COVER REVEAL The Siege of Caerlaverock!

I am so excited that I get to tell you about a NEW BOOK! The Siege of Caerlaverock is a medieval David-and-Goliath tale based on real events at Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfries and Galloway – and here is the gorgeous cover!

The Siege of Caerlaverock ebook cover3

It is a stunner, I think – designed by Cranachan Publishing’s Anne Glennie who felt very strongly about using the image of the actual castle, not just any other medieval stronghold.

It took a little while to arrive at the final product, an image of the castle ruin (albeit well-preserved) as it is now, overlaid with the dramatic events which unfolded there in July 1300 when the King of England, Edward Longshanks, surrounded and besieged the castle with an army over 3000 strong, while those inside numbered only sixty or so men. Certainly, some of those inside were women – and this opened up the brilliant possibility of writing a knights-and-castles, Wars-of-Independence story for kids, but with a female point of view character. My main source was a contemporary heraldic poem.

THE STORY:

12-year-old Ada is a laundress of little consequence, but the new castle commander Brian de Berclay has his evil eye on her. Perhaps she shouldn’t have fed the young prisoner in the tower.

But when the King of England crosses the border with an army over 3000 strong, Ada, her friend Godfrey and all at Caerlaverock suddenly find themselves under attack, with only 60 men for protection. Soon, rocks and flaming arrows rain from the sky over Castle Caerlaverock – and Ada has a dangerous choice to make.

THE COVER IMAGE:

Our early discussions centred on the building itself. The castle definitely had to be featured in the cover image, right? If you have a real-life location which people can still visit, it seems a waste not to capitalise on this. It is Scotland’s only triangular castle and a popular filming location. The name itself means ‘fort of the skylark’ (from caer meaning fort; and the old English laewerce meaning lark). Gorgeous and evocative, and perfect for a story!

Image result for Caerlaverock name means

IMG-20200322-WA0003
The problem was that a lot of castle images looked very peaceful, not at all the dramatic, fast-moving adventure which would reflect the manuscript!

Back to the Drawing Board. Anne and I brainstormed and I wondered if the real location could be featured in the cover by way of a map? We hunted down some old-fashioned maps, and attempted to show the female heroine in front of the castle, alongside some birds to reflect the skylark connection.However, although the building looked great, the map graphics only made the overall effect less clear, and the atmosphere still lacked threat. I did love the font though!

IMG-20200322-WA0002

I left it in Anne’s capable hands, and as always, she delivered. Just look at the progress in our next step! We had the threatening atmosphere at last! Night-time wanderings, the female at the centre of the story, being watched by the Commander from on high. We also wondered about the title and discussed it at length: Ada is a girl under siege. There are enemies outside, but she is also being hunted within the castle walls.

IMG-20200322-WA0004

Still, the Castle was a character in itself and needed to be in the title. And the figure of the girl did not quite have the impact we were looking for. We wanted to get across the movement and the drama that happened here somehow. Knights galloping their chargers around the besieged fortress, the drawing of weapons, the clanging of armour, the whistling of fiery missiles through the air…

The solution came by superimposing one image onto another. Wish I could claim credit for it, but it is all Anne’s doing! What you see is the castle ruin as it is now, but seen through a lens of an event which happened there 720 years ago. Shadows of the past in the misty murk of the present.

There is a bit of me which gets goosebumps every time I think of that, the memory of stones…

I love the cover!

LOVE IT!

And I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

The Siege of Caerlaverock ebook cover3

2019 – The Quick Version

A write old year! What did I even do? What DID I do?

My mind predictably draws a blank when I ask myself questions like this, so let’s have a proper think, eh?

January saw me do author events in Balloch Primary, Luncarty Primary and Inverness Royal Academy. I also met up with my pals from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Edinburgh. Oh, and my oldest left home to go to Egypt – a bit of a biggie for the family.

Brodie
The gorgeous Brodie Castle in February.

February began with delivering a storytelling session at the fabulous Brodie Castle. In the castle library, no less! So many castle themed stories to choose from… Author visits to Hamilton and East Kilbride among others, but the event of the month was really the beginning of the Artyness column which I began to write fortnightly, alternating with musician and writer Liza Mulholland, and which goes out in the weekend edition of a whole clutch of North of Scotland Papers. So much fun!dav

World Book Day means that March is always busy! Hamilton, East Kilbride and Findochty in Moray, a visit to the local RSPB Wildlife Explorer group, Fort William and the fabulous Scottish Association of Writers conference for which I was honoured to be an adjudicator and speaker. But the biggest challenge was reading the audiobook of Wilderness Wars which took hours and hours and hours! Who even wrote this unpronounceable prose?

