Stop Press (And A Happy New Year to Y’All!!!)

American readers may be interested to know that Amazon is currently (as of today!) selling ‘Fire and Sword’ for the eye-wateringly low price of $3.52.  This is for a paperback edition, not a kindle/e-book.

So what are you waiting for?  454 pages for $3.52?!?!  And the book’s already had 3 5-star reviews on Amazon UK and 1 5-star review in the US.

There.  That’s my sales pitch for the day.  Check out the link below if you’re interested.

And have a great 2014!!!  Apologies if I’ve been quiet the last couple of months, but I’m embroiled in the editing of Book 2 and it’s taking up most of my time these days.  My sincere thanks to those of you who supported me in 2013 by either buying the book or posting a review.  I’m just hoping that 2013 will be half as exciting for me as 2014 turned out to be!!

To North Ayrshire, & Beyond!!!

I’ve been beavering away the last few months getting ‘Fire & Sword’ out to an ever-wider audience, and it looks like all the hard work is paying off at last!!

First of all, can I remind you of the forthcoming signing at Abbey Books ( Well Street, Paisley) on 14th December, 1.15-3.15pm.  Posters are appearing at various venues around the town, so keep an eye open for them!  And a big ‘thank you’, to all those who have helped out by displaying them, including The Wynd cafe and The Grumpy Monkey cafe, as well the Paisley Arts Centre, Paisley Library and Paisley Museum.

Staff at the gift shop at Paisley Abbey have also taken a poster and long term may even be stocking the book itself – watch this space for further details, if and when it happens.

Last but by no means least, copies of ‘Fire and Sword’ will be available at the Beith Cultural and Historical Society Christmas Fair, which is great, because it means that I’ll be venturing forth into North Ayrshire.  North Ayrshire is of course Montgomerie country, and if you don’t know the connection between the Montgomeries and ‘Fire and Sword’, you either haven’t been paying attention, or you need to get out there and read the book!



Happy Birthday, Hadley Rille Books!

For a few days each year, my publishers – Hadley Rille Books – celebrate their anniversary with a massive sale on e-books, titles on kindle and nook, and also savings on their print editions, too.

So if you enjoyed reading ‘Fire and Sword’ and you fancy trying some of their other titles, now’s the time to take a good look and pick out some likely candidates.  With Christmas fast approaching, isn’t it about time you got some reading matter together?  That’s what holidays are for, after all – that is, if you’re not madly writing to hit the submission deadline (self-imposed!) for your novel…

So if you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy or historical fiction, check out the link below and see what takes your fancy:-

And hurry!  You’ve only got until Saturday….

Scottish Book Week

Sometimes it feels very strange, being a Scottish writer based in Scotland who writes historical fiction set in Scotland but who just so happens to be signed up with a US publisher (Phew!  That was a mouthful, wasn’t it?).  The Scottish literary scene is very active and busy, but when you find yourself on the fringes of it all, it can sometimes seem like you’re a mangy wolf skulking around while there’s a great big party going on inside the palisade.

But in the modern cut-throat world of publishing and book-trading, I like to think that all of us little guys are in this together, so if I can put in a plug for independent presses and booksellers, I’ll do it.

It’s Scottish Book week this week.  Across the country, there are events being held which celebrate Scottish writing and Scottish publishing, so if you find yourself looking for something to do between now and the 30th, check out the website at  and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.

And I’d also like to give a special mention to the pop-up bookshop in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, which is being run by the Milngavie Bookshop.  If you’re passing by the Mitchell this week, pop in and take a look – my personal favourite amongst the new titles has to be ‘Look Up Glasgow’, by Adrian Searle and David Barbour.  It’s definitely one of those ‘gosh, I wish I’d thought of that first’ kind of books – it takes a look at some of Glasgow’s architectural gems which though located across the city remain largely hidden and unappreciated because most visitors only interact with the buildings at eye (or shop front) level.

Those of us who do take the time to look up and see the ‘angels in the architecture’ (as Paul Simon would say) aren’t remotely surprised that the authors have found enough information to fill a book devoted to the subject.  But I think most of us would be hard-pressed to be able to capture the wealth of images that graces the pages of ‘Look Up Glasgow’ – it’s a truly stunning tribute to the city and its architectural treasures.

