Thursday 24 May 2018

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone #BlogTour @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #MyLifeInBooks #FaultLines

A brilliantly constructed piece of speculative crime fiction, Fault Lines is also a psychological thriller and a classic whodunit, in which every cast member is a suspect, and the next blow can come from any direction.

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch - the new volcanic island - to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery of his corpse secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she ll be exposed, Surtsey s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact - someone who claims to know what she s done...

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone was published by Orenda Books on 22 May 2018. As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today. He's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Doug Johnstone 

Asterix and Charlie Brown   These were the first books I remember being properly into, and that I read on my own for pleasure. Looking back, I don’t think there could’ve any been better introductions to storytelling, as they’re both exemplary collections of characters and the books are filled with immense heart. The Asterix books were also full of stupid slapstick humour which I loved of course, and a lot of rewritten history, which is how I learned most of my history at school. Of all the books, Asterix in Britain is a stonewall classic, casting an acerbic Gallic eye on the foibles of the English (and the token Scot). The Charlie Brown books are full of melancholy and existential angst, I think, but also dumb jokes too. My kids have both picked up my old tattered paperbacks and are loving just like I did, which is great to see.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams    I was totally into science as a kid, especially physics and astronomy, and this instilled in me a lifelong love of science fiction too. The central premise, that the earth is totally insignificant in the universe, is something that has coloured my worldview throughout my life. Plus it’s also mind-bendingly funny and utterly quotable. None of the radio, television or film adaptations have quite done it justice, I don’t think.

Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver     I didn’t get on with my English teacher at high school as we never read anything that was written in the last hundred years. My dad handed me this book at just the right time and I devoured it. It’s amazing the emotional depth Carver can squeeze in between the lines of his prose, with seemingly no effort. It’s a kind of magic trick. These are simple stories of working class Americans often on their knees, but there’s a searing beauty to them all the same.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks    This was the first book I read where I recognised the people and places and speech in it as similar to my own upbringing. Before that, I had presumed literature was for Oxbridge graduates having dinner parties in London, or written by dead people. This was about a fucked up family living in Fife, and it’s an absolutely terrifying horror story to boot, I mean, what’s not to like?

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh     This blew my mind when I read it. I was living in Edinburgh and a student, and while I thankfully wasn’t addicted to heroin, I completely recognised that life and those people. This completely validated the idea that my story and the stories of those around me were absolutely worth telling. This book more than any probably set me on the road to being a writer.

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain     I wasn’t a crime writer initially, in fact I’m not sure what kind of writer I was. But enough people compared me to crime writers that I thought I’d better take a crash course, and started reading all the American noir classics. This book is my favourite, a pitch-black story of murder and seduction, where the two central characters are utterly unsympathetic, and yet you’re totally rooting for them. This opened my eyes to the
possibility of writing about people doing bad things for morally questionable reasons, but keeping the reader on side with them.

Come Closer by Sara Gran    All Gran’s books are amazing but this is my favourite, a horror novella that is part demon possession, part psychological breakdown and part existential quest. I love Gran because she seems to write without giving a single shit what the reader thinks, and there’s immense freedom in that. Her characters are spectacularly uncompromising, but all the more compelling because of that. This is the current benchmark for everything I write in terms of plotting, voice and character, and I’ve never got close.

Doug Johnstone - May 2018

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His seventh novel, The Jump, was published by Faber & Faber in August 2015. Gone Again (2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

In September 2014 Doug took up the position of Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Doug was writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. Doug is currently also working on a number of screenplays for film and television. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released two solo EPs, Keep it Afloat and I Did It Deliberately.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars.

He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

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