The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

Enjoy yourself – it's later than you think!

Archive for the category “Quick Reads & Listens… from vampires to PM’s dead wife!”

Letter from America / World Watch Out

I’ll say one thing about that Donald Trump. He’s going to be good for artistic creation. As you may have read in my last post I had the germ of an idea for a Twilight Zone type story which had elements of Back to the Future and Brigadoon (I admit, a bit of an obsession for me!) Well, here’s the finished article.

Hopefully people will find it humorous and a little chilling but I felt incredibly sad when writing it (and not for the obvious reasons of looking ahead to the next four years!). The whole idea of people having to leave a land they love for whatever reason – to make money, chase a dream or perhaps because their own land isn’t fit to live in anymore. So it is anti – Trump but it’s also an early valentine to immigrants, the LGBT community, all those who stand up to bullies – in the past and in the future… and of course the beautiful Western Isles.

Apologies to The Proclaimers for pinching their title – although they pinched it from Alistair Cooke first! (I’ll square it with them if I bump into Charlie or Craig down in Colinton Woods anytime soon!)

Talking of Scottish music legends. Rev Mulvey from Lone Head Records tempted me out of musical retirement to collaborate on this track. Could be a creative four years – if we survive, that is!



The Diana Redemption – be careful with the myth!

ImageI recently did this interview about The Rachel Redemption with my old friend Commercial Malcolm. Read on if you want to know more about the book, the film, conspiracy theories and more…

CM: Congratulations! It looks like you beat the movie ‘Diana’ to it with ‘The Rachel Redemption’.

SN: Well, strictly speaking RR isn’t the Diana story…

CM: Come on… we all know Rachel is meant to be her. Any regrets about not calling your main character Diana and starting from there?

SN: No, that would have just been too tacky! As we can see from the reaction to the film and other works that have referenced her directly it hits quite a raw nerve with people particularly in this country.

CM: Why do you think that is? Is it cos we’re all royalists – closet or otherwise?

SN: Not at all. The whole relationship between Diana, the British Royal Family and the British public was – and continues to be – a complex one. Say what you like about her – she changed the British royal family forever. They were nowhere when she came along, a complete PR disaster – they probably thought she was going to give them a bit of a boost by being this sweet, shy young thing, good breeding stock who may sell a few frocks for the UK fashion industry. Little did they know that she would become this incendiary device positioned at their very heart!

CM: So you were a fan then?

SN: Again that’s a complex issue. I remember at the time her whole love/hate relationship with the press… wanting their support one minute and then complaining about their intrusion the next. And then that whole Charles and Diana soap opera, trying to get one up on each other with those interviews. It was priceless! I think most people at the time thought it was hugely entertaining – we had never seen the royals like this before… airing their dirty laundry in public. In the end it didn’t really matter whether she had planned it or not – she was bringing the British Royal Family to its knees…

CM: And then the crash…

SN: Yes, the crash. Like the last act in a tragic opera. And at the point of the funeral we all thought that this was the end of the British Royals but they pulled it back, they actually pulled it back! And here they are – stronger than ever – their position is pretty unassailable these days, what with the new generation of royals – that’s her legacy I suppose. So hugely ironic that someone who was so close to destroying an institution ended up being its salvation.

CM: So, very different if she had lived…

SN: Well, exactly, that’s why all these conspiracy theories are so popular. People didn’t want the crash to be the final act, they wanted the whole saga to continue. It’s always the same when someone famous goes before – what most people believe – is ‘their time’. From Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson people want to believe that they are happily living their respective lives out somewhere – away from public scrutiny. I guess it makes people feel better, helps them cope with things. Of course with Diana there was the added dimension of her being at the heart of the British ‘establishment’ and being a thorn in its side. Perfect conspiracy theory fodder.

CM: Just like Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys

SN: Exactly!

CM: So, you reckon that most people just ‘can’t handle the truth’ then?

SN: Well… it’s a bit dismissive of most people to paint them like that. Fiction, art generally – and with that – people’s imagination has always been about ‘what if…?’ So while we probably all know that certain people have indeed left the stage for good, it’s nice – and comforting in a way – to let our imaginations run riot…

CM: You take some liberties with the Diana story so it was probably a good idea that you didn’t do the ‘faction’ route.

