Interview: Denzil Meyrick

The Five By Five Interview with Denzil Meyrick

“Five By Five?” Um, well… I wanted a name for this (hopefully regular) feature, and as well as being a big crime fiction fan I am also a big Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, with a soft spot for “rogue slayer” Faith, who uses the phrase constantly – though she never explains what it means, it’s an expression used in telecoms/military coms to confirm a signal is being received clearly, so hopefully this means we’ll get a clearer picture of our interviewees!

I first met Denzil Meyrick at a book launch in Edinburgh several years ago, after which a few people decamped to a nearby restaurant for a rather raucous evening where Mr M held court effortlessly at a large table in the middle of the room – a night I shall not forget in a hurry! His DCI Daley series (which always have excellent titles) has swiftly become a must-read for many people, and I bet more than one of you reading this has his latest pre-ordered and can’t wait to open the covers. I have reviewed a couple of his books (check out what I said about Jeremiah’s Bell here), but mostly they are something to read, enjoy and then share with one of the increasingly rare people I know who isn’t already hooked 🙂

Denzil Meyrick is one of Scotland’s biggest-selling crime writers. He hails from Campbeltown and life has taken him from studying politics to a varied career including time spent as a police officer, freelance journalist and director of several companies in the leisure, engineering and marketing sectors. His global best-sellers include the DCI Daley thrillers – which began with Whisky From Small Glasses, published in 2012 – and more recently several much-loved standalone novellas. Denzil lives on Loch Lomondside. You can find his website here: And follow him on Twitter here: @Lochlomonden


First, the sensible questions…

Q1 Tell us a bit about your journey to publication and how you got to where you are now. Why crime fiction rather than another genre?
Like most putative writers, I always harboured desire to pen a novel. But life always managed to get in the way. That, or lethargy and the fear of rejection. Let’s be honest, once the dream’s over, it’s over, right? I worked as a police officer, distillery manager, and director of a few companies in various sectors before becoming unwell in 2006. My writing career began as therapy – the need to have something to do while I suffered with chronic arthritis. I began writing Whisky From Small Glasses at the end of 2010. I had no deadlines in those days, so the work was incremental, to say the least. To cut a long story short, it was finished by early 2012. The first publisher I sent it offered me a publishing contract. 
It wasn’t my first choice to write crime – up until then, I hadn’t read much of the genre. But I reasoned that to do a historical novel (my initial intention) justice, I’d have to do my fair share of research. Not knowing then whether or not I’d have the discipline to write a book, I fell back on my police experience, and set it in Kintyre. Minimum of research necessary, and I could just get on with writing. And so, Daley, Scott, et al were born.

Q2 What was it like sitting down and writing your first novel, and what is it like now?
I began work on Whisky From Small Glasses with a mixture of interest, excitement and trepidation. I had no real expectation that it would be published, but I was curious to play out the string and see how things went. I’d a pretty good idea of the plot, so off I went.
These days, things are different. It’s easier, now I know what I write will see the light of day. But on the other hand, I’m always aware that every book has to be as good if not better than the last. And my ambitions have changed along the way. Back at number one, everything was possible. But now, with the Daley novels especially, there is a string of things to take into account: character backstory, previous events, timeline, etc. I have much more experience of writing after 12 years. But there is so much more to consider when I’m doing it. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

Q3 The DCI Daley series now covers 11 novels (including the imminent No Sweet Sorrow) and a short story collection – what’s the best and worst parts of writing a series?
The good thing about writing a series like this is that you know where you’re going; settings characters, style, etc are all familiar. There’s no need to spend time establishing everything all over again. I’m just in the process of finishing my 14th novel; I’ve written another two outwith Daley. While it’s great to be writing something fresh, you have the whole starting over process to consider. Plus the worry if people will like it or not. There are always a few readers who just want Daley novels all the time. But to keep myself fresh, it’s essential I write something else in between.
I had great fun writing the Sandy Hoynes/Kinloch Tales trilogy of novellas. Each were little books intended for Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they did and were received. It was also good to write something that wasn’t crime. I think that writers are too often pigeon-holed when they have success in a particular genre. It’s always good to try something different.

Q4 What’s your favourite part about being a writer?
It’s lovely to meet readers, always refreshing to hear what they have to say about my books – usually. Though no more plot suggestions please, ha ha!
Let’s face it, when it comes to jobs, writing isn’t fighting a war, heading down the pit or fishing in the North Sea. I’m lucky to make a very good living doing this. It’s a privilege, especially when you consider how many people are struggling in this country and beyond. I count my blessings.

Q5 What’s next for you, in terms of writing?
As I touched on earlier, I’m just about to finish a new thriller, to be published by Transworld next summer. Though I don’t want to give too much away, it centres around a fabulously wealthy family, and what happens to them when the patriarch dies suddenly – live on TV.

Now for the quick-fire round…

Q1 Who are your favourite characters in crime fiction?
Wallander, Rebus, Poirot, Maigret, Marcel.

Q2 What book have you reread the most?
Any of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.

Q3 What’s your favourite method of killing off characters?
Don’t have one. I like to keep things original.

Q4 What is your most over-used phrase, in life or in writing?

Q5 Do you use a bookmark or do you fold down the page corner?
Bookmark, definitely.


Ah, it’s always lovely to find a bookmark user! And that most over-used phrase is one that echoes round my flat an awful lot, too… Thanks to Denzil for taking the time to be gently grilled about his writing, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, as I’m sure everyone reading this is too – but in the meantime, there’s another Daley tale to dive into.

Denzil’s latest book, out on 1 June, is No Sweet Sorrow: A potent new drug has hit the streets of Kinloch, and DCI Daley and Scott are struggling to catch the notorious gang behind this evil trade. After a party of Oxford students arrives in town for a camping trip before a Himalayan expedition, one of the group seeks out an illegal high and is violently assaulted. However, these students are well connected, and this brings further unexpected problems for Daley. Ultimately, he and Scott will discover crimes as disturbing in nature as anything they have ever confronted.

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