Incidentally, the Milngavie Bookshop – as well as stocking an excellent range of up-to-date titles – has a lovely little cafe attached with some excellent soups and cakes.  So if you ever find yourselves in or around Milngavie, please check them out (more info as

And if you need an excuse to go and visit Milngavie, can I just point out that it’s just a stone’s throw from the Campsies (in the lands of the Lennox, John Stewart’s stamping ground, if you know your ‘Fire and Sword’) and that there are some really nice walks around Mugdock Country Park.  There’s a ruined castle there, too, but that’s another story!!


I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be signing copies of ‘Fire and Sword’ at Abbey Books in Paisley between 1.15 and 3.15pm on Saturday 14th December, so if you’d like to come along to say ‘hello’, then it’d be lovely to see you!

Copies of the novel will soon be available to purchase from Abbey Books, so if you’re interested in buying a copy, you can rest assured that you’re helping to support a local Paisley-based business at the same time!

[Psst – I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Abbey Books have a spectacular range of second books available in the shop.  When I called in on Saturday, I managed to pick up a copy of ‘The Letters of James IV 1505-1513’, which will be added to my primary research materials for future novels!]

Check out their website which can be viewed on the link below, and hopefully I’ll see you on the 14th!








Repaying Old Debts…

I dropped by Paisley Central Library yesterday, armed with a copy of ‘Fire and Sword’ which I’d brought along to donate to the library’s collections.

As I waited there in the queue, it felt like things had come full circle.  I was a regular attendee of the Paisley Writers’ Group for many years when it was based at the library.  I was in the early stages of writing the novel when I first joined them, and it was there that I really learned how to write:  I hung out with a number of talented local writers who weren’t afraid to offer an honest critique of my work, and much of the time we were mentored by professional writers-in-residence – Ajay Close and Paul Houghton were at the helm in the years I attended.

Numerous photocopied extracts of the novel were circulated for critique, and through that process I learned to edit.  And I learned, too, the advantages of carrying out a major slash-and-burn on the manuscript before it finally gets sent off to a publisher.  I don’t personally believe that pace is everything, and I don’t enjoy reading books that carry you along at a relentless breakneck gallop from beginning to end, but moving along at a brisk trot is helpful, and hearing the views of other writers certainly taught me to evaluate pace and pick up the speed as necessary.

Yes, a donated copy of a completed novel seems a small price to pay for the years I spent honing my craft there.

And on the subject of nostalgia (and this is really a long shot, I know!) I still owe a free copy of the book to a now-retired Conservation Officer attached to the Planning Department of Renfrewshire Council.  We once met up to discuss all things Semple-related when I was an impoverished out-of-work archaeologist: he very kindly bought me lunch, the arrangement being that I would pay him back by giving him a copy of the book once it was published.

Duncan, it’s been years, I know, but the arrangement still stands.  If you should stumble across this post, then please get in touch so I can get you your signed copy, would you?




Apologies if everything’s gone quiet round here – following all the excitement of the book launch, I promptly moved house!

Now the boxes are unpacked, I’m beavering away on the follow-up to Fire and Sword, which will hopefully be dispatched to the publisher early in 2014!

In the meantime, signed copies of Fire and Sword are available from me at a very reasonable rate.  To those of you who have purchased the book, thank you!  If you enjoyed it, then please, spread the word!  Rate it on Amazon, or Goodreads.  And please, raise awareness with the big retailers and encourage them to shelve Fire and Sword in the shops.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working to get the title stocked at local venues around Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire, but it’s definitely the case that I need as many people as possible to get out there and tell their friends about the book (which will soon, I believe, also be available to borrow from Lochwinnoch Library!)

Now things are settling down round here, I hope to post more often.  Over the winter, I’m looking forward to introducing you to some of the places associated with James IV and his court.  Places they frequented in times of peace, and war.  And I’ll talk a bit more about the writing of the novel.  How I created the characters, how their actions in real life influenced the way I depicted them as fictional constructs.

