You know I shouldn’t say this… but I honestly think "A Pound of Flesh" is the best book I have written so far! It has such a lot going on… The world of prostitution in Glasgow plus the workings of the Scottish government and fictional machinations therein and even the Monte Carlo Rally!

The writers who inspired me were many and varied but I think I owe a great debt to PD James for her lucid prose, terrific plots and for extending my vocabulary with every book she writes! Do you know, she still keeps a vocabulary notebook? I now have one too.

I regard so many of my writing peers as pals nowadays. Whenever I see their books on shelves it’s like smiling hello at your friends. I’d never miss one of Caro Ramsay’s books or Ian Rankin’s, or Alanna Knight’s or … Where do you want me to stop??? Those writers I don’t know and who are outside my field are a bit trickier but I read everything that Alexander McCall Smith writes, not just his Mma Ramotswe stories. Being in a local book group is great to make me read outside my chosen field too.

Ah, violence! How did the great writers tackle this most effectively? Offstage mostly. Think of Macbeth. Think of De Maupassant. Sometimes what is suggested can be far more horrific than showing all the blood, guts and entrails, don’t you think? I don’t go into too many gruesome details as a rule but in " Five Ways to Kill a Man" my poor daughter had to give up reading when I killed a small, innocent child. That was horrid and I found it a hard book to write — but it was about evil.

And regarding sex… again I believe that the allure of what is happening beyond the bedroom door is much more sexually arousing than bonk by bonk details.

The biggest appeal of the crime novel is its ability to say something about the human condition. I think I bear my readers in mind much more nowadays as I receive a huge amount of mail through my website that makes me aware of how much they enjoy the books and that inspires me to write the very best book that I can. ( That is quite a humbling thing you know. ) The actual themes and plots behind the stories are all from me, though.

I am about two thirds of the way through the tenth Lorimer novel now and just today I received an email from one of my friendly cops who keep me right that alters quite a bit of the storyline so I will be backtracking like mad for the next few days! It’s basically about a beautiful Swedish girl who comes to study in Glasgow and … but then if I tell you too much, it might spoil the plot!

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray is published by Sphere in trade paperback and as an eBook on the 1st March 2012, �12.99

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