Shetland Noir here I come 


Next month I’m off to Shetland again...

It will be my third visit and I always go with my oldest daughter. We are fans of the Scottish islands – Outer Hebrides and Orkney as well as the Shetland Isles. This year there’s an additional incentive: the Shetland Noir festival, its patron being Ann Cleeves, with several literary notables giving workshops, readings, tips on how to manage a crime story. I am really looking forward to it. One of the visitors is Ella Griffiths, whom I met a few years ago. She’s a friend of a friend.  Her hot tip was to include something criminal, a police presence, to any novel, to generate additional interest.


I wish I could do that, and I’ve oblique references to a serial murderer in the novel I’ve just finished, When the Killing Comes Home, though if you’ve read my earlier blogs you’ll know I think there are other kinds of crime, in the way we treat vulnerable children. We take them from their parents and then don’t guarantee a loving upbringing.


Well, I was reading the programme for Shetland Noir, when one of my now rather large rescue kittens, Djibi, decided to take an interest. Thoughtfully, she chewed the edge of my laptop. Who’d have thought a MacBook screen could be punctured by catty teeth? Apparently, it’s not uncommon.

She was tiny when hand-reared. Now, weighing in at almost 4 kilos, she has a considerable bite. She means it to be affectionate. I have the puncture marks on my forearms, delivered every morning when I wake up. It’s her greeting.  I wish she could kiss me instead …


I do love cats, though. A cat named Marmalade had a major part in my first novel, Morph.  In my second novel, Anna and the Snake Queen, my characters visit a magical island where evolution has taken a slightly different turn and they meet a mind-reading species of cat, called a squillkit. Squillkits have two tails. Why not?


Djibi, the feline felon