| I become very attached to places. So, for me, location is as vital to my books and to my writing as character, plot, structure and all the rest. Indeed, in the case of THE RECKONING, and my new novel, THE DEAD POOL, I'd decided on a location long before I had created any character or plot.
The walls of my study are lined with location photos past, present
and future. Here are a few, with a bit of explanation about how and why
they were taken.
THE REUNION has a number of Scottish locations: Edinburgh, the East
Neuk of Fife and the Outer Hebrides. My home city of Edinburgh I
know intimately, and the fishing villages of Fife I love. But it
was my unexpected encounter with the Outer Hebrides that sparked
off a certainty in me that I would use them as a location
This is Scarista beach on Harris. It is exquisitely beautiful
and unspoilt. I took this photo some years back when I was working
TV programme that took me to the Outer Hebrides. I have travelled
widely during my journalistic career but this was somewhere I had
before. During that wonderful trip I knew I would have to use Harris
and Lewis as a location.
In THE REUNION, one
of my main characters, Innes Haldane, has a memorable meeting on this
(Pictures 2, 3, 4)
The Callanish Stones on Lewis are quite remarkable. A bit like Stonehenge,
the area is much smaller that you think. It's also very quiet, peaceful
and atmospheric. In
THE REUNION, Danny and Abby meet
The small island of Fidra off Scotland's East Lothian coast is the
powerful inspiration for THE RECKONING. Fidra
is said to have been the model for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure
Island. I used to have family holidays in the nearby town of North
Berwick. It is a charming place and I am still a regular visitor. If
I visit during the summer months I always take a boat trip out towards
Fidra. It's now an RSPB nature reserve but I rather changed its use for
the purposes of THE RECKONING.
These are day and evening shots of Fidra taken from the lovely beach
that runs along from North Berwick all the way to the golden sands
of Yellowcraigs, a local nature reserve. From the beach at Yellowcraigs
there is a very close view of Fidra. So close you feel you can touch
her. In these photographs, you can just make out the Fidra lighthouse
where some hair-raising action takes place in THE RECKONING.
This is North Berwick as seen from the top of Berwick Law - 613 feet
high - taken just before sunset. The whale's jaw bone that
forms the arch is a striking feature. In THE RECKONING, my
main character, Miller McAllister, climbs Berwick Law as child.
THE DEAD POOL
My latest novel is set around the Water of Leith, the river that runs
through Edinburgh. In the past, the river was an important part of the
city's economy, powering a large number of mills. Now, much of the river
is used for recreation. There is a fine walkway running most of its length.
I was brought up by the Water of Leith and the action in THE
DEAD POOL is set within a stone's throw of where I used
to play as a child.
This is an old railway viaduct and just under the bridge there is a river crossing point that I used to use in the summer (when the water is usually low). However, in THE DEAD POOL, one of my characters has to cross this in flash flood conditions!
This is a wooden bridge that crosses the river at a pool known as
'the Cauldron'. It looks deceptively calm in this photograph. But
it's not always that way, especially following a long rainy spell.
From the Cauldron, the river then runs down into a large weir. The
bridge leads to a wooded area and towards steps leading up to the
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, high above.
The second photograph is looking from the bridge towards the Cauldron.
Again, looking deceptively tranquil.
This is the weir that runs down from the
Cauldron. Again, it looks a gentle trickle. But in times of heavy
rainfall, it is treacherous and
deafeningly loud. The bridge, the Cauldron. the wooded area and
the weir, are key locations in the THE DEAD POOL.