Thursday, 23 January 2014

Featured Author: Maggie Craig

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Scottish author, Maggie Craig, to the Reading and Writing blog to tell us about the inspiration behind her new historical novel, Gathering Storm. It’s well over a year since Maggie last visited and it’s always a pleasure to hear about her latest work. Historian, short story writer and novelist, Maggie’s research is legendary, bringing great authenticity to her novels. In addition to some romance, the depth of intrigue gives Gathering Storm a thriller quality and this author does not shy away from depicting the grittier side of life, love and danger in 18th century Scotland.

Thank you for taking time to join me today, Maggie. It's always a pleasure to hear about your work.

Gathering Storm
Jacobite Intrigue and Romance in 18th Century Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Yuletide 1743, and Redcoat officer Robert Catto would rather be anywhere else on earth than Scotland. Seconded back from the wars in Europe to captain the city's Town Guard, he fears his covert mission to assess the strength of the Jacobite threat will force him to confront the past he tries so hard to forget.
Christian Rankeillor, her surgeon-apothecary father and his apprentice Jamie Buchan of Balnamoon are committed supporters of the Stuart Cause. They're hiding a Jacobite agent with a price on his head in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, a hanging offence.

Meeting as enemies, Robert and Kirsty are thrown together as allies by the mysterious death of a young prostitute and their desire to help fugitive brother and sister Geordie and Alice Smart. They're on the run from Cosmo Liddell, bored and brutal aristocrat and coal owner.
As they pick their way through a labyrinth of intrigue, Robert and Kirsty are increasingly drawn to each other. She knows their mutual attraction can go nowhere. He knows his duty demands that he must betray her.

Bringing to life another time when Scotland stood at a crossroads in her history, Gathering Storm is the first in a suite of Jacobite novels by Scottish writer and historian Maggie Craig, author of the ground-breaking and acclaimed Damn' Rebel Bitches: The Women of the '45.
Inspiration Behind the Story

Gathering Storm started with a photograph in a magazine, a quietly handsome man looking out at me. He had such sad eyes and I wondered why. I propped his picture up next to my computer and glanced at it every so often over the next few days. Then I sat down and started free-writing. I was immediately in 18th century Edinburgh, chasing after some medical students and their professor who were carrying out an illegal dissection. My hero’s name was Robert, he was wearing a red uniform coat and he was the Captain of the Edinburgh Town Guard. He was interrogating Christian Rankeillor, daughter of the professor, and sparks were flying. Robert and Kirsty took it from there!
From the outset, the story has been a political thriller as well as a romance. It’s 1743, two years before the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and Edinburgh is a tense city. Research for the book took me from finding out about Jacobite plotters to the archives of the Royal College of Surgeons and on to an Open University course on the history of European medicine. I’m now writing the sequel, Breaking Storm, and can’t wait to find out how Robert and Kirsty are going to deal with the dilemmas now facing them.

I’m sure your readers can’t wait either, Maggie!
Gathering Storm is available in print and ebook from Amazon UK and US and the Book Depository.

Maggie Craig is a Scottish writer and historian, author of the ground-breaking and acclaimed Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45, When the Clyde Ran Red, a popular history of Red Clydeside, and several page-turning historical novels. Her Glasgow & Clydebank novels are set during the first half of the 20th century and are inspired by the joys, struggles and sense of humour of her own family, although they are also works of research and imagination. One Sweet Moment is a poignant and passionate tale of Old Edinburgh. Her latest novel, Gathering Storm, is the first in a planned suite of Jacobite novels.
Maggie is a member of the Society of Authors in Scotland and has served two terms as a committee member. She is a regular and popular speaker around Scotland’s libraries and at book festivals including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Aye Write! & the Wigtown Book Festival.
She comes from a family where writing is considered an entirely normal thing to do and which numbers among its forebears the weaver-poet of Paisley, Robert Tannahill, who most famously wrote The Wild Mountain Thyme/Will ye go lassie, go? (“So does hauf o’ Paisley, hen.” Response of wee man in Paisley museum to the foregoing statement.)

