Tuesday, 17 July 2007


I wonder if it is time to write a little about me?

I don't mind telling you about my writing - I like to write in silence, with just the click of the keys to convince me that I'm doing well. I like the idea of background music and I've tried it more than once but I found one of two things - either it was intrusive and annoying, or it was so far in the background that the piece ended - and I never noticed.

Something will arouse my interest in a plot or a period and I'll tinker around lots of research, and I do love research. Then I formulate a brief outline of the story so I know what I'm aiming at. I suppose I could describe it as major towns on a long journey - Newcastle, Durham, York, Lincoln, always heading towards the destination. Silly to go to Aberdeen when you want to get to Dover. I don't expect the outline will be static. I've found that plots seem to change as I go along.
Characters are intriguing, aren't they? A chap I once knew was the basis for one of my heroes, but the character metamorphosed into his own being before the end of the story. I use bits of conversation, bits of a someone I know, bits of history, bits of what I've read, dreamed, imagined and mix them all together with that glorious question that's been with me all my life - what if...?

When you read history you can sense sometimes that there was a pivotal point where a nation almost gelled together, or the plot almost worked, or a battle should have been won - but for some trivial reason the attempt failed. Around the first millenium was just such a time for Alba, the country we now know as Scotland. The borders were almost as they are today, the various incomers had begun to live in peace, and then, in a squabble over the succession, the momentum towards nationhood was lost and not regained for two or even three hundred years.

I mused over that and slowly began to imagine a young man who had all the qualities required for leadership bar one and who found the course of his life changed when the girl he loved was married off to someone else. Before I knew it, he was beset with problems, some of his own making, some not, and through the story he had to learn to adapt, change and negotiate his way out of trouble.

That story became The Banners of Alba.

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