Lin writes about when inspiration struck for The Special Dead, her latest Rhona McLeod novel, which had its launch last night at Edinburgh International Book Festival. 

The idea for a book suddenly dropping into your head is a wonderful experience – immediate, exciting, all consuming. It may be that the story is eventually built on a range of experiences and research, but for me the moment a strong visual image presents itself – and stays with me – I know there’s a story in there.

And so it was with The Special Dead. I’d been having dinner with a producer and possible director of a film of mine called Dead Close. The producer Eddie Dick and director Jim Gillespie (of ‘I know what you did last Summer’ fame) were trading stories from their earlier days, when Jim mentioned as a rookie filmmaker he’d been out celebrating a shoot with a mate, when they’d met up with two girls who professed to be witches – which seemed at the time to be very exciting.

At that moment, the idea arrived. Out on the pull with a mate, Mark can’t believe his luck when he meets Leila, a self-confessed witch, who invites him back to her place for some sex magick.

As Mark finds out – Beware what you wish for.

Having studied Astronomy at Glasgow university under the tutelage of Professor Archie Roy, who became the authority on the paranormal in Scotland, I already knew the story of how he had stumbled on the famous Ferguson collection on the paranormal and occult, at that time housed in the old gothic building, and how it had led him to investigate further, arguing that science was about the study of what we don’t yet understand.

I attended his evening lectures on the paranormal a few years back and they also informed The Paths of the Dead, the previous book in the series. Added to that there was much study of Wiccan practices, which I found illuminating and fascinating.

It struck me as I did my research, that Rhona, with her knowledge of forensics, would have been regarded as a witch a century ago, and probably killed because of it. The science of today is built on the dreams and imaginings of the past.

Bloody Scotland – the best inspirational idea I (and Alex Gray) have ever had. The hard graft of many others brought that idea to fruition and this year our fourth, I believe,  is the best ever.  There’s something in the programme for everyone. My advice is, for every favourite author you book, buy a ticket to see an author you’ve yet to try. That’s how we all find new favourites. As Ian Rankin said at our first launch, ‘Scandinavia doesn’t have better crimewriters than Scotland, it has better PR’. Bloody Scotland was created to be that PR,  and we have a wealth of great authors for you to sample.