Catriona McPherson is the author of the Dandy Gliver series which includes After the Armistice Ball, The Turning Tide and A Step so Grave. Her latest novel, Scot on the Rocks, the third in the Lexy Campbell series was published in ebook by Severn House on 3 August 2020.
Catriona answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Scot on the Rocks.
Lexy Campbell is a relationship counsellor from Dundee, currently a fish out of water in California, living at the Last Ditch Motel, where she solves crime with a motley crew of pals. This time, a beloved statue is stolen from the middle of town and one of its toes is sent back with a ransom note. Also this time, Lexy is dating again, post-divorce. I keep saying “this time”; this is the third book in a series but thankfully the first two have just been re-issued. SCOT FREE and SCOT AND SODA (in that order).
2. What inspired the book?
Having lived in California for seven years (I’m from Edinburgh), it struck me as ripe for comedy to think of a Scot trying to counsel Californians about love and growth and all that stuff that we Brits find so suspicious and Californians take in their sunny stride. That’s where the series came from. (Also, my US editor said “Give us a funny series” and publishing being what it is, I wasn’t about to say “no”.) Where SCOT ON THE ROCKS came from, particularly . . . I thought it would be a laugh if Lexy’s ex-husband’s horrible new wife Brandeee (it doesn’t really have three “e”s but Lexy pretends it does, because she hates her) went missing and Lexy was tasked with finding her. I can’t remember where the statue plot came from.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Ha! Here’s how big a non-planner I am. SCOT FREE opens on the fourth of July, as Lexy is waiting to go home to Edinburgh after her new life collapses. SCOT AND SODA opens at a Halloween party at the Last Ditch, with Lexy declaring she’ll never get mixed up with murder again. But why can’t she get the case of beer she’s dropped in the slough up again? What’s snagging on the rope? (Can you guess?) It wasn’t until I was wondering how to kick off SCOT ON THE ROCKS that I noticed the theme. So, since the theme is dating, I kicked it off on Valentine’s Day. Now, I’m all set: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Hogmanany, Hannukah . . . but there was absolutely no plan to start with.
4. Having been through the publishing process a few times is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
The similarities surprise me – e.g. what my husband calls The Big Early Wobble, which is when I come reeling out of my study wailing “I can’t do this there’s no book here I don’t know these people the story is dead it’s
flat it’s over” He draws a breath, but I cut him off “I know you’re going to tell me I’ve said this before. But this time is different.” Once he got me to write it down and sign it. Of course, he couldn’t find the piece of paper at the moment he needed it, next time round.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I garden, do yoga, cook and bake, watch films, go to the theatre. I love the beach and it still feels like a big swizz that although I have to accept that I “live on the west coast” I am actually further from the sea than it’s possible to get in Britain. And when I do go, the water is freezing. Bummer, eh?
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Yeek. That’s a terrible thought. Okay. Ummmm. A long one, definitely. I suppose a collected works is cheating? I’ll go for Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News then.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
What a brilliant question! I once got asked “What’s your writing motto?” and I blanked and felt like a chump. So, a bit later, when I was going to be interviewed (on a stage in a big room) I asked the interviewer to feed me that question and give me another crack at it. But then I forgot to dream up an answer and blanked again. She thought I was joking and kept pressing. What a pillock I felt that day. Oh my God – you know what? I’ve just realised I’ve started talking about this a third time and I still don’t know. Pantser extraordinaire, see?
About the Book
A community is devastated when the bronze statue of local legend Mama Cuento is stolen on Valentine’s Day. When Lexy Campbell arrives on the scene, a big bronze toe is found along with a ransom note – “Listen to our demands or you will never see her again. There are nine more where this came from”.
Then, Lexy’s ex-husband Bran turns up begging for help to find his wife, Brandee, who has disappeared. Lexy agrees to pitch in, but when she shows up at Bran’s house he has just discovered one of Brandee’s false nails and another ransom note with the same grisly message.
Are the two cases linked or is a copycat on the loose? Who would want to kidnap a bronze statue or, come to that, Brandee? And can Lexy put aside her hatred for Bran long enough to find out?