SN: Absolutely! I liked the freedom of my main character having a twin, being married to the Prime Minister, having political influence, being at the centre of major news events, finding love…

CM: A bit like fan fiction then, but with real people?

SN: Yes, but using real people as inspiration in fiction is not new – I can’t claim that one! But I like the ‘fan fiction’ point – it’s like, well – you had this life but maybe I could have written you a better one…

CM: I got that. Plus, another thing I liked was that you didn’t shy away from the more ‘difficult’ aspects of Rachel/Diana. But the Prime Minister/Tony Blair character comes in for a bit of a pasting.

SN: And so he should! A major inspiration for writing the book was how TB will always be tied up with the whole Diana myth – with the on-the-spot eulogy and the whole ‘people’s princess’ thing, but the huge irony is that she would have been horrified at what he went on to do. I like to think she would have become a thorn in his side as well… getting involved with Middle East politics and becoming more and more vocal in his condemnation…

CM: Maybe it was Tony Blair behind the crash then…

SN: I couldn’t possibly comment…

CM: Well, whatever your beliefs I think The Rachel Redemption is a bloody good read and I’ll bet – more entertaining than the Diana film!

SN: Thanks for that.

CM: Finally, I must ask you – you wouldn’t have cast Naomi Watts, would you?

SN: Well, I must say that I think Naomi Watts is a terrific actress and has an amazing CV up until this point… but taking on a role like this… she was always going to be on a hiding to nothing. It could be the most wonderful film ever made – and I believe there is some doubt on that one – and deliver the best performance ever but she would still be vilified. So I can’t understand why she took it on. It was one big brave – or possibly misguided – decision!

CM: But of course, if anyone wants to check out your ‘fantasy casting’ of The Rachel Redemption they can do so by visiting

SN: Thanks for the plug. All the best with your current project and maybe I can return the favour by interviewing you soon?

CM: Cheers! I’ll keep you posted.

The Casual Shoo-in

When the anonymous launch of The Casual Vacancy happened there was barely a flutter of interest.  Of course the launch wasn’t totally without help from a whole team of publishers, publicists and PR people. Even then, there was probably little to distinguish it from the hundreds (thousands, if you count self-publishing) of books released every week. When word got out (I wonder how that happened?) it was penned by none other than JK Rowling it started flying off the shelves. Phew! So glad! I hate to see publishing companies and billionaire authors losing money… So, I guess it was a no-brainer to get it adapted for the screen PDQ. Even though, by all accounts, it’s a pretty slim tale. Again, so glad – I hate to see the BBC spending out too much money – those quality foreign dramas can’t come cheap!

It’s similar to the whole 50 Shades hype-machine – and I must repeat I’m not bitter. (methinks the lady is saying that a bit too much lately… ?) In a blatant attempt to draw attention to my own work – I’ll mention ‘Edinburied‘ which features a fabulously wealthy and internationally famous author who just happens to reside in Edinburgh and gets targeted by an unhinged Welsh writer who accuses her of plagiarism – the results are explosive! The question is – is Jolly Rowntree based on JK? I couldn’t possibly comment…

Top Ten Alternative Love Songs

Five tracks about love you may not have thought of:

The Jon Snows – She’s Mine

Hypnotic, compelling and just a little creepy.

Ed Kuepper – Everything I’ve Got Belongs To You

How many songs begin with a line like: ‘I’ve designs on you that come from dirty books’?

Scott Walker – Mathilde

The sheer exuberance of a man anticipating the arrival of his woman – ‘tell them to change the sheets on the bed, Mathilda’s come back to me!’

The Coral – Dreaming Of You

A passionate – if confused – affirmation of falling in love with someone you shouldn’t’ve.

Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?

When you would – quite literally – pull your own heart out for someone.

Five anti-Valentine songs:

Dr Feelgood – That’s It, I Quit!

‘You just look dirty, say you’re twenty but you’re thirty’ school of splitting up.

