We have a real treat for you today! Debut author Dal Maclean is visiting Sinfully and talks about how she came to write her first book and the inspiration behind it. Mark has been raving about this book since he’s read it and there is an exclusive excerpt for you to read. Dal is also giving away an ebook copy to one lucky winner, so don’t forget to enter the draw.
Dal Maclean Talks About Her Book Bitter Legacy
Hi, my name is Dal Maclean and first of all, I’d like to say a big thank you to Sinfully for their kindness in having me today. This is my first blog tour, probably because Bitter Legacy (just released by Blind Eye Books) is my first book (!) so it’s all very new and shiny to me.
I’ve been asked what made me decide to write a book, and I keep trying to come up with an interesting and philosophical answer but... nope. I’ve always written in my job, but my training and experience are not in creative writing, which is a very, very different creature. One day (maybe I’d been drinking, or suffered a sharp blow to the head) I just… decided to give it a try with some fan fiction, because the type of relationship stories I personally wanted to read (genuine, character based angst! angst to the power of 10! believable Happy Ending!) weren’t all that common. I wrote on instinct. I had no conscious idea about writing rules. And somehow, I ended up here. Serves me right. Though I also blame Josh Lanyon for encouraging me.
I don’t know how it is for other authors, but I feel creative writing is almost like personal exposure (in a very pure way, people). It’s putting your imagination and psyche and your literary babies out there to be judged and liked or disliked... I’ve said before it’s a bit like performing in public and yeah… scary.
Anyway, some background about Bitter Legacy: it’s a police procedural set in London and the central inspiration came from an actual court case in Britain a few years ago. A real life criminal. I shouldn’t give the game away by talking abut them in any detail at this point, but the idea of them stuck in my mind and scuffled around, until I’d written the basic story. The relationship dynamic in the book was also one I wanted to tackle, and that may actually be one of the toughest parts of the story.
The idea for the central character, Jamie, came from a few similar British public- school-educated guys I’ve met. On the surface there’s a strong sense of duty and honour, wonderful manners, a training to appear supremely confident, even arrogant, but underneath, I found, as riven with insecurity and uncertainty and shyness as anyone else. Possibly their emotional repression made them even more innocent, and less prepared for complications.
The book’s other characters just kind of manifested on the page and settled in. Except I’m pretty sure I’ve met Detective Sergeant Alec Scrivenor in a pub at some point in my life. Or maybe I just wish I had.
My writing peccadillos – well, I’ve always had a major thing about character motivation and logic as a reader, and it’s carried over to writing. I have to see a believable, logical reason for a character to do something, and preferably that logic comes from his, or her, own nature. That, along with plot holes, is my bête noire. I can spend days I don’t have working out plot holes and believable motivation and obsessing over something no one is ever likely to notice. Deadlines? Hah! I laugh at deadlines! (well, not really but…)
I was incredibly fortunate that the manuscript was picked up by Blind Eye Books to launch their new mystery imprint One Block Empire, I knocked it around with my editor (the frankly brilliant) Nicole Kimberling for almost a year and in the process learned a bit at last about writing rules (with a break to have Dengue Fever and move from one continent to another. That was all me btw, not Nicole).
The thing about writing a police procedural/ romance (as I discovered the hard way) is that you’re really almost writing two genres. I learned there’s a mystery structure and there’s a romance structure, but this is a hybrid. I wanted to try for as close as possible to a 50/50 balance, but that’s hard. Ideally you need to give the police work/mystery room to grow, but also allow the romance enough time to create believable investment on both sides, and attempt to make that relationship interesting too. One can easily overwhelm the other, or get in the way, and then it becomes a different animal. It’s not a model you see often in ‘mainstream books’, possibly because they’re too smart to try. Nicole’s and my own alcohol bills will stand testament to that very real truth.
In any event, I really hope that anyone who reads Bitter Legacy enjoys it or at least finds it a bit rewarding. And thanks for listening!
Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean
Author: Dal Maclean
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Release: 4th October 2016
Genre: M/M (murder / mystery)
Detective Sergeant James Henderson’s remarkable gut instincts have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector. But the advancement of his career has come at a cost. Gay, posh and eager to prove himself in the Metropolitan Police, James has allowed himself few chances for romance.
But when the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, all that changes. His investigation leads him to a circle of irresistibly charming men. And though he knows better, James finds himself enticed into their company.
