Friday, September 22, 2023

Call The Polis!


I think this was the first Bloody Scotland.
Jeff should recognise EVERYBODY in this picture!

I moderated a panel at Bloody Scotland on Sunday. I felt it was going to be rather a challenge. One of the authors has produced one book in 2014 and was struggling to get the next one written. The other author was a one book a year contracted person and the third author is a publishing phenomenon – it's difficult to calculate properly but I think he’s written 17 books since 2019. 

And this blog was prompted by – and I’m not sure this is right either - Amazon putting some kind of ban on authors who produce more than four books a day as they suspect they are written by AI. I am not saying in anyway that any of my lovely panellists do any AI stuff, but variation of their writing process was very interesting to hear. 

The first panellist was voted Scotland’s most creative person in 2002. He’s a best-selling musician, singer, songwriter now turning his hand to writing and worthy of a whole blog on his own, as he has collaborated with Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and lots of other writers in a project called 'In My Mind There's A Room', The writers wrote the lyrics, he wrote the music, all about a room that has played a big part in their life.

 More about that later.

Colin MacIntyre
Multi instramentalist and chart topping Mega being.
Known as The Mull Historical Society

The middle panellist, one book per year, was Marion Todd who did a guest blog for me – the one about St Andrews - just a few weeks ago. Her writing process, I think, will be very like mine once I retire from the day job.

JD Kirk is the real subject of this blog. Before we went on stage, the director of the festival said to him, 'I bet you get fed up with moderators asking you how you manage to produce so many books'. And he just laughed and said 'It's just what people want to know.'

JD Kirk is the pseudonym for Barry Hutchison who was a best-selling children’s author and to my mind he is 'an entertainer'. I said to him that when reading his book – the crime book - I had the feeling that the author was having a lot of fun when writing it and he agreed that he did.

Sold out, standing room only so pics are not good.

After his "Hollywood experience" ( More later)  he decided that he would turn his hand to deep and dark crime fiction, he was two pages in and started with very funny foul language and various bodily processes. Now these books are multi million sellers and the sales are only getting bigger. The queue of little old ladies wanting to hold his hand was extraordinary. ( They like the filth you know!!). The first question I asked him was 'Do you think Hoon should be sectioned?' I.e., does he think his main character should be placed in some kind of institution for his mental health. By law.  Interestingly, he laughed and said not far from it. And I suspect that in the more recent books, Hoon has retired from Police Scotland. His underling Logan has taken over as the main character so maybe there's a TV series in the offing as Barry himself said ‘There’d have to be the normal watershed at 9pm, then another watershed for Hoon and only Hoon.' Watching that you can’t complain about anything as the viewer would know what they had signed up for.

I asked the panel about their writing process. Colin, the talented musician admitted that he has yet to find his writing feet. He can write songs, lyrics and poetry, that’s an instant and immediate process for him. Books? He finds that more difficult.

Then, Marion said she thinks about the book in the morning while out with the dog. Does displacement activity in the afternoon, then drags herself to the computer around 4 pm to start writing.

I suspected Barry was going to say something different, and he didn’t disappoint. He writes while on a treadmill. He works out ( unintentional pun) how many words he must do before publication and makes sure he does that amount per day. He converts words into steps, 10 000 steps on the treadmill equals x number of words. Like Victoria Beckham, he works with a keyboard shelf over the treadmill and types away. A graph charts his progress. He loves his graphs! And his spreadsheets.

An audience member asked them about research.

Colin said there had been a light plane crash on Mull, the pilot’s body took a long time to find. He has taken that well known fact and used it as a basis for his new book. So, in some ways, he didn’t want to know the whole story so didn't do any more research into the subject. Marion spent three months researching a very interesting way of killing somebody…asked the son of a friend who asked their professor who asked an expert, emails back and forth honing the process.

Standing room only.

Gordon Brown and Colin MacIntyre ( Multi talented being)
With the latest album

Barry/JD- he has more facial hair now.

Barry/JD/Him anyway

As it came to Barry’s return, the audience gave a little titter… I guess your approach is somewhat different I suggested. Oh yes indeed he said, I just strangle and stab folk, what research do you need to do with a knife and a bit of rope. Four books a year. At least. Makes you think.




His Hollywood experience: I’m not sure of the exact book that was picked up, but it was for 5–7-year-old, called something like Charlie Chumpy and Mr Mumbles. Charlie was a wee boy, Mr Mumbles was a Mummy who had his lips sewn together (yes it was kids’ book). Hollywood bought the rights, thinking of making it into a tv programme. At the first meeting, he was told that they wanted changes, to make it into a film; Charlie was now a 17-year-old goth/vampire and Mr Mumbles was now to be an inert gas.

Yes, an inert gas.

The film has never been made. Funny that.

Have a good week!



  1. I love this post, Caro, not only for its great tone, but because I am always fascinated by the way other writers work. I can attest from my many years here that the "Hollywood" story is typical and that it's best to just take the money and run.

    1. I think he did just that, and seven years later, he's still taking the money and running...well treadmill walking in his case!

  2. Yes, I do recognize everybody in the photo from that glorious get-together...though please don't ask me to recite their names. However I do have one question: Whatever happened to that John Grisham fellow?-Jeff

    1. I think we were all at Toronto that year as well as Bloody Scotland. Such larks ,as the English would say...

  3. Very fun post! But now you've got me thinking about a treadmill desk works and it could possibly do (not much, I know me) for both my step and word counts!