I've always written. At the age of six or seven, I would get sheets of A4 paper and fold them in half, cut the edges to make a little eight-page booklet, break it up into squares and put in little stick men with little speech bubbles, and I'd have a spy story, a space story and a football story.
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The first piece of advice I would give any writer is to read a lot and to read widely. Firstly you start to realize what's out there and what isn't out there. Publishers are looking for stories that haven't been told before. Reading other people can also improve your own writing. I love reading poetry even though I wouldn't think of writing it. A great poet can say in two lines what it takes me a whole novel to express. If I've learned from any kind of writing, it's poetry - and the lesson is concision. What can you leave out and the reader will still get the message?
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This was the winter of 2008/9. Work was ongoing to reinstate a tram system in the city. A lot of people couldn't see the point of trams and many more disliked the disruption. Streets were closed off. There was almost a sense of 'apartheid' as the roadworks made it difficult to move from New Town to Old Town and vice versa. Added to which, the weather was fairly grim. And the banks looked ready to implode.
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Witches never existed, except in people's minds. All there was in the olden days was women and some men who believed in herbal cures and in folklore and in the wish to fly. Witches? We're all witches in one way or another. Witches was the invention of mankind, son. We're all witches beneath the skin.
At the time, most bodies worked on by anatomists were cold indeed. They were brought to Edinburgh from all over Britain - some came by way of the Union Canal. The resurrectionists - body-snatchers - pickled them in whisky for transportation. It was a lucrative trade." "But did the whisky get drunk afterwards?" Devlin chuckled. "Economics would dictate that it did.
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From this height the sleeping city seems like a child's construction, a model which has refused to be constrained by imagination. The volcanic plug might be black Plasticine, the castle balanced solidly atop it a skewed rendition of crenellated building bricks. The orange street lamps are crumpled toffee-wrappers glued to lollipop sticks.
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I love short stories - reading and writing them. The best short stories distill all the potency of a novel into a small but heady draught. They are perfect reading material for the bus or train or for a lunchtime break. Everything extraneous has been strained off by the author. The best short stories pack the heft of any novel, yet resonate like poetry.
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I took the first James Kelman novel, 'The Bus Conductor Hines', home to my dad. I thought, 'My dad will like this; it's written in Scots.' But my dad said: 'I can't read that.' He was reading James Bond and John le Carre. That was part of what attracted me to crime - the idea of getting a wide audience.
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I started writing novels while an undergraduate student, in an attempt to make sense of the city of Edinburgh, using a detective as my protagonist. Each book hopefully adds another piece to the jigsaw that is modern Scotland, asking questions about the nation's politics, economy, psyche and history ... and perhaps pointing towards its possible future.
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A lot of writers, especially crime writers, have an image that we think we're trying to keep up with. You've got to be seen as dark and slightly dangerous. But I'm not like that and I've realised that I don't need to put that on. People will buy the books whether they see a photo of you dressed in black or not.