As Glasgow prepares for the Commonwealth Games, author Alex Gray talks about her latest novel that explores the worst what-ifs…


The inspiration behind The Bird That Did Not Sing came from the 2012 Olympic Games that were held in London. My husband and I were lucky enough to obtain tickets for this, the first of which were for football at Glasgow’s Hampden Park. The atmosphere was terrific! Lots of hilarity in the crowds and a carnival feel about the occasion. But that was not all: we had several more tickets that were to take us down south and soon we set off for a week in London.
 It was an exciting prospect but I had a few reservations about travelling on the Underground system, a little anxious lest there be a terrorist attack as there had been previously in the Capital. What if …I began to think.
And there it was, the What If that begins every writer’s story. Mine was ‘What if there is a terrorist attack on the Games?’ But this time (and after we had spent a wonderful week at the Olympics) my thoughts turned to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. My home city. Lorimer’s stomping ground. What an opportunity it was to blend the experiences I had had at the Olympics with the backdrop of Glasgow 2014.
Now it just so happened that I knew about another terrorist threat from several years earlier. Everyone remembers the terrorist attempt to bomb Glasgow International Airport but not a lot of folk know that there really was an explosion prior to that by the same terrorists that was a dry run for the airport job. This did take place out in the Stirlingshire countryside, my police and forensic sources had told me. So my book begins with a re creation of that very event, a bomb blast in an idyllic woodland setting as a trial run for an attempt to blow up the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on July 23, 2014.
(Every time I pass this actual wooded area that sits off the West Highland Way I send it a mental apology!)
Now to the terrorists themselves. I felt that to make them Al Quaeda types was a bit old hat actually and too close to the Airport bombers so I decided to make them mad Celtic Fringe obsessives. (Celtic as in ancient Scottish not as in the football club!)
There are other threads running through the story too: the book follows the fortunes ( or perhaps that should be misfortunes) of Asa, a young Nigerian girl who is the victim of people smuggling from her country into far away Scotland. And I weave in a glamorous woman from Lorimer’s past whose husband dies mysteriously the night of their old school reunion.
I am currently looking forward to the Glasgow 2014 Games as yes, once again we have been under a lucky star and have tickets for several events! But there will be a little anxiety in my heart until July 23 is past and the Opening Ceremony brought safely to a close!