Kirkcaldy-born author uses real life experience for new terror thriller

Karen Irvine's first book, A Killing Sin, is out now.
Karen Irvine's first book, A Killing Sin, is out now.

A Kirkcaldy-born author has released her first book, a tense, gritty thriller which takes place in the near future.

Karen Irvine, who grew up a stone’s throw away from Torbain Primary, has used her expertise and experience of working with government agencies to bring the gripping story of a terror attack to life in A Killing Sin.

One character is from Fife – she’s a radical profiler. She’s really gobby, drinks too much, and swears like a docker. My brother said ‘so which bit of this character’s not you, then?’.

Karen Irvine

Karen, now living near London, runs her own consultancy around human behaviour and has worked with the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, academics, and special services.

Using her experience, she turned her hand to writing after toying with the idea for some time.

“Five years ago I hit 50 and thought ‘it’s now or never’. I’m really interested in what would make an ordinary person do something extraordinary under a particular set of circumstances. I wanted to write a thriller that would provoke questions as well.”

A Killing Sin takes place in the near future and centres around a hostage situation amid the backdrop of Donald Trump taking his second term and a right-wing British government which takes a hard-line on immigration.

One theme it tackles is how ordinary people can be, and are, groomed by radical groups like the far-right, cults, or jihadists.

However, some inspiration comes from closer to home, according to Karen: “Of the three main female characters one is from Fife – she’s a radical profiler.

“I said to my brother; ‘she’s really gobby, drinks too much, and swears like a docker’. and he said ‘so which bit of this character’s not you, then?’.”

For an author, it can be daring to use current situations in a plotline, and astonishingly, Karen’s previous drafts ended up being reflected in real life.

She said: “I rewrote it twice as a consequence of real events – firstly because it was the Bataclan attack in Paris, I’d already written of an identical incident at Wembley. Then it happened with the attack on Westminster Bridge, where I had it written about an identical attack on London Bridge.”

Karen says the story is also being eyed by TV firms. “It would be amazing, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s gone to a couple of production companies and it’s being looked over.

“I’m trying to finish book two to the BBC, who are quite interested because there’s been little on TV yet about the impact of the far right in the UK.”

A Killing Sin, by KH Irvine, is available now.