What should audiences expect from your event at Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival?

I’ll be talking about my latest novel, In the Cage Where your Saviours Hide, as well as my previous books. The fun thing about these events is that they go where the questions take them, so you never know beforehand how it’s going to shape up.

This year’s festival theme is Fear. How do you think your event will fit in with that theme?

My novels are crime novels, books about loss and the fear of others, as well as the fear of your own darkest moments. That, as a writer, is the most fascinating aspect of fear. Not what someone else might do to you, but what you might do to someone else or yourself. Writing about hitmen and thugs has given rich opportunity to explore those themes.

What are you most afraid of and why?

A blank page. It’s the fear of the ideas running out, the stories running dry. Hasn’t happened yet, thank goodness.

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. I’ve only just gotten round to Wyndham’s work, and in an age of global warming and global political stupidity they feel well ahead of their time.

Who is your favourite writer and why?

If I answered this question ten times I would probably give ten different answers. I’ll say Jim Thompson, who had a special talent for making the worst kind of people engaging, for leading the reader down an increasingly dark path without giving them time to worry about the lights going out.

What do you find is the easiest and/or the most difficult part of writing?

The easiest part is the first draft, when you have the ideas and you just have to let them spill onto the page. It gets progressively harder after that. Editing means sacrificing things you like for the good of the story, picking away at the work you’ve already done. The hardest part of all is talking about it, explaining and justifying something you spent months on and never once thought how you would describe it to others.

What are you working on at the moment that you are most excited about?

Right now I’m working on edits for next year’s book, a sequel to In the Cage Where your Saviours Hide. The most exciting thing I’m also working on right now is something I can’t talk about, just in case it never sees the light of day.

Malcolm Mackay is appearing at Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival on Saturday 3 November at 3.30pm. Book tickets here.