“Queen of the Week”




Welcome! Let me pour you some tea and we’ll get started. Please have a cucumber sandwich and help yourself to whatever you like! We have apricot lemon bread today…Where do you live? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in a tiny village at the foot of Loch Awe in Argyll, Scotland. There isn’t a shop or a school there, all we have is a small church and a village hall and of course the most beautiful views over the loch to the hills beyond.

The nearest small town is called Lochgilphead which has a few shops and the local High School but when it comes to getting the weekly groceries, I have to make a 1 hour drive along a winding road north to a busy little town called Oban where all of the Caledionian MacBrayne ferries sail from, heading the Inner Hebridean islands of Mull, Tiree and Colonsay.

I have lived around these parts since 1993 when I moved to the mainland from the Isle of Islay, which is famous around the world for its single malt whiskies.

I am head teacher at the local primary school where we have children from the ages of 3 right up to 11. There are only around 35 children in the whole school, so you can imagine we are really like one big family.

I’ve got two children of my own, both of whom I have also taught with the youngest moving onto High School this year. The eldest is just about to leave High School and wants to study singing and at the moment she works incredibly hard with Scottish Opera at the weekend.

As well as writing, I love music and I teach the choir at school and I volunteer one night each week at the local youth choir.

Are you a traditionally published or Indie author?

I’m an indie author and I really believe that people have never had a better chance to find an audience for their writing. Of course I would love to be taken under the wing of a publisher and get all the benefits that can bring but t the moment I’m more than happy to be in control of my own destiny! I enjoy making digital book covers and marketing so it’s just all part of the process for me. If you want to be an indie author then you have to be able to do more than ‘just’ write!

What are your hobbies? 

Writing is my hobby because as you can imagine, my day job is pretty demanding so I enjoy having time when I can go into my writer’s bubble and create stories that take me away from all of my responsibilities!

Tell us about your current book. What was your inspiration?

My current book is called ‘The Wrong Delivery’ and I am publishing it as a serialization. I just love reading crime fiction, especially the Scottish crime fiction of Stuart MacBride, Tony Black, Allan Guthrie, Douglas Lindsay and Russel MacLean but mostly, their stories have urban settings so it occurred to me that I should write a story set in rural Argyll because crime doesn’t just happen in the city!

I also like to get fair bit of humour into my stories if I can and there is something about the slower pace of life in Argyll and the islands that I just find quite funny in a charming way.

I the first part of this book Morna returns home after work and is confronted with a scene of horror and can’t find her husband anywhere even though his van is parked behind the house.

She eventually finds him, but not in a way that she ever expected!

One of the themes of the book is greed and this unfortunately is Morna’s weak point!


Chapter 2

Gordon loved delivering his fresh and smoked fish around the towns, villages and tracks of Argyll, getting to know all of his customers well and knew they all looked forward to his weekly deliveries and friendly banter. His fish van could be spotted rumbling down the rough roads and tracks by his customers who would also hear the familiar three blasts of the horn that got them up out of their chairs and heading to their doors. His chat up line, “Morning, my dear, what can I do you for today?” always got a giggle out of the old-dears. ‘Fishy Gordon’ had the status of a toy boy in the rural octogenarian community and his weekly visits set their hearts a flutter.

“Gordon, would you do me a wee favour while you’re here son…?” was a common request and kind-hearted Gordon had lifted many a heavy box, fitted several new light bulbs and even unblocked sinks as part of the service he provided to his customers. The fish orders were always prepared, as he knew what these creatures of habit would be asking for when he arrived. Mrs. McLean would want three fresh mackerel, Mrs. Gillies would ask for a nice wee bit of haddock, “not too much mind,” smiling up at Gordon, reminding him every week that she was a pensioner and commenting on how expensive fish was getting. He would smile back and stick in an extra piece without charging. Nothing was too much bother for our Gordon. He’d then move onto old Mr. Carmichael who always looked for some smoked trout pate that he could share with his big ginger cat, Phineas. As Gordon opened the back of the van, Phineas would eye him up, plotting a route to begin a raid on the fish. He never managed though as Gordon was prone to give him a fly kick up the arse when the old boy wasn’t looking.