And of course, I’ll be keeping you abreast with news about my second novel…

Book Launch at Castle Semple!

Well, this it!  ‘Fire & Sword’ has now achieved its official launch at the Castle Semple Visitor Centre in Lochwinnoch!

Some Unusual Publicity Courtesy of Brian Turner's Routemaster Bus (Copyright Louise Turner 2013)

Some Unusual Publicity Courtesy of Brian Turner’s Routemaster Bus (Copyright Louise Turner 2013)

The event opened with a brief introduction by Charles Woodward, Manager of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, who soon handed proceedings over to Jamie, 21st Lord Sempill.

Charles Woodward, Manager of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Introduces The Evening at Castle Semple Visitor (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

Charles Woodward, Manager of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Introduces The Evening at Castle Semple Visitor (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

Several extracts from the novel were then read by the author, with each fictionalised episode interspersed with more detailed discussions about the real historical events which inspired the book itself, and underpinned its writing.  And we took the opportunity to celebrate the life of the man whose story lies at its heart: John, 1st Lord Sempill.

The Author Reads An Extract From the Book In The Company of Jamie, 21st Lord Sempill (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

The Author Reads An Extract From the Book In The Company of Jamie, 21st Lord Sempill (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

An invitation for questions from the audience led to a lively discussion about events which took place in the late medieval and early modern periods throughout Renfrewshire and beyond, with the final reading followed by a signing session by the author.

The Author, Pictured Presenting a Copy of 'Fire & Sword' to Jamie, 21st Lord Sempill (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

The Author, Pictured Presenting a Copy of ‘Fire & Sword’ to Jamie, 21st Lord Sempill (Copyright James Dunlop 2013)

From my own personal perspective, it was a very special night!  The fictional elements were leavened with just the right amount of factual background, and what made it all the more enjoyable was the number of familiar faces who had turned out to support me: family and friends, each of whom had through the years helped urge me onwards as I faced the long uphill struggle to publication.  Including Lord Jamie himself, who recounted in his introduction just how long it had been since I’d first told him about my plans to write a book around events in the life of his ancestor!  From a writer’s perspective, it was equally inspiring to find attendees who had come along for the evening not because they knew me, but because they were genuinely interested in the event and they wanted to find out more about the book.

My thanks to everyone who came along for the evening and made it so memorable!  A big ‘thank you’ must of course go to all the family and friends who helped with the photography, the book selling and the doling out of wine and snacks (including fellow Hadley Rille writer Harriet Goodchild.  It’s a favour I hope to reciprocate once her own debut is launched in the not too distant future!).

Extra special thanks must go to Lord Jamie, of course, who was such a genial host and who gave so generously of his time to be there.  And last but not least,  I must acknowledge the sterling efforts of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Council staff: Charles Woodward of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park for hosting the event, Claire Paterson who worked so hard on the publicity side of things. And last but not least: Ann and Helen, our tireless providers of tea and biscuits for the duration of the evening.  The event went on much later than expected, and yet our hosts at the Visitor Centre very patiently put up with all the crowds and the chaos, which was extremely good of them.

Now I think all that remains to be said is…  Here’s to the next one!!!  Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later!






Hot Off The Press!

I’m delighted to report that copies of ‘Fire and Sword’ are now available for purchase on-line from Amazon.

If you’re the traditional kind of reader (like me!) then you can purchase the paperback by clicking on the link below:-  (UK readers)   (US readers)

No hardback edition available as yet for the true bibliophiles amongst you, but it will be arriving soon!

And for those of you out there who no longer count yourselves amongst the Luddites, you can acquire the kindle version instead for a very reasonable price.  Here’s the link:-     (UK readers)  (US readers)

Enjoy – and please remember that the book launch will be taking place this coming Friday (27th September) at the Castle Semple Visitor Centre in Lochwinnoch.  Entry’s free, the 21st Lord Sempill will be in attendance, there will be refreshments and nibbles available, in an evening which will feature readings from the book and a signing session. Everyone’s welcome to attend, so I hope to see you there!