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Douglas Skelton True Crime 7th January 2015

There’s Been a Murrr-derr
Perhaps fittingly on a day when the news was given over to the atrocities in Paris, Ayr Writers Club turned its attention to True Crime with a talk from journalist, author, pre-recognition officer and altogether good guy Douglas Skelton.
Douglas styled himself as a storyteller and with that said we knew we could sit back and look forward to a good evening. He began his ‘path into crime’ as a journalist and crime correspondent for the Glasgow Guardian, also writing articles for the Evening Times. This led to an approach by a publisher for his first true crime compendium, and the rest as they say is history. Certainly historical crimes are what interest Douglas most, and we heard tales about the Glasgow ice cream wars and the men wrongly convicted, Indian Peter who was more like a cat with the number of lives he led, the Edinburgh tollbooth, Bloody Valentines, unsolved crimes and gory tours. Douglas brought his books along and discerning club members (in the front row at least) were able to see a resemblance between various figures on the covers and the speaker.
Having achieved success writing true crime novels, Douglas turned his knowledge and skills to fiction with his quadrilogy about Glasgow hard man Davie McCall. Two novels have already been published with the final two due out this year. SPOILER ALERT. Douglas told us he took a ‘Game of Thrones’ approach to writing crime fiction, so we can expect lots of bodies, however he did promise Davie would survive at least until the beginning of the fourth book.
As with many writers, Douglas told us he had periods of self-doubt and times when he thought about giving up on writing. He used the charming analogy of herpes virus to describe how the tingle keeps coming back. (I’m presuming he was referring to cold sores rather than some of the less savoury conditions).
Douglas filled his talk with sparkle and humour, but during the question and answer session we got a feeling of the dangers involved in his work and research, and not always from the criminals – phone tapping; being followed; being recognised in the street for the wrong reasons; interviewing hard men; and possibly the most dangerous of all, trawling public houses along Duke Street…
Altogether it was an extremely enjoyable evening and one that will have me giving the ‘S’ section in Waterstone’s crime shelves more than a fleeting glance in future.

Babs Stevenson
Douglas Skelton

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