1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a folklorist and historian, a monster specialist, and I collect stories. I’ve been on my own since I was very young, travelled constantly - first by driving across the USA and living in motels, then around the world. I’ve been a drifter most of my life. I am now an academic, a monster researcher, and a filmmaker.
2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing when I was seven years old. It’s always been something I just did in my spare time. I’m usually writing.
3. Tell us about the Caledonia series.
Caledonia is about a bitter, jaded police officer named Leah Bishop who works in Edinburgh. She is transferred to a branch of Interpol in Glasgow, where she discovers that her new co-workers are monsters from folklore. Her partner is a refined Scottish Victorian selkie named Dorian Grey. She was recruited to help them solve what is considered in the fae world a human crime - the first serial killing of faeries. Her knowledge of folklore and human nature make her an invaluable asset to the force.
4. What inspired its world and characters?
I’ve been studying and researching monster mythology, ghost stories, and urban legends for most of my life. After living in Glasgow, where I studied for my Master’s degree, I liked the dichotomy of the two worlds - industrial, everyday Glasgow along with a tongue-in-cheek view of the more romanticised aspects of Scottish culture.
5. What is the range of diversity in Caledonia?
Caledonia as a series of novels has wide-ranging diversity, in order to mirror the modern multicultural city it takes place in. The male lead is bisexual (as are all selkies in this universe), there is a Muslimah phoenix (Nour-el-ain), a Korean gumiho (Lee Yoo Min), a genderqueer Highland vampire (Desdemona), a disabled merman (Milo), and in upcoming work, a transgender character as well as further diversity in race and sexuality. Additionally, the characters are played by actors who are the same in real life.
6. Tell us a bit about the actors, in relation to their characters within the series.
Alasdair Reavey plays Dorian Grey, and is bisexual. Naziyah, who plays the phoenix, I often consult because she is Muslim and I want to ensure that her character is written well. Every one of the actors was chosen both for their ability and look, but also because of their connection to the characters.
7. Can you tell us your thoughts on diversity in literature—the need for it and the lack of it—as well as you thoughts on the growing number of organizations and movements to push for more inclusivity and representation?
I personally believe that diversity in literature, film, and television is extremely important. Fantasy only works as well as the world it mirrors; if it doesn’t resemble the real world in any way I feel that it takes away from the fantasy element. The world has diversity, and I believe, so should fiction. There are all kinds of people and I believe it’s important for everyone to have representation and a voice. I am supportive of organisations and movements that push for inclusiveness, as well as for creators who do the same.
8. What is something that has been constantly on your mind of late?
Getting back to Scotland. I’ve been away for over a year and I miss the place.
9. What are your favourite literary pieces of work?
The Musketeer Saga, by Alexandre Dumas, has been a longtime favourite. I like Michael Crichton, Peter Benchley, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Agatha Christie, but I love to read so the list could go on.
10. What is your song-of-the-moment?
I don’t have a particular song but I tend towards classic hard rock and listen to playlists while I write.