Peter Cook – Bedazzled

Super cool detachment – contains the classic line: ‘You fill me with inertia’!

The Stranglers – Shut Up!

When all’s said and done… why dontcha?

Cud – I’ve Had It With Blondes

It opens with ‘I was a teenage stamp collector, I’d lay on my back and you’d stamp on my face’ and gets even better!

Kelis – I Hate You So Much Right Now

Says it all really.

Happy Valentine’s day!

Scottish Referendum

Brilliant! Says more in a few lines about being Scottish than in all the nationalistic nonsense churned out by Hugh McDiarmid and the like.

Images of Edinburgh

For those of you who know the city – here’s a  wonderfully evocative poem by Richard Mulvey. It comes from his collection: ‘Poetry for the Divided’. Check it out at:

Poetry for the divided cover 2


I walk through history, on these Edinburgh streets

The monuments to time and place soaked in the summer rain

Princes Street gardens invites in all dreamers

George Street drunken amongst the revelling night

Edinburgh castle dominates you

With the majestic moment of time passed

See the castle everlasting in your passing

As you head to the pubs on Rose Street.

The Scottish enlightenment awakens you

After the night of drinking pints of heavy

The Edinburgh sky will cover you

So you can touch it at your pleasure in this moment of pain.

The Road to Independence can be Murder!

Edinburied Cover 3-1Just to let you know that Edinburied will be released this Monday (21 July) and will be available from Kobo, Barnes & Noble and all the other major ebook stores; with Amazon hopefully not far behind.

So if you’re looking for a bold thriller, set in Edinburgh in the run-up to the Scottish Independence referendum – look no further!

I’ve put together extracts and themes from the book in a dedicated blog:


A Hero For These Times…

Edinburied Cover 3-1Let me introduce you to Fraser – former Bros lookalike from Stornoway who came to Edinburgh hoping the elegant Georgian streets would be paved with gold.  But now – fourteen years later – all he has to show is a collection of broken dreams and wasted opportunities but maybe his luck will change in 2014…   After all Fraser’s got a lot going for him – he’s tough, he’s savvy, he’s highly desirable.  Both sides of the Scottish Independence debate would love him as a poster boy – if only he could decide whose side to be on…

Yes – the wait will soon be over as Edinburied hits the ebook-stands in the coming weeks. It’s a wild and highly topical Edinburgh-set tale of murder, sex, politics… and the Referendum. I’ll be posting extracts on a new, dedicated blog – so look out for that .

In the meantime – if you’re in Edinburgh over the next few days and fancy exhibiting your out and proud credentials in public – get yourself along to one (or all!) of the Pride Scotia events. See you there!

Fifty Shades of Green (for envy)


Robert Pattinson – the ideal Mr Grey according to E L James?

Interesting to see the casting for the inevitable big screen version of the astonishingly popular bonk-buster Fifty Shades of Grey. Comments of ‘who?’ and ‘what the… ?’ destined to be just as inevitable. It is thought that the ‘avoiding-like-the-plague’ by ‘big-name-stars’ of this particular project is not so much to do with the ‘challenging’ subject matter but rather that the taint of a turkey is hard to shift from one’s cv. It does put one in mind of the whole Da Vinci Code debacle. Book hugely hyped and therefore hugely popular – any film version would just have to be on a hiding to nothing. Or just maybe on the big screen there ain’t no hiding place for the numerous literary and plot flaws. Now, I don’t come to bury FSOG – there’s plenty lining up to do that already and the scent of sour grapes is never that nice. And whilst sales of my own The Rachel Redemption are ticking over quite nicely I can’t claim – just yet – that Hollywood is contacting me re my thoughts on casting. Shame, as I have it all figured out already. (Check it out on my sister blog dedicated to the whole subject.) That’s the beauty of fantasy casting – you can have whoever you want. The casting of my central – Princess Diana-inspired – character was difficult but I don’t think I would ever have chosen Naomi Watts!

Fact or Fiction?

Lady DiInteresting to see Scotland Yard have reopened their investigation into the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Don’t know if reading about the conspiracy theories contained in my book The Rachel Redemption put them on the trail!




RR Cover

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