I was born in Glasgow and studied English Literature at Stirling University before taking my Masters in Education at Newcastle University. I worked as a manager in Children’s Services in England where I wrote a book on leadership (Chance Favours the Prepared Mind) before writing The Machair Crow, my first novel. The sequel is called Dixon’s Revenge and part of it is also based out on the Dhiobadail moor on The Isle of Lewis. I live in Newcastle with Angela and our two sons.
I like novels that are fast-paced and action-packed. I wanted to cast Riley as a combination of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. To get an insight into Riley’s military background I read several autobiographies of undercover SAS army officers. I took their years of army training and undercover experience and built those into the character of Riley.
The Machair Crow is set in Newcastle, Port of Ness, Stornoway and the Dhiobadail moor on Lewis. Writing a novel set on Lewis comes with challenges, especially so soon after Peter May’s highly successful Lewis Trilogy. Peter May and I both come from Glasgow and we’ve both written about murders in Port of Ness, but I think that’s where the similarity ends.
Living in Glasgow and now Newcastle I appreciate the island’s beauty and the warmth of its people. In The Machair Crow I’ve tried to describe the beauty of Lewis from the perspective of an outsider (Helen Riley); an English woman who’s never set foot on the island.