Today sees the paperback publication of Present Tense (A Best Defence novel) by WHS McIntyre. Present Tense is published by Sandstone Press and you can order a copy here: Present Tense. I’m delighted to welcome the author to the blog today as he answers my spotlight questions.
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
My full name is William Houston Simpson McIntyre. I write under the name WHS McIntyre, otherwise there would be no room on the front cover for anything else! I’m a partner of the Scottish law firm Russel + Aitken. I’m married to my proof-reader, Gillian, and we have four sons who are my toughest critics. I’m originally from Linlithgow, but have lived in Falkirk for many years now. I started writing seriously about six years ago, when my kids realised how uncool I was and went off to amuse themselves.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. What inspired me to write The Best Defence Series was the realisation that after so many years as a lawyer working in criminal defence, I had a wealth of story lines just waiting to be tapped. Due to client confidentiality, fiction with the names and precise details altered to protect the innocent (and the guilty) was the only way to go. It also struck me that crime fiction is almost always based on a clever cop catching a villain (who is usually a serial killer). It seemed, to me at least, that there was far too little written from the other side of the criminal justice fence about the cops who catch the wrong person. After all, justice is a two-way street. It’s not just about convicting the guilty, it’s also about acquitting the wrongfully accused.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I entered my first book Relatively Guilty in the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012 and made the short-list. On the strength of that I self-published it on Amazon Kindle. After that I fell into the trap that I am sure many debut self-published authors find themselves, which is that publishers are reluctant to take on self-published books. In fact, when, in 2013, I submitted books 1 and 2 to my current publisher, the excellent Sandstone Press, I was told they did not consider self-published books in principle. As someone trying to run a law firm, look after four children (ably assisted by my wife, Gillian) and coaching youth football, it was hard enough to find time to write without all the carry on of trying to find a publisher, and so I continued to self-publish on Amazon until out of the blue, six books later, I was contacted by Sandstone last year.
One incident I did find amusing, sort of, was when I submitted the first book in the series, ‘Relatively Guilty’ to Harper Collins. I received a terrific response and thought I had it made, but the commissioning editor rejected the story because she thought two of the three plot-lines ‘could never happen in real life’. RG features three separate story-lines that come together and resolve at the end. One concerns a murder trial, one a counterfeit currency allegation and the other is about death threats made to the protagonist’s brother by a gangster. Only one of those was entirely fictional, and that was the one Harper Collins thought perfectly believable. The other two, based on actual events and cases in which I had been involved, were considered far-fetched. It’s true what they say, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
‘Present Tense’ is the latest in the Best Defence Series featuring criminal defence lawyer, Robbie Munro, who operates out of a small office in Linlithgow and usually finds himself in big trouble. As usual, the book features returning characters such as Robbie’s father, Alex, who is an ex-cop and despairs of Robbie’s chosen profession and also Robbie’s brother Malky, ex-professional footballer and a man not over-burdened by brain cells.
Robbie has his own views on justice which are not always compatible with the current law. The official blurb on the back of the book is: Robbie Munro’s back home, living with his dad and his new-found daughter. Life as a criminal lawyer isn’t going well, and neither is his love life. While he’s preparing to defend the accused in a rape case, it all becomes suddenly more complicated when one of his more dubious clients leaves a mysterious box for him to look after. What’s in the box is going to change Robbie’s life – forever. It’s a story involving political intrigue, parenting problems, a hint of romance and a helicopter crash.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Read it and all will be made clear!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, the next book in the Best Defence Series, the first (and hopefully final) draft of which is off to the publisher.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
My reading these days tends to be half a dozen chapters before I fall asleep. But I’ve just finished Kinky Friedman’s Crime Club by Kinky Friedman, which was a Father’s Day present from one of my sons. It’s a series of quirky crime-solving tales narrated in the first-person by KF and very enjoyable.
What are you reading just now?
I don’t read quite as much crime fiction as I used to because I’ve grown scunnered with serial killers and gore. At the moment (August 2016) I have just started reading ‘The Black House’ by Peter May, which I borrowed from a friend some time ago and really need to finish and give back. It’s good but I sense a serial killer looming.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I like the Kindle/bed combo best unless I am on holiday in which case it is Kindle/sunbed.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one and, truth be told, it would be Jack Reacher, a man who can solve any problem he faces, is unbeatabIe in a fight and irresistible to women. Unfortunately, I probably more resemble Horace Rumpole and we do share similar views on the criminal justice system, the Establishment and health foods; however, I’m going to opt for the super cool Philip Marlowe – on the proviso that I don’t have to get beaten-up quite so often he does.