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Scots crime writer Shona MacLean ‘killed off’ to appeal to men

Shona MacLeans publishers decided her feminine name might be putting off male readers, so she will now be known as SG MacLean

Shona MacLeans publishers decided her feminine name might be putting off male readers, so she will now be known as SG MacLean

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

SCOTTISH crime writer Shona MacLean has been forced to change her name – to S G MacLean – to make her novels more appealing to men.

The change follows the publication of three successful historical crime books under her full name. The title of her latest novel has also been truncated in its paperback form, to make it more punchy and eye-catching.

Crucible of Secrets now appears simply as Crucible.

MacLean, the niece of world-famous thriller writer Alistair MacLean, is published by London-based Quercus, which was named publisher of the year in 2011.

She said: “The thinking was that my name was too soft and feminine and men wouldn’t buy my books.

Now they have decided they want to make the covers more masculine and my name less obviously feminine.

“I was slightly concerned that anyone who was waiting for the book to come out might not realise it’s the same book or by the same person. But the name change seems to be working well.

“Crime books are more traditionally male, and my books have a male protagonist.

“This kind of thing has happened to other thriller writers, like C J Sansom, S J Parris and V C Letemendia.”

MacLean’s novels can hardly be described as being for a solely female market, given that they are thrillers centred on the fictional character of Alexander Seaton, a scandal-hit minister-turned-Aberdeen University teacher caught up in the political and religious turmoil of Scotland in the early 17th century. Crucible is the third in the series, following on from The Redemption of Alexander Seaton, set in Banff, and A Game of Sorrows.

MacLean, who lives in Conon Bridge with her husband, Dr James Vance, the rector at Golspie High School, and their four children, has a PhD in history from Aberdeen University, specialising in 16th and 17th- century Scottish history.

She is currently writing her fourth novel, which is set in the 1620-30 period when King Charles I’s unwelcome attempt to bring the Scots kirk into line with England sparked off the unrest that would lead to Civil War.

MacLean was encouraged to write by her late uncle, Scotland’s most successful thriller writer.

He wrote 28 books, including Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra and The Guns of Navarone, which were all made into films.

She acknowledges that being his niece may have helped give her some media attention when she was starting out as writer.

But she added: “I didn’t want it to look like I was hanging on his coat-tails.”

 

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