What was the most interesting part of about putting together this book?
Researching with Walter on a weekly basis in his home for six
Months, to hear his tales of a spectacular life of crime and gain
insight into his family life past and present – in particular his
relationship with his mistress Jean, who was so supportive down the the
years. Fascinating too, to relate the theories of nature v nurture with
this intriguing criminal mind. The stories that came out of his long
years of incarceration were riveting and a real insight into the
effect of prison life.
Which section of the book was most enjoyable to write?
I enjoyed writing about the planning that went into the robberies and
hearing his theories of leadership in a criminal concept. A highly
intelligent man, he would have made a good general – something that is
often said about Godfathers.
What was the most challenging part about creating this book?
Attempting to balance the man, contrasting the crimes and the other
side of his nature, which was a certain likableness, and his easy going
attitude - except when, as he put it, "the red mist came down". I enjoyed
walking his patch with him - bookies and pubs - and seeing at first
hand the delivery of what he called "respect". Walter would have been
fascinating subject for serious analysis for any shrink.
What has been the feedback thus far on the book?
Very good, in particular it got a rave review in True Crime from Kim
Cantrell, who called it "one of the best books of its type to come out
of the UK this year". It was also favourably reviewed and part
serialised in the Scottish press. It also featured in radio. One
criticism was that perhaps the fact that he was not a drug dealer led
to playing down his bloody violence, a criticism I and others reject.
What new projects do you have on the horizon?
At the moment I am publicising new editions of my books Gentle Johnny Ramensky and The Barlinnie Story while making a return to a previous strand in my writing, Scottish social history, with a book called
Scotland's Year - events ancient and modern. This deals with ancient traditional events like Whippety Scourie (a ball game) and festivals like Up Helly Aw, T in the Park and the Edinburgh Festival.