Dark urban Scottish crime | Q&A John Mayer

I’m delighted to be welcoming John Mayer today.  John has led an interesting life and I hope you enjoy finding out more about his Parliament House Books in our chat as much as I have.

John MayerJohn Mayer (b. 1952) was born in Glasgow, Scotland at a time of post-WW2 austerity. But in 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, his life path was set. Aged 14 he walked out of school because, in his opinion, he wasn’t being well taught. Every day for the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds.
While still an apprentice engineer he was soon teaching men two and three times his age.  But in the 1970s he ‘dived off a cliff’ and set out to become a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a court battle with global giants, he went to the University of Edinburgh and became an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. He acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.
As an author, John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcasting to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, TV and print media.
The Trial is the first novel in his Parliament House Books series. Set in Edinburgh, it’s an homage to Franz Kafka’s book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustice casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.

 

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Hi John,

 

Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novels?

I was an Advocate in the Parliament House for 20 years. Parliament House is 500 years old and there are many great stories to fictionalise. I also use my own experience as an expert in International Child Abduction Law and in criminal law to weave my stories together.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your novels which would you be?

I’d be Lenny the Barman. He sees all that’s going on in the Calton Bar where much of the action happens. He’s the go-between guy who is trusted with messages between the central character – Brogan McLane QC in Parliament House – and McLane’s old friends who are still Lenny’s regular customers. I often write from Lenny’s point of view.

Please tell us more about the characters.

Brogan McLane QC is a firebrand Advocate in Parliament House, which houses the Scottish Supreme Court. He inhabits two ‘worlds’. That of the pomp and finery of the Scottish Supreme Courts and the area where he was brought up, called The Calton in Glasgow which is a rough low-rent part of the old city. In my books we are caught between the morals of both these places and often wonder where the good and truth lies. I think the slogan for my series sums that up well. It’s ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.’ McLane’s blood brother – Big Joe Mularkey –  is his right hand man. He’s Glasgow’s toughest, but fairest man. He operates a ship which crushes old cars – and other things – down in the Med. He can make things disappear. Part of their vast network of friends are ‘Arab’ – so called because he’s hung like an Arab stallion – and Tucker Queen who is the carrier of messages around the city. His speciality is tying a note to the end of a rat’s tail and slipping it through the recipient’s door late at night. Together they are a band of blood brothers who ‘right the wrongs that come out of rulings made in Parliament House.

What scene did you enjoy writing the most?

Ah! So many have moved me. If I had to pick one I’d go for the end of Book 2 which is called The Order. I was writing something very close to reality with a case of my own where I was able to have an African child who’d been sold into sexual slavery in Europe returned to her homeland.

… and the hardest?

The hardest scenes to write were the early ones when I was less practised than I am now at writing novels. I’d written non-fiction, university text-books etc and was still using some of those techniques. I’m all over that now and inhabit my characters 100%.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

I’ve had that good fortune and I’m not allowed to say. But a look at the covers of The Trial or The Order will give you a good hint.

John Mayer

Did you travel to any places John?

Like my central character Brogan McLane QC, I was born and raised in Glasgow so the band of blood-brothers is a collection of people I’ve known all my life. I know their language, their morals, their despair, their little happiness’s. I know these characters as well as I know myself.

What is in the future for The Parliament House Books?

I’m working on book 3 in the series which is titled The Trust. Trust is absolutely essential to the proper working of any legal system. When it breaks down, chaos rains down on people’s lives who are caught in a spin of decisions they can’t understand, have huge adverse effects of their lives and often cause suicides. This novel will be a huge responsibility because it’s closest to the fabric of the law. This one isn’t just a story; it’s a revelation.

What inspired you to write?

Actually it was decades ago when I asked a Teacher (Miss Ralph) I was saying goodbye to ‘What do you think I should do?’. I’ll never forget her answer ‘My boy, you’re a born storyteller. Write books.’

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Actually I often leap off the sofa with ideas very late at night. Alone with a drink in my hand at night I’m very creative. Alone at my keyboard all day is when I’m most productive.

Panster or a plotter?

I start with a broad canvas called Low Life in High Places in the Old Town. I always sketch out on a big whiteboard the Beginning, Middle and End. Each book is about a feature of injustice. So the first novel is about a rivalry within Parliament House involving a huge injustice to the central character. All of my books are in Parts 1, 2, 3 etc and lead the reader along the long roads to the ‘righting of wrongs’.

Are there any tips you could share with new writers?

Read and learn before you write. Don’t just bash something out and having read it back to yourself think ‘that’s very good!’. You won’t have a high enough standard of measurement. Also, live a little – in fact a lot – before you write. All writing is about the human condition. If you haven’t lived enough, that will show – like children’s writings – in your writing.

Finally John, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

That’s an easy one to answer. when reviewers say I write ‘beautiful poetic prose’ and ‘deeply frightening scenes on the page’ that’s the best feeling.

Thank you for being my guest.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects John.

John MayerWhen Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. ‘Called’ to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.

When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than ‘outsider’ Brogan McLane?

Out on bail with his career on hold, McLane and his band of blood brothers in the Calton Bar in Glasgow need to get ahead of their enemies or McLane will go down for life after Trial. But every time they discover a piece of evidence, it seems there is a mirror image to contradict it.

Through the murky world of Russian controlled transvestite hotels and with some unexpected police and judicial help, McLane battles against ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town’ until the killer is found.

But well protected and knowing all the tricks, will the killer ever stand trial in Parliament House.

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John Mayer

Brogan McLane QC uncovers the despicable deeds of The Earl of Marchion who owes £7.8m in Death Duties and who thought he could kidnap an 11 year old African girl and use her to smuggle and cheat his way out of paying those taxes. Hiding in his world of privilege, he didn’t reckon on the strongest ties of all: the love of a new mother and the legal skills of her husband Brogan McLane in Parliament House.
The story begins in an African forest with a desperate father trying to save his children from being butchered. When faced with no other choice, he sells the children to a diamond smuggler.
Through dark days of prostitution and slavery in Edinburgh one of those children comes under the protective wings of Mr and Mrs McLane. The battle between justice and injustice rages for months until, finally faced with deportation of the child they’ve come to love, McLane has an idea of how to play a legal Ace card.

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Married with two sons in their early 20's, by day I'm an Inclusion Lead in a local school. I recharge my batteries by reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for six years, four of those years exclusively about the literary world and during that time awarded Romance Blogger of the Year at the inaugural Festival of Romance. I'm enjoying the freedom of lifestyle blogging and sharing my love of anything that makes life easier! As well as a lover of words, I'm a stationery addict and lifelong learner. I feel passionate about early help for special educational needs, disability and families who are struggling. I'm a member of my local Early Help Operational Board and it's an honour to be working alongside others to instigate change and growth.