If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? I’d like to travel 500 years into the future to see if we’ve survived, as a species. Have we lived up to our potential, or failed to learn from our mistakes?
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? That’s easy; Blackbeard. I would love to ask him: “Where exactly did you hide all that treasure?”
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? A case of Talisker; the finest whisky in the world. A large box of Swiss chocolate.
And a boat for when the Talisker and the chocolate run out.
What was the inspiration for your current book? I live in an area that is not only stunningly beautiful, but is also incredibly rich in history. Within a twenty mile radius of where I live lie five historical battlefields. On many hilltops can be found the ruins of iron age forts that were built before the time of Christ.
Inhabited for thousands of years, many of the glens lie empty now, cleared of people during the evictions of the 19th century. In such places the past really does hang heavy.
I think “The Last Sunset” was my way of repopulating the empty glens; relighting the peat fires in the ruined houses, as it were.
Tell us a little about your current book, and where it’s available. “The Last Sunset” is a romantic, time-travel adventure set primarily during the Jacobite rebellion of 1746. The story is set during one of the great crossroads of history, and seeks to pose that great question of speculative fiction: What if?
The book is available from Amazon.com., Amazon.co.UK. Smashwords, Kobo, diesel and Nook.
How old were you when you wrote your first piece? I began writing poems and short stories while I was in the army. It was a way of alleviating the boredom, I suppose. Some of my friends would ask me to write poems for them to send to their girlfriends. It didn’t do much for my own love life, unfortunately.
What was it, and in what genre? The first piece of fiction I wrote was a horror story set in a particularly dark and foreboding forest near our camp in Osnabruck, Germany. None of the guys would go anywhere near this forest after dark. The place had such a forbidding atmosphere.
Only a few years ago I discovered that that forest was the site of a horrendous battle between the Roman Legions and local Germanic tribes. The idea that certain places can retain a powerful imprint from former times is something that’s explored in “The Last Sunset”.
What is one book everyone should read? The Last Sunset, obviously. This is a book that no home on this planet should be without.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Would you want to live in the only house on this planet without a copy?
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? A number of very kind reviewers have expressed the hope that a sequel to The Last Sunset is in the offing. That would be my next project.
One food you would never eat? Liver. I still have nightmares of being force fed fried liver for school dinners. Even the thought of it is revolting, nauseating, excuse me
Pet Peeves? School dinner-ladies who force future authors to eat fried liver.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? There is nothing quite like the flavour of good quality vanilla ice cream. Vanilla is one of the great natural flavours of this planet.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? The head says good wholesome porridge. The stomach would prefer bacon, sausage, eggs. Unfortunately for the stomach the head usually wins.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? Jamie Oliver, to cook the meal. Gordon Ramsay, to take care of the dishes. The other three guests would be school dinner-ladies. No prizes for guessing what their meal would consist of.
Night owl, or early bird? Night owl. I always do my best work when the rest of the world is asleep.
What inspired you to want to become a writer? That is a good question. I don’t think writing is ever a career path, or a vocation. I think it’s a compulsion. I think perhaps the urge to tell stories dates back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. I can envisage them, sat around a campfire, telling tales about the mammoth that got away.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. There has been a number of nice little ego trips; the BBC doing an article on the book, the local newspaper running a feature. The reactions of my nearest and dearest. Really though, my favourite moment was when the first copy of the book arrived by post. I remember holding it in my hand and thinking; “Yes!”
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? Around the world in eighty days by Jules Verne. I‘m a frustrated explorer at heart.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? As a young teenager I was bought a book about the stars written by the lovably eccentric astronomer Patrick Moore. I’ve had a passion for astronomy ever since.
What was your favorite children’s book? I remember as a child reading about Davy Crockett and the Alamo. I have no idea who the author was, but the story made a deep impression then; and still does now, if truth be told.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? There isn’t a particular song, however I love the work of the composer James Horner. I love what he has brought to films, such as Titanic and Braveheart. Now there’s a man who knows how to play with an audience’s emotions.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? I think it’s very important to be self-critical. We should always ask ourselves; is what I have written the best it can be?” Keep revising and rewriting until the answer to that question is yes..
