Saturday 16 December 2023

Justice finally for Caroline Glachan, aged 14

Caroline was a vibrant young girl with her whole life ahead of her

When 14 year old Caroline Glachan set out one night to meet her friends in West Dunbartonshire, she wasn't to know that would be her last night alive.

She was found later face down in a burn with horrific injuries. She had at least ten head injuries and her skull was fractured in several places. It was described as a 'horrific and violent attack' by the prosecutor. Mercifully, experts think she was unconscious when she was put in the water. She drowned. 

Police investigation found that Caroline had been besotted with a boy named Robert O'Brien. He was a few years older than her and she'd gone to meet him on a bridge that fateful night. She left her home just before midnight.

She was never seen alive again. At least not by anyone who loved her. The last person to see her were her killers. 

It took 27 long, heartbreaking years but when Caroline's mum Margaret McKeich stood outside the High Court in Glasgow and announced that her daughter could finally rest in peace, it was a day she worried she would never see. 

For 27 years, her wee girl's savage killers had been free to enjoy their lives. To enjoy family events and special occasions like birthdays, weddings and Christmases. Caroline's mum couldn't even enjoy her birthday. Not when her daughter had been brutally murdered and the date on her death certificate was her 40th birthday. 

Unknown to the 3 monsters who'd killed her - all teenagers when they murdered Caroline - the clock was already ticking. It took nearly 3 decades but the countdown to them being punished for their evil crime had begun.

It was police re-interviewing witnesses in 2009 that snared Caroline's killers. 

The testimony of a 4 year old boy helped convict the evil trio. He didn't testify at the trial but there was a police recording of the captivating little boy being interviewed 27 years ago where he spoke of seeing a 'lassie get battered' and fall in the water helped convict the vile trio.

The killers had been babysitting both him and his brother when they'd taken them to the spot where they'd met Caroline. 

Robert O'Brien was 17 when he murdered 14 year old Caroline
It was a brutal, unprovoked attack.

It would end with Robert O'Brien* who was 4 years older than the dead girl, Andrew Kelly and Donna Marie Brand being found guilty by a jury of their peers. Their motives for attacking the 14 year old were never fully established.

Now that countdown is over and Caroline finally has her justice that was denied for so long.

*Thug and heroin addict O'Brien had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2006 for the attempted murder of a stranger near his home. He had a lengthy criminal record. 

Monday 29 May 2023

Keeping track of your novel's characters

Writing a novel series is a balancing act

One of the most important and time consuming parts of writing a series of books based on one character can be keeping track of the continuity. I discovered that to my cost when writing my Detective In A Coma series of books featuring Detective Inspector Duncan Waddell and his comatose sidekick DC Stevie Campbell. 

Unfortunately I hadn't prepared myself for making sure I maintained contiuity in my characters, which often led to me having to trudge through hundreds of pages of text to make sure everything I'd written was consistent. 

I've just finished writing book 4 Vigilante City and with the weird way that publishing works book 2 in the series Cannibal City will be published soon.
Keeping track of the characters and what's happened to then in previous books is tricky when you don't have a system in place.  

That's why I have my trusty notebook - an old fashioned one you write in - with pages devoted to every one of my main characters and plenty of space left to add in new details.

I'm using a notebook because I can carry it around with me, but I also back up the details online using file storage service Dropbox, my email and I have it in a Word document. 

Hey, as writers we can never back up too much, can we?

What should be in your notebook

1. Name and brief outline of the character.
Include full name of your characters including middle names and nicknames if any, age, general appearance.

2. Personality - What are they like as a person?
What do they like, what interests them, how do they treat others, what makes them laugh, have they any phobias/hang ups, are they dour or do that have a good sense of humour etc...

3. Personal details - are they married, divorced or single, do they have kids (if so what ages are they?), do they cheat on their partner, do they have any health problems etc...

4. Major events they've gone through. This would usually be things that happened to them in your books or that you've referenced in your books. 

For example, my sidekick detective DI Waddell has been able to have two-way conversations with his best pal and colleague Stevie Campbell, but nobody else can hear him. I had to establish in my notes when Stevie first spoke to him.

It might seem like you're spending too much time doing this, but trust me, it will turn out to be a major timesaver later on when you're not having to trawl through hundreds of pages of text just to find out what colour of hair a character has.

Tip - Have a photo of each character - some writers find it easier if they have a photograph of how their characters look pasted into a notebook, or pinned to a noticeboard on the wall or on their computer desktop. 

It can be a picture of anyone including of a celebrity or a generic photo cut out of a magazine.

If you find yourself losing your character you can look at it and it might put you back on track.