A proud Glaswegian, she and her Welsh husband Will now live in an old blacksmith’s cottage in a tiny village in the north of Scotland. They have two grown-up children, one lovely daughter-in-law and two cats. When not writing, Maggie enjoys photography, her favourite subjects being old buildings, wildlife, dramatic skies and wild flowers.

You can find out more about Maggie Craig on her website and follow her on twitter @CraigMaggie  


Bill Kirton said...

Well, I can't remember having reacted to a picture of a handsome man with sad eyes in the same way but the things you say about the characters taking over and you sitting there waiting to see how they cope with events are very familiar experiences. My copy of Gathering Storm is as yet unopened but, since it's the paperback and not the ebook version, I know that, once I start it, I won't want to stop. That's how it is with a Maggie Craig book.

Gwen Kirkwood said...

This is an excellent blog and the intriguing snippets about Gathering Storm make me feel I MUST get on and read it instead of having it languishing here tempting me away from my own work. There is always something new to learn about Maggie and I do love a series of novels so I really look forward these "Storm books".
Thank you Rosemary too.

Joan Fleming said...

I've read Gathering Storm, Maggie. It's a page turner of a story with interesting characters and a fascinating historical background. Your meticulous research, as always, adds so much to the novel.
As you say, Rosemary, I'm one of the readers who can't wait to read Breaking Storm.

Jenny Harper said...

You've just pushed Gathering Storm up my TBR list! It's in there with a few others, all begging for attention and fighting with the stories in my own head waiting to come out. Maybe I'll manage it on the plane... Nice interview - thanks.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for dropping by to comment, Bill, Gwen, Joan and Jenny!

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Maggie, I've got my pb copy sitting waiting, too. I love Edinburgh and its interesting history so I'm really looking forward to it. Anne Stenhouse

Talli Roland said...

Maggie, the novel sounds fantastic, and I love the cover!

Maggie Craig said...

Hi guys and thanks for all your comments. Talli, I love the cover too. It's designed by the lovely Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics.

Hadn't been intending to start Breaking Storm just yet but this morning Christian and Robert decided they had better get her home. Cue wee small hours trip through a snowy Edinburgh with Geordie and Robert carrying the sedan chair. I love it when the characters insist that you get on with telling their story!

Wendy's Writing said...

I just love it when a picture grabs your imagination. A lot of my magazine stories have started this way. The best of luck with your novel, Maggie - it sounds gripping.

Mary Smith said...

Gathering Storm is on my TBR pile and I think I'll shift it upwards now. Fascinating blog post.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Talli - thanks for leaving a comment!

It's a great way to begin, isn't it, Wendy!

Thanks for commenting, Mary!

myraduffy said...

What a wealth of experience you've brought to this novel,Maggie. An interview designed to intrigue as well as inform. I've just started GATHERING STORM and am delighted to learn it's the beginning of a series.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for dropping by, Myra!

Vikki said...

Sounds a very interesting book and I love the way a photograph sparked off so much inspiration!

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I love the sound of this book, thanks for telling us all about it!

Joanna said...

Gathering Storm sounds like a fantastic and gripping book and it's really interesting to know that a photograph provided the initial inspiration. Thank you for such an interesting post, Maggie and Rosemary, and many congratulations. I'm sure Gathering Storm will be a great success. xx

Maggie Craig said...

Monday morning and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented and to Rosemary for hosting me.

Learned last week that a guy I know who is a re-enactor has got together with some of his buddies and reformed the Edinburgh Town Guard. I'm looking forward to meeting up with them and getting some good photographs, hopefully one for the cover of Breaking Storm, at some of their events this year.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for your comments, Vikki, Debs and Joanna!

Morning, Maggie - it was a pleasure to host you here. That sounds a fascinating opportunity!