Article excerpt

Byline: Craig McQueen c.mcqueen@dailyrecord.co.uk

MANY budding writers spend the early years of their careers sitting in a coffee shop, tapping away earnestly at their laptops.

But Fife farmer James Oswald crafts his murder mysteries after tending to his sheep and cattle.

The 45-year-old has been writing since his student days but is only now emerging as a star of Scotland's burgeoning crime fiction scene.

s as ebooks This year, he self-published two supernatural crime thrillers and the resulting explosion in interest led to publishers fighting for the rights. He describes the experience as surreal.

Sitting in his caravan home on the farm overlooking the Tay, he remembers the decades he spent trying to get noticed by those same publishers - and the family tragedy that brought him back to Scotland.


He said: "I would send manuscripts off to agents and publishers and they would come back to me months later saying, 'We like your writing, but we don't think there's a market for this type of book.' "Agents would tell me they just didn't know how to market a book of this type. It was frustrating but I kept going as I was always being told that my writing was good."

J" James had started out writing comic stories before turning to sci-fi and fantasywithout success. moved around the country with partner Barbara, doing various jobs make ends meet.

novels He m countr Barba to ma "For Oddb merc pret tend win"T a while I worked for Oddbins as a wine merchant, which was a pretty good job but they tended to pay you in wine rather than cash.

Then we spent 10 years in Wales, where one of the other jobs I had involved driving between farms collecting sheep poo for analysis. I think I preferred being a wine merchant."

He turned to writing crime novels at the suggestion of fellow Scottish crime author and close friend Stuart MacBride.

James said: "My first crime book came to me easily and I had the whole thing written in about three months.

"I haven't quite been able to break away from my fantasy roots, so there's a little twist of the supernatural in the stories."

The novels centre around Edinburgh detective inspector Anthony McLean.

"He kind of just appeared fully formed," James said.

"He's a likeable guy but at the beginning of the first book he isn't in any sort of relationship.

"Ten years previously his fiancee was abducted, raped and murdered and he caught the guy who did it. He's always been a bit distant and he's not very good at playing by the rules. He tends to go off on his own and conduct his own investigation with a small number of people, which winds up his boss."

Publishers continued to tell James there wasn't a market for crime novels with a supernatural twist. …