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SJI Holliday Books In Order

Publication Order of Banktoun Trilogy Books

Black Wood (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Willow Walk (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Damselfly (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Susan Jennifer Inglis, otherwise known as SJI Holliday is a British writer best known for the writing of psychological thrillers. The eldest of four siblings, she grew up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, East Lothian, where she worked in her family’s publishing and newsagent business before she left to go to college at St Andrews Dundee. At Edinburgh and St Andrews, she majored in statistics and microbiology, before proceeding to work as a pharmaceutical statistician for sixteen years. Her first novel was “Black Wood”, the first of the Banktoun series of novels that went on to achieve massive popularity and critical acclaim. Her short stories have been featured in several notable anthologies and she has been shortlisted for the Crimefest Flashbang awards, the MR Hall Crime Writing Competition, and the CWA Margery Allingham awards. She lives in London with her husband amidst a teetering pile of books that she just cannot find the time to organize. When she is not writing she loves to explore and walk, listen to rock and grunge music from the 90s, and sing with her cool crime writer friends that call themselves “The Slice Girls”. She occasionally writes flash fiction, and does some editing, and review pieces for Shots Magazine and FlashFlood Journal.

As far as she can remember SJI Holliday has always been interested in books and read a lot of them during her childhood, teenage and college years. Some of her favorite authors during her childhood include Enid Blyton and Stephen King. She loved reading horror during her teenage years, and asserts that King is one of the most extraordinary storytellers that she ever read due to his capacity to transport his readers to the dark side of the human soul. King was one of the most influential writers that made her seriously consider getting into the writing of psychological thrillers. Besides King, she also loved psychological horror fiction, suspense mystery, and crime as she loves the otherworldly feeling of these types of novels. As an adult, she has been influenced by the likes of Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, which is more of a dystopian horror as opposed to a wonderful or weird quest. She also reads some of the more conventional authors such as Eva Dolan, Harlan Coben, and Mo Hayder.

Before she wrote her first novel Black Wood, Holliday had published many flash fiction and short stories. Her first foray into writing was when she wrote a flash fiction titled “Mr. Parker”, about a weird man that refused to bury his wife instead embalming and keeping her in his bed. Given that she wrote it at an evening class, where almost everyone was doing the usual unrequited love and summer garden type stories, the story got quite a few gasps when she read it aloud. That was the confirmation she needed to now that she was on the right track with her dark novel writing career. She would abandon her idea of writing a paranormal thriller and take a sabbatical, during which she traveled with her husband around the world. It was during a Trans-Siberian railway trip in Russia that she finally sat down to write the first draft of the horror novel, she always knew she wanted to write. Coming back from the trip, she attended several evening classes on writing, until she finally had her first novel “Black Wood”, a psychological thriller set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun.

All of SJI Holliday’s novels are set in the fictional town of Banktoun that is loosely based on Haddington, the small town near Edinburgh where she grew up. The books center on families that are custodians to some of the darkest of secrets. The main character in “Black Wood” is a girl named Jo who has been raised by her grandmother in a creepy cottage in the woods. The cottage has a history of terrible and weird things that tend to repeat themselves. “The Willow Walk” is more about the relationship between two twins facing a very intricate situation that puts them in opposing camps. In the third novel, the focus is on the relationship between siblings and their mother especially after the mysterious death of a teenage girl in her bed. The theme of dysfunctional families is very strong even as familial bonds are just as strong. An important character that features in all the novels is the lead police office Davie Grey who acts as the lead character in most of the novels. Even as the novels are not really police procedurals but rather psychological thrillers that could be read as standalones, apart from the location of Banktoun, Davie is an important character that is integral to the novel series.

“Black Wood”, the first novel in the series is an gripping novel sure to have the psychological thriller fan engrossed from the first page to the last. Jo and Claire had something happen to them in Black Wood, which changed their lives forever. Claire is now suffering from memory loss and is paralyzed, and Jo has psychological scars coupled with the fact that nobody believes her story. Over two decades after their terrible ordeal, an old friend walks into Jo’s workplace rekindling old painful memories that rekindle her quest for revenge. Meanwhile, Sergeant Davie Gray is on the trail of a man who has been terrifying the peaceful residents of Banktoun by attacking women on a lonely stretch of railway. But what has the masked assailant have to do with Jo’s unexpected visitor? To catch the balaclava-clad man and bring justice to Joe, Gray has to dig through a maze of tainted love, broken friendship, and past secrets. But will he manage to solve the case before Jo is sucked into the revenge plot?

“Willow Walk”, the second novel in the Banktoun series starts out with a woman brutally assaulted by an escaped inmate of a mental hospital. It is now up to Sergeant Davie Gray to track down the man before he attacks someone else. But in the midst of the manhunt for the dangerous man, he still has to unravel the mystery of a series of deaths linked to a local fairground and legal highs. What is more, his girlfriend, Marie has been exhibiting very weird behavior lately. As he digs deeper into the crimes, he soon finds a disturbing link between the mental man and Marie, but finds it almost impossible to confront her, given that she is pushing him away. Marie who had believed that she had escaped her violent past is now caught up in a desperate situation. Should she hide, run, or stand and fight? But when events come to a head, she is forced into making one of the hardest decisions in her life. Will Gray figure out the mystery before the town is hit by another tragedy.

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