While final proofs of DARKER ENDS are being prepared, I’m excited about the fact that the book will be launched not only in Edinburgh, but also in Glasgow for which I have a very soft spot. When my first book CHILL won the Scottish Children’s Book Award in 2007, I was asked to speak to a large audience at the AyeWrite Festival by popular demand – from those who mattered i.e. Glasgow school-children. I was very nervous as it was one of my first big audiences as a public speaker. It was in the Mitchell Library, a huge and interesting building (with its own rumours of ghosts) which you whizz past on the M8 if you’re cutting through Glasgow. It seems that DARKER ENDS (set in Glencoe) will have a launch at the Mitchell during Book Week Scotland.
Why stop at one launch? Why not three? And at one of them I’m going to endeavour to have cake with a book cover icing of DARKER ENDS, so that people can eat their way through the atmospheric shadows and darkening mood… hopefully it won’t give them indigestion.
Maggie leaned back against the pillar behind her.
The cavern they found themselves in was immense, larger than any building Maggie and Rory had ever seen. This was St. Paul’s Cathedral or Notre Dame, but buried under the earth, chiselled from rock.
They were far away now from the elements and the blizzard which raged in the open air above. They were sheltered; they couldn’t even hear the moan of the wind from here. Silence surrounded them, pierced by the odd footfall or whisper which would set up an echo that bounced eerily around the great hall of rocks.
Maggie saw Gavina glancing nervously towards the worm-tunnel which had led them here to this echoing cavern. She was anxious in case the soldiers proved persistent, and should find it too. After a while she encouraged the others to move further back into the darkness.
The centre of the hall seemed to be supported by a giant pillar bigger than a tree. Its diameter was as large as a house, and mineral deposits had formed golden ropes down its length. Behind this the cavern opened up into further hidden depths, alcoves and archways bridging the gaps of darkness. This was a very hollow mountain indeed. The gold light of the lantern picked out statues and sculptures of extraordinary design, leering goblins, tall ladies in crinoline, monsters and wolves.
Hopefully, even if the soldiers did get this far, maybe these sights would terrify them enough to persuade them to turn back – if they were of a superstitious nature. This is what Gavina encouraged them to believe, and the old woman Sorcha agreed with her.
While the wind wails outside my window – it’s June in Scotland – I’ve put the final full-stop on the first draft of DARKER ENDS for my publisher Fledgling Press. It’s set in Glencoe so the howling gales are appropriate, I suppose. Now I’ve started on my fourth novel. When I met with Clare at the NLS the other week, I happened to mention the Mary Queen of Scots novel I wrote when I lived in Edinburgh 25 years ago as a young student, and her face lit up. She wanted to see that too. I then remembered that I’d moved house several times since, and might well have lost my only original copy. So I went home and did a frantic search. Found it in the attic and hoovered off 15 years of dust, trying not to rip the title page with the nozzle. Spiders ran for cover and I laughed in delight – before hoovering up one or two of said spiders due to phobia.
I wrote that novel FOR MY SINS with an absolute passion in my twenties. I’m happy to rediscover that passion, and that’s what I’ll be working on over the summer. And to relax?
Amateur Dramatics! I’ve got the lead in a one-act comedy called What’s For Pudding? Bossy insufferable woman with a club book and an abrasive manner set in the 1980s! It’s such a giggle, especially all the backstage drama. One of the more controlling members of the group decided to do an impromptu health and safety test on the opening night. Tried out the smoke machine under the stairs and set the alarm off 5 mins before curtain call. Fire brigade arrived looking fed up and tempers flared! It was very funny…
Anyway, back to serious matters. I have been searching for book cover ideas for DARKER ENDS with the help of several pupils from various schools during workshop visits. Here are one or two