23C1C236-0B83-43C0-9F5C-18AC08E83906Some big news that I haven’t shared on the blog as part of this campaign of neglect, but in the last couple of days, my debut novel, The Scottish Book of the Dead, has been released. You can find it on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook.

It’s published through Island City Publishing, a small indie press from my area of Michigan. Given that the story is set (mostly) in Scotland and has sprinklings of Scottish dialect throughout and is probably a tougher sell to a Mid Western population than some of the other titles in their stable, it speaks volumes and I’m hugely grateful that they’ve taken a punt on me. Celeste Bennett has been great to work with on this.

Back in 2010, I became interested in The Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I did some reading on them, learning that they were a collection of stories to guide a departed soul to the afterlife. I wondered what a Scottish version would look like. Turns out, there’s lots of swearing in it.

Initially, this existed as a short story, dealing with a man struggling to come to terms with the fact that he’s dead and his unscrupulous brother-in-law’s intent to steal a silver photo frame. It was written entirely in Scots dialect and was published on the McStoryteller’s website and eventually featured on the Edinburgh eBook Festival.

I was driving home one from work one night with my then wife and I remember we were just coming into Alloa when I wondered aloud if I could stretch the idea out into a novel. Given that the Egyptian Book of the Dead was split into four sections, the idea of four intertwined novellas quickly developed. I wrote quite extensive notes, mapped the whole thing out, and basically wrote the 70,000 word story in seven weeks over the summer. It’s pretty much all I did that summer.

It wasn’t until the next year, through the help of a counselor, I realized how much of this story was me dealing with the death of my grandfather in 1990 and my dad in 1998. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious but at the time this came as a bit of a shock.

After one encouraging rejection from Canongate, every other publisher and agent had a problem with the dialect. Deciding that I’d rather be understood and the story was more than the dialect, I’ve toned it down quite a bit but hopefully left enough to give it that Scottish feel.

So there we have it. The book’s eight year journey to publication is over and now it’s a thing that exists in the world, on people’s Kindles and will be on people’s bedside tables, and that’s a pretty cool feeling. I’m a novelist. Wow.

Oh. Please buy my book.