January 15th, 2018

Any Skeletons in your Cupboard? by Keith Souter aka Keith Moray

An email from Isy is always welcome. Her missives are always interesting. Sometimes they are very exciting, but occasionally they really throw you. Like the one a few months back, when she asked if I had any skeletons in my cupboard?

I was startled. What did she know?

Then I read further and all became clear. She was doing some eBook deals with Amy Durant, the publishing director of Sapere Books and she wondered if I had the rights to any of my backlist of crime and western novels.

My westerns, which I write as Clay More and a couple of other pen-names have all been published in the USA and are ongoing, but my crime novels had been languishing in limbo ever since Robert Hale had been taken over by the Crowood Press. I went ferreting around in my cupboards and found Shaking Steve, the skeleton I use to demonstrate in my medical practice guarding the contracts on my titles. I had in fact reverted the rights on a couple of the novels, but Crowood Press still retained the others.

Isy put me in touch with Amy Durant and after a short exchange of emails we had a long chat on the phone. I didn’t expect her to be terribly interested in my novels, since I did not have all the rights and I wasn’t sure that she would want to publish just two of them. Yet as we talked, the possibilities seemed very bright, especially if they could be published as a whole series. All I needed to do was to seek a reversion of the rights from Crowood and then we could look at going further.

That was when Isy, literary agent extraordinaire, contacted Crowood Press and within the shortest of time we had the rights back on all five of my crime and on two of my historical crime novels.

Well, I waited with some trepidation when Amy set to reading, first the historical novels and then the crime novels. I was a delighted a short while later when she said that she enjoyed them all and wanted to publish them as eBooks and paperbacks. The first of them, The Gathering Murders is due to appear on March 1, 2018.

The Gathering Murders is the first in the Inspector Torquil McKinnon mysteries. It is set on the Outer Hebridean island of West Uist. Torquil, the youngest ever Inspector in Scotland is in charge of the smallest police force in the UK, consisting of himself, Sergeant Morag Driscoll his, Ewan McPhee his constable and the two special constables, the Drummond twins. Torquil lives with his uncle, the Reverend Lachlan McKinnon, who is known locally as the Padre. They share a passion for building and riding classic motorcycles and playing the bagpipes.

Yes, that is right, Torquil plays the bagpipes. Well, Holmes had his Stradivarius violin, so my Hebridean detective plays the pipes and rides a Royal Enfield Bullet around the island.

As a ‘method’ writer I have to admit that when writing the novels I often break off to get into the mood with my pipes. Unlike Torquil, who is a winner of the Silver Quaich, I am pretty inept. My late friend and teacher, a former pipe major in the Irish Guards used to say that at my worst I played like a constipated crow. At best I was only slightly better than ‘dire.’ Needless to say I am forbidden from playing my pipes when anyone is in the house.

The Padre is a sort of unofficial police consultant, who does his best thinking on the local golf course, where he eschews the modern metal clubs that he thinks make a noise like bashing an old milking can. Ever the traditionalist, he prefers the good old fashioned hickory woods and plays off a more than respectable 8 handicap. Like the bagpiping, when I need to write a golfing scene I hit the links.

So what is the first novel about? Well, it is subtitled Dead Men Tell No Tales. In fact, the men referred to are all writers. It is set during a Highland Gathering and Literary Festival on the island. You may have guessed – it begins with the macabre death of a poet.

My experience so far on this exciting journey with Sapere has been very pleasant. They built me a website and have already started promoting my novels. The covers have a forbidding, Rankinesque look to them, which hopefully will entice readers to seek out the skeletons in the West Uist cupboards by trying one of my novels.







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by Keith Moray


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