CollageMaker_20190313_134321455
Audiobook production at the Music Shed in Inverness

April – the holidays are upon us, so it’s a quieter month, apart from a small number of events including the lovely Pitcairn School in Perthshire.dav

May – I was one of the three lucky spotlight authors for the Cromarty Crime and Thrillers Weekend. It was also the month of Queen Victoria’s Bicentenary, so I visited all the locations of my Victorian book ‘Punch’: South Morningside and Tollcross Primaries in Edinburgh, St Ninian’s in Perth, Waterstones Inverness and the Victorian Market in my home town – and Crathie School near Balmoral Castle, one of the key settings in the book!

dav

June – Author visits to Fort William and Cauldeen Primary as well as the new library in the Merkinch Family Centre among others. July saw the fantastic XpoNorth Festival return to Inverness and we went for a research holiday to the Isle of Lewis. I’m currently knee-deep into a late Viking Scotland story as a result. In August, I was lucky enough to appear alongside allround legend Maggie Craig at SEALL, Skye, for a writing workshop on bringing the past to life. Of course, the highlight of my year is the Edinburgh International Book Festival where all three of my books were in the festival bookshop!

IMG_20190823_202911_246

Back to normal in September, with a clutch of author visits and school events, including a trip to Sherborne School in Dorset and one to Aberdeen, as well as taking oldest to university. In October, all of this intensifies, with visits to Muckhart, two more Aberdeen events, the fab Word on the Street festival in Dingwall and, finally, the launch of Black Water, my new novella for 8-12 year olds at Waterstones Inverness. Most of my fellow writers published by Cranachan Publishing were there – my clan!

 

The very next day (and now into November), I’m on a train to Aberdeen again for the international kidlit quiz. Flying to the Isle of Lewis a few days later for the Faclan Oga festival is a particular treat: three school events in quick succession. Bridge of Don Academy and the official Black Water school launch at my home school of Cradlehall follow, as well as visits to Merkinch, Aviemore, Mountfleurie, Perth and Glenurquhart primaries. Best bit? Joining the Mobile library van on its round past Aldourie and Foyers Primaries – what a fantastic service, and how valued by its customers in remote places!

And so I wind up the year in December by guesting at the young writers café for Moniack Mhor, taking part in Bookpenpals and #bookfoundxmas and by looking back gratefully. If anything, writing a post like this helps my own memory and keeps me right. Writing can be a stationary and solitary business and it’s good to remind myself that I actually did do something this year… 😊dav

Happy 2020 to you all! Thanks for chumming me along, and letting me chum you in return!

Book Review: Black Water — Chrikaru Reads

Book Review: Black Water Black Water Written by Barbara Henderson 88 pages Published by Cranachan Publishing Publication date: 31st October 2019 Summary (from Goodreads): Sink or swim to survive Solway’s black water… Down by the coast, black water swirls and hides its secrets. Dumfries, 1792. Henry may only be twelve, but he has already […]

via Book Review: Black Water — Chrikaru Reads

Guest Post: How Barbara Henderson researched Scotland’s Smuggling Story

A little bit about what floats my boat about smuggling stories… 😊🌜⚓⛵

Roaring Reads

Barbara with book 150Being a children’s author isn’t always about making up stories in your head. Sometimes, it’s about researching a subject so that you know it inside out, then sharing that knowledge in a way that excites and inspires young readers.

Barbara Henderson is a maestro at this particular skill, and we’re delighted that the author of the (brilliantly researched) novels Wilderness Wars and Punch, joins Roaring Reads for this guest post, sharing her experience finding the facts behind her new novella Black Water (out now – read our review here).

“The Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott famously observed that ‘few people take more enthusiastically to the free trade than the men of the Solway Coast’.

“I have long been fascinated with smuggling, piracy and all things sinister by the water. What’s not to love? A night-time sea is just about the most menacing backdrop you could possibly choose for a…

View original post 635 more words

Review: Black Water

Today’s review from the fantastic Roaring Reads!

Roaring Reads

Black Water 150There is a lot to be said for a powerful title, and Barbara Henderson’s new novella has that and much more. The words “Black Water” capture the essence of the dark, dangerous Solway Firth smuggling scene, and captured this reader’s curiosity from the outset.

The story follows Henry, a 13-year-old apprentice exciseman, who is trying to learn the family trade, while struggling to balance the weight of his father’s expectation with his own love of the written word – and some stirrings of empathy for the smugglers they seek to detain.

When the Rosamund, a large smuggling schooner, is stranded nearby, it’s up to Henry’s father, along with Riding Officer Walter Crawford (a real-life exciseman, whose journal inspired much of this story) and later, the poet Robert Burns, to capture the crew and seize the loot. It’s a hazardous mission, which does not go to plan.

Over two-day course of…

View original post 280 more words

Black Water by @scattyscribbler @cranachanbooks

Today’s stop on the blog tour, the fabulous Quiet Knitter. I am so delighted and grateful for this review, thank you very, very much!

The Quiet Knitter

I am so utterly thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on Barbara Henderson’s latest book today. I first discovered Barbara’s books back in 2017 when I fell in love with her writing in Fir for Luck, absolutely entranced, she managed to transport me to the mind of a twelve-year-old girl at the time of the Highland Clearances in Sutherland, and since then I have eagerly awaited news of each new book that Barbara writes. Today is publication day for Black Water, the latest bookish wonder that Barbara has crafted, and I think audiences of all ages are in for a treat!

  • Title: Black Water
  • Author: Barbara Henderson
  • Illustration : Sandra McGowan
  • Publisher: Pokey Hat (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 31st October 2019

Copy received from author for review purposes.

Description:

Down by the coast, black water swirls and hides its secrets…

Dumfries, 1792. Henry may only…

View original post 899 more words