FERGUSLIE PARK - the true life setting for
the young adult thriller, SMALL FISH BIG FISH

"What a great read, I couldn't put it down!! Loved the story and all the characters."


The town of Paisley is famous for it's Paisley Pattern (see right) and for it's two thread mills: the Anchor Mills and Ferguslie Mills.

At one time, over 90% of the world's cotton thread came out of these two factories. In 1949 there were 10,500 mill-workers in Paisley, most were young adults, aged between fifteen and twenty-five, many of them living in the suburb of Ferguslie Park.

By 1991, after four roller-coaster decades of expansion, diversification, merger, closures and three-day-weeks, the Paisley mills employed just 340.

On Friday April 2 1993 the last mill-girl clocked off for the last time. With it, an era passed.

Cotton production
Paisley Council Housing
Heart and Soul of Paisley

If you want to know more about the novel and its characters, click here.

Ferguslie Park

The setting for the young adult thriller, Small Fish Big Fish, is Ferguslie Park, a suburb of Paisley, just south of Glasgow in Scotland. In it's heyday (during the 1960's, when the novel is set) there were around 13,500 people living in 3,500 units of housing - row after row of three and four story housing tenements crammed together to accommodate as many families as possible.

The suburb was built in the nineteen-thirties and forties to cater for people being cleared from Paisley’s slums. Many of the families living there were unskilled, low paid manual workers in irregular employment. Some lived in extreme poverty and others were commonly thought of by the authorities as hopeless cases, dangerous, and requiring supervision and control. This was of course an oversimplification.

Many of the people who lived in the scheme, though poor, were the salt of the earth, but Council policy at the time dictated that these victims of increasing poverty and unemployment throughout the Paisley area should be be re-located to Ferguslie Park. 

This resulted in a disproportionate number of drunks, wife-beaters, child molesters, thieves, murderers and other n'er-do-well's in the area. Gangs of youths ranging in age from 15 to 25 roamed the streets at will, unimpeded by police who were rarely seen except in dire emergency.

Multiple Deprivation

Multiple deprivation is the term used by the Scottish Government to describe a measurement of employment, income, health, education, access to services, crime and housing.

Ferguslie Park has twice been named number one on the list of most deprived areas in Scotland.


A Gripping Young Adult Thriller set in Scotland.

The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction is number one worldwide, Thunderball is setting a new box-office record for James Bond movies, and the mini-skirt has made its first appearance in London.

Like many young men, seventeen-year-old Jamie is struggling to navigate his way through the uncharted waters of growing up: the world of first dates, sex, friendships, and family dramas.

When he 'finds' some money on the floor of the corner store, he thinks his luck is in. But sometimes what seems like fortune’s kindly smile is a mask. So it is with Jamie. The seemingly innocent decision to keep the money triggers a series of events that traps him in a quagmire of deception and criminality and threatens the safety of those dearest to him.

Small Fish Big Fish is a young adult thriller where hope, loyalty, and courage are tested to the limit. If you enjoy true-life settings filled with compelling characters, suspenseful mystery and a touch of young romance, then you'll love PJ McDermott's twist on the traditional coming of age story.

What Readers Say

“Every young person wants to know they're not alone. We are all Jamie at some stage in our lives, lost, confused, trying to fit in, struggling to come to grips with our lives and who we are. This book does this flawlessly.”

“This really is a wonderful story that all young people can relate to. It takes an age-old battle and puts it splendidly into words that many will appreciate. I could not believe the climax.”

“Your book reminds me of Frank McCourt's biography of his life growing up in Ireland.”

 “The portrayal of the bully and the victim of bullying is brilliant.”

If you want to know more about the novel and its characters, click here.

The eBook is only available at Amazon stores! 


The cover of Small Fish Big Fish was designed by Spiffing Covers

coming of age

I want the young adult thriller, Small Fish Big Fish!