Today I welcome Scottish debut author Kevin McAllion to the blog. Kevin’s book Moristoun was published at the end of March and is available now from Austin Macauley publishers. Links to Amazon, Waterstone’s and other stockists can be found on www.moristoun.com
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Dundee but now live in Glasgow with my wife Thanyalak and daughter Jennifer. Since 2000, I have been working as a sports journalist for a variety of newspapers in Scotland, with the exception of an 18-month spell in Thailand where I worked as an English teacher in 2002-2003. I now work full-time as a sub-editor for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. In my free time, I run the website rhesuspark.com, which is probably the world’s only spoof on-line monkey park (although such a claim can’t be made with any great certainty in the increasingly bizarre online sphere).
What inspired you to start writing?
I had always wanted to write a novel but usually abandoned projects after two or three chapters because I couldn’t see where the book was going. With Moristoun I came up with the ending first and kind of worked my way backwards. I was then given the motivation to get the book finished when my wife fell pregnant and I saw my future free time rapidly disappearing. Thankfully, I managed to get the first draft done just before Jennifer arrived in early 2013.
Tell me about your journey to publication
After Jennifer was born, it took me another year to go back through the book and rewrite bits I wasn’t happy with. I then googled several literary agents and publishers and sent off emails to them. One of the publishers, Austin Macauley, expressed an interest and asked to see the first three chapters. They then requested the full manuscript and after looking through that they offered me a deal in summer 2014. The book then went into production and was finally ready to be unleashed in March 2016.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Moristoun is an island where Scottish people are sent to after they have died by suicide. The main character, William Buchan, has been there for a couple of centuries and finds out he might be able to move on if he helps save Scots in modern society from suffering the same fate. He takes one of these suicidal Scots, James McSorely, back to Moristoun to work as his legal assistant in a bid to rebuild his self-esteem but things take a dark turn when McSorely falls for the only other mortal on the island. Moristoun examines Scottish identity and also the journey each of us has to eventually take to reach enlightenment.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Moristoun sounds Scottish but it’s really a play on the latin word for death ‘mortem’, town of the dead.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I was at work for most of the day but before and after work I was on social media trying to drum up interest. It was exciting to finally get the book out there and the response online was great. I’m having an official launch on May 20 at Waterstone’s in Glasgow so that will be more of a celebration.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Not really, I have some ideas for a second book but don’t have enough time to start it properly. I’m thinking of writing a book that involves an internet troll taking on an Elvis impersonator. At the moment all my free time is spent trying to promote Moristoun and keeping my online simian empire ticking over.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Probably The Incorrigible Optimists’ Club by the French writer Jean-Michel Guenassia. It’s a coming of age story about a teenager growing up in Paris in the 1950s and 60s. He ends up befriending a group of exiles from behind the Iron Curtain who have ended up in France for various reasons. They all meet at a chess club and the novel switches beautifully between the backstories of these fascinating people and the boy’s own experiences.
What are you reading just now?
I’m reading the The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Star. It’s a non-fiction book about the French serial killer Joseph Vacher who murdered 14 women in the late 1800s. It’s also about the birth of forensic science and it’s pretty fascinating stuff so far. Well worth checking out.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I only really read paperbacks as too much of my time is spent staring at a screen in work. I usually get a few chapters in before bed but now my daughter has started nursery I can start getting a bit more done during the day.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I have a website up and running for Moristoun at www.moristoun.com plus a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Moristoun/ and a Twitter account @Moristoun. I also have a personal twitter @kevmcallion. You can visit rhesus park at www.rhesuspark.com and talk with its chief executive David Alsatian on twitter @rhesuspark.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Probably Jimmy Rabbitte Snr from Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy. They were the books I loved most as a teenager and he always had the best lines in them. He has a great sense of humour about things and is surrounded by a large, loving family. What more can you ask for? My favourite book is The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass but I don’t think I would like to be Oskar as it must be pretty grim to stop growing as a three-year-old.