Interview with Alex Mahon
Author of The Danger List
A.T. Mahon has written features and stories for various publications and was a joint winner in the 'Scotland into the Future' contest run jointly by Canongate and The Sunday Herald in 1999. He now lives in Spain with his wife and cat.
When he's not teaching English to students, whose high level of English surpasses most native speakers, he treks in the Pyrenees, or unsuccessfully fends off the cat who occupies the chair at his writing desk when not in use. Advice on how to entice him off it would be greatly appreciated.
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How would you describe The Danger List to a new reader?
- It's about a Jamaican detective who comes to Scotland and works for the money-strapped Police Scotland
What was the inspiration behind The Danger List?
- I met a Jamaican policewoman once and we got talking. I used her experience for the story.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- I've never had one favourite. Anybody who can write a good story gets my vote.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
- I used to see most of them every day when I lived in Glasgow.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
- Keep trying when all seems lost. Both forms of publishing are equally as good, though some genres sell better in paperback.
What's your writing process?
- I keep editing until i get it right. Then analyse every word to make sure they fit.
Which character in The Danger List has had the greatest impact on readers?
- The main character, Sabryna as she has to deal with everything that's thrown at her.
If The Danger List were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- Anybody who was talented. I've nobody special in mind.
How have readers responded to The Danger List?
- Too early to tell.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- A prostitute whose life is turned upside down by a pigeon she encounters.
Detective Sergeant Sabryna Palmer transfers from the Jamaican Constabulary to Police Scotland and shares her first case with Peter Grant–a chauvinist with a serious gastric problem. They investigate the death of a lawyer found dead in the spare flat he rents out to the Scottish elite for their illicit affairs. When the forensics team swab it for DNA, the Superintendent refuses to reveal the owners’ identities.
Pressure mounts from high command to catch the killer the old-fashioned way. This requires more manpower and resources which the police force can ill-afford. Every turn leads to a dead end until a little girl sees a legendary figure lurking nearby. It is the only lead to go on.
The deeper they dig, the more the detectives unearth the lawyer’s past. He is as corrupt as those he defends.