Author Carol McKay is passionate about raising awareness of Addison's through her stories. In her latest novel 'White Spirit', DI Allan MacIntyre, the police detective at the heart of the book, is diagnosed with Addison's disease in the middle of the murder investigation. Carol, who is generously donating her author royalties for 'White Spirit' to the ADSHG, shares how she became inspired to include Addison's in her writing since her own diagnosis.

Remember when you were a child you’d play make-believe? The boys in my primary class dashed between hedges, zapping each other with invisible guns in some combat between superheroes. Me? I wrapped up my dolly in a crocheted blanket and clattered along the pavement in a pair of my mother’s old high heels. The love of make-believe and story-telling never leaves us.

"Do you ever imagine writing a story about someone who has Addison’s disease? I get really excited on the rare occasion Addison’s is mentioned on television. That the big world has thought about our condition! But do they portray it the way we would want to portray it?"

I’ve been writing for decades. In fact, I was writing while I was still at primary school. (How many times was I pulled up for being in a dream and not concentrating!) I took to writing fiction more formally when I was in my thirties. Knew the highs and lows of short stories and poems being accepted or rejected by various magazines, and I taught creative writing for years through The Open University. Then in 2010 came my plunge to near-death and timely diagnosis with Addison’s disease. It’s dramatic stuff. Unfortunately, it’s not the stuff of fiction. But might it be?

Second Chances

It took me time to adjust to having Addison’s disease. Physically, but also psychologically. Gradually, in large part because of the support I received through the ADSHG, I came to accept the condition, yet I hungered for more stories. Real stories, about how people managed to live – well – with this disease. So in 2012 I put out an appeal for personal stories of people around the world who have Addison’s, and soon was able to publish an e-book called Second Chances: true stories of living with Addison’s Disease. It was featured on the BBC World Service Radio programme Health Check in February 2013 and sold quite well for such a niche market as ours. That meant I was able to make a token payment to the contributors and give something to the ADSHG, but most important was reading the reviews, and realising this sharing of our stories had really helped people.

I started formulating a longer story – fiction this time – with the aim of raising wider awareness about our condition. I decided to make it a crime novel, since that genre is very popular (importantly, among men and women). It would feature someone in the prime of his life – good at his job, attractive to women – who becomes aware that his health is failing. Imagine a police detective having to chase a really bad crook when he’s just days away from being diagnosed with Addison’s disease! Could you do it? I couldn’t! How would he cope? That’s how DI Allan MacIntyre was born.

White Spirit

White Spirit is set in the north of Scotland, close to Inverness. It touches on serious contemporary issues, and starts with a mention of paedophilia, but this isn’t a salacious or gory book or one that will make anyone uncomfortable. Here’s the blurb for it:

"Thirteen-year-old Jamie is found dead in the Scottish Highlands and DI Allan MacIntyre is asking questions. Who gave him his top of the range phone? Who lit the fire to dispose of his clothes? Two teenage boys are acting suspiciously. They have phones and games consoles hidden in their room, a connection to the mosque and a blood connection to a paedophile. Then a second fire ‘ignites’ in a bin at their school. MacIntyre is beset with his own troubles, and it’s not just juggling two women. His health is letting him down, and, at 37, it shouldn’t be. With November fireworks exploding, one of the boys lets slip there’s going to be ‘a big one’. Can Allan get a grip in time to prevent it?"

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Road to Publication

Literary agents told me I should ditch the thread about Addison’s disease, but it’s vital to me to retain it. That’s the whole point of the story! I mean, the story has to appeal to the wider public, but it was crucial to me to get across the information about Addison’s. So, as with Second Chances, I decided to go with a small, independent publisher, PotHole Press (which just happens to be run by my husband!) This also gives me the chance to raise funds for the ADSHG charity, as author royalties are higher this way, and I’ve decided to give my royalties to our Addison’s charity.


So far, the reviews have been excellent! Now I just need to spread the word wider. The difficulty with indie publishing is that your book isn’t automatically stocked in major bookshops and libraries. It’s mostly for sale direct, or via Amazon, and getting the word out about it is really hard as small publishers don’t have the money to pay for advertising or to buy space for displays in bookshop windows the way large publishers do.

"But I sincerely believe in White Spirit, and I want to make our condition more widely known about, as well as to raise funds for the ADSHG."

Can you help me spread the word?

You can read more about White Spirit and the rest of my writing on my website You can read an extract on Amazon. The e-book retails at £2.99 and the paperback is £10. And why not consider putting in a request for it at your local library? Ask them to buy it. That way, you’ll be bringing Addison’s Disease to the attention of general readers, as well as giving them a ‘fast-paced’ and ‘thrilling story’. I hope you enjoy it!

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Addison's Admin

How do you remember to take your tablets?I’ve trained myself to take them at the same time each day. So, I take 10mg of hydrocortisone before I get up in the morning, and I take half a fludrocortisone tablet along with my breakfast. I take 5mg of hydrocortisone with my lunch at about 12.30, and I take another 5mg at about 5.30pm. That’s usually when I start cooking. I think associating pill-taking with another part of your daily routine can help.

How do you carry your injection kit? #ShareYourKitI bought one of the rectangular kits from ADSHG shop, but I also bought a clear pencil case, so I keep the kit in there, along with pills and my NHS emergency card. I carry it in my handbag. If anything happens to me, it’ll be very easy for people to see what’s what, and help me, and it’s easy for me to find it, too.

We are very grateful to Carol for advocating for Addison's and adrenal insufficiency. Thank you Carol for generously donating the royalties of 'White Spirit' to the Addison’s Disease Self-Help Group and raising much-needed awareness through your writing.

Have you read 'White Spirit'? Please head over to our members' online forum where you can join our conversation with Carol about her novel. Log-in required: "Crime Novel Featuring Addison's"

Author: Carol McKay

Carol was born in Glasgow in 1955 and was diagnosed with Addison’s in 2010. She also has coeliac disease. Recently retired, she taught creative writing for years through The Open University. Her short stories and poems are widely published and her website is

Hear more from Carol on her Facebook and Twitter @carolmckaywrite.

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