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why? There have been few times in history when mankind has been free from war, disease or poverty. I’m a romantic optimist. I have to believe that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will live in a fairer and more peaceful world.
For myself, I would love to live at a time when man has discovered the means by which he could travel to other planetary systems.
If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why? Zeus, without a doubt. He was the head honcho; the boss man. Nobody messes with the boss man.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I love California; that easy, laid-back lifestyle is so appealing. My wife and I have been there four times. Like most Brits, though, in time I think we would probably miss the rain. Despite the climate, our roots are in the Highlands.
What is your favorite Quote? As Robert Burns said:- “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.”
Or, as John Lennon put it:- “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? I didn’t want to grow up. I always wanted to stay little. I’m still not convinced that growing up was a good career move.
How did you know you should become an author? I‘ve always enjoyed reading books; especially historical, supernatural and science fiction novels. Ultimately I became an author to write the type of book I would most like to read.
Who are your favorite authors of all time? There have been so many. Robert Louis Stevenson, Steven King, Isaac Asimov. My favourite is probably Ray Bradbury. His ideas are probably a little dated now, but his prose remains unique. He was the most wonderfully expressive writer.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? My characters are either composites of people I have known, or splinters of my own personality. So, yes, I do recognise myself in one or two of my characters; or perhaps more accurately, I recognise the person I would like to be.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? The day I left to join the army my father said; “Don’t follow the herd. Be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not.”
It turned out to be very sound advice.
Hidden talent? I’m a reasonable cook. Apart from stews and roasts and the like, I love baking cakes, sponges and bread. It satisfies that creative urge.
Favorite Food? I’ve often thought; if I was on death row what would be the last meal I would want to eat? For me the answer would be roast chicken with all the trimmings. Then for afters hemlock soufflé..
Favorite Candy? A really good quality Swiss chocolate. We’re back on that desert island again, aren’t we?
How do you react to a bad review? Fortunately most of the reviews I’ve had have been very favourable. One or two have been less so. If the review amounts to constructive criticism, I’ll try to take it on board. If I think it’s unfair I’ll simply disregard it.
If you were a bird, which one would you be? A golden eagle. We see them occasionally in the skies above Lochaber. They truly are magnificent birds.
I can’t do any better than quote Tennyson:
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls.
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Everything about that story embodies the spirit of Christmas.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?Probably a nice long cruise with my wife, to help recover from the heart attack I suffered on hearing the news I’d won a million dollars.
What do you do in your free time? Indoors I read and write a lot. When the weather’s good I love to camp, fish and search for Jurassic fossils on the beautiful Isle of Skye.
What’s your favorite season/weather? I live in a part of the country that receives more than its fair share of rain, so I love the sun. Having said that, I find Autumn wonderfully melancholy. I always feel a deep urge to gather berries, make jam, chop firewood. It’s the hunter-gatherer preparing for winter.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? With a glass of ten year old Hebridean malt that had been put by for a special occasion. Neither the whisky nor the occasion disappointed.
What is your guilty pleasure? Vanilla ice cream. I could eat gallons of the stuff .
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit? I love the Doctor Who TV series. The writing is always top notch; there’s always humour and pathos there; and who doesn’t love the idea of a benevolent Time Lord, travelling in space and time, battling the forces of evil?
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. His work retains a power and freshness that is extraordinary for something written in the nineteenth century.
Favorite places to travel? I love California. From San Francisco in the north to San Diego in the south, I could comfortably spend three months of the year there.
Favorite music? From the sixties The Beatles. From the seventies The Eagles. From the Eighties the new romantics such as Spandau Ballet and George Michael. The nineties onwards, the Scottish Gaelic band Runrig.