romantic suspense

A darker side to Edinburgh in Jennifer Young’s edgy romantic suspense

Last year I released The Scottish Diamond – a romantic suspense novella set in Edinburgh. The scenes in my story follow a trail often taken by tourists, taking in sights such as Castle, the Grassmarket, and Calton Hill. Jennifer Young is a Scottish author living in Edinburgh, and her new, edgy romantic suspense – Blank Space – shows a darker, less well-known side to the city.

Jennifer has dropped in today to give a fascinating insight into the background to her novel.

* * *

helena fairfax, romantic suspense, edinburgh, scotland
                         Edinburgh skyline

Like many people, I’m a bit of an escapist reader. I like to get away, preferably somewhere where the sun is hot and the drinks are cold, where money’s no object and luxury is a dream come true. Perhaps, therefore, it follows that I’m a bit of an escapist writer as well, projecting all my own fantasies onto somewhere in the Mediterranean.

For my new venture, a series of romantic suspense novels, I find myself much closer to home. Indeed, the opening scene takes place three miles or so away from home, in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area. Quite what made me choose Edinburgh is beyond me. It’s a romantic enough location, with its old town and its castle, but I’ve chosen to go dull suburban.

helena fairfax, romantic suspense
         View towards Princes Street

I think the real reason is that, unusually for me, the plot and the characters, other than the location, are the book. I don’t remember when the idea came to me, though I do remember that my starting point was the opening scene (see the excerpt below), and that it came into my head almost as it appears in the final version of the book. But in terms of location, that scene could have occurred in a penthouse on the Riviera or in a 1960s semi in Milton Keynes.

I didn’t decide to set it in Edinburgh until the plot required it. My hero, Marcus, is a policeman involved in some very dodgy doings in the name of law and order. My heroine, Bronte, is a former political activist turned bank worker who still retains some strong left-wing ideals. With an upcoming G8 summit looking large in both their minds, they find themselves on very different sides of the fence. They, too, could live anywhere — in Dublin, or Denver, or Dudley.

G8 summits can happen anywhere, too. But, as it happens, I remember the one which was held in Scotland in 2005.

helena fairfax, romantic suspense
                        The Royal Mile

It wasn’t in Edinburgh itself but at nearby(ish) Gleneagles — but Auld Reekie was the focus of demonstrations, of an influx of protestors who couldn’t get within several miles of the main venue itself. There was no violence, but plenty of people feared and expected it. A slightly febrile attitude brewed around the place when Bob Geldof suggested that honest Edinburghers would be more than delighted to have complete strangers camping in their gardens. (Sir Bob obviously isn’t au fait with the capital’s less-than-glowing reputation for hospitality.) I took a bus along Princes Street and watched the workmen boarding up the shops in expectation of Trouble. That scene’s in the book.

In the end I wrote about Edinburgh, and about the G8 summit, because it was something I knew about. Writing about a place you know well frees you up to concentrate on the people and their actions. And the great thing is that, rather than finding my home city dull to describe (familiarity and all that) I’ve loved it.

Just as well, because not only will Marcus and Bronte continue their ideological differences for at least two more books and hopefully rather longer, but I rather feel I might be featuring this beautiful city again. There may not be tropical temperatures, but there’s luxury and history and exotica all around…

* * *

helena fairfax, romantic suspenseBlank Space: Extract

My first thought, when I discovered the body on my kitchen floor, was that it was a criminal waste of an exceptionally handsome man. My second was that I’d seen him somewhere before. And even as I crossed myself, I realised. He wasn’t dead.

I dropped my bag, sending the ingredients for the evening’s supper spilling out across the floor, and fell to my knees beside him. He lay on his back, one arm thrown theatrically wide, the other clasped across the patch of scarlet which flooded his shirt. As I watched, the deep stain broadened, livid red seeping outwards from between his fingers. His thick, dark hair was glossy with blood from a separate wound to the back of his head. You didn’t need to be a doctor to see where that came from; the trickle of red on the edge of the kitchen unit gave it away. My mind raced. He’d fallen. How? Why? And what would happen next?

I must call an ambulance. Then the police. But first, I must be sure he was alive. Curiously unable to help myself, I reached out a tentative hand and touched his cheek, the almost-bloodless skin shadowed with stubble. It was warm. Under my touch, he responded, mumbled something, and opened his eyes.

To think that a near-dead face could contain eyes of such live, vigorous blue. Breathless in my alarm, I froze, my fingers still touching his cheek as we stared for a moment, each measuring the other up, each trying to make something rational from this suburban nightmare. Was he friend? Was he foe? Had I saved him or condemned him?

* * *

Blank Space is available on Amazon and you can watch a trailer for the novel here

A bit about Jennifer Young

I can’t help writing and I hope you enjoy reading. I write about anything  my interests are pretty wide-ranging (football? travel? volcanoes?) — but most of all I like to write about people. Places inspire me, too. I’m based in Edinburgh – a literary city and one which can’t fail to inspire.

For years I sat in an office. For years afterwards I ran around after the kids and tried my best to keep the cat quiet. Now I have a little time for myself, although the demands of the cat still can’t be overlooked. So I’m indulging my passion for writing. 

I write everything – short stories, travel, novels. In my wilder moments I write poetry. The thing that matters is that I write something.

You can find Jennifer on her blog / on Facebook / and on Twitter

 * * *
Thanks so much for dropping in today, Jennifer. I remember all the news around the G8 summit. It was fascinating to hear what it was like living in Edinburgh at the time. I really enjoyed reading Blank Space. Looking forward to the next in the series!
If you’ve enjoyed Jennifer’s post, or have any questions or comments at all, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!


14 thoughts on “A darker side to Edinburgh in Jennifer Young’s edgy romantic suspense

  1. Interesting post and I enjoyed reading how you came to place your book in Edinburgh. I visited often and it’s a wonderfully atmospheric city and terrific for novel, film settings. Great extract and I was hooked by the first sentence alone and couldn’t but smile at:’ it was a criminal waste of an exceptionally handsome man’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the opening line, too, Annika! I thought it was a great premise for a novel, especially with all the scandal there has been around undercover policemen and women activists in the past few years.
      Thanks for your comment. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me hooked from the beginning. That scene is a winner. A nearly dead man with vigorous blue eyes jarred me. I have never been to Edinburgh, so getting to see it through stories is the next best thing. Thank you. Congratulations on this new release!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Edinburgh is a beautiful city, JQ. I do hope you make it over here one day. I loved Jennifer’s opening. I thought the whole novel had a great premise. There has been a lot of scandal here in the UK in recent years regarding undercover policemen and their relationships with women. Jennifer’s book deals with this theme. Thanks very much for your comment, and for dropping in!


  3. TRAINSPOTTING changed Edinburgh’s depiction drastically – and quite healthily, in a way. T2 is now out.

    I was neverf a fan of Scottish “miserablist” fiction, and actually made MACNAB a bit of an anti-TRAINSPOTTING, but it was nevertheless a very good book and film(s).


    1. I really enjoyed Trainspotting when it came out (both book and film) and because of them I still call Edinburgh “Embra” :) T2 looks good, too. The Inspector Rebus novels also show a different side to the city.
      Thanks for your interesting comment, James, and for dropping in!


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