In the Press - The Courier, Monday 10th March 2014

Callum’s novel take on debate

He’s only 15 but Callum Duffy has already penned his first novel.

Gayle Ritchie speaks to the Broughty Ferry teenager about the processes involved in writing and publishing the book.

It's an age when most boys would choose to hang out with friends or play sports in their free time. But Callum Duffy prefers to listen to classical music and write about politics. Thankfully, all the times he missed out on cinema trips and watching rugby has paid off; after two years of grafting, he’s had his first novel, To Kill The Truth, published.

Callum is interviewed by the Courier

Set in a pre-referendum Scotland, it’s a fast-paced tale of political skulduggery and the efforts of three people to discover and reveal the truth as the referendum debate falls into a spiral of spin and misinformation.

Callum, a fourth year pupil at Grove Academy, says, “I’ve always been very interested in reading and creative writing, and I wanted to experiment with different styles and character development which required a full length novel. I have always been intrigued by current affairs and international politics, so a political background for a plot seemed sensible.”

Callum was just 13 when he began writing his 90,000-word novel in the evenings and at weekends, listening to classical music.

“I find that different styles of writing are often complemented by the different styles of music I listen to,” he explains. “For example, fast-paced sections of writing may be helped along by the melodies of early Sibelius, in particular his Karelia Suite.”

He admits it was hard to find the time to fit in writing around school and other commitments, such as playing the violin in the Dundee Schools Symphony Orchestra and competing in debating competitions.

But he is grateful to local author Dr Eric Yeaman who gave him advice and helped him with the process of editing the book.

Callum, who has no affiliation to any political party, says his family enjoy healthy discussions about current affairs, but he’s encouraged to come to his own conclusions.

“In no way do my family attempt to persuade me either way,” he says. “The book is set in pre-referendum Scotland, where both sides are using spin and lies to their advantage. When one side falls behind in the polls, they resort to desperate measures, which causes the situation to dramatically tip in their favour. It therefore falls to three plucky members of the public to ensure that the truth is revealed while the state tries to prevent them from doing so.”

Since the book was published, Callum has been flooded with positive feedback; some people have loved it so much they have suggested the book could be adapted into a screenplay. “My friends who have read it have all said that they have enjoyed it. Some have said that it was so exciting, they couldn’t put it down and others have commented on how well the characters are fleshed out.

“I’m very glad after all the work I have done that people seem to enjoy it so much.”

So would Callum consider a career in writing or politics? He’s keeping his options open for now.

His plans are to go to university, either to study international relations or international relations and politics, if he gets good enough grades at school.

“I’m only 15 so it’s a bit hard to think about what I might end up doing. I’m interested in international politics, so that could be a potential future career for me.”

His tips for would-be writers are to stick to your ideas, follow them through from conception to realisation, and be ready to take advice from people you respect. “Most importantly though, have fun!” he beams.

The book is available as a paperback from good bookshops or as an e-book from Amazon. It can also be downloaded from