Former Kirkcaldy man’s book inspired by tips from crime writer Val McDermid

Colin McAndrew
Colin McAndrew

A former Langtonian has written and published his first book at the age of 40 – inspired by the plight of young Hungarian Gypsies, a Cat Stevens song and Kirkcaldy’s own success story, Val McDermid.

Colin McAndrew, who was born in Forth Park and attended Kirkcaldy High School, has set the novel Sad Lisa in Kirkcaldy, telling the story of amateur criminals attempting to play with the big boys – with terrifying consequences.

And the novel, which was published two weeks ago, is already sitting at number 14 in the top 100 hottest new releases on Amazon.

Colin, who lives in a small village 12 miles outside Inverness, is a staunch Raith Rovers fan and tries to get to matches whenever he can.

It was while have a pre-match lunch in a local hotel that he met Val, a distant relative of his family’s, and told her about his book plan.

She gave him some tips which he says have stood him in good stead.

“She told me to stay true to my story, to push back on editors when necessary and to keep an eye on the flow of the story,” said Colin.

“She asked about the story and told me it sounded good, which gave me a boost.”

Colin, who is married with two children, said it was during a trip to Budapest, where the company he worked for as an HR director had set up a new facility, that the idea for his book was born.

“One night I was driving along a country road when I saw women standing at the side of the road,” he explained.

“It was dark with no street lights and I wondered what they were doing there.

“I asked my Hungarian colleague and he explained that they were gypsy girls put out on the street by their fathers to be prostitutes.

“ I can’t begin to explain how sad I was about this.

“A beautiful song by Cat Stevens came on the CD player called Sad Lisa.

“It’s about a woman in trouble and someone wanting to help her.

“It inspired me so much that I went back to my apartment and decided to write a story.

“My writing was a hobby for the lonely evenings in hotels while I was abroad for work.

“It wasn’t until I suffered a breakdown and re-evaluated my work life balance that I made time to pursue my creative writing.

“I’m glad I did.”

>> You can order Sad Lisa by Colin McAndrew online at