I’m delighted to welcome Jackie Mclean back to the blog today. She has visited before to share #TenThings about herself (you can read that post here) and today she is stepping into my author spotlight.
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I live in Glasgow and as well as writing, I work full-time. My career background is varied and a little bizarre (I’ve been a government economist, a political lobbyist, and I’ve run a pet shop). I guess my career is like my writing – I like to jump from one thing to another, to try new things. On the writing front, I’ve just had my third novel published and have been actively involved in all sorts of crime fiction events such as Bloody Scotland, Newcastle Noir, Noir at the Bar Edinburgh, Crime at the Castle and Literally @ Newbattle.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always written for as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I was always armed with a book, paper and pencil (or, my four-colours Bic pen that I got by trading in my new school uniform to the rag and bone man, much to my parents’ horror…).
It was only in the last few years that I began to think about doing something with my writing other than keep it as a hobby, and the result was publication of Toxic in 2014. Nowadays, almost anything can spark off the inspiration for a new story – from eeriewigging on conversations on the bus, to throw-away comments at work meetings, to dreams, or things that are happening in the news. I currently have a notebook with the outlines for 22 novels, so I’m not going to be stuck for ideas for quite some time to come!
Tell me about your journey to publication
Well, it was long and it was short…. Long, in that it took me around 10 years (maybe more) to get round to finishing my first novel. This is mainly because, whenever I get halfway through writing a book, I tend to have a burning desire to write a shiny new one (hence the notebook with the 22 book outlines).
One day, my partner Allison suggested I pick one to finish. We both looked over three contenders, and decided Toxic was the one. Shortly after that, I entered it into the Yeovil Literary Prize, where it was shortlisted, and this gave me the confidence to work on it in a more serious way. As part of this journey, I researched the market and discovered how important it is to specify the genre you’re working in if you want to get your book published. Toxic, at that point, seemed most like crime fiction, and so I polished it up accordingly.
I then tried to find an agent, but after several encouraging but nonetheless rejections,I looked to independent publishers. It happened that ThunderPoint publishing were newly open for business, and when I sent in my draft of Toxic, they agreed to publish it.
At that time, social media wasn’t A Thing in the way that it is now, and opportunities to get yourself known in the bookish world were limited. If you’re looking to get your first crime novel published now, I’d say getting involved in crime fiction chat on social media is really important, and will give you that additional something to take to a potential publisher.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Run is the finale to a trilogy featuring DI Donna Davenport. The first book, Toxic, tells the story of a desperate race against the clock to locate the illegal storage of MIC (the toxin responsible for the Bhopal disaster in 1984), and the escalating conflict between Donna and her colleague DI Jonas Evanton. In Shadows, Donna is drawn into the the murky world of people smuggling and organ harvesting, while waiting for Evanton to unleash his revenge. He does this in Run, by orchestrating a series of incidents that bring the police force to its knees. If there’s to be any hope of avoiding further bloodshed, Donna has to decide whether to accept his terms.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
My partner came up with the title for Toxic (for years, I had it as The Arbroath Book…). The second book was about the shadowy world lurking just out of sight, and I originally called it Catching the Shadows, but shortened it to Shadows when I realised there would be a third book in the series, and thought it would be better if they consistently had a one-word title. The new book was called Book 3 until (you already know, don’t you?) Allison came up with Run as the title.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I work full-time and had run out of annual leave, so no celebration day for me! A week after publication, though, we did have a launch event at Waterstones, and that was lovely.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes – I’m giving Donna a well-earned break for a while, and I’m currently working on a brand new series featuring disgraced journalist Suzy Sangster and the difficult relationship she has with her is-she-or-isn’t-she-psychic cop sister.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
That’s a really difficult one to answer! I’ve recently finished listening to The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie on audio. The narrator was perfect for this particular book, and the story was engaging but also very calming. I listened to it while driving back and forth to work each day, and found it fascinating to imagine life in a part of the world I knew nothing about. It also helped me to think differently about some problems that were getting to me. So, while there are many books I could list as favourites in the past few months, this is probably the one that has affected me the most, and I have to admit I scoffed at the idea of listening to it at first, as I generally don’t like the idea of a story being told from the point of view of an animal. But it works.
What are you reading just now?
I’m re-reading Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres, which I first read a few years ago. It’s set in the part of Turkey that I know best, and in particular, what’s known as the Ghost Village. This is a town that was abandoned in the 1920s when its Greek inhabitants were forcibly removed in a so-called ‘population exchange’ agreed by the Turkish and Greek governments of the day. Both countries expelled the others’ citizens in an appalling act of ethnic cleansing – with chilling echoes further north in Europe only a decade later. The Ghost Village is one of my favourite places to visit, and when I went again a few weeks ago, I wanted a reminder of the bustling place it once had been. Hence the re-read of one of my all time favourite books. It’s a big book, and I’m still reading it…
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I love a chat on social media!
On Twitter it’s @JackieJamxx
I have an author page on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/WriterJackie/
And there’s my website (with the odd blog and free short stories) on https://jackiemcleanauthor.com
Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part in the blogtour. Run is published by Thunderpoint Publishing and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. You can order a copy online here: Run
From the back of the book
RUN THE GAUNTLET
DI Donna Davenport and her team are under pressure.
With the hunt on for the country’s most notorious cop killer, and an ongoing complex international investigation, the murder of a local thug during a football match is the last thing the police need.
But as more incidents overload the police, and fear brings vigilante mobs onto the streets, suspicion grows that the mayhem is being orchestrated.
CUT AND RUN
One man can make it stop. With the city heading towards chaos and disaster Donna prepares to abandon caution and the rules, even if it means she is ostracised by her own team.
About the author
Jackie writes crime fiction, and spies on people in real life for ideas and inspiration…
She lives in Glasgow and has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop in Glasgow’s Southside (ask her anything about pets). She currently works with East Ayrshire Council, where until recently her job involved frequent visits to Kilmarnock Prison.
Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd. The sequel, Shadows, was published in October 2017, and
Her third book in the DI Davenport series (Run) was published in October 2019.
Jackie has appeared at crime writing festivals Newcastle Noir, Crime at the Castle and Literally @ Newbattle, and regularly appears at Noir at the Bar events (including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Dundee and Dunfermline). She also forms part of the Dangerous Dames and Murder & Mayhem along with a number of other crime writers, and has appeared at events in libraries and bookstores across Scotland as part of these.
Until recently, Jackie ran the writing group at Waterstones Braehead, and has also run creative writing sessions with the men in Kilmarnock Prison.