Des Dillon was born in 1960 and grew up in Coatbridge (Scotland), which ever since has acted as the inspiration and backdrop to his written work. He began to write poetry seriously when he was 18-years-old, inspired by Bob Dylan and ‘Coatbridge patter’. After leaving school, Dillon worked as a fruit machine engineer, a joiner, a washing machine engineer, and a bouncer, before enrolling to study English Literature at Strathclyde University.
On graduating, he became an English teacher, and it was while pursuing this profession, his writing began to attract a readership. His first success was with prose, although he imbued it with a certain poetic vigour, enough to be recognised by Edwin Morgan, who described The Big Empty as ‘a Coatbridge Dubliners’.
Although poetry drew Dillon towards writing, he was recognized as a short story writer, novelist, dramatist, broadcaster, screen writer, and scriptwriter for TV, stage and radio before his verse was published in 2002 in Picking Brambles.
A former teacher, he now writes for television, stage and radio and has taught Creative Writing at the Arvon Foundation. He was Writer in Residence at Castlemilk, Glasgow, between 1998 and 2000, and now lives in Galloway.
His first book, Sniz, a collection of poetry, was published in 1994, and he is also the author of seven novels, including Me and Ma Gal (1995), which chronicles a day in the lives of two best friends, Derek and Gal, set against the Coatbridge landscape of slagpits and steelworks, and was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award; Duck (1998), in which the delusional hero, Mick Riley, attempts to escape his problems by running off to Blackpool with the babysitter Carmen; Itchycooblue (1999), a story of male friendship set in 1970s Scotland; and The Big Q (2001), in which three Lanarkshire construction workers head off to Italy to find work at a monastery. He is also the author of a volume of short stories, The Big Empty: A Collection of Short Stories (1997). In Six Black Candles (2002), the heroine Caroline, who has been deserted by her wayward husband Bobby, finds her sisters embarking on a ritualistic revenge, centered on the six black candles of the title. This novel was originally written as a play for Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in 1999.
In 1998, a short film of Duck was premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival and in 2003 his play Lockerbie 103 went on national tour.
Six Black Candles premeried at The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in Spring 2004. It has since been translated and published in Russia, as has Glasgow Dragon (2004). Me and Ma Gal was voted the winner of the World Book Day survey to find the book that revealed the most about contemporary Scotland. It was broadcast as a drama on Radio 4 in 2004.
Monks (2006), a play about redemption, schizophrenics and St. Frances, received its world premiere in the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh in 2007. Singin' I'm No a Billy He's a Tim (2005) won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2005 and has toured Scotland and Ireland since. It continues to be extremely popular with both audiences and critics.
Des Dillon's latest books are a collection of short stories, They Scream When You Kill Them (2007); My Epileptic Lurcher (2008); and An Experiment in Compassion (2011). He currently also performs stand-up comedy.
1. “Lockerbie 103”, 2003
2. “The Bay” (play) 2001
3. “Six Black Candles” (black comedy), 2004
4. “Singin I'm No a Billy He's a Tim” (comedy), 2005
5. “Monks” (The Big Q ) (comedy), 2007
6. “Independence Day” (play) 2009
7. “The Blue Hen” (black comedy)
8. “Cinderella, a Glasgow Fairytale” (play) 2009
9. “Dictator Zoo” (play) 2010
10. “Oedupis” (play) 2010
11. “Me and Ma Gal” (musical)
12. “Village of the Dammed” (drama)
13. “The King and Jane”, 2013
1. Sniz, 1994 (poetry)
2. Me and Ma Gal, 1995
3. The Big Empty: A Collection of Short Stories, 1997
4. Duck, 1998
5. Itchycooblue, 1999
6. Return of the Busby Babes, 2000
7. New Writing 10 (contributor), 2001
8. The Big Q, 2001
9. Six Black Candles, 2002 (novel)
10. Picking Brambles, 2003
11. The Glasgow Dragon, 2004
12. The Blue Hen, Novella 2004 (novel)
13. They Scream When You Kill Them, 2006
14. Monks, 2007 (novel)
15. My Epileptic Lurcher, 2008
16. An Experiment in Compassion, 2011
17. Yelena’s Leningrad, 2013