Stirling Observer

Author’s Gothic tale harks back to the past


“It is set at a time when the British Empire was at its height, and Scotland was an engaged partner in the enterprise — yet a sense of Scottishne­ss persisted and competed with ‘North Britishnes­s’.

“Added to that is Edinburgh, with its Old Town/New Town, Georgian British/ Mediaeval Scottish, rich/poor schizoid personalit­y.

“I also thought the whole thing is so pertinent to the debate we’re having right now.

“I sometimes think I write about the past to make sense of the present.

“Added to all of that is that it was just wonderful to delve into such a rich, dark and Gothic atmosphere.”

Craig is looking forward to attending this month’s Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling in person, and is delighted to again be in the running for the prestigiou­s McIlvanney Prize.

His novel ‘The Ghosts of Altona’ – part of a series featuring Hamburg detective Jan Fabel – won the accolade six years ago.

He said: “Bloody Scotland is going to be my only ‘in-the-flesh’ festival this year. I feel truly honoured to have appeared so frequently on the McIlvanney longlists and shortlists— and to have won it back in 2015.

“Authors are an insecure bunch – or maybe it’s just me – and it is so great to get that validation.

“Added to that is the fact that Bloody

Scotland is great as a ‘support network’– I’ve had so much encouragem­ent from fellow writers and it’s great to catch up with them there.”

He cites a variety of influences from the greats of literature to contempora­ry writers, including George Orwell,

“I am interested in people—as all writers have to be—and I like to explore the historical and cultural background­s of my characters, my locations, my period settings.

“And, of course, sometimes you just happen to see or hear something that triggers an idea.

“Years and years ago, I was on a train and heard a group of women looking at photos of a party.

“One of them complained jokingly about being at the edge and cut off, saying: ‘Story of my life—always on the edge of other people’s photograph­s!’

“In my novel ‘Blood Eagle’, the killer sends an email to Fabel and declares: ‘I have spent my life on other people’s photograph­s. Now it is my turn at the centre.’”

•For more details on this year’s ‘hybrid’Bloody Scotland festival, between Friday September 17 to Sunday September 19, go to: www. bloodyscot­

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