Sunday 22 June 2014

The US edition

The cover of the US edition is now showing on, where readers in the US can now pre-order the hardcover edition from Pegasus Books, which has a publication date of February 15 2015.

Obviously it's not a radical departure from the Orion cover, but I'm pretty happy with that - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I can't wait to hold the physical copy in my hands. Orion has world rights so I'm not sure whether publishers in other English-speaking territories make their own edits, but I'm looking forward to finding out more about the process, and I can't wait to be officially published in the States.

You can check out my author page at Pegasus here.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Some stuff that's happening

One week from tomorrow, I'll be doing an event at Waterstones East Kilbride, talking about The Killing Season, writing, and whatever else anybody asks me about. It's a free event and there's no need to book - just turn up at 7pm on Thursday 26 June. If you like, you can register on my Facebook page, but that's completely optional - there will be no bouncers.


Speaking of events, if you missed me announcing my dates at Edinburgh International Book Festival and Bloody Scotland, you can now see everything in one handy place on my events page.


My interview with Crime Thriller Girl is now online - find out how I write, how much research I do and what my all-time favourite book is, along with many more great questions.


I'm up for the Edinburgh Book Festival First Novel Award - if you liked The Killing Season enough to give me your vote, you can do so here, and it would be much appreciated. It's a strange feeling being in competition with Kirsty Wark...


A great review all the way from New Zealand in the Booksellers New Zealand Blog:

What makes this a great book is Cross letting us see different characters’ points of view – it adds to one’s understanding of the character, and of his/her motivation and processing of the events. It’s a method well handled, and I will definitely be looking for the next novel.


Last but by no means least, I'm delighted to say The Killing Season now has a US release date. It's going to be published in hardcover on February 15 2015 by Pegasus Books. I'm beyond excited about my debut novel being published in the world's largest crime and mystery fiction market - here's hoping I get to visit. No cover yet, but you can be sure I'll be posting it here as soon as it's available.

That's all for now, see you around...

Saturday 14 June 2014

My #CarrieAt40 article

I'll be posting bits and pieces of writing I've done elsewhere on the net here from time to time. This one comes from Matt Craig's excellent Reader Dad blog. He recently hosted a series of blog posts celebrating the 40th anniversary of Stephen King's Carrie. I was honoured to be asked to write a short piece about one of my favourite authors.

I urge you to go to Matt's blog and check out some of the other fine pieces written by people like John Connolly, Steve Cavanagh, VM Giambanco and tons more. It's amazing how diverse the selection of articles is. Go check it out.


Carrie Goes to the Movies

, the first of Stephen King’s novels to find a publisher, hit the shelves in 1974. Forty years later, King has produced over fifty books and numerous short stories, and is probably the world’s bestselling author. It’s strange to think it all began with this slender tale of a put-upon teenage girl who’s a little out of the ordinary.

Amidst what’s sure to be a veritable bloodbath of anniversary tributes to this classic debut novel, I thought I’d approach the subject from a slightly different angle: Brian De Palma’s film adaptation, which appeared just two years after the book. De Palma’s Carrie is a fascinating movie in its own right, not least because it is the first offering in what would become practically a cottage industry.

There have been dozens of Stephen King adaptations of varying quality since 1976. In fact, Wikipedia lists well over a hundred theatrical and television productions adapted or derived from King’s works. Some stories have even been made more than once. Carrie, for example, has had a sequel and not just one but two remakes. It’s the 1976 version, though, which will stand the test of time.

Considering the liberties that would later be taken with King’s work – to the extent that the author actually took legal action to remove his name from the Lawnmower Man movie – De Palma’s film is a pretty faithful adaptation, and the changes it makes are broadly in keeping with the spirit of the source, at least until we get to the end. The big story beats are the same: Carrie is bullied by her classmates, discovers she has strange telekinetic powers on the onset of her first period… you know the rest: crazy fundamentalist mother, more bullying, pig’s blood, prom carnage. What’s interesting is that while retaining most of the original story, De Palma chooses to shift the focus subtly, so that the movie focuses much more on the female characters.