Soon his desire for photographer Ben Morgan challenges him to find a way into the other man’s lifestyle of one-night stands and carefree promiscuity. At the same time his single murder case multiplies into a cruel pattern of violence and depravity.
But as the bodies pile up and shocking secrets come to light, James finds both his tumultuous private life and coveted career threatened by a bitter legacy.
::: MARK’S FULL REVIEW :::
“After reading the first chapter I was shouting from the rooftops with joy! A masterful style as the author plays her reader like a puppet with her easy, professional and well rounded narrative. Don't miss out on reading THIS BOOK!”
“Naomi’s interested in you,” Ben murmured, warmly conspiratorial. “I can tell.”
James sighed. “She’s not exactly my type, is she?”
“Well…” Ben shrugged and loosed a shit-eating grin. “I don’t know if you’re bi, do I? Or…whatever. I’m just trying to get you some action.”
Get him some action? Fuck, he must seem pretty pathetic.
“I had a girlfriend when I came out to my father,” James volunteered. He remembered with painful clarity the exact expression on Ellie’s face as she’d sent him off on his great adventure, the grief of hopeless, unrequited love. “If I were bi…I’d probably have been in love with her.”
Ben regarded him carefully. “But you’re not?”
James’s mouth twisted. “No. I’m not.”
He took a sip of his drink, sensing Ben’s frowning attention fixed on him. He glanced up, and their gazes locked and held for too long. Too long to be comfortable. James’s pulse began to speed up, then to pound.
“She’s right, you know,” Ben murmured almost absently into the breathless silence between them. “You really are something.”
Somehow James found a smirk to paste on, to show he hadn’t been taken in at all, but he became aware of something, some last wary defense, slipping away, and he felt like a tiny ship caught uselessly in the tractor beam of Ben’s charm.
James’s phone, lying on the table in front of him, screeched through the moment, and James jolted in place as if someone had shaken him awake.
It took him a second or two to fumble it into his hand. He stared at the number on the display with apprehension.
“Alec?” James checked his watch. It read just before ten thirty.
“You’re on, son. There’s been another one.”
James blinked twice, sure he’d misunderstood. “You mean…a fourth…?”
“Aye. That’s what I mean. It’s like the fuckin’ twilight zone. They’re comin’ in twos.”
James sucked in a heavy breath. “Where?”
“Ah just got a heads-up on a 999. A woman found in a car in Flood Street. Severe blow to the head. She’s hangin’ on though.”
“That’s a few minutes from here. I’m on the King’s Road.” James could feel the adrenalin rush hitting, shooting through his veins.
“Well, get yer arse down there then. The HAT boys are at Earls Court wi’ Mulligan. I’ve sent Barry an’ Ken to this ane, tae set things up, but they’re still on the way. I dinnae think even the response car’s there yet. Look…you get there as soon as you can, aw right? Get the lie of the land. Herself is on the way too.”
“Okay. Thanks, Alec.” James closed off the call and turned to Ben, who’d been staring at him with frank fascination.
“Call out,” James said, already on his feet and shouldering into his jacket.
“Ooh…has there been a murder?” Steggie stood excitedly to let him out. Glynn and Naomi were gazing up at James with the same awe as if he’d just whipped off his clothes to reveal a superhero leotard beneath.
“And you have to go.” Oliver made no attempt at regret.
James ignored him and focused on Ben.
“I don’t know when I’ll be home. Could be a couple of days.” It occurred to him only as he said it how domestic it sounded.
“I’ll keep your slippers warmed,” Ben said. Then, more urgently, “Hope it works out, Jamie.”
Steggie gave James an encouraging pat on the back as he moved away. “Good luck,” he called, echoed by the raucous good wishes of the rest of the table. And James, for the first time since he became a policeman, found himself heading for work like a hero going off to war, warmed by an insidious sense of friendship.
But that didn’t stop him from elbowing his way brutally through the crowds packing the pub, until at last he’d fought his way to the door and shoved out into the freezing night air.
The moment he stepped out onto the pavement, he began to run.
Excerpt From: Dal Maclean. “Bitter Legacy.”
Connect with Dal Maclean
Dal Maclean comes from the North of Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time.
Enter the Rafflecopter draw for your chance to win a copy of Bitter Legacy.