Margaret Kirk – Q&A

Margaret Kirk is the author of Shadow Man and What Lies Buried. Her latest novel In the Blood, was published by Orion on 28 October 2021.

Margaret kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about In The Blood.

Hi Janet, delighted to take part in From First Page to Last!

In The Blood is book 3 in my DI Lukas Mahler series. Lukas’s former boss at the Met is found murdered at Sandisquoy House on the bleak Orcadian coast. But why had he been living there under an assumed name? And what links his death to the notorious unsolved Witchfinder murders? As long-buried secrets come to light, Lukas confronts a past which turns out to be darker than he could possibly imagine.

2. What inspired the book?

I love Orkney and visit as often as I can. On one particular visit, we stayed in a holiday flat in a former manse on a very isolated stretch of coastline, and it was without doubt the spookiest place I had ever spent a night in.

I wouldn’t have said I was particularly sensitive to atmosphere, but the flat was on the top floor, and as I headed up the stairs I became increasingly uncomfortable. There was absolutely no way I’d have stayed there on my own! And when I discovered a walled garden, complete with moss-covered ‘Weeping Angel’ type stone statues and the cries of seals sounding in the distance, the setting was too good to waste …

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

Definitely a planner. I write a synopsis before I start each book – it’s just a road map, and the various points along the way will change as the book progresses, but I usually know the final destination I want to get to, and write towards that.

4. Having been through the process a couple of times, is there anything about the publishing process that still surprises you?

I’m always surprised about just how many different people are involved in the whole process of taking a book through from final draft to finished article – and how far in advance publishing schedules are planned!

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

This is where I should list healthy pastimes like running or going to the gym, isn’t it? Alas, I have good intentions, but … ! I have promised myself that I’ll try to learn to play the violin (started when I was young but gave up), so that’s a work in progress, and of course I read a lot.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

I’m going to cheat and pick a collection, like the Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes. I started reading the Holmes stories when I was very young, probably 8 or 9 (my father didn’t approve of actual children’s books) and was gripped by them from the start. Obviously I didn’t understand everything, but I knew Holmes was a fantastic character and was gripped from the outset – I suppose it’s where my fascination with detectives and crime fiction began.

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?

Gosh, that’s a hard one! I’d love someone to ask about dream casting if the series was ever picked up for TV, mainly because my answer changes all the time. Lukas is such a vivid character to me, but I don’t actually have a handle on what he looks like, but Anna is much easier. There’s a Scottish actor called Morven Christie who I think would be absolutely perfect in the role. So if any TV companies out there are interested …!

About the Book

Some cases are personal…

Tied to a derelict pier on Orkney, the bloated remains of a man bob in the waves, under the shadow of forbidding Sandisquoy House. The locals know him as William Spencer.

But DCI Lukas Mahler identifies him as Alex Fleming – his former boss.

Unable to step away from the case, Mahler tries to piece together why Fleming would retire to such a remote location. But the deeper he digs, the more disturbing the investigation becomes.

Seal bones, witches’ salve, and runic symbols appear everywhere he looks, ushering Mahler towards Fleming’s most notorious unsolved case: the ‘Witchfinder’ murders. And towards a dark and uncomfortable truth someone has gone to great lengths to bury…

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