This works very well, probably because the subtext of the book focuses on women and different kinds of female power. De Palma takes this to its logical conclusion: the strongest performances and characters in the movie are the women, including Amy Irving’s good girl, Nancy Allen’s tormentor-in-chief, and Oscar-nominated turns from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie as Carrie White and her batshit-insane mom. Male characters are very much sidelined, even when they played a much bigger part in the book (and even though one of them is played by a young John Travolta).

This is one of the main ways that the film has influenced an entire genre. Before Carrie, there had been a few low-budget teen horror movies, such as Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Two Thousand Maniacs, but Carrie really opened the floodgates. In the years that followed we got Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and dozens of lesser teen slasher movies, many of which featured strong-willed female leads eventually escaping the horror.

The other influential feature of Carrie is the ending, which is also the biggest deviation from the source. While King delivers a low-key coda musing on sorrow and forgiveness in the book, De Palma opts for a typically lurid climax: a hazy dream sequence where Irving’s Sue Snell serenely approaches Carrie’s grave carrying flowers… only for a bloodstained hand to thrust out of the earth and grab her. It set a precedent for jump-scare endings that quickly became de rigueur for the horror flicks that followed.

It undermines the redemptive message of King’s book, of course, but it’s the perfect ending to a slightly different take on the story. It certainly helped the notoriety of Carrie, which made it possible for those hundred-and-some films to be made out of King’s extensive bibliography. And while some of those might have been less than great, the list has also included brilliant films like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me and (less well-regarded, but one of my favourites), John Carpenter’s Christine. And for those classics we have to thank not just Stephen King’s Carrie, but to a large extent Brian De Palma’s Carrie as well.

Thursday 12 June 2014


I'm delighted to say I'll be appearing as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August. Details as follows:


Thursday 21 August | 7pm
Mason Cross & Thomas Enger

Crime Fiction with a Twist
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre,
£7.00 [£5.00]

The latest super-talented Scandinavian to make an international mark, Thomas Enger has chosen the perfect moment to write about murder and political scandal in Oslo in his third Henning Juul novel, Scarred. Glasgow’s Mason Cross builds his debut, The Killing Season, around a tale of the FBI, the ‘Chicago Sniper’ and a new kind of investigator who goes by the name of Carter Blake.

Full programme available from, tickets on sale 24 June


I'm really excited to be part of the world's biggest book and writing festival - it's a fantastic boost for a new author like me, and I can't wait to meet some of the other guests in the legendary writers' yurt.

Another cool thing is that all debut novelists are eligible for the festival's First Book Award. The book which receives the most votes from readers wins, and better still - anyone who casts a vote will be entered into a draw to win all 43 books on the list!

So if you've read and enjoyed The Killing Season, I'd really appreciate it if you'd vote for me! You can vote online via this form on the festival website, or by filling out a card at the festival.

Sunday 8 June 2014

My second solo gig!

I'm pleased to announce that the good people at Waterstones East Kilbride are hosting an event for me at 7pm on Thursday 26 June.

It will be a free event, and although we've yet to firm up the details, it's likely I'll be talking about The Killing Season, writing in general, and possibly my own top secret East Kilbride history. And if you'd like to pick up a signed copy of the book, I (and Waterstones) will be only too happy to oblige.

It feels like I have a number of home towns, and East Kilbride is certainly on the list, since I went to high school and worked there for a while, as both a petrol station attendant and a Revenue Officer at Centre 1.

If anyone remembers me from my days at the Inland Revenue circa 2003 - this is the kind of stuff I was really thinking about when pretending to work.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Signed hardback goodness

Just a quick, nakedly commercial entry today to let you know that Goldsboro Books, the UK's largest specialist in first edition books has a limited stock of 100 signed hardback first editions of The Killing Season for sale.

Most retailers are carrying the trade paperback version. Although that's also very nice (not to mention cheaper), I have a soft spot for the hardback. The folks at Orion did an absolutely beautiful job on it.

It goes without saying I'm more than happy to sign pretty much anything you bring me at a reading or event, but if you're not able to make it to such an event and would like a signed copy, this is probably the easiest way.

Should you want to purchase a copy, you can click here to do so.

Bloody hell...

I'm very pleased to announce I'll be doing a panel at Bloody Scotland this year.

I'll be appearing with Eva Dolan and Hania Allen at 1:30pm on Saturday September 20 in the McClaren Suite of the Stirling Highland Hotel. We're all relative newbies, so I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about.

