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Travel to Scotland with Andrew James Greig

  • Submitted: 6th November 2022

Travel to Scotland with Andrew J Greig

The next author from the Caledonian Crime Collective to come and visit The BookTrail is Andrew J Greig. St Andrews is where we are off today….

Travel to St Andrew with Andrew James Greig

(c) Andrew J Grieg

Andrew, over to you…..

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

Travel to Scotland with Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

Whenever I’m working on a book, the setting always comes first. I may have a specific location in mind, like this view of Castle Lachlan, Loch Fyne which features in the book I’m currently writing; or I may have a generic idea – such as the lone tree in a deserted glen with a terrible secret which forms the opening to Whirligig, set just outside Fort William.

Whirlgig Andrew James Greig

Travel to St Andrew with Andrew James Greig

(c) Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

I write in a descriptive style, so much so that readers comment they often feel they are there in the story. The reason for this is because I write in a completely visual way, seeing the story unfold like a film inside my imagination. At this point I should admit to not being a great plotter, but despite invariably having disparate story strands scattered throughout my books they eventually weave into a satisfactory conclusion. That’s entirely due to my having the privilege of watching the first takes running in my own film studio; and like the reader, I’m desperately trying to second guess the writer even as the words form in front of me.

Travel to Scotland with Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

Ideally, I like to visit a location so I can accurately describe my impressions – the views, the ground underfoot, the feeling of the wind or the smell of salt carried in the air, the sounds of oystercatchers shimmering from somewhere distant like an echo from some wild place. When Covid struck I had to visit places virtually, using Google to place myself on a road so I could see the track winding up a hill, using my imagination to fill in all the sensory gaps.

The Devil's Cut Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

My books to date have been set in wild and isolated Highland locations. There are a couple of reasons for this, beside the fact that I love Scotland’s wilder spaces. Firstly, I can use the lack of ready internet or mobile phone coverage to accentuate a feeling of isolation – making my characters more reliant on themselves or conversely more exposed to danger. Secondly, I can populate a story with a smaller cast of characters which makes a book more manageable for the reader (and writer).

Travel to St Andrew with Andrew James Greig

(c) Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

This view, from the island of Ulva looking towards the Isle of Mull with Ben More poking its head above the clouds features in my re-working of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. As an author, he visited nearly all the locations described in that book; following his father as he learnt the craft of building lighthouses. Luckily for us, neither building lighthouses nor a career in law appealed to the dissolute Robert so he turned his efforts towards writing. In doing so, he has left us a collection of well-loved stories and a cast of unforgettable characters.

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

Just a thirty-minute walk from my own front door is a cave on the Allan Water which he often visited as a young man and which later formed the shelter described in Treasure Island.

A Song of Winter Andrew James Greig

A Song of Winter Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

I mention RLS as the places he visited feature in many of his novels, the memories and locations still fresh in his memory long after he’d left Scotland for ever. I think many authors find inspiration from location, and there are countless series featuring a bounded geographical area which has left its mark on a writer’s imagination – from Ann Cleeves’ Jimmy Perez on Shetland to Colin Dexter’s Morse series in Oxford. I’m certainly not the only writer who has driven past a dilapidated farm building or lonely moor and immediately started populating the scene with bodies!

Travel to St Andrew with Andrew James Greig

(c) Andrew James Greig

BookTrail novels by Andrew J Greig

Travel is good for the soul, or so it is said. A year BC (Before Covid), I travelled to New York for a week, then north up the Hudson to the Catskills. This picture of me (taken by my wife who knows my best side) was taken in Brooklyn. I’ve yet to write a book set in New York – or the vastly stranger Catskills – yet merely by being there I know I now have the raw materials to do so. Even if a writer decides to create an entirely new universe the building blocks will come from places and people they’ve met. Like dreams, the worlds we visit in our imagination have their origins in our own journey through life.

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Andrew J Greig

Twitter: @AndrewJamesGre3 Web: andrewjgreig.wordpress.com/

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