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What am I writing?
I grew up in the Highlands of Scotland and we moved around a lot and so I experienced everything from a freezing winter in a rickety caravan with stunning views of Ben Nevis, another freezing winter in a tiny cottage up a remote glen with no electricity or running water, but which did have rats who came out at night and chewed the chair legs.
And then there were six amazing (but still freezing) months living in a proper, authentic highland castle, where I saw my first ghost. Plenty of creative writing material there, and one of my novels might feature a highland ghost – it’s up to the reader to decide.
My favourite abode was an old farmhouse, part of a grouse and deer stalking estate, where I was allowed to ride the packhorse and wander freely for miles. The only downside was having to put up with the dead rabbits hanging upside down in the kitchen, waiting to be skinned and eaten. This estate is where my current work in progress is set.
All of these experiences growing up left me feeling that place is hugely important in a novel. Where you live – where you are forced to live – has a huge impact on who you are, and I guess my writing now often explores this idea. I’ve always developed an intimate connection with any place I’ve lived in and now finds that my settings influence the story arc as much as the characters do. Although I love reading fantasy fiction, the idea of creating a whole new world doesn’t appeal nearly as much as the wonder of discovering the story evoked by a real place. But a bit of fantasy does sneak in now and then.
The books children and young adults read will influence who they are, what they think, and who they will become, and I don’t take lightly the responsibility of writing for these age groups. While I aim to entertain and enthral readers, I’m also interested in deeper issues, ones which were important to me as a girl. What is a family, how does that family function in society, what happens when the adults let you down.
And here is a link to a blog post I wrote way back in 2007 about Edinburgh being full of writers, and whether place was important in writing. Had no idea at that point that I would end up living in this beautiful city again.
Chosen as an Emerging Writer by Edinburgh City of Literature in 2016, this involved performing one of my short stories Be Careful What You Wish For at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Nerve wracking, but the award also included public speaking training, and I feel it went down ok. See what you think here:
Another of my short stories Broughton Street was selected for an Edinburgh City podcast – this time read by a professional actor. I loved his performance, and it was an honour to bring a story to this favourite corner of Edinburgh. You can listen to it here.
Other short stories have appeared in various anthologies – the most recent The Homecoming is in the Highland Literary Salon’s first short story collection, Highland Light.