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It’s all murder, mystery and magic from this Scottish writer.

Since my first book was published I’ve asked myself a lot of questions I’d previously never given much thought to, and I’ve learned something about not only who I am, but also to appreciate who I am. I am an unremarkable woman doing remarkable things in her fifties.

Learning to drive, learning French, operating power tools, growing fruit and veg, riding horses and writing books are all skills developed in my fifth decade. So, when a lot of people are slowing down, I was just getting started. In the past I’ve usually worked fulltime, and spent fifteen years working back-stage both in my local theatres, as well as on touring productions as part of ‘Wardrobe’. A job I loved every single day. But it’s hard work sometimes, especially out on tour working six days a week for many months. I gave all of that up in 2012 to go into construction of all things.

My marriage had ended a few years previously when my daughter was in her twenties. Suddenly I was living alone, with few responsibilities beyond those affecting me personally. Eat what I want, when I want. Go out when I want, with whoever I want. It was extremely liberating, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself going out with friends and generally pleasing myself. I eventually met someone else; a wonderful man who had his own small business as a surveyor/consultant in the contract flooring industry. I joined him in 2012, and we moved to Wiltshire. He trained me to do the same job, kitted me out with steel toecap boots, a high-viz vest and a hard hat, and then set me loose on construction sites all over the UK.

It was a challenge, and not always due to the job. Flooring is always the last thing to be installed on any site. Our area of expertise lay in access and communal areas in public buildings, so stair cores, landings, foyers and hallways… all the change of colour/texture stuff aimed at helping the visually impaired to navigate buildings. Often the site managers I encountered thought I was there to do the cleaning. I’m a woman, so I must be there to hoover and polish their newly installed floors! On one particular occasion, after several years of mistaken identity, I arrived on a huge commercial project. I didn’t meet the manager until I’d walked up thirteen flights of stairs (lifts were installed but not operational). It was a hot day, I was carrying a heavy tool box and wearing full PPE. He was on the thirteenth floor landing, surrounded by a gaggle of painters and plasterers, all beard and beer-belly under his white manager’s hard hat. Everyone else wore yellow. Shock, horror, my hat was also white.

‘Who are you?’ He glared intimidatingly at my white hat, and then carried on, ‘You must be here to clean the penthouse.’

Before he could continue with his directions to the nearest vacuum, I said ‘Just because I have a fanny (that’s the UK slang for the entire vaginal area) doesn’t mean I’m here to clean your offices.’

The painters and plasterers burst out laughing. The manager positively bristled with red-faced indignation. ‘Who do you work for?’ He demanded.

‘Interior Surface Solutions.’ I politely informed. ‘Here to survey access areas and advise project management.’

‘Who’s your boss, I’ll be speaking to him about your conduct.’

There was that female/male role assumption once again, and I was on a roll. I fished a business card out of my pocket and passed it over. ‘Bev.’ I told him. ‘Managing Director of Interior Surface Solutions. I’ll look forward to your call. Perhaps we can discuss sex discrimination in the workplace.’

The painters and plasterers were still laughing as I headed in the opposite direction to that vacuum, and I never did receive any complaints about my conduct that day.

I was semi-retired when we move to France. As well as moving the business, we also went there to renovate an old farmhouse, and transform its overgrown acre into a garden and orchard. Not having any experience of any of those things, and unable to speak more than a few words of French, life became a huge learning curve! But we made it work. We even got married there. Life was good.

Then, in March 2020… around the time we completed work on our home and garden, France entered a strict lockdown due to a previously unheard of virus. Having suffered pneumonia in the past, my lungs are weakened and I was scared. Every day I watched the constant news streams from all over the world, watching the death toll rise and the cases rocket, unable to look away. We were part of a small rural community so it was easy to maintain social distancing, but I felt increasingly isolated, homesick for friends and family in the UK. I was drinking and eating too much, not sleeping, and generally a moody and depressing pain in the proverbial arse. My husband suggested I try and write down a story I’d told him years before. Writing could be the perfect distraction – something to take my mind off the pandemic. He was right.

