Hello. It has been quite a while and I feel as if the kindly people who have been following this blog have tired of me as of waiting, and won’t want to read more. Well, if it’s so, it’s so.
Things have not been gliding along peacefully in my narrow sliver of reality. There has been plenty to cry over, and plenty too to think about, and I’m still doing both. Meanwhile though, I’ve had a few opportunities I thought some one besides me might find interesting.
Last week I was in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and an amazing place. Two of my published novels have had much of their action set in this beautiful city, but things do change, and I wanted to see if a reader who devoured one or the other – or both! hey! It’s all right! You can do this! I’m not at all against it* – might then wander around the sights and sounds and smells and feel that tingle of recognition about what they’ve read that I felt writing it.
Kaos, my most recent novel, is largely set on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, so I made my way up there for a peek. It’s ok. The things I wrote can work out just fine, and I scrolled through the first pages of the novel on my e-reader and it was as I wanted. That’s really nice, you know?
Evilheart, the second novel I wrote and the first I published, is also mainly set in the city, but the places where things happen are different. I had a look, particularly at Greyfriars cemetery, with its incredible gravestones and crypts. And while it has changed it is still ok too, and as I stood there in the early evening I could just see Alex Stewart prowling around down at the bottom of the place, looking for a spot where he could secrete…you’ll have to read it yourself to see*.
Edinburgh as a whole is if anything an even more international city than when I last saw it eight years ago. The voices on the streets are German, Italian, Slavic, Spanish…and when English, less often Scot than English or American.
The great sights are still there – Calton Hill, “The Rock” – Edinburgh Castle – jutting out into the West End…Holyrood Park with its crown of Arthur’s Seat and the low slung escarpment known as Salisbury Crags. The Old Town running up the spine ending in the castle is still old, and the New Town, across the railway and parkland and a mere 200 years or so young, is still the elegant and refined district it has been since it really was new.
Things have changed. Some of the cafes that were once my haunts have closed**, while an old swimming pool at the end of High School Wynd, closed when I was there before, is now a cafe and something else, with a new glass and steel box on top of the stone frontage. Just next door, where once proud erect sheafs of New Zealand flax, phormium tenax, ruled a corner of open ground in front of yet another stylish stone building, redevelopment has ripped the greenery away and raw earth waits some new idea to be made flesh.
The season has changed too – at least this year. It used to be that after the Festival and its Fringe had closed about September 1 the town went slack. Mid-September was a good time to visit, with the crowds gone but the weather still warm, or warmish. The weather is good still but someone’s let the secret out and the main street on the Rock’s spine is thronged. It was hard to get a bed.
There is more – another time, perhaps. Thanks for reading.
*Naked marketing ploys, or maybe more naked than usual marketing ploys.
**JK Rowling is said to have written her first Harry Potter novel in cafes in Edinburgh. It is something we share a little! A lot of my first book was written in probably those same cafes, and much of the thinking for the second, Evilheart. You were onto something there JK…