People come to creative writing in different ways and at different times in their lives. In my case, I remember being quite creative in primary school but how that was drummed out of me in high school. Then many years later, I began researching a particular family story and became fascinated by the social history of the Scottish mining communities. In this second decade of the 21stcentury when people often take the NHS for granted and think that a mobile phone is a dire necessity, I knew I had a story worth telling. But how to tell it? Local and family histories have limited appeal whereas novels reach a wider audience. So that’s what I did – I set about writing a novel which unfolded day after day to my constant amazement. I am presently half way through a third novel but have also turned to shorter pieces to improve my writing style and because I enjoy it. If you are in any doubt about whether to start writing or not, my advice would be to ‘just do it’. What are you waiting for?
My first book, Black Rigg, is set in a Scottish mining village in the year 1910. The narrative follows the interwoven lives of a fictional community during a period of social and economic change when the foundations of modern Scotland were being laid, as working people and women began to challenge the status quo and as the landowners, the church and the justice system resisted upheaval.
Recently returned to Blackrigg, David Melville, is adjusting to life as the laird of Rashiepark when he encounters local hero and blacksmith, Neil Tennant who leads a deputation following the near-drowning of a young boy, and an uneasy relationship develops between the estate and the mining community. Socialist miner Alex Birse argues for social justice but is anybody listening? Friends Rose Matheson, Phee Melville and Elizabeth Fraser wonder what the future holds as the women’s movement calls for change whilst the women of the mining community bring up their children in poor living conditions.
Black Rigg is set in the harsh landscape of the Scottish coalfield before the Great War and will appeal to a broad range of readers, from those who like family histories and love stories to those with an interest in social history and Scottish history more generally. A sequel, The Cold Blast, following the same community through the upheaval of 1914-18, should be released later in 2019. A third book in the series is planned to cover the difficult years of the 1920s.
Published in 2014 by Ringwood Publishing, copies of Black Rigg are still available to buy new for £6.00 plus £2.90 p&p. Email firstname.lastname@example.org details. Second hand copies can be purchased on Amazon.