I had just handed in The Lost Sister, the second novel in my Dundee-based PI series. But I wanted to break things up, and write a standalone that was different in tone from anything else I was doing. All I knew was I wanted the book to feature a killer who felt no pain.

Soon enough, I was persuaded to abandon this idea, and write the third book in my series. Then a fourth. A fifth. But the pain-free killer wouldn’t leave my imagination. I tried science-fiction angles. Supernatural horror. But nothing worked.

It was only when I heard of a medical condition – congenital insensitivity to pain – that things fell into place. And as Ray Scobie took shape, so did his family; a dysfunctional criminal clan, where the only innocent member was Ray’s cousin, Kat. When I added a third character in the form of Kat’s former fiancée, an undercover policeman, a fully fleshed plot finally emerged.

It’s now 2016, and the book – And When I Die – feels like a reboot for my writing; a fresh location, different voices, new ideas. I hope my old readers like it. I hope new readers discover it. And I hope they all find Ray and his family as unsettlingly fascinating as I do.

And When I Die by Russell D McLean is published by Contraband

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