The Magic of a Book at Christmastime

Author Heath Savage

Available in Paperback and e-book

For Christmas 1967 I received three books: one was about the birds and animals of Australia, one was about the changing of the seasons, and the third was “The Children’s Bible in Colour.” I still love to read about the natural world, and three months ago I began to study The Bible in earnest, online with an accompanying podcast. I am sixty years old and neither I nor my interests have changed much since I was six.

Back in November when I wrote a blog about “Living the Dream I referred to a manuscript that I had carried around with me for about a decade. Well, this year I finished it. The completed novel emerged through many, many drafts; the characters’ names changed, plot lines altered, and the setting, Edinburgh, moved along with the times, just as real life does. I finished it. I actually wrote a novel! Seventy-four thousand words. Two-hundred and sixty-four pages. And I have been told by my fiercest critic and best friend of almost thirty years that it does not suck!

I re-read it four times, just taking it in: “It’s finished! I did it!” Perhaps I should have run around the garden a few times whooping, or let off some fireworks? But that’s not my style. I sat quietly at my desk beaming into my coffee, but I do confess, I did perform a little “chair dance.”

Now my book “Festival of Death: an Edinburgh Murder Mystery” is uploaded on Amazon, I am referring to myself an as “the author” and I expect people to buy it. I, the kid who slouched at the back of the class until it was time for art or games, when I could come alive. I, the one who couldn’t sit still or concentrate; the kid who distracted herself, and everyone else, from the mysterious tedium of formal education, by being a noisy pain in the ass. I stopped arsing about once, long enough to write a short story; homework for my English O- Level class. I was rather pleased with it at the time. My English teacher read it, raised her eyebrows, and sent me to the Headmistress to “confess” that I had cheated and copied it, or had someone adult at home write it for me. Fat chance: my grandmother could not read or write, and my parents both worked in factories. They left school at 14.

Yes, I have written a book. All by myself. I didn’t copy it. Nobody wrote it for me. I found the self-discipline to sit still, to create a story, characters and events; with a structured beginning, middle and end.  So, two-up to the form mistress who wrote the terse summary on my Third Form Christmas term report in 1974: “Has ability. But fritters it away.” And the same to the voice in my head that mocked me for many years: “Don’t get above yourself, it’s shite, you’re not a writer.”

The book (my book, the book that I wrote, so, get stuffed, Mrs McLaughlin!) is now on Amazon, in paperback: “Festival of Death: an Edinburgh Murder Mystery” by Heath Savage. It’s a bit rude, it’s a bit sweary, it’s a bit like me – not everyone’s cup of Darljeeling. I am quite glad that my dear departed mum and dad won’t be reading it! My best friend, who is a fierce critic and discerning reader, reviewed it and announced proudly: “It isn’t shite!

I am not done; in the new year I will be looking for an agent, a mainstream publisher, and I will be writing the sequel. The working title of this is “Dancing with Death: Another Edinburgh Murder Mystery.” It is a lot darker and grittier than the first, and I have introduced some new characters. Since the 29th December I have outlined the structure and planned out the plot, and I have written almost thirty thousand words.

This book excites me, because it challenges my ability to work within the parameters of the structure and form that I created in the first book: the language, and tone have to be the same, and the characters have to remain consistent with their original personalities and foibles. So, when I place them in new, much darker, situations, their actions and reactions must be consistent. Their personal stories have to evolve in a believable way too. I think this sequel will be the better of the two books, because I am now more confident and my writing has a spare quality that I explored in the first, but did not quite accomplish.

Here’s to 2022, and to success for all who dare to write!


Edinburgh LGBTQ crime novel in progress from Heath Savage

For thirty years I was a chef, with a parallel career; case manager in social services. I moved to Galicia in 2018, where partner, Sarah, and I have renovated a farmhouse.

I have won prizes for my poetry and prose and been published in the anthologies: The Good Life in Galicia 2019 and 2020 .

I write articles for a global English language online publication, The Local (ES) and I also blog

Born in Belfast in 1961, I’ve lived in Australia, Scotland, USA and Belgium. I began this book twenty years ago, after finishing my day’s work. I forgot about it until eight years ago, when an acquaintance; forensic psychologist and former detective, read it. He gave positive feedback, and suggested I should publish. Now, I am working on a cook book, and others in the crime genre. I’m developing the characters in this book, to create a trilogy.

In the late 1980s and 1990s I lived in Edinburgh. I was a chef, co-owned a bistro, and volunteered as a crisis worker. I helped run rehabilitation projects for people with HIV+, and those with mental health issues. I jobbed part-time on the theatre scene when I could. Death Festival: An Edinburgh Murder Mystery is my first novel.

Death Festival: An Edinburgh Murder Mystery captures the atmosphere of Edinburgh during a decade when AIDS and drug epidemics raged. The foundations of Edinburgh’s provincial past collapsed and the city’s present incarnation was built on those ruins.

This is a crime story. Like all good stories, it is a mixture of truth and fiction. Many characters are based on real people I knew and worked with. Some events happened. These are woven into the fictional narrative. I am painting a picture; some of the fascinating, far-out people and scenes I encountered, mixed with the triumphs and tragedies of my own experience.

Death Festival creates graphic snap-shots of life, love and partying during a heady decade in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. As AIDS and drugs rage through the city, a hedonistic, anything-goes party scene flourishes, alongside emerging violent criminal gangs.

A series of vicious murders shakes the gay community, in the midst of its famed International Arts Festival. By the end of that wild summer, a celebrated theatre director will be dead, in what looks like an erotic experiment gone horribly wrong.

DC Debbie Kane’s is a star on the rise, in the Lothian and Borders Police Murder Squad. Her mentor, Billy Alexander, is an old-school DCI, who has no time for modern policing theories or methods. He finds himself out of his depth and becomes reliant on Debbie during the course of the investigation.

Debbie’s colleague, and friend, Sandy Jardine, is a gay man, in her team. Sandy is torn between his job and his private life, and when he begins an unofficial, private investigation into the sadistic murders of three gay men, he creates a rift between himself and Debbie, which compromises both the official investigation, and his own life.

Local girl, Jules Hamilton is central to the story. Oblivious to all but her infatuation with the charismatic Webster’s strung-out girlfriend and PA, Jude Durrant, Jules becomes enmeshed in a dangerous affair with the complex, high-maintenance Jude. Debbie Kane accidentally uncovers this affair, which results in Jules becoming a potential link in the chain of investigation into Webster’s sordid and suspicious death.

This novel examines modern morality, and it challenges stereotypes. With wry humour, I attempt to shine a glaring, unflattering spotlight on our media-influenced perceptions of who is “good” and who is “bad”, while I explore love and obsession.

Crime fiction addicts, who want more than just murder and dark deeds, will love Death Festival: An Edinburgh Murder Mystery. Readers tuned into popular culture will appreciate its journalistic style. To Die For appeals to both male and female readers, in the 40-70 age-range. The quick-witted, punchy style will also appeal to younger readers.

A gay audience will appreciate the personal, humane and insightful documentation of what was a pivotal and painful time in gay history.