Friday, March 1, 2024

Blood Runs Deep

Today's guest blog is from Douglas Sinclair, one of those general all round good eggs that exist in the crime fiction world. I think it's fair to say that his first book had a long and difficult birth, but the minute it was born, it rocketed to the top of the charts which is no more than it was due. 

He writes beautifully crafted police procedurals with a protagonist who has an interesting past, and a female sidekick who keeps him on track. 

And while I'm here apologies for missing last weeks blog but, I was in the emergency room for 7 hours because my mother managed to fracture her calcanium/heel bone - and that's going to be a whole blog in itself!

Oh and while Doug is loveliness personified, his wife ( even more lovely) has a horse ( the most lovely of all). The horse might be mentioned a few times in the blog.

                                                                       The Book

The man

The horse ( and the sister in law)

How does it feel to  be a published author?

Good, but in a lovely, quiet, way I didn’t expect. I struggle hugely with Imposter Syndrome, but I’ve decided to trust the judgement of people who know what the hell they’re talking about. Fellow crime fiction friends and associates, my agent Kevin Pocklington of the North Literary Agency, and Storm Publishing signing me to a three-book debut deal – they must know something about good writing. Doesn’t completely silence the wee sod, the Poison Parrot, but it does go some way to shutting it’s nasty little beak.


How did your launch go?

Well, I think. Good turnout, lots of laughs, lots of over-sharing on my part. No less than Gordon Brown hosted it for me and he did a superb job – kept me on track the best he could, stopped me rambling too much, mocked me, the usual. Audience was mostly friends and family, but no-one will know that from the photos, which just look like a great turnout. You can’t see that I locked the doors to stop people escaping.


                                  Two people who shouldn't be allowed out on their own

Was the horse invited?

The horse was invited but some gobby bar staff started cracking “jokes” about “long faces” and how he had “neigh chance of getting served” and she left in a huff.


How many dogs do you have?

Only one just now, plus a cat. I call them Wee Shite and Big Shite. Until recently we had two of each, but two of them left us, which broke us into millions of pieces (those who know, know).


Do you kayak?

Yes, but not often enough. Stretching out on my ‘Yak (it’s a SoT ‘Yak, look it up) and bobbing on a loch is my favouritest form of relaxation. I always plan to write while I’m on the water but it never happens, too busy eating Tunnocks Caramel Wafers and wishing my heart could always feel as soothed and contented as it does at those moments.


Does the silence of that help you plot?

I try to, but my mind usually wanders. I mostly review story progress, and sometimes get new insights, but it’s usually just fine-tuning.


Is this the first book you have written?

No. I wrote an 80k word novel which will never see the light of day, but at least served to demonstrate I had a scrap of talent for writing. I wrote 70k words of another book. The opening scene got rave reviews at Noir at the Bar, but it succumbed to the Poison Parrot and went nowhere. I started Blood Runs Deep far too many years ago but it at least felt likely to reach completion. After handing BRD to my publisher, Storm (probably the single terrifyingest thing I ever did), I looked again at unfinished book one and realised 40k of the 70k were pants and had to go. I finished that book in three months (the magic of a contractual deadline), and it needed only light structural and line editing. It’ll be published on 2nd May, and I’m terrified of what people think of a book I didn’t spend years polishing and tweaking.


You can be honest with us writers, how many rewrites/edits did it take?

I’ve been told my natural writing voice that “resonates” with people quite naturally. Book two took only one draft plus a high-level edit of my own, then Storm’s structural, line, and copy edits, and was considered “good”.


Tell us a bit about your main character- a troubled soul?

There’s a lot of me in Malkie, but he’s definitely *not* me. He knows self-doubt, and irrational self-loathing, and has felt like a square peg surrounded by round holes his whole life. He struggles with injustice – from school bullying, through brutalisation of ordinary people by a cold and venal society that causes the awful crimes committed against life’s most vulnerable, all the way up to atrocities inflicted on innocents across the world for the most venal of reasons. He’s learned to articulate how his mind thinks so unlike those around him, but he can bever “get it” and is repeatedly infuriated by anyone being treated unfairly through no fault of their own.


He’s overweight, scruffy, inappropriate, and has no brain/mouth filter – that much of him very much *is* me.


Why are Glaswegian so lovely?

Because people from Edinburgh are too terrified to tell them they’re not.


Do you think book two will be easier?

Book two, I was still buzzing from getting signed at all, after 50+ years of believing fundamentally it would never happen. Book three is like pulling teeth, which is topical because I’m currently suffering from a horrible wisdom tooth extraction. Sleeping Dogs, I chewed over and otherwise avoiding writing for years. Blood Runs Deep, I also spent years procrastinating and doing anything to avoid biting the bull by the horns and sending it “out there”. Book three, I have a contractual deadline and the Poison Parrot is in overdrive, constantly telling me there’s no way a complete flake like me can write a decent book in only a few months. Time will tell; it’s due out 4th September.


Do you know the end before you start?

I know the beginning, the thingy that turns everything on it’s head half way through and I have some idea of the ending although not who gets what and how. Mostly, I have a cast of character in my head who (whom?) I get to know during the writing, and I have some idea of what I want to happen at a very high level. Nothing as formal as a Premise or a Theme, but an idea of what it is about the story and the characters and the outcome that *matters* so much to me.


Douglas Skelton and I have a thing about ending a book with a avalanche started by monkeys- do you have a fantasy ending?

I do. Next question.


What's next for you?

I’ll continue writing about Malkie and Steph because I love them both like troublesome family members who always mean well but one keeps getting the other into trouble. Whether that’s via a second contract with Storm (my ideal scenario) or with another publisher or possibly even self-published – that depends on sales and reviews of books one and two.


                                  Gordon Brown and Doug

Does it involve the lovely horse?

I know of no “lovely” horse, only the huge, smelly, temperamental, equine money-pit that seems to have pushed me down a place in my wife’s affections (Sprocket the dog, Moody the cat, Indie the money-pit, me)


                               nd another photo of the lovely horse.

                               You can never have enough!



  1. I seem to remember clearly explaining that the horse is not "lovely". No-one listens to me. Not the dog . Not the cat. And certainly not the bloody horse. *sigh*

  2. A beautifully crafted police procedural? Sounds great!

  3. I'm sure your Poison Parrot has produced a cracker of a book. It's reassuring to see a scruffy, overweight gentleman of 50+ years being published. There's hope for me yet.