I've been a fan Tony Black for a long time and he's been following my work just as long. It's always a pleasure to interview him. This time he gave me the lowdown on his new novella, The Storm Without.
Tell us what the novella is about.
Doug Michie has been booted out the force after a particularly harrowing case and goes home to Ayr - on Scotland's west-coast - to lick his wounds. He's grown up there but been away for nearly 20 years; when he returns, he hooks up with ex-school-days flame Lyn whose son has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Doug senses all is not as it appears to be and digs into the case, with some unexpected consequences for himself.
How long did it take you to write the novella?
34 weeks. How's that for an exact answer? ... It was originally serialised in a newspaper over here and it ran to 34 weekly installments so that's how I know.
Did it take a lot of research?
There was a fair amount of research into the history of Ayr and the up-to-date topography. I used to live there - like Doug - but only just moved back. My protagonist is a bit of a fan of the poet Robert Burns, who came from Ayr too, so I had to do a little bit of research into the Burns elements in the story.
Where did you come up with the plot; what inspired you?
The original idea was to write a homecoming novel and a small-town noir, once I knew it was going to feature a PI the plot kind of grew from there.
Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
The opening scene is a big sweeping description of the road into the town, with some of Doug's foreboding about going back - that seems to stick for some reason.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the novella?
My protagonist Doug is an interesting bloke - he's clearly seen to much in the force in Northern Ireland and he wants to forget. He aligns himself with the philosophy of Burns too and that's interesting to me because I'm a fan of the poet myself.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novella?
It's my first title available through Blasted Heath as an eBook and ridiculously cheap on Amazon!