Iain is a writer of gothic mysteries.
He was born and raised in Scotland. He studied History and Geography at the University of Glasgow.
The World Wars left Iain’s family with generations of widows. As a result, Iain has always been interested in the tangible effects of history on family dynamics and in the power of narrative to awaken those long dead. For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood reminiscences and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a manor, and any ghosts dwell only in memory.
He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.
Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.
Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death…and the curse.
Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I had always been taken with old mysteries and gothic literature. They were at once civilized and macabre. I read nearly all of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, and the weird short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I loved how Bram Stoker could bring vampires to life by writing them into existence. These books did not all contain the supernatural, but they were smart, and there was an element of the bizarre in them all. That was the cauldron into which I dropped my World War I soldier and from which The Curse evolved.
Q) How long did it take you to write?
First time through? Six months. I took a new approach when I wrote The Curse of Malenfer Manor. A lesson I had learned from earlier work was to keep going and sort things out later. It didn’t quite work out like that, but I would term the decision a success. With the revising and editing and re-writing, the whole thing took a good year.
Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I set up my chapters as goal posts. I give them a starting place and a finishing place – the hero must get to this location by this time and have a discussion about motive with so-and-so along the way. Then I let it roll. Seeing what the character does, how they handle this manipulation, what ends up coming out, never ceases to amaze me. The mind is a wondrous strange land.
Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
It is not the hours, or the sore backside, or the pay, or distress at re-reading what you thought was good in the clear light of next morning. I think writers, as a breed, are the sort that cherish cold showers – take a Spartan pride in enduring. No, what annoys me the most is a necessary part of historical writing – the experts. I am of a generalist mind. It does not matter to me that a certain car is a mark ‘C’ and not a mark ‘D’, but it clearly matters to some people! Proofreading for minutiae is to be dragged across tacks.
Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I would be Marilyn Monroe and I’d sneak out of filming Some Like it Hot for a few hours. And if you can’t figure out why, then you are almost as lost as I.
Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
I have two boys. Their appetites are like those of the supporting cast of Jurassic Park. I don’t think we have a thing in the fridge that is over 6 hours old.
Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
More of the same? Perhaps with a twist or two? I don’t have a title yet, but there is a book already in the oven of which I can share a bit. It takes place on a remote Scottish island in the 1920’s owned by a reclusive industrialist. A cast of curious characters arrive, invited, and pretty soon start to be murdered. The supernatural element remains – the sulfuric whiff of satanic worship – and there may be a cameo or two from some of the Malenfer Manor cast. One can’t write mysteries and not be influenced by the late great Agatha Christie.
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