Here’s the latest in the Author Spotlight series, I hope you’re enjoying getting to know some of these great authors and their work. If you would like to feature on the blog, sign up for an interview here.
Tell us a brief summary of your book’s plot.
Set in 13th century Scotland. The son of the murdered Earl of Ross, is a fugitive when his family, rival claimants for Scotland’s crown, are declared traitors. Influenced by MacBeth and the writing of Nigel Tranter; it is a tale of high drama and suspense.
What was the inspiration for this story?
In early high school years I got into a writer called Nigel Tranter. As far as I am concerned he is Scotland’s premier historical writer. Nigel Tranter’s Robert the Bruce trilogy is a masterpiece (even better than my book – just!). In, I think, it is the second book in the Bruce series, The Path of the Hero King, whilst Bruce is on the run in the far north of Scotland he has occasion to meet and wins to his side the chief of clan MacKay. The MacKay clan once powerful now shifted to the margins of society.
In a paragraph Tranter made reference to the origin and survival of the clan when only a young boy was the last survivor and hunted by Scotland’s king who saw him as a rival, the MacKays are distantly related to the ruling house, but many in the highlands think they had a superior claim to the crown coming from the senior line, descended from an elder son. The story stayed in my mind and I wanted to find out more. There was nothing, no novel, so I thought I would write one. The MacKays supported King Robert and by doing so ensured their survival and prominence.
In my novel the family name is MacAedh, which is the original name of the family. That said, I was also very interested in MacBeth the play, the spookiness of it with the witches held me spellbound.
Do you have any writing habits you would like to tell us about?
It’s an adventure writing and discovering other worlds. Finding a unique state where you are not totally in control of the writing process, I love that. I think it is like you’re driving on a Sunday outing and suddenly the car takes you somewhere and it is the most amazing place you’ve ever been. If that sounds weird, sorry, but hard to avoid it when deeply into the transcendental state which is novel writing. It is a part of your brain you can’t access any other way. There is something very calming and at the same time stimulating and exciting about writing. How do you get in this state? Start writing, find the groove by exploring your inner world. As for habits I write whenever I have free time. I look forward to a day writing or editing. At the same time it can very challenging trying to make it all work, produce something half-way good. Like having an arm wrestle with a nasty giant who keeps smacking your arm down. If you never give up, you win.
What is the hardest thing to manage when you start writing?
The mix between family time and writing. Keep your priorities right! Family first!
Name the three books currently topping your To Be Read list?
Diana Garbaldon, ‘Crossstitch’
Conn Iggulden, ‘Wars of the Roses Trinity’
Frank Herbert, ‘Dune’
How important do you think a book’s cover is?
Very important. As a boy, up to 12, I was dyslexic and could not read. I used to look at a book’s cover and imagine the story. So, I more than most people love book covers. The cover needs to say something about the story and in itself take you on a journey.
If you could collaborate with any author, who would you choose?
Stephen King because I love his writing and he seems like just a down-to-earth bloke who would be good company.