Mairi grew up in the northeast of Scotland. The dramatic coastal village proved to be the perfect backdrop for imaginative play alongside her brothers. 'The neighbours must have hated us. We were always up on someone's shed roof tracking down smugglers, or digging in a ditch, hoping to unearth hidden treasure!'
Mairi read voraciously from a young age. Both her father and grandfather were great storytellers and read aloud to her, encouraging her to invent stories of her own. Their support led her to gain a scholarship to study creative writing at a prestigious summer school. In reading, she gravitated towards crime fiction, beginning with Agatha Christie, and moving on to Dorothy L. Sayers and Josephine Tey. 'I must have been a bit of a pig at school. I remember at the age of ten asking if the library had Bleak House! In my defence, I still think it was a good call. Dickens was one of the great pioneers in detective fiction.'
Creativity took a backseat when Mairi chose to study Medicine at Dundee University. She qualified as a general practitioner, enjoying the variety of the work. 'I suppose I fell in love with every medical specialty as I moved through university. I especially enjoyed A&E and psychiatry. When I think about it, it's probably because both involved listening to people's stories.'
Within General Practice, Mairi specialized in addictions psychiatry, women's health and family planning, but following the devastating personal diagnosis of bipolar disorder, swiftly followed by renal cancer, she was forced to take a career break. 'It was a wake-up call really. I was ambitious and the illnesses forced me to prioritise. In many ways, it was the best thing that could have happened to our family. I realised that I needed to be at home with my beloved son. I felt that I had missed out on too much. As I slowly recovered, I read with him the stories I had myself once loved. I found it brought back my own appetite for books. I think, what with the mental illness and work, I had lost that part of myself entirely. The writing came not long after. It seemed like a very natural progression. Like rediscovering a long forgotten and much-loved friend.'
Happily, Mairi has been declared free from cancer and now lives a peaceful existence deep in the Scottish countryside with her husband, son, cats and horses. She has even been known to deliver the odd calf for the neighbouring farmer if he's in a fix.
'Stories are everywhere around me; I don't need to go hunting for them. Sometimes the smallest comment or thought can spark an idea for a book. I know it seems impossible, surrounded by such beauty, but believe it or not, it's the ideal place to plot a murder.'
Mairi's debut titled Death by Appointment will be published by Bloodhound Books in January 2022