Young Scottish Voices – Now Free

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Earlier this year I had the privilege of being invited to talk to a P7 class (11 and 12-year-olds) about my ideas on writing and my experiences of the world of books.

The idea was that I was to kick-start a project on a writing theme for them that would result in the publishing of a book.

As you can imagine, lives of schools are rather hectic and things became swamped by other priorities (there are always other priorities), but the stories were written and edited by the children and that was the main part of their work done.

Last week, it became clear that it was going to be something of a rush job to put it together, but put it together we did and I’m rather proud of the result.

You might want to find out why by following the link here and getting yourself a free kindle copy:  Skin Deep Young Scottish Voices

As you might imagine, the result is varied and it helps to know the children to understand how each of them has stretched themselves to the full.

What isn’t necessary in that respect is when you read some of the talent here and realise that the future of Scottish writing is in good hands.  Several of the stories will have you clapping, I reckon.

Once it’s not free, any money made will go to the class’s charity choice, Cancer Research.

It’s a funny thing being a teacher, or indeed to have any responsibility for children in whatever form that takes.

My belief is that the opportunity to see possibilities is hugely important, that celebrating achievement is vital and that taking things as far as they can in a positive way is where we should be looking.

This book is the end point in taking this particular class of children to its extreme and I hope they’ll appreciate it in years to come, either as an experience or as a memento of their primary school years.

I guess what I’m hoping is that you’ll jump on board to download, that you might read a little of it and that you might leave them a comment at Amazon (they may put it up as a blog post, also, so drop in).

I’d also like others in a position to be able to do so to take it on and get those ebooks out for their classes or groups.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to do something similar for my children’s school next year.  It’s very rewarding and I’d be happy to offer my services (and just in case it’s not clear, for the love of it and not for any financial reward).

It’s been a big job – if you think about taking it on, make sure you keep that in mind.  20 – 30 hours is what I’d guess at for this particular effort, not including class time.

So, that’s it from me.

I hope you like it.


Win tickets for Arne Dahl and Stuart MacBride

I have a number of positive aspects to my character and a number of negative ones. Some parts of me have a foot in each camp.

On the negative side (and there may be positives to this too), I’m impetuous, disorganised, a bit dyslexic, a little daft and have a heap of OCD (meaning many of my thoughts, once realised, just won’t leave me alone).

What I’m trying to explain is the reason behind this competition. 

I have to miss the Bloody Scotland Crime Fiction Festival because my wife and eldest child are going to the top of Ben Nevis and have booked trains and accommodation.  I was there last year and loved every minute.

It was on the calendar downstairs, and even though I could have gone to look at it, I couldn’t get away from the Bloody Scotlandprogramme.

I also thought of interrupting my wife who was reading a story to the kids and in a bit of a bad mood, but I couldn’t hold on, not even for 5 minutes. That’s a curse.

The result is that I have tickets I can’t use (I only got to booking a few before my wife emerged from the room only 10 feet away) and broke the news.

A couple of them were free.I have 2 tickets for the Radio Four Short Stories, Saturday September 14that 1.30pm with Stuart MacBride, Ann Cleeves and Malcolm MacKay.  I’ve been to radio recordings in Edinburgh and Hay and they’re wonderful things to be part of.

The other is for Arne Dahl on Saturday 14thSeptember at 11.45 am.  That cost£9.  It’ll be a sad miss.

I did consider taking my 5 and 7 year-old children in, but can just imagine the scornful looks of the audience as Mr MacBride described something rather macabre. I’m not sure I’d feel too good about them hearing it either.  (Ear muffs?).

I have no idea about the terms and conditions on the tickets (I could check, but that’s not really my nature, though I can hear the voice saying ‘it’ll only take a minute’).

So, to the chase at last.

If you’d like to win the tickets mentioned, what I’d ask of you is to answer the questions below and send them to me at

They relate to a couple of my books.

Can you tell me:


a)     In the novella Smoke, what Kind of car has Jimmy’s father been restoring?


b)     In Mr Suit, what colour is Archie’s canal boat?



I figure that it’s a good way to reward people who follow my work and a way to try and persuade people who might be interested but haven’t yet taken the leap to buy a copy.


How about 21st July as a deadline? From there, correct answers will go into a hat.


That sounds about right.


Before I go, I’m just going to mention that, though I’m upset that I’ll be missing these particular events, I’m more upset that I shan’t be touching base with some of the amazing people who’ll be there as participants and spectators. If you didn’t make it last year, I can heartily recommend it.


I’m also going to mention that it seems odd that I’m not saying ‘answers on a postcard to…’ How old do I feel?

ps If the team at Bloody Scotland anounce a creche, I may just have to answer the questions myself and take my chances.

pps if there are no entries, I’ll think of a way to help a charity benefit in some way.

Rock Bottom

A couple of my books (the paperback versions) are now at their rock bottom prices.

They’d be ideal Fathers’ Day gifts if it weren’t for the fact that they wouldn’t quite get there in time.

You can pick up the print version of Mr Suit via this link for a mere £2.99.

You can also get a copy of the Dunbar set The Rocks Below for a mere £3.79.

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Check out the reviews to see if they’re your cup of tea.

If they’re not, might I suggest some PG Wodehouse, or even a stab at the rather good My Friend Miranda (also as cheap as it can be at £5.93).

And in case you haven’t heard, I’ll be doing a short reading as part of the Wee Festival Of Words on Monday.  It should be great so keep checking in for more in case I actually remember to add something.

Happy weekend folks.