Sitting overlooking my by then beautiful garden, I was able to disappear into my imagination, and rediscover characters invented back in my thirties when money was tight and trips to Africa were way out of my price range. I did the next best thing; I invented a young woman called Jos Ferguson and sent Jos off to Africa for an adventure I would never be able to afford. I imagined what Jos would do there, what she would see and who she might meet. It evolved into a collection of daydreams, populated by a tightknit group of vibrant characters who all stayed with me in years to come. They became as old friends and, when I needed them most, needed the escape they offered from fears of the unknown, they rose to the occasion and flourished.

Within a few short months Conspiracy of Cats had really taken shape. I worked for 6-8 hours a day, every day, vanishing into the magical world of the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania, where the murder mystery is set. Although I haven’t ever been there, I drew on experiences from time spent working at a wild animal rehab centre in South Africa a few years previously. I had made it to Africa after all. Just before I turned 50, me and my husband went there for a working holiday. Many of the exploits of two of my characters in particular are borrowed from our real-life experiences. My knowledge of Tanzania was limited however, so I had to research extensively, focussing on the Maasai people, their semi-nomadic culture, and the Kilimanjaro Region in general.

Conspiracy of Cats was released in August 2021 by Olympia Publishers, London. By then we’d returned to Scotland, initially to Kintyre and more recently to Sanquhar in the Scottish Borders. The covid pandemic may not be the last, and we both agreed that, should the worst happen again, then we want to be closer to the people we love.

Don’t be fooled by the title; Conspiracy of Cats does feature a number of cats both large and small, but this isn’t a story about cats. Rather I’ve used cats to drive the narrative forward in unique and interesting ways. Ultimately this is a story about love, betrayal, murder and revenge, a journey into the breath-taking scenery of Africa, the wildlife, and the ritual voices of tribal magic. At first I will lull you into accompanying Jos on an exciting journey to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died. We will travel far from the chill of temperate Edinburgh, all the way to the warmth and colour of the African sun. With incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Peter Sinclair’s beautiful white house awaits. Set in splendid isolation, surrounded by trees and the wild, wild nature of the northern Tanzanian landscape, it keeps three secrets as well as the spirit of its architect.

Peter Sinclair isn’t as dead as he should be. He was murdered, and no sooner has Jos arrived than he makes his presence felt. Peter needs her help with a number of living world matters. He is so beguiling. Jos is wide eyed and innocent, receptive. The ‘Jos Peter Combo’ is formed, a peculiar relationship that develops quickly, and with often comic results. But reader beware; Conspiracy of Cats features a vile villain indeed. That villain is exposed around half way through the story and then everything changes. But I hope my readers will agree that, when the ravenous jaws of a very satisfying ending finally choke the life from this tale that it was all worth it.

My second novel, Making Sacrifices, was published at the end of June 2023. A somewhat darker tale, set between Edinburgh and a little village called Simonsbath, high up on Exmoor in the South West of England. Archaeologists think they’ve found ancient remains, but the body proves to be evidence of a modern murder. A facial reconstruction goes viral due to the uncanny resemblance to a character in a book. A lifetime of secrets are about to be exposed.

Writing is fun for me. I loved working in the theatre, but writing is better. I get to kill people… how cool is that! Books, like the stories they contain, are an enduring part of human history. I feel privileged to be part of that storytelling tradition.

I also enjoy reading and, most recently, have enjoyed books by Lisa Jewel, Eve Chase, Denzil Meyrick, Penny Haw, S E Lynes, Awais Khan and Alan Gorevan.

I spend a lot of time on my own, hammering away on my laptop, so it would be really nice to hear from my readers. I'm enormously flattered that anyone would take the time to read my books, and incredibly grateful to everyone who does.

Me: About
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