On two mornings every week, Gordon would head off in the dark, driving to the sleepy wee fish market in the west highland port of Tarbert, a bright jewel of a place sitting around the shore of East Loch Fyne. Driving down the steep hill towards the harbour he would glance up at the ancient ruined castle that dominated the skyline and feel incredibly satisfied with his life. He was one lucky man!

“Aye, life’s just grand,” he would exclaim while singing along to his favourite hits of the 70s on the van’s radio.

How did you become a writer? When did you start?

Before you are a writer, you have to be a reader and I have read all my life. Mostly I read crime fiction but I’ve read lots of other genres as well, Jane Austin and Anita Shreve being particular favourites.

I studied literature at university, focusing mostly on Scottish literature so I’ve always been passionate about good writing. I started in earnest myself in 2010 and decided that I was going to make an attempt at crime fiction and from then on, I’ve just been having the best fun, creating characters and writing about murders!

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

I’ve not finished a whole one yet! I write a book the same way that I would eat an elephant, one small bite at a time. I tend to do most of my writing during school holidays so I will get The Wrong Delivery finished then. Part two and three are ready to go and I think there will probably be 6 parts altogether so it should end up around the 25000-word mark.

Where do you like to write?

I wish I had an office with my own desk! That would be luxury but instead I write, laptop on my knees, in the middle of my open-pan house with all the noise from the TV, guitars, tubas, clarinets, singing etc going on around me!

Favorite author(s)?

I’ve already mentioned my favourite Scottish authors but others that I really love are Josh Stallings and Anthony Neil Smith. Stallings has two books out at the moment, Beautiful, Naked and Dead is his first and he followed that up with Out There Bad. Both books have an amazing amount of energy, passion and honesty; you truly can’t put them down until they are finished. Reading these books is pretty much like holding a live grenade between your teeth.

Anthony Neil Smith has quite a collection of fabulous books such as Yellow Medicine but his greatest achievement to date just has to be All the Young Warriors, which is an amazing piece of literary fiction. The book is set in two locations, Minnesota and Somalia and follows the fortunes of two young second generation Somali men who return to their homeland to play their part in the on-going civil war. Tracking them down though is a run down police officer whose girlfriend got shot by one of the Somalis on their way to the airport.  This is a book that you just can’t miss. Smith makes you feel the bitter winds of a Minnesota winter and then has you eating dust in the heat of Somalia. Amazing.

How many books have you written, so far? Do you plan to write more?

I also have a collection often short stories published called KICK IT TOGETHER. Most are crime or noir but again there is a good dose of humour lurking around corners. I love sharp kick-you-in-the-stomach endings so that’s what you get with this collection…and strong woman.

I’ve also co-edited a charity anthology called The Lost Children which came about following a flash fiction challenge that I threw down to mark my 50th birthday last year. I pledged £5 for every story I received to go to my favourite charity Children 1st Scotland.

The project was so successful that my friend Tommy Pluck decided to also pledge his hard earned cash for every story we got over at Flash Fiction Friday. We raised a god sum for my charity and Tommy’s, which is Protect.

The next step was to publish our 30 favourite stories as an e-book but then so many people were asking for a paper copy that we finally went the whole hog and did that too!

It’s a great project because every month or so we can make another donation, more sales = more money to help children who don’t get dealt a fair hand in life.

Would you like to share a link where we can purchase your books?


What about a link to your website?

All of the information on my books and lots of my favourite authors can be found on my blog.

Thank you so much for taking time to let us get to know you better. I wish you continued success with your fascinating books!



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rosie Smith-Nazilli (@MrsNazilli)
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 21:53:15

    So lovely to learn more about you Fiona…. I hope you snaffled some of the lemon apricot bread for me… sounds lush..xx


  2. Graham Smith
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 00:22:23

    Great interview Fiona. Good to learn more about you and your life.


  3. Tracey Edges (@tedges)
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 08:48:30

    Lovely to read about Fiona and the apricot lemon bread was also very tasty…


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