Friday, February 8, 2019

Inspiration on a Plate by June Gadsby

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Of all the books I have had published, The Raging Spirit is the only one set in a place I have never visited. In fact, not many people have set foot on the Archipelagus of St. Kilda off the north-west coast of Scotland, as wild a place as anyone would like to go. Indeed, not many people have even heard of it.[1]


 Some years ago, my husband had special permission to spend some time on the main island of Hirta with a group of ornithologists, hosted by the Royal Air Force who were, at that time, occupying the essentially uninhabitable piece of our planet, in order to track missiles sent from the island of Benbeccula. 

The islands are famous for their sea birds – hence my husband and his group with their cameras, who had been given permission to camp [2]





and take their own food, but the ornithologists were well looked after, especially with alcohol at the Naaffi,  who were making the most of their short spells. While they were there a submarine arrived and the submariners came onto the island in shifts and had to be carried back to the sub because they were so drunk.

The only other people on Hirta were a group of volunteers from the National Trust who were renovating the old stone houses. The island had been uninhabited since 1930 when the 36 remaining inhabitants were forced to leave.  It is now a nature reserve, the island having been bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1957 and was designated as Scotland's first World Heritage Site in 1987. It is now possible to visit the island. [3]


Brian’s photographs and the stories he told me of this wild adventure planted the seed of the most exciting novel I had written up to that point. Even now, I feel as though I had been there and the magic of the place will be for ever in my imagination. Writing it as a historic, romantic suspense was no trouble at all, since nothing much had changed since the original population had been evacuated. These hardy people spent their lives climbing the sheer rock faces of the islands, gathering sea birds – in particular the Fulmar, which was their main diet. They had one boat and supplies were brought no more than once or twice from the mainland, as long as the raging sea would allow the boats to approach.

‘THE RAGING SPIRIT’ BLURB: For a woman in 1890 the journey to the wild archipelago off the coast of Scotland, is hazardous. Undeterred, Meredick accompanies her naturalist father on his expedition to the islands, knowing she may have to endure a long stay. But then she meets the renowned Professor Fergus Macaulay and soon has cause to fear him more than the elements. As their boat flounders in savage seas, Meredick is jettisoned overboard. However, she is saved by a young man called Logan, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Professor Macaulay..and Logan’s dark and terrible past is slowly revealed – at great cost to them all.

REVIEWS:

Mr Terence Jennings
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is yet another wonderful book by June
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is yet another wonderful book by June, this is my 3rd, so far, and the picture she paints, really makes you feel you are there with the characters, am so glad Meredith got her man in the end, took me just 3 days to read this, just wanted to keep going to see what happened.

Roberta Grieve
5.0 out of 5 stars
When Meredith accompanies her naturalist father on an expedition to ...
Format: Hardcover
When Meredith accompanies her naturalist father on an expedition to the remote island of St Kilda in 1890 she knows that life will be harsh with few amenities. She is also nervous of her father's employer, the forbidding Professor Macaulay. As the boat nears the island it founders and she is by Logan, a man with a dark past. June Gadsby's descriptions of the island and its dour inhabitants paint a vivid picture of a community cut off from civilization. Tensions build among the islanders and the expedition members and Meredith senses a mystery surrounding Logan. This was book I read almost in one sitting so anxious was I to find out what would happen to Meredith.
At the time when Brian was on St. Kilda only specially invited people were allowed on, but I believe that tourism has now reached these wild and isolated islands. I will never set foot on those rocky shores, but I can still feel the magic of them and the inspiration for The Raging Spirit that was passed to me by my husband.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting island story. You are very well traveled. I envy that. Enjoy writing.

    ReplyDelete

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