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BookLore Interview
Douglas Lindsay

1. Why did you choose barbering as Barney's profession? Do you have any connection with the trade?

No connections. The first book was pretty close in characters and description to where I used to get my hair cut; probably too close, as I assumed that I'd never get it published, so it didn't really matter. There's the odd barber scene in Long Midnight that I witnessed, albeit not the murders. I haven't been back to the shop in question.

2. Who cuts Barney's hair?

That's a mystery that will be explained in the seventh and final part of the series. I've already written the scene, and it is locked away in an old crisp packet under a shoe box in the hall cupboard.

3. Can you say anything about the 4th Barney novel given the ending of the last book?

Well, it would have been best if I could have done the Taggart/Blake's 7 thing, and not had Barney in it at all, but it's in the contract. I expect I'll think of something. It is going to be set in the Scottish Executive, because if ever there was something that naturally leant itself to comedy...

4. What is your worst personal bad hair memory or haircut?

First time with 'Barney', and he gave me a strictly military haircut, when I'd looked like Dougie Donnelly before. Course, I get it cut even shorter these days, but at the time it was embarrassing. Then there was my first visit to a Lebanese hairdresser in West Africa. That's where the line about customers getting their head raped came from.

5. Do barbers really refer to hairstyles by the cuts of famous people or is this fictitious?

I'm not sure. I made that up and stuck with it for the cheap laughs.

6. You offer bespoke Barney novels via your website. Has anyone requested one?

Just the one, but it was enjoyable writing and hopefully I'll get more.

7. Is writing a full time occupation or do you still have to do the 9-5?

Gave up the 9-5 sixteen months ago, but it is not one-way traffic, and I may yet have to return to taste-testing edible underwear.

8. Do you think the Scottish sense of humour translates well south of the border?

Not sure. If it does, it's probably only because there are about five million Scots living in England.

9. Do you think the use of the Scottish dialect, a la Irvine Walsh, has been good for Scottish writers?

No. If I had my time again, I wouldn't do it. I think you can try and get a feel for a language, using the flow of sentences and particular words and expressions, without necessarily peppering the prose with gonnae and 'n a' that, etc. The Barney's are littered with it, of course, but I'm about to deviate dramatically from it. Not that I'm saying that I'll manage to get the feel for the language using the flow of sentences etc.

10. What would you say is your favourite book and why?

The Shipping News. Bleakly evocative combination of subject matter, scenery, characters and writing style. Prose that gubs (sic) you one in the face on a regular basis. I expect a lot of people hate it for the reasons I like it. Moonraker is No., because I have a thing for the old Fleming books.

11. Do you prefer McDonalds or Burger King?


12. Your wife seems to put a lot of effort into publicity. Has this become a full time job or a labour of love?

Both. Bless her. She also writes the books.

13. Two fish in a tank. What did one say to the other?

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go; farewell. (sic:)

14. What New Year resolutions have you already broken?

I avoid the self-flagellation of personal disappointment by not making any.

15. Do you prefer to work in silence or in a noisy environment, i.e. music, TV, etc.?

Silence is good. Sometimes I like music. Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt, while being questionable for all sorts of reasons, is good to write to. Usually, however, I write to the cry of two toddlers, one of whom will burst in every now and again demanding that I take her to the toilet, and will then want to discuss at length where her poo has just been dispatched to.

16. Do you, or have you ever, owned a Rover 75?

No, but I saw one on the road once.

17. Lager or Real Ale?

Neither. Dry cider, as long as it's not that triumph of marketing over taste, Strongbow.

18. What is your most ridiculous theory espoused while drunk?

That Tony Blair isn't a giant insect.

19. What was your reaction at first seeing your name on a book?

I didn't really have one. I'm like that. It pisses the wife off on a regular basis.

20. Did you get the first copy off the press?

No. By the time it was printed, I think the publishers had forgotten who wrote it.

21. Do you think that humour is a serious business?

I don't think anything in the arts/entertainment world is serious.

To finish this exhaustive list of questions and complete your detailed psychological profile please confirm your favourite Spice Girl.

A bit like being asked what's your favourite way to get punched in the testicles, but if I had a gun at my head, I'd say Mel C.

by Chrissi and Nigel - 7th January 2002

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