I am delighted that TORQUIL MACLEOD is joining me on my blog today for his Blog Tour. Torquil's latest book - Murder in Malmö - was published on 23 July 2015.
So Torquil, what inspired you to write a book in the first place?
I came late to writing books. Though I spent 36 years as an advertising copywriter, I liked to write other things on the side. Initially, I wanted to be a comedy writer (I once had a joke on the Two Ronnies a thousand years ago). Then I wanted to be a screenwriter. Despite a couple of commissions, I realised that it was almost impossible to get a script onto the screen without an amazing amount of luck. But with a lot of unused scripts/treatments on my hands, I thought it would be an idea to turn one or more into books and see what happened. Meet me in Malmö came from a film treatment. Unlike the film industry (and advertising), there are fewer people to interfere with the creative process.
Some ideas just pop into my head and others come from what I see on TV or read about. (For example, every day I read thelocal.se, which is an English language Swedish internet newspaper). Other ideas come from ordinary conversations that suddenly trigger thoughts.
Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
Personal experiences are bound to influence you to a certain extent. There will always be elements of oneself – or what one has seen or done - that will find their way into the characters and their situations. And I’m is always borrowing bits from other people. Just ask my family and Swedish friends! My eldest son has had every flat he’s lived in in Malmö appearing in my books. Fortunately for me, he’s lived in quite a few. And we also have a very good friend who happens to be a Swedish detective, so I’ve pinched a lot from her as well.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
During my years in advertising, I had to work to constant deadlines, so I often work in quick bursts. And, for some reason, I’m more productive later in the day. That’s nothing to do with being ‘not a morning person’ but I do find numerous ways to faff around earlier in the day. Maybe they’re excuses not to get started. And having worked in noisy studios for years, I do like to have music on when I write as I’m not used to writing in complete quiet.
Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
I’m very much in the latter camp. I obviously have a rough idea of a plot in my head but often have no idea what characters will appear. Then I see what happens. If I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, hopefully the readers won’t either. Well, that’s the theory.
What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
Having written all my life, I find that I can sit down and write straightaway. Where I do struggle, temporarily, is usually after I’ve reached about a third of the way in. I seem to have done a lot of writing, but there’s still a lot more to do. It can feel a bit daunting.
Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
I love reading but I am one of life’s painfully slow readers, so I’m not fast enough to join a book group. My two favourite authors are probably George MacDonald Fraser and John le Carré. The former for the history and the humour, and the latter for the spies and the secrets. From le Carré I’ve learned the importance that interviews play in providing information and moving the action on. Only he does it far, far better.
You were born in Edinburgh and now live in Cumbria. What led you to set your Malmö series in Sweden? How much time do you spend there doing research?
My elder son has lived in southern Sweden (Skåne) since 2000. For most of that time he has lived in Malmö. We have made regular visits and now that we have a Swedish grandson, they are even more important. But each visit has given me the opportunity to visit locations that feature in the books and I’m always on the lookout for new ones. Swedish friends now take me on trips to source new locations they think might be useful.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?
'It’ll happen one day'
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Never give up. If you believe in what you’re writing, then pursue it. If you try and take the traditional route into being published, don’t be put off by the rejections of literary agents. Not one was interested in my books. If you self-publish on somewhere like Amazon, I think the three most important things (other than a good story of course) are the title, the cover and the price. Get that combination right and you’ve a fighting chance. So, study the market in your chosen genre.
And lastly, why should people read your Malmö series?
They are an easy read and I hope they’re an enjoyable diversion in an otherwise busy life. People may also discover a bit more about Sweden that they might not get from Swedish writers, who assume a level of local knowledge in their domestic readership.
About Torquil MacLeod
Torquil MacLeod was born in Edinburgh and brought up in Durham. His family originated from the Isle of Skye, where his Viking ancestors settled after one of their many raids. Hence the name Torquil, which is Scandinavian.
He was briefly a teacher and failed insurance salesman before becoming an advertising copywriter. He worked in agencies in Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle. He also spent five years with the Thomson newspaper group in Newcastle, which gave him the background for Ewan Strachan’s character in Meet me in Malmö.
Between 2000 and 2014, he worked as a freelance copywriter – Words That Torq - and divided his time between Cumbria and Tyneside, where most of his advertising/design clients were based. Since February 2014, he has concentrated on writing and e-publishing my novels. He still lives in rural Cumbria with his wife, Susan. They have two sons and three grandchildren.
Murder in Malmö
Published by McNidder & Grace Crime (23 July 2015)
A gunman is loose in Malmö and he's targeting immigrants. The charismatic head of an advertising agency is found dead in his shower. Inspector Anita Sundström wants to be involved in the murder investigations, but she is being sidelined by her antagonistic boss. She is assigned to find a stolen painting by a once-fashionable artist, as well as being lumbered with a new trainee assistant. She also has to do to restore her professional reputation after a deadly mix-up in a previous high-profile case. Then another prominent Malmö businessman is found murdered and Sundström finds herself back in the action and facing new dangers in the second Anita Sundström Malmö mystery.
Read my review here.
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