Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Author Spotlight: Gordon Bickerstaff

Meet Gordon Bickerstaff! He's a talented thriller author, and I'm so pleased he took the time to answer some questions for me.

Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? 

I'm married with two daughters, and two grandchildren. I was born and raised in Glasgow but spent my student years in Edinburgh. On student summer vacations, I learned plumbing, garden maintenance, and I cut the grass in the Meadows. I learned some biochemistry and taught it for a while before I retired to write fiction. I do some aspects of DIY moderately well and other aspects not so well. I live with my wife in Scotland where corrupt academics, mystery, murder and intrigue exists mostly in my mind. I enjoy walking in the hills, 60s & 70s music, reading, travel and writing.

What kind of books do you write? How many books have you written?

I've written a series of 5 stand-alone crime thrillers (The Lambeth Group Thrillers). The series takes its inspiration from a TV series in the 70s called Doomwatch. The Lambeth Group is a secret government department set up to police science and tech crime. The Group pulls together small teams of scientists and special forces soldiers to investigate crimes that require specialist expertise. The main protagonists are Gavin Shawlens and Zoe Tampsin. He has the expertise but woeful inexperience in covert/spy/procedures. She is the kick-ass soldier with brains, bravery and skills set to keep Gavin alive in the face of grave danger.

Do you set your stories in the area you live in?

Some scenes in my books are set in an around central Scotland but the investigations take Gavin and Zoe around the UK and occasionally to Europe. In Tabula Rasa, several scenes were set in Alicante, Spain. In other books, scenes have taken place in Paris and Amsterdam.

Most writers I know are voracious readers. What kind of books do you like to read? 

I like thrillers. I've read a lot of Lee Child, Tess Gerittsen, Patricia Cornwell, David Baldacci and James Patterson. I'm trying to widen my horizons so I joined a book club to pull me into other genres.

What’s your favorite book? 

I can't pin down one single book because a lot of great books stand shoulder to shoulder and are great in different ways. Books I really enjoy, I will read twice. I don't know how many but I've read more than a dozen books twice. If ever I read a book three times then that will be my fav of all time.  

Let’s play a quick game of "This or That". 
Real books or e-books? No space left in the house for paperbacks, so ebooks.
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Sweet or savory? Sweet.
Dogs or cats? Dogs, small, like Westies.
Summer or winter? Summer.
Morning or night? Morning.

Would you mind telling us about your writing style?

I prefer to use narrative writing and descriptive imagery to help my readers imagine the characters, scenes and setting. If necessary, I'll add a small amount of exposition when required. I like to read thrillers with pace so my books are written with pace. As a biochemist, I like to sprinkle some medical flavour into my stories. I like to create well-constructed twists, and I love it when my editor says "Wow! didn't see that coming".

Do you have a routine?

I don't have a fixed routine of for example 5000 words every morning. I write on demand. When I have a scene fixed in my mind, I write that scene until it is finished. Depending on the scene, it can take an afternoon, a day or a week. 

Do you need complete silence or blaring music? Early morning writing or late nite writing?

When I was a student, I used to study with pop music playing in the background. I don't like silence. I write to complete as much of a scene as I can and that can happen during any part of the day or evening. Sometimes, I'm forced to write late at night if an idea is bursting out of my mind and I have to write it down. 

Do you have a favorite "writing" snack?

Yes, quick and tasty. Toasted brown bread with a layer of either butter or honey or jam.

Which do you think is the hardest to write: the first sentence or the last one?

The last one. Every author writes much more material than is needed and I'm as guilty as everyone. I've been told a dozen times by editors "the reader will get it, you don't need this bit"  

What is your biggest distraction while writing?

My wife. 
"I thought you'd finished that chapter" 
"I really don't think Zoe would have done that"
"your dinner is getting cold"
"a scene set in Sestri Levante? Well, we must go there and check it out" 

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Keep a small notebook and pen with you at all times. Ideas come into the mind at odd times. Once, I was in a theatre enjoying the show when an idea for a new scene I'd been working on earlier in the day suddenly dropped into my mind. For the rest of the evening, I had to keep bringing the idea to the front of my mind to keep it there. With a notebook and pen, I could have scribbled down the detail during the interval and then enjoyed the rest of the show. Lesson learned.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Stephen King said “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well”. I write to enrich my life, and hopefully add a little to others who read my books.

What’s next for you? What do your readers have to look forward to?

A month ago, I started writing book 6. Gavin receives a new assignment from the Lambeth Group in which he has to discover how a group of men have managed to get away with murdering family members and pocketing the insurance windfalls. Meanwhile, Zoe is a target for assassination and is on the run. When Gavin gets too close to discovering the truth about the murders, Zoe must break cover and risk her life to pull him out of the fire!

Where can we connect with you? Tell is where to find you online.

Twitter - @ADPase
Website for free PDF sample downloads -

The Lambeth Group Thrillers
'Deadly Secrets' Amazon preview -  
'Everything To Lose' Amazon preview -  
'The Black Fox' Amazon preview -  
'Toxic Minds' Amazon preview -

Most recent book (May 2017) is 'Tabula Rasa'

Tabula Rasa 'a clean slate' thriller/suspense. Three Readers' Favorite reviewers Award 5*.
Special investigators, Gavin and Zoe search for a dead scientist's missing son and discover advanced preparations for the greatest revolution in human history.  ($1.99/£1.49).

'… Zoe and Gavin are back in another razor-sharp story' 
'… is a captivating story that will delight thriller fans'


  1. Thank you Beth. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview.

    1. You’re most welcome. I enjoyed reading your answers. :)