You can browse the full programme online now - there's a fantastic lineup including Ian Rankin, Kathy Reichs, Tony Parsons, John Gordon Sinclair, Louise Welsh and Sophie Hannah, plus the usual welcome suspects like Mark Billingham, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, Craig Robertson and Alex Gray.

I had a great time as a paying customer last year, and am looking forward to being a part of what is a fantastic festival for the first time this year.

Monday 2 June 2014

Why I Wrote The Killing Season

This piece originally appeared on The Murder Room on publication day, but I thought it would be good to repost here as well.


When I started work on the book that would become The Killing Season, I knew I wanted to write a pacy thriller of the kind I like to read: the kind of book that makes me want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

I wanted to incorporate all of the elements that readers of modern thrillers expect, but I didn't want to compromise on telling the story the way I wanted to tell it. I made a conscious decision to include a lot of conventions of the genre - the driven serial killer, the mysterious outsider brought in to break the case, the professional law enforcement agent caught between playing by the rules and doing what's right - because I wanted to prove you could draw on all of that and still write a story that felt fresh and modern.

The seed of the plot came from wanting to show a very personal one-on-one contest between two lethal professionals against the backdrop of a much larger multi-agency manhunt spreading across multiple states. Serial killers are commonly-used antagonists in this sort of fiction, of course, and there's a very good reason for that: they keep killing at regular intervals, providing an effective way to build tension and a sense of danger. A lot of times, the killer in this type of book is alien and unknowable. I wanted to turn that on its head and make my killer almost a co-protagonist. I wanted the reader to get into Caleb Wardell's head, perhaps even to root for him, until it's revealed what he's capable of. I wanted to make sure he was a cut above your average random murderer - professional and effective, but also very intelligent. I hoped his intelligence would make him more interesting and, as the book progresses, scarier.

I was drawn to the idea of the lone sniper because it's a great example of asymmetric warfare: you can spend millions of dollars and deploy thousands of people to track a lone killer down, but if he's smart, it's possible for one man to stay one step ahead. Reading up on the history of snipers, I became fascinated by the psychological dimension of that kind of warfare: it's a very personal kind of war, and snipers tend to be feared and disliked by other soldiers. It's almost a state-sanctioned type of serial killing - stalking impersonal targets and killing them in cold blood. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if precisely the wrong type of person was given that training and experience.

Every thriller needs a hero, and from the outset I knew I wanted mine to have some hidden depths; a secret history that would be gradually revealed over time. The thing I found most interesting about Carter Blake was that I didn't know all that much about him when I began writing. That may sound strange, but I actually didn't have to know much about him - just what his job was, and that he was very skilled at it. His character and background started to reveal itself to me as I wrote, and continues to do so as I work on the second and third books in the series. Blake actually surprised me by having a strong moral code. I had originally envisioned him as being an intelligent and deadly killer, perhaps not that far removed from his foe. There's still an element of that in his character, but one of the defining things about Blake is that there are some lines he will not cross.

Finally, I knew I wanted to have a strong female character to balance out the testosterone. Having grown up with Clarice Starling and Dana Scully, it seemed natural that my lead character within the FBI would be a woman. Again, this isn't uncommon in the genre, and again it's for a good reason: contrasting cool-headed femininity against a historically male-dominated profession creates some interesting conflicts. Just to mix things a little, I made her the most ambitious character in the book. Anyone who's had to juggle a young family and a demanding job knows that you're often forced to make difficult compromises, and I thought it would be interesting to make Elaine Banner a single mother, on top of everything else she has to deal with. The one thing I wanted to avoid was making Banner a damsel in distress, and her decisions at the end of the book bear that out.

Lastly, I wanted to throw some surprises into the mix. There's a conspiracy element in The Killing Season, but it's not obvious to begin with. It's intended to begin as a very soft background hum, hopefully below the reader's awareness, before building to a crescendo at the end of the book. I think it provides a satisfying addition to the A-story of Blake versus Wardell, and it provides a commentary on the themes of the book: fear and war and the abuse of power.

If I've done my job right, The Killing Season ticks the boxes for a good thriller: action, adventure, intriguing characters, and a little bit of mystery. But most of all, I want you to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.