In Conversation With Elvis Shackleton #2
02 October 2009
In the second of a series of informal discussions to mark the end of the long running Barney Thomson crime series, Long Midnight Publishing Publicity Director, Elvis Shackleton talks to author Douglas Lindsay about The Cutting Edge of Barney Thomson.
ES: This one got some pretty great reviews. Very bloody and very, very funny from the Telegraph. What’s On said, With classic timing and delight in the grotesque, Lindsay has crafted a macabre masterpiece where content lives up to style, The List, the Scotsman, The Sunday Mirror, great reviews across the board.
DL: Well, you know how it is. It’s good to get those sorts of reviews, but then you get one bad one, you know some guy goes on Amazon and calls it pathetic and gives it one star, and you think, oh well, maybe he’s right, maybe it is pathetic.
ES: Surely getting a good review from the Telegraph is more important than someone going on Amazon?
DL: You’d think. But then, who goes back ten years to look at a book review in the Telegraph? No one. Any time anyone goes on Amazon to look at the book, there are the bad reviews.
ES: You sound bitter, your insides twisted up like the strands of a Curly Wurly?
DL: Not at all. People have to be honest, and as a writer you have to respect what people think. When someone writes a bad review, I never think, what do you know, you idiot? I always think, oh, well maybe they’re right. Maybe I am rubbish. It’s then that I usually go back to filling out my application for Star Fleet Academy.
ES: OK, tell us about this one. For your second book, why did you write a follow-up to The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson, and not a new stand alone novel?
DL: I had my first meeting with the publisher coming up, and I knew we were going to have the conversation about what came after Barney. I wished I’d had some great idea for a new novel, but I didn’t. Then I read about this monastery in the Highlands, and came up with the idea for a second Barney novel. I wanted to have something for the meeting, I didn’t want to sit there like a lemon, looking like a guy who’d only ever had one idea.
ES: So, you suggested following up your book about a sad barber who gets accidentally caught up in brutal murder with a book about a sad barber who gets accidentally caught up in brutal murder. Ingenious.
ES: They must have been calling you Mr Suggestion or The Incredible Captain Concept.
DL: Whatever. Anyway, I could tell from the way their wee faces lit up, that they loved the idea. A potential crime series. So that was it, a two minute discussion, and Barney was set to continue forever.
ES: And what was the original title of the novel?
DL: Well, my original title for the fist novel was The Barber Surgeon’s Hairshirt. However, Piatkus had never seen that title, as I’d changed it by the time I pitched the book to them. So, I used it for the second book, as it did have some relevance. Barney was doing penance for his crimes, the notion of a hairshirt worked in the monastery context. It’s a good title.
ES: And Piatkus hated it?
DL: Yep. They wanted a title that included Barney’s name and had something to do with haircutting. So it was me who came up with the one we used, but I always thought it was rubbish.
ES: And are you planning to re-invent the book, the way you did with Long Midnight?
DL: I’ve re-written it and have had the cover redesigned to tie in with the re-issue of the first novel. And I’ve taken the chance to go back to the original title. However, its publication just hasn’t happened yet.
ES: Do you think it will?
DL: Yes I do. But I also think that the Americans never landed on the moon, that the guy who landed his plane on the Hudson was just did it to get publicity, and that Scotland will probably win the World Cup in 2016. So everything has to be put into context.
ES: In the panoply of Barney Thomson books, where do you think The Cutting Edge comes?
DL: I think it’s pretty good. Definitely in the top 7, probably in the top 3.