A Quickie with James Oswald

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

Written in Bones is the seventh book in the ongoing Inspector McLean series and sees Tony McLean investigating the discovery of a man’s body high up in the branches of a tree in Edinburgh’s Meadows park. The only witness claims it was a dragon that dropped the man, but he’s just a little boy, so maybe not reliable. Things only get more complicated when the dead man is identified as an ex-policeman, turned drug lord, turned philanthropist. You should read it so you can tell me what it’s all about.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

Are we nearly there yet?

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

I get lots of people asking if they can be in the books, but that’s only slightly strange, I guess. Some people have asked for photos of cows, and I signed someone’s kindle once, but really my readers are distressingly normal in the main.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

Without a doubt, Terry Pratchett. He had the most amazing way of seeing the world for what it really is, and an absolutely perfect turn of phrase.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

My grandfather was great friends with Dorothy L Sayers, and she gave my mother her first cat – named Harriet after Harriet Vane. This was, of course, a very long time before I was born.

Finally recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

Caveat – I read far more fantasy than crime fiction. I started off as a comics and fantasy writer and that’s where my heart lies.

All Good Things, by Emma Newman. This is the fifth and final book in Emma Newman’s amazing Split Worlds series. I can’t recommend these enough. Technically fantasy, they’ve got a little bit of everything in them. Fae creatures causing mayhem, razor sharp social commentary, elements of crime fiction, even sentient gargoyles. The characters are brilliantly drawn and the pace is relentless. I’ve devoured these books and urge everyone to do the same.

The Binding Song, by Elodie Harper. A newly-appointed prison psychiatrist uncovers sinister goings on in a remote Norfolk prison. Inmates are committing suicide and everyone blames a malevolent entity enacting summary justice upon them. This is a wonderfully atmospheric and creepy read.

The Death of Her, by Debbie Howells.  I had a few reservations about this book, but in the end really enjoyed it. A woman is found battered almost to death. When she comes round she claims to have lost her young daughter but the police can find no evidence the child ever existed. As the story unfolds, we discover that the woman was babysitting a child who was abducted and never found, years earlier. Is she recreating the trauma of that original loss, or did she really have a child who might still be out there?

Who is James Oswald? James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. Set in an Edinburgh not so different to the one we all know, Detective Inspector Tony McLean is the unlucky policeman who can see beneath the surface of ordinary criminal life to the dark, menacing evil that lurks beneath.

As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.

James has pursued a varied career – from Wine Merchant to International Carriage Driving Course Builder via Call Centre Operative and professional Sheep Shit Sampler (true). He currently lives in a large caravan inside a Dutch Barn in Fife, with three dogs and two cats. He farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.


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