stopped. Maybe I’d had too much to drink, or my mind was filled with thoughts of romance, but I was simply struck by the setting.
Behind us lay the castle ruins; to the left, the cathedral ruins; and ahead, this ancient street as narrow as a lane, with old stone buildings either side, eerily shadowed by moonlight. Call it a moment of epiphany if you like, but as I stood there, it hit me with a clarity that stunned me that this place – the old grey town of St Andrews – would make a perfect setting for a crime series. And therein lay the seed of another idea, that I had thought of crime ‘series,’ and not a standalone story.
St Andrews Golf Course (well one of them!)
We entered the street, and I have to say that with thoughts of murder and mayhem churning through my mind, I clung closer to my wife, the pair of us keeping to the middle of the road. As we walked back, and my thoughts fermented, I came to see that St. Andrews had national recognition from Prince William attending the University, and also international recognition from the town being renowned as the home of golf. And with its sheer seaside cliffs, its stone harbour pier, black roiling seas and golden beaches, and of course that cold, wet, miserable Scottish weather blasting the town senseless, it seemed to me that here was a place just waiting to be written about.
A bit of the University
Mind made up, and eager to begin writing, all I needed was the name of my detective, which came to me in the space of a couple of heartbeats – Andy Gilchrist. Where the name Gilchrist sprang from I had no idea, and the ease with which it popped up had me worried that I must know someone by that name. But I racked my brain, probed my memory banks, talked to my wife about it, and came up with a blank. No, I knew no one by the name of Gilchrist, so Andy Gilchrist it was.
Now, all of this happened over twelve years ago, when Prince William first attended St Andrews University (at one time I feared he might be King by the time my crime series was ever published), but it was only this year that I finally came to understand where the name Gilchrist had come from.
great place to tumble a body off the cliffs!
I visited my cousin, Tom, whom I had not seen since the death of my mother sixteen years ago, and as long-lost cousins tend to do we talked about family and relationships therein. We both shared the same grandparents, and I mentioned that I planned to carry out a genealogical search on our family one day, although I knew I could never go back any further than our Grandpa John Rae on my mother’s side, because my mother told me that her father had been adopted at birth. Tom, who had read my crime series, looked at his wife, Jane, for a long moment, then back at me, and said, ‘We thought you knew.’ I must have given him a blank look, for he then told me that John Rae had been Grandpa’s adopted name, but that he had been christened John Gilchrist. Hairs really do rise on the back of the neck, and electricity really does zap up and down spines. I was a perfect example of horripilation full bore – I still shiver when I recall that moment.
However, the realisation that somewhere deep in the darkest canyons of my subconscious had lain some genetic memory passed down to me through my Grandpa John, now raised another more perplexing, perhaps even worrying, thought.
more golfers spoiling a good view, and indeed a good walk.
Another question I am often asked is – where do you get the ideas for your gruesome scenes in your crime novels? I always give an answer along the lines of: I read a lot, and I read a lot of crime, so I write what I like to read, and ideas just come to me. And the psychology of the criminal mind fascinates me. What drives someone to kill? How do they feel in the act of murder? How can they then live with it? And in the end, I say that I just make it up, that it is all a figment of my imagination.
The latest bestseller
Up until that meeting with my cousin, I had always thought the answer was simply that. Now I wonder if my gift for writing believable scenes of violence and all things gruesome is not just imagination, but the faintest recollections of genetic memory passed down to me from long dead relatives.
If so, I must be descended from a frightening, murderous lot. So now I worry that my murder scenes are not just figments of my imagination, but are based on fact. Maybe murder really is everywhere. I guess we will never know.
But it does make you wonder.
Frank in a denim kilt. Or is it shorts?
We may never know.....we might not want to!
We may never know.....we might not want to!
Caro Ramsay 4th October 2013 GB