Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Wasp Latitudes by Allan Watson with a guest post from the author himself. Many thanks to Sarah from Book On The Bright Side for the invite.
About this book…
Against a background of brutal attacks on people and property by a rag-tag group of homeless men whom the media quickly dub Berserkers, DI Will Harlan is juggling with a head-in-a-bucket patricide, a lethal wife-swapping session, a sex-tape scandal involving the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – and perhaps most discomfiting of all – a spate of late night phone calls from his favourite serial killer, Howie Danks.
As the wife-swapping investigation spirals into a glut of cold-blooded slayings carried out by a mysterious pair of killers known as the Wasp Queen and the Priest, Harlan has to look into the past where a cold case may contain uncomfortable answers. But it’s in the present where the real danger lies as he follows a twisted path of mind control and madness leading to a cruel land some call the Wasp Latitudes.
A writer walks into a bar. No, seriously, it’s not a joke. Don’t expect any long-faced talking horses or whisky drinking gorillas in this story. I was only in the bar because my friend George was having an informal birthday celebration. George saw me come in and asked what I wanted to drink then headed for the bar, but not before introducing me to a friend of his called Malky. ‘You guys have a lot in common,’ George called over his shoulder as he vanished into the heaving throng of bodies at the bar.
I’m never at my sparkling best when rudely deposited into the company of complete strangers, but Malky was more a social animal than me. With his skinny-cut suit and ultra-fashionable half-clipped, half-shaven haircut he oozed confidence and polished charm. He grabbed my hand and pumped it three times in a well-practiced professional manner.
‘So you’re the famous writer George keeps talking about?’ he said.
‘Well, I do a bit of writing, that’s true. But definitely sure I’m not famous.’
Malky rolled his eyes. ‘No need for false modesty. I’m told your book was a best-seller in Canada last year.’
I wriggled like a worm on a hook, wishing for the hundredth time I’d never made that stupid post on Facebook and Twitter. ‘Well, technically, yes. My publisher did some dark and dastardly loss-leading deal with Amazon promotions department that briefly tickled their sales algorithm. You know how it is. All smoke and mirrors.’
Malky only shrugged, obviously still under the impression I was playing things down. ‘I’m in publishing, too. Perhaps we can help each other out.’
Suddenly I was interested. My last publishing deal had unexpectedly gone south. Maybe this was a chance to get back on track. ‘What sort of stuff do you publish? Crime? Horror? Sci-Fi?’
He smiled. ‘Not that sort of publishing. I’m into glamour modelling magazines.’
Unable to help myself I blurted out, ‘Nude books? Really?’
Malky was no longer smiling. ‘We don’t use that term anymore. It’s juvenile and derogatory. Undermines the hard-won respectability of the whole adult-entertainment business industry. Besides, everything is online these days. The days of the top-shelf hard-copies are redundant.’
I scanned the bar hoping George would return with my drink before I could embarrass myself any further. I mumbled an apology, but Malky’s beaming smile was already back in place.
‘I have a business proposal for you. Something that might be financially beneficial to both of us.’
I swallowed nervously. ‘Um… This doesn’t involve me taking off my clothes in front of a camera, I hope.’
His derisive laugh was more cruelly mocking than I felt strictly necessary. ‘No, nothing like that, you see…’ Malky stopped talking to grab the arm of a passer-by. ‘Sorry, can’t pass up this opportunity. This is Sam.’
Sam was a geeky stick of a man with a pudding bowl haircut and a perpetually-fixed grin that wouldn’t look out of place on a psychotic sex offender. His eyes, magnified by thick-lensed national health spectacles peered at me like I was specimen in a bug jar. His limp handshake was both moist and slightly sticky.
Malky tapped Sam on the chest. ‘Sam here has a very special and unique talent. He can instantly give you an anagram of anything you like. It’s amazing.’
Sam just grinned back like he was picturing biting into the soft inner flesh of a young woman’s thigh. He was definitely creeping me out.
‘Go on, try him out,’ Malky urged me. ‘Just give Sam a movie title or the name a famous celebrity.’ Malky’s eyes lit up. ‘Or even better. What was it your book was called?’
‘Well, the new one is Wasp Latitudes,’ I said, once more staring towards the bar and wondering where the hell George had got to with my drink.
‘No, not that one,’ said Malky shaking his head, instantly dismissing my latest work. ‘The other one. The book that was number one in Canada.’
‘Oh, that one. It was called Heart Swarm.’
Malky tapped Sam on the chest again. ‘Do your stuff, maestro.’
Sam blinked behind his thick glasses and croaked, ‘Arse Wart.’
Malky roared with laughter. ‘Give us another one, Sam.’
As Sam wandered away, no doubt sizing women up to follow home, Malky commented, ‘Fantastic, isn’t he?’
I shook my head. ‘Well, technically speaking, neither of those were proper anagrams because…’
Malky wasn’t listening. ‘As I was saying, I have a proposal. It’s very simple. I want in.’
‘You want in?’ It must have been clear from my tone I had no idea what he meant.
‘Yes, I want to buy into to your writing career. It’s time I diversified.’ He winked at me. ‘You never know, there may come a time when blokes get tired of looking at naked women. So I want to expand my horizons and get a foothold in the crime-writing business.’
‘So how does that work?’
‘It’s simple. We set up a limited company. I invest in the start-up financial side of things and when you have another best seller we split the profits.’
‘But I don’t have any start-up costs. I just sit at my computer and type. The infrastructure is already there. A house, heating, electricity, word processing software. All bought and paid for.’
He looked confused. ‘But there must other capital expenditure involved. What about research assistants?’
‘Google,’ I said.
A look of sharp frustration etched his features. ‘There must be some expenses when writing a book.’
‘Well, there is gin and cigarettes. But, that’s about it.’
We stood not speaking for a few moments, the silence only broken when Anagram Sam walked past, still grinning that manic grin, and screeched, ‘War Hamster!’
To my great relief George finally appeared holding out a gin and tonic to me. ‘Sorry about that, big queue at the bar. So how are you two getting along?’
Malky curled his lip into a sneer and said something that might have been, ‘Some people have no ambition,’ and stalked off.
George gave me a look of bemused puzzlement. ‘I see you still haven’t grasped the concept of networking. Never mind, I heard this really funny joke while getting you a drink. Okay, this writer walks into a bar…’
Meet the author…
Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.
In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.
He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack)
Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that…
Twitter – @allanwatson12