Duncan McLean was born in Aberdeenshire in 1964. He forms part of that influential bunch of then youngish writers who dominated the Scottish writing scene of the Nineties such as Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh, James Meek, A L Kennedy, Laura Hird, and Gordon Legge.
While a student at Edinburgh University, McLean started writing for the Merry Mac Fun Co., a theatre company who were well known performers at the Edinburgh Fringe.
During the early part of the Nineties, he worked in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, where he edited a magazine and ran a small press, Clocktower Press. Ahead of Its Time: A Clocktower Press anthology was published in 1998, and although there is perhaps no claim to being part of a literary movement, the anthology, along with Edinburgh’s Polygon publishers and subsequently, Canongate and Rebel Inc, champions a particular writing style. The London publisher, Jonathan Cape, went on to publish at least half of the writers from that era.
McLean’s first short story collection was Bucket of Tongues, followed by the novels, Blackden, and Bunker Man, and then the non-fiction title, Lone Star Swing: On the Trail of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. He is also a playwright with the collection of plays entitled, Rug Comes to Shuv, appearing in 1999. His plays have been performed at various theatres, including the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. His most recent play, Aalst, a disturbing drama drawn from real-life about a couple who murder their children, is also published by Methuen.
In the early Nineties, Duncan McLean moved to Orkney where he now divides his time between writing and working in his wife’s family business.