Callum McSorley. Credit: Colin Mearns
Callum McSorley. Credit: Colin Mearns

The Good Books, Callum McSorley: ‘Louise Welsh is a great inspiration to me’

Callum McSorley on the books of his childhood, why he always recommends Neuromancer and being inspired by Louise Welsh.


The first book I remember reading:

I remember reading Keith Brumpton’s two Rudley Cabot books over and over – a pair of short graphic novels about an explorer rabbit. And The Headless Ghost, one of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, left a huge impression on me. Even the cover was terrifying. To this day I find ghost stories to be the scariest form of horror. There’s no monster or knife-wielding maniac who can make me shite it the way some flimsy, pale guy in a Jacobean ruff can.

A book I recommend to everyone:

Neuromancer by William Gibson is one my favourite books of all time, mixing scarily prescient sci fi ideas, hardboiled noir, and beat generation style into something still fresh and exciting after nearly 40 years. I recommend it to people whether they’re fans of the genre or not – it’s a must read!

The best three books I have read in the last year:

In Ascension by Martin MacInnes (read all of his stuff, he’s amazing!), Denise Mina’s pitch perfect Philip Marlowe continuation The Second Murderer, and Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway, another SF/hardboiled crossover which blew me away. The premise, the style, the absolutely gross fight scenes – ticks all the boxes.

A book I didn’t finish: 

The most recent book I didn’t finish was The Black Lizard by Edogawa Rampo. I’m a huge fan of Japanese mysteries (classic and contemporary) so I was expecting to enjoy this but I couldn’t get along with the style. I think the lady thief of the title being described as “a mound of sexy, amply-rounded peach-coloured flesh” is where I gave up.

An author who has inspired me:

Louise Welsh is a great inspiration to me. I first read The Cutting Room at a time when I was really into US hardboiled detective stories, and it changed my whole perspective of what a Glasgow novel could be. She depicted a place familiar yet new, gritty and glamorous. Safe to say if I hadn’t read that book, my writing might have taken a completely different course. Her latest novel, To The Dogs, is also excellent. Thrilling but with nuance and complexity to her characters. It’s everything I want to do with my own stories.

My favourite place to read:

Beside a roaring log fire in an Alpine lodge as the snow falls outside. Kidding, between one thing and another I only find time to read in bed before I go to sleep. Though I have always enjoyed reading on trains.


Callum McSorley lives in Glasgow. His debut novel, Squeaky Clean, published by Pushkin Vertigo, won The McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2023.


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