Bloody Scotland: Fulton Ross on The Unforgiven Dead

Each week Scottish Field will be talking to one of the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize shortlist authors about their novels and feature an extract from the book. 

This week we hear from Fulton Ross, 43, from Caol, Scottish Highlands about his novel The Unforgiven Dead (Inkshares) about a Highland Constable who is reluctant to embrace his gift of second sight. Inspired by Gaelic folk tales it is a fresh take on gothic crime noir.

Click HERE to read an excerpt from the book.

Fulton says: 

The Unforgiven Dead was born out of a collision of my love for Tartan Noir with the Highland folktales of my childhood. 

As well as delivering a gripping yarn, I wanted to explore how centuries of British government attempts to tame the ‘wild Highlands’ had decimated Gaelic culture and language. 

I studied Scottish literature and history at Glasgow University, but these folktales were rarely touched upon in my studies. I think they are valuable not just as nice—and at times sinister—stories, but as a cultural archive that gives a tantalising glimpse into the beliefs of the ancient Gaels before Christianity arrived and swept aside the old ways.

When I first started writing around fifteen years ago, I was caring for my young children in the morning, then heading off to work as a sub-editor at The Herald in Glasgow in the evening. I would snatch the odd hour to write before work, or head over to Waterstones cafe on Sauchiehall Street during my break. I’ve become used to working in short, intense bursts and although I have more time on my hands these days that’s still the case. That said, there are times during the editing process when you have to knuckle down and work for longer spells.     

I’m currently working on the follow-up to The Unforgiven Dead, which is provisionally entitled The Archer’s Ghost. It’s mainly set on the beautiful Hebridean island of Barra. 


We learn in the first novel that my protagonist’s parents were from Barra, so when he returns there for his uncle’s funeral…well, let’s just say things take a sinister turn involving severed heads, selkies, and kidnap. Although not necessarily in that order. 



Off the top of my head, authors whose books I’d buy without even knowing what the story was about include Christopher Brookmyre, Craig Russell, Val McDermid, Stuart Macbride, Denise Mina, Alan Parks, Liam MacIlvanney, Ian Rankin, Craig Robertson, and Tana French. 

I moved to Northern Ireland ten years ago, and have since discovered some brilliant NI crime writers, including Adrian McKinty, Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh, and Brian McGilloway.  

I’ve read loads of great books recently, but three that stick in the mind are Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes, Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent, and Voices of the Dead, the new Ambrose Parry novel. 

I’m also currently listening to Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell on audiobook and I’m in awe at the richness of her language and the sense of place she creates. 

I do like a historical novel, and SG MacLean’s The Bookseller of Inverness—which is longlisted for the MacIlvanney prize—was absolutely top drawer.  


Bloody Scotland Debut shortlisters 2023

Bloody Scotland Debut shortlisters 2023

The winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize will be revealed on 15 September at the opening night of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival.