MY LATEST BOOK AND WRITING NEWS
August 21 2017
Readers might be interested in my latest post on the blog. It's about book 17 in the 26-books-in-52-weeks challenge that I'm taking part in. Number 17 had to be a book you could read in a day.I picked out several and I went for mainly children's books. Click here to read it.
July 05 2017
My latest post on my blog is about a wonderful day I spent with an artist, a scientist, and a class of eleven-year-olds looking at DNA. The day was run by the SAW Trust which is an organisation which exists to promote science to primary school children. You can read about the day here
June 26 2017
I follow the Culloden Battlefield blog. It's a great source of facts about Jacobite history so it fits well with the subject matter of The Silver Locket. The latest post is an incredible tale of a lesser known Jacobite victory. You can read it here.
June 12 2017
I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted any news here. Amongst other things, I've been moving house. But I'm all settled in my new place now and back at my writing desk.
So what's my writing news? At the moment I'm working hard on finishing my next book for adults. Yes, I write for grown-ups too, but under a different name. But my Anne McAlpine writing identity is raring to go with a new book too. As soon as the adult one is in the editing stage, I plan to get going on a new book for readers of The Silver Locket. All I can tell you at the moment is it has a working title of The Silver Axe and it will once again involve Caitlin and her friends in a time-travelling adventure. So watch this space...
November 11 2016
NEW ON THE BLOG: November writing news. It's a busy month with writing and writing-related work. I'm teaching creative writing and giving two author talks as part of Book Week Scotland. Find out more here.
July 18 2016
NEW ON THE BLOG
Today on my blog, I've posted about what success as an author means to me. It's not all about sales.
Here is the link.
February 1 2016
When I write, I find music helps to get me and keep me in the zone. I've just written a blog post about how this works for me. You can read it here.
January 6 2016
Happy New Year to all my readers. That's the festivities over and I'm home from a lovely Christmas with family in Edinburgh. Time to get back to writing. I've begun with a new, news filled blog post. You can read it here.
November 26 2015
So that's me all organised for Saturday's talk to the local children's reading group at the library. I'll be reading from and talking about The Silver Locket. Got some giveaways too.
October 18 2015
Review request: To all adult readers of The Silver Locket or adults who bought it for a child to read, would you consider putting a review of the book on Amazon? I'd really appreciate it. Getting reviews helps a debut author to get better known. Thank you.
October 18 2015
I'm delighted to have been invited to be a guest author at the Chatterbooks children's book group meeting at my local library as part of the Scottish Book Trust's Book Week Scotland at the end of November. I'll be talking about how I came to write The Silver Locket, about my life as an author and doing some readings from the book.
September 12 2015
Skye Book Festival
I really enjoyed taking part in the Skye Book Festival last week. I was invited by the festival to do a talk on The Silver Locket to the older pupils from two of the local primary schools. The primary 5 to 7 pupils from Staffin primary joined their counterparts at Kilmuir Primary where my talk took place. I did a quick history lesson on the Jacobites before sharing how I'd got the idea for the book and a bit about the writing process I'd gone through. Then I did some readings from key points in the novel. There's was also time at the end for the children to ask questions. I was really impressed by how well the children listened and by the quality of their questions.
Thank you to the staff and pupils at both schools and to the Skye Book Festival for organising the talk.
August 31 2015
Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre - a revisit
Today I resisted the Culloden Battelfield and Visitor Centre in Inverness. Me and the husband were having a few days break away in a lovely forest lodge in Inverness-shire with our son and daughter-in-law. Since I was the only one in the party who'd been to the Culloden centre before and since I was delighted to have an excuse to revisit, I suggested we go there.
As you'll see in my post of August 11th below, it was while on my original visit to Culloden that I got the inspiration for The Silver Locket, so it's always going to be a special place to me. And I certainly wasn't disappointed on my return visit. All four of us enjoyed it and I learned even more of the details of the Jacobite chapter in Scottish history. The audi-visual displays, the artefacts which are so well laid out and described and the immersion theatre were as impressive as ever.
As for the battlefield itself - it's still a bleak and moving place to visit. I appreciated the provision of the audio commentary (via a personal player and headset) which was beautifully narrated by a woman with a lovely local Highland accent.
I've included a couple of the photos I took during the visit. The stone wall outside the centre is just one rather beautiful aspect of the centre. As well as the plaque at its centre, each stone that sticks out represents a soldier who lost his life at the battle.
August 18 2015
I'm delighted to have been invited to be part of the Isle of Skye Book Festival. The festival takes place from 3rd to 5th September and includes talks from well-known children's author Teresa Breslin and famous crime writer Val McDermid. So I'm very pleased to be in such awesome company. I'll be talking about The Silver Locket to an audience of (mainly) school children at Kilmuir Primary school on the 3rd September.
You can view and download the full festival programme here - http://skyebookfestival.co.uk
August 11 2015
The origins of The Silver Locket -
or 'Outlander for children' as it has been described.
The Silver Locket is set in Scotland and during the course of the story three twelve-year-old friends from the 21st century travel back in time to 1746 and the Battle of Culloden. They have to help Bonnie Prince Charlie, the leader of the defeated Jacobites to escape from King George's Redcoat army. And they musn't fail because if they do, then history will be changed and they might not even be born.
The Silver Locket is my first novel for children. I've already published two novels for adults and I always said I had no interest in writing for children.
The lesson learned there is, never say never.
Part of my reluctance to wrote for children came from having spent thirty-six years as a primary school teacher. As a writer, I wanted to explore new things and hang out with the adults more.
But another part of my reluctance was due to knowing the prospective readers of anything I might write for children almost too well. Children are discerning and unforgiving readers. They need to be grabbed from the off. They won't persisit with a mediocre book, as adults often do, in the hope it will get better. My respect for the talent of successful children's authors was, and is, immeasurable.
That's not to say I don't admire authors of books for grown-ups. I most certainly do. Nor is is it the case I don't respect my adult readers - but let's just say I know which audience scares me more.
So what prompted the change of heart? What got me over the fear - or at any rate to feel the fear and do it anyway?
It was the children themselves. Specifically it was one particular class of children at the school where I taught. They were Primary six - that is ten to eleven-year-olds - and they were learning about a very important turning point in Scottish history - i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie and the struggles of the Jacobites. This episode in history didn't end well for the Prince culminating as it did in his comprehensive defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
I went with the children to the Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands - a National Trust property and a marvellous museum. www.nts.org.uk/Culloden
In the excellent education unit there we learned about the battle tactics of the Jacobites and the Hanoverians, we dressed up and we tried out the Highlanbd Charge on the battlefield site - complete with imaginary claymores and targes. We went inot the immersion theatre where the on screen battle re-enactment completely surrounded us and we felt as if we were there, in the thick of the 1746 battle.
And it was during all this re-enactment that my writers brain fired up. I had one of those 'what if' moments - what if we were all sudenly transported back in time to the actual battle. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Silver Locket was born.
Apart from book cover picture the other pictures are all from www.educationscotland.gov.uk
June 19 2015
The Hermitage Connection
One of my favourite parks both when I was growing up and still to this day is the Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh. Those of you who've read The Silver Locket will know that this park has a key role to play in the story.
A couple of weeks ago I was staying in the city for a few days and I couldn't resist the chance to go for a walk there yet again. It's an enchanting and, maybe, enchanted place.
When I was at primary school my teacher would regularly take us across the road to this park and its beautiful woodland to learn about trees and birds and to do bark rubbings and leaf collecting. The collected leaves would then be used back in the classroom to make leaf prints. The park, situated on the south side of the city, stretches from the Morningside area westwards to Liberton. The Braid Burn, a lively little river, runs through it and the path skirts the base of Blackford hill on one side and the Braid hills on the other. During school holidays, I enjoyed fishing for minnows in the burn and generally guddling about in the water. I also remember many Brownie and Guide sausage sizzles at the Hermitage as well as many Sunday walks there with my parents and grandparents.
From the top of Blackford hill you get great views across Edinburgh and the hilltop is also the site of the Royal Observatory. About halfway through the park, the path passes by farmland with cows, sheep and horses all grazing. Looking at the fields and the animals it's hard to believe you're only two minutes from the centre of the capital.
So when I needed an accessible but atmospheric are of woodland full of old trees and lots of other interesting stuff for Caitlin and her friends to visit , the Hermitage seemed like the natural setting.
I don't think there's a 'granny' pine time portal there, but do let me know if you find out there is!