Festival will be turned into crime scene by Duns writer

Author Janet O'Kane photographed at Chain Bridge which features in scenes of her second book 'Too Soon a Death'
Author Janet O'Kane photographed at Chain Bridge which features in scenes of her second book 'Too Soon a Death'

Murder will be on the agenda at the Borders Science Festival’s Eyemouth library event – crime writer Janet O’Kane made sure of it.

Since putting out two crime novels, the Duns-based author has received many invitations to speak about her approach to writing and the highs and lows of self-publishing.

But at the festival event at Eyemouth Library on Tuesday, May 17, at 7pm, she will talk about the research that goes into the science behind her crime novels.

“My first reaction was to laugh when it was suggested I should take part in the Borders Science Festival,” Janet said. “You couldn’t meet a less scientific person than me, but then I started thinking about the expert help I’ve received and realised how important it has been to my writing.

“For example, I doubt I would have got further than the first chapter of my first book if Professor Anthony Busuttil at the University of Edinburgh hadn’t advised me on what could happen to a body hidden in a Guy Fawkes bonfire.

“Thanks to a suggestion he made, the opening of No Stranger to Death is much more gripping than if I’d simply used the internet for research, and it also provided a plot twist towards the end of the book. I’ll always be grateful to him.”

Janet’s most recent novel, Too Soon a Death, opens with the discovery of a teenager’s body thrown from the Union Chain Bridge, near Paxton.

Her research for the book included behind-the-scenes tours of the accident-and-emergency department at Borders General Hospital at Melrose and a local fire station.

Some research can be more mundane, as Janet explains: “I describe my victim being pulled out of the Tweed not far from the Paxton House boathouse and my main character looking down from the Chain Bridge at the police on the scene.

“It wasn’t until I was on the bridge last September for a heritage open day that I discovered you can’t see as far as the boathouse from there.

“This wasn’t long before my book was due to be published, so I had to do some last-minute editing.’

As well as being stocked in the region’s libraries, Janet’s books are available to buy from Amazon as paperbacks and ebooks. She is now writing her third Borders mystery, set in Eyemouth and St Abbs.