Interview: Triona Scully

We recently caught up with Edinburgh based writer, Triona Scully, who published her first novel Nailing Jess, with Cranachan Publishing in June of this year. Triona lives in Edinburgh with her son and blogs at


For those of our readers who aren't familiar with your work, tell us a little about yourself and your debut novel, Nailing Jess?

Nailing Jess is my debut novel. It's a police procedural crime caper with a feminist theme. It's set in a fictional matriarchal Britain, in contemporary times. It focuses on catching a serial killer - The Withering Wringer - who is targeting local prostitutes. Setting it in a matriarchy allowed me to apply role reversal, so the women are alpha and the men, submissive. Despite its weighty premise it's mostly an absurd, comic tale.

What's your writing process like?

I try to write in the mornings. I try to write for an hour at a time, then take a break, aiming for four hours a day. That's in term time. When my son's off school, I write, when and where I can. I still time it, aiming for a minimum of twenty minutes at once.

Did you edit anything out of this book?

The book has been edited several times losing clutter and gaining better description and tighter sentencing, and all kinds of detail that make it better. However, nothing major has actually been edited out, since my first draft. My publishers, awesome Indy. company, Cranachan, were very committed to building on my original premise, rather than taking away from it. 

What's your advice to Wifie readers interested in publishing their own work?

Persistence, I am told, is everything in publishing. If one agent doesn't want you, try another. If no publisher will take you, enter a competition with publication as a prize. 

Any common traps for aspiring writers to avoid, in your experience?

I made the classic rookie mistake of including too many points of view. Points of view should be reserved for a small number of key characters and everyone else's story should be told through their eyes. Another early edit note was, show don't tell. Whenever possible, the reader should be witnessing the action, first hand, not hearing about it through the words or thoughts of the narrators.

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Nailing Jess is available to download on Amazon, or can be purchased at the Cranachan Publishing bookstore.

Did publishing your first book change your writing process?

It taught me a lot more discipline and allowed me to appreciate how much outside advice goes into shaping a novel.

What is your favourite childhood book?

Anything by Enid Blyton. I think I read Malory Towers and St Clare's series over a dozen times. Now, I'm trying to get my son in her - The Secret Seven Mysteries - but he's having non of it! He's a Horrid Henry man.

What was the most difficult part of the writing and publishing process for you in producing Nailing Jess?

The stage I am currently at. All the time. When writing the first draft, I thought nothing could get harder, 'till the first edit. Then, I did a second edit, which was harder still, or so it seemed. Then, I started looking for an agent/publisher and I truly don't know which was harder, writing painstakingly crafted letters to each individual company or reading the bland, generic rejections I received back, if they replied at all. When I got a publishing deal, the hardest things was editing with a professional. Allowing someone else to critique the work and radically alter parts of it. When I finally finished editing, I started to market it, and that is definitely the hardest part. It's almost as hard as writing the first draft of the next one...

Interview by Rachel Morgan-Bruce