Monday, January 22, 2018

Human Face

Last week saw the launch of my new book, Human Face. Needless to say, it was the coldest spell of the winter, with snow causing disruption and warnings about 'no unnecessary travel' in place.

However, fortunately it was patchy; here on the east coast we were protected from much of it since it seemed to be the tail end of the 'snow bomb on the other side of the Atlantic and friends coming from north of Aberdeen were totally unaffected. Some brave souls even came across from snowy Glasgow and it was a good crowd.

It was lovely to have Marianne among the guests – photos above – and honestly, I hadn't been celebrating until I was totally blotto. I swear it was merely due to my unfortunate habit of shutting my eyes when someone's taking a picture.

When, after writing nine books in the DI Marjory Fleming series I decided to write something different I felt a bit like Jim Hacker being warned by the immortal Sir Humphrey Appleby, 'That's a very courageous decision, Prime Minister.'

I got an email from a reader who, when told, emailed back anxiously, 'Oh please promise you won't do anything horrible to Marjory!' So I promise, I won't – I have another Galloway book at the back of my mind.

But the decision to amalgamate all the individual constabularies (police districts) in to one Police Scotland gave me an idea I wanted to explore. It was meant to save money, and it occurred to me that keeping a fully-fledged CID in a rural area where there was rarely any serious crime must be an expensive business. A Serious Rural Crime Squad, peopled by experienced officers seconded from the cities and brought in as needed with appropriate back-up would be more cost effective.

I needed a detective and as I said in my last post I had this picture of a young man who had not only lost his wife and unborn child in a traffic accident but actually had to sign the form to shut down their life support. From this came DI Kelso Strang.

He is a graduate and an ex-soldier, a former sniper. After his adored Alexa's death he finds working in his old team very hard, seeing his colleagues go home to their families when he has an empty house. His DCS thinks that the pilot investigation on the beautiful Isle of Skye might give him a chance to come to terms with his loss: it doesn't look as if it's anything very serious and he might even take in a bit of restorative hill-walking.

Human Face is a charity for supporting vulnerable children in Africa, run by Adam Carnegie and funded by Beatrice Lacey. She's fat and plain but adores Adam and believes that one day he will marry her, even it it's for her trust fund rather than for love. She finds it hard to deal with the foreign 'housekeepers' who come and go and when one disappears, she's quite pleased – if it wasn't that she feels just a little uneasy. The woman had been seen packing her bags, though, and she'd told someone she was planning to leave. The local police believe it is just another case of a woman who wanted to go without anyone knowing where she is.

But when a directive comes that it's to be further investigated, Kelso Strang finds out that there's more to it – much, much more – than meets the eye.

Stepping out of my comfort zone has been a good experience. It's let me get to know, not just another detective, but another part of beautiful Scotland. In my talk last week, I did say that one of the perks of setting my books in some of the loveliest rural areas was the tax-allowable holidays. At the end, a lady who came up to have a book signed said she'd been very interested to hear me say that because, 'I'm a tax inspector.' Oops.

She did say kindly that there was nothing that said you couldn't enjoy yourself at the same time as doing legitimate research. And I've more places lined up: Caithness, next time.


Sybil Johnson said...

Congrats on the new book! Looks like you had a good turnout.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks, Sybil. It was a good party anyway!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Aline, a big thank you for inviting me to the launch of Human Face. I love going to events by authors I admire and yours was no exception :) It was so interesting to hear you discuss your writing and in many ways reassuring to know we struggle with similar issues – such as not following a rigid plan! I'm gripped hook, line and sinker by Human Face and enjoying getting to know DI Kelso Strang. Thanks again for a lovely, fun evening and for another great story.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks for coming, Marianne. It's always good to have another author there Who understands the problems!

Rick Blechta said...

Hope this book does really well for you. Looks as if I've got to get my copy! Sounds intriguing.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks so much for the good wishes, Rick.

Eileen Goudge said...

The premise for Human Face sounds most intriguing!