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Buxton Opera House, By Ian from Buxton, United Kingdom [Creative Commons]
Built as a theatre in 1903 by Frank Matcham, and beautifully restored. Picture courtesy of 'Ian from Buxton' used here to llustrate my new short story, 'Mrs Wilkes', now uploaded. (You can find it in Short Stories on the right hand side.)
'Mrs Wilkes' is set in c.1908, crucially depending on the social conventions and pretensions of its day. A far cry from Hew, it may seem at first sight. But the story was inspired by a trip I made to Derbyshire earlier this year, researching for the fifth Hew Cullan, Queen & Country, to the Old Hall Hotel, formerly the guest house of the earl of Shrewsbury, the keeper in captivity of Mary, queen of Scots, who took the waters here. The Old Hall Hotel, in its Edwardian incarnation, is the backdrop too for 'Mrs Wilkes.' The present structure dates to the Duke of Devonshire in the 1670s, but its earlier foundation in 1576 is visible in parts within its wall; it has a solid claim as the oldest hotel open still in England - the second of two hostelries visited by Hew in business still today. (The first is the Campveerse Toren in Veere in the Netherlands, where Hew spends a night in Time & Tide.)
I have just returned from a visit to the book festival on Skye - filling in at the last minute for Rosemary Goring (whose moving After Flodden I can highly recommend http://www.birlinn.co.uk/After-Flodden.html). This festival is well worth marking in your diary for next year: an impassioned and imaginative programme of events combined with the warmest of welcomes, in a spectacular setting, is not one to be missed.
I was privileged too to be present at the launch of the 'Great Book of Skye', 'The most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the people of the Isle of Skye,' a labour of unprecedented scholarship and love, by Norman Macdonald and Cailean Maclean. Breathtaking. http://greatbookofskye.com/
Hew Cullan book 5 is well under way. And for those who have finished Friend & Foe, and are concerned that Hew may be abandoning his roots...do not fear! The fifth book sees him safely in St Andrews, and with Giles and Meg. Which is all, for now. No spoilers here!
I will be reading from, and talking about, Friend & Foe at Leven public library on Thursday 22nd of May from 7.30 pm.
The very fine street plan of Hew Cullan's St Andrews, based on the Geddy map of c.1580, produced by Polygon for Friend & Foe.
Friend & Foe is now on sale online and in bookshops. Signed copies from Waterstones, St Andrews.
With very many thanks to those who came to last night's launch at MUSA - Museum of the University of St Andrews, on The Scores (Or Swallow Gait, according to this map) Well worth a visit!
First advance copy of the new Hew Cullan, with glossary and maps (by popular demand!)
Available to buy soon; this one is fresh from the box