Category Archives: Scottish authors

Celebrating two Authors Born in Kirkcaldy ~ Val Mc Dermid and Andrew Fyall

TWO AUTHORS FROM KIRKCALDY

Val Mc Dermid

Val Mc Dermid is a well known author worldwide, Scottish but also celebrated in her home town of Kirkcaldy in fact she is seen regularly  at Stack’s Park watching her home side Raith Rovers.

Val McDemid is also a prolific tweeter engaging with her readers and twitter friends in a humorous and light hearted fashion @valmcdermid

Here ‘s my latest book review of one of her books, chosen because one of the main locations is in Fife:

A Darker Domain by Val Mc Dermid

This is a multi layered crime / mystery, with flashbacks to the time of the tumultuous miners’ strike in Fife, as DI Karen Pirie works to solve two seemingly very different cold cases.

Meanwhile Bel Richmond, a freelance journalist, finds a sinister poster and some blood stains in an abandoned villa near where she is staying in Tuscany. This thrusts the lies and deception of the past right into the present as the Italian police begin to investigate. Unraveling the truth has unforeseen and tragic outcomes leaving the reader reeling.

To say that I was gripped by this novel was an understatement, not surprising baring in mind the calibre of the author.

‘A Darker Domain’ was all the more meaningful for me since the Fife coastal locations were now so familiar. Not only that but the social historical aspect of the miners’ dispute added a realistic dimension to the events. Tension was literally in the air – provocation to carry out a kidnapping which led to dire consequences.

I would never have guessed the end of the novel ~ a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

I’ve recommended it to a couple of friends already and will read the first in the series. ‘The Distant Echo’ is now on my list of ‘to read’ books.

Andrew Fyall

Andrew Fyall was also born in Kirkcaldy, was a reporter for the Daily Express and a Foreign Correspondent during the 1960’s and 1970’s. He now lives in Edinburgh.

I’ve recently been recommended to read his memoir. Here’s my review:

First in, Last Out: Memoirs by Andrew Fyall

51wWgHgKjYL._SY346_I was gripped from beginning to end of Andrew Fyall’s book through political upheaval, potential and real wars, terrorism and the world of entertainment. Reading ‘First in, Last Out’ was all the more poignant since I was reading first hand accounts of events I’ve been moved by throughout my life including The Cuban Missile Crisis, Martin Luther King and The terrorist attach at the Munich Olympics. The events Andrew Fyall covered were wide ranging but also pivotal in the state of our world.

The life of a Foreign Correspondent was described in stark honesty, his successes, his reliant on instinct, ingenuity and sheer guile. Incredible but hidden behind his words, I felt, was another life of the long suffering wife and family as Andrew Fyall was sent off to far flung places at a moment’s notice, often giving hours between one assignment and the next.

Last in, First Out also gave a frank account of the ruthlessness of working for The Daily Express, one of the top newspapers in its heyday.

Excellent book.

It is fitting that I should review Andrew Fyall’s memoirs at a time when I am focussing on Kirkcaldy, specifically Kirkcaldy Foodbank. (All profits of my own fantasy/memoir ‘The Healing Paths if Fife’ are going to support the Kirkcaldy Foodbank during November and December 2019.) See a previous blog post

viewbook.at/TheHealingPathsofFife

Do you know any other authors who were born in Kirkcaldy? Please let me know if you do.

 

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Book Review ~ The Chessmen by Peter May

I bought the paperback of The Chessmen by Peter May at the Kildonan Museum in South Uist, a perfect place to pick up a novel set in the bleak but stunningly beautiful landscapes of The Outer Hebrides.

Fin and his mates grew up together in the close knit communities of the island of Lewis, the place where the famous Chessmen were discovered; an island where each group of peoples have their unique identity. In their late teenage years before uni the friends were completely absorbed with music, forming a band which went on to success. 

Fin arrives back on the island of his birth from a broken marriage and personal tragedies, leaving behind him his career in the police, only to find himself in the centre of mysteries, even murder. His new job to catch poachers on the estate brings him in direct conflict with his oldest and dearest friend. 

This novel is full of flashbacks to the past, which help the reader to understand the complex issues of the present. Fin’s detective mind makes it impossible for him to leave alone the attempt to unravel each mystery, putting his and other lives in grave danger. 

A brilliant book! The evocative surroundings wrap around Peter May’s colourful character, whose nicknames describe each perfectly ~ from boy to adulthood.  I couldn’t put The Chessmen down and must now go back to read the first in this series.

 

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Never believe the weather report ~ The sun shines in Scotland too, you know!

Friends from down south come to visit us in Fife, or travel with us further north or west, but we often hear the phrase ‘We don’t come to Scotland for the weather.’ We get phone calls invariably asking, ‘what’s the weather like?’ We can almost hear the disappointment or lack of belief when we say ‘Oh, it’s a lovely afternoon,’ or ‘it’s sunny here today,’ or ‘it’s a beautiful evening.’

I cannot quote a poem by Pauline Prior-Pitt for copyright reasons but I’ve written one of my own, inspired by reading her lovely book of poems ‘be an angel.’

 

Do You Remember the sun my friend

White sandy beaches stretching far, as froth tipped rollers race.

Layers of blue, purple, green ~

sea, cliffs,

lochs, headlands,

inlets, islands,

out to the misty beyond.

Sun kissed onyx rocks, blackness gleaming after rain.

Blue sky

piercing greyness, 

 framing mountain peaks,

dispersing wisps of cloud.

The stillness in that sheltered place where all our being glows with warmth.

 

Do you remember the wind and rain my friend

or do you remember the sun.

 

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