A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?
Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.
Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…
My Journey to Self-Publishing
For aspiring authors, ‘getting published’ can seem like a quest for the Holy Grail. For some people, it can seem like an unobtainable prize. For others, if they are very lucky or, let’s face it, well-connected, it happens so easily it seems unfair. By the time I found a home for my first novel, Blast Radius, with the small but wonderful Scottish independent publisher, Sandstone Press, I was in my forties. I had another unpublished novel languishing in the proverbial drawer and a handful of short stories and poems in obscure magazines and anthologies. I had been writing most of my life, but I had never done much to put my name out there or make a noise in the literary scene. This is partly down to my own struggles with self-confidence, and partly down to practical realities: I have a day job, two kids and a mortgage. For so many years, I had to steal writing time in thirty-minute chunks while the kids were in swimming lessons, dance classes, piano lessons, or in that precious couple of hours at night between their bedtimes and my own.
When Blast Radius was published in 2015, there was a small flurry of publicity around the time of the launch, and a handful of good reviews, and then the book floated out into obscurity. My second novel, The Angel in the Stone, published by Sandstone Press in 2017, was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize. As well as a delightful weekend at the Ullapool Book Festival, the shortlisting allowed me to build genuine confidence in myself as a writer. It didn’t matter that I didn’t win. Standing in the bar with other writers that weekend, I felt something I hadn’t actually believed before: I deserved to be there.
Then I decided it was time to write my Great American Novel. I launched simultaneously into two heavy-duty books: one about a high school shooting and one about the impacts of climate change. Having grown up in the United States, I found both of these stories deeply personal, and felt huge pressure to do them justice while still producing something readers might actually buy. It wasn’t fun. Progress ground to a halt, and for a little while I lost energy for writing completely. I gave myself permission to have some time off and do something I hadn’t done much of for years: watch television. I disappeared for a few months into Daredevil, old seasons of Doctor Who, Sleepy Hollow, Jessica Jones, and a few other dark, supernatural, escapist delights. When I started writing again, Siren Song tumbled out in a couple of months. I enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve ever written, probably because the pressure to get it right was gone and it was a journey into the imagination. I wasn’t writing for anyone except myself.
I knew at the time that it would be difficult to find a publisher for a book that didn’t fit comfortably into any standard literary pigeonhole. I submitted it a couple of places, but decided pretty quickly that self-publishing might be a better route for it. Rather than allowing myself to consider this as some kind of failure, it feels like a way of telling the stories I want to tell. Visual artists and musicians put out their own work all the time, and writing is coming late to the game. It has felt like playing, and sometimes we all need to play. I’m hoping I can get at least another two novels out of my psychic detective duo of Harrison Jones and Amy Bell. I hope my readers like them as much as I do. I also hope that one day I will get back to my Great American Novel and the world of traditional publishing, but right now, at a time when truth really is stranger than fiction, I just want to have fun.
Thank you, Rebecca McKinney and Love Books Group
About the author
Rebecca McKinney is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, living and working in Midlothian, Scotland. She shares her home with her husband, two teenagers, three cats, and a growing collection of musical instruments.
The Angel in the Stone: shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize, 2017: Sandstone Press
Blast Radius: 2015: Sandstone Press