I was the boy with a plan. Now I am the boy with nothing.
From the moment 12-year-old Kylan hatches a plan to escape from his Norse captors, and return to Scotland to find his mother, his life becomes a dangerous game.
The precious Lewis Chessmen―which he helped carve―hold the key to his freedom, but he will need all his courage and wit to triumph against Sven Asleifsson, the cruellest Viking in the realm.
One false move could cost him his life.
Barbara Henderson has woven a thrilling origin story around the enduring mystery of the Lewis Chessmen, their creation in Norway, and how they ended up buried in the Hebrides before being discovered on Lewis in 1831
I am so delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson and even more so to be hosting content from the writer herself! Barbara Henderson is a champion of both children’s historical fiction and Scottish history and heritage. Whilst my own close heritage is largely from […]
We like our stories atmospheric in Scotland, and who can blame us? Brooding hills, crumbling castles, poetry and song are the very fabric of our nation – and we have a history to match!
In 2016, a small independent publishing house was founded on the Isle of Lewis, about as north-westerly as you can get and still belong to Scotland. Anne and Iain Glennie’s office overlooks the Atlantic and is minutes away from the Callanish Standing stones, but they had a different vision for their business: publish quality Scottish children’s fiction, particularly historical books for their yesteryear series.
I was their very first author signing.
Fast forward four years and Scottish publishing is bursting at the seams with creativity and innovation. Granted – the Covid-19 crisis is taking its toll with dips in both sales and literary events, but there is a reason Scotland…
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 […]
Being 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…
There 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.
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.
Down by the coast, black water swirls and hides its secrets…
Regular readers of Linda’s Book Bag will know that I have been trying not to take on blog tours this year. I have done some, of favourite authors, or when I knew life wouldn’t be too busy, or when I have been approached personally by an author. If I say that I actually offered to […]
As is customary at these times, it seems only right to reflect a little. My writing year was a good one, certainly. It was the year my book Punch made it to the Crystal Kite shortlist, among other things.
For what it’s worth, here are some lessons I’ve learned:
Persistence pays off. Never give up on a discarded manuscript. Mine became book three – Wilderness Wars.
Published authors still get rejections. Keep writing. Nothing else for it.
There is no such thing as being too pro-active as a writer. Period.
What follows is a random and illogical collection of selective impressions, trivia and thoughts on the year that was:
January: SALES: This month, the record was broken: My author visit to Kirkhill Primary sold more books than I have ever sold in a single day, and all sales were to individuals rather than the school. My second visit to Luncarty Primary broke that record again. Never did I get near those figures again later in the year. But it felt good. I love how enthused young people become about reading during these events.
February: WORKSHOPS: I began a series of creative writing workshops, delivered on behalf of Groam House Museum. A bit of predictable income was very welcome, but it pales into insignificance compared to the inspiration and motivation I gained by preparing and teaching them. Writers are inspired by other writers, and I am no exception.
March: WORLD BOOK DAY: I was lucky enough to be asked to appear at Lochardil Primary for this spectacular occasion (they don’t do things by half there!). But the oddest and weirdest and craziest thing was being interviewed about World Book Day by a Turkish English Language TV station. Surreal is putting it mildly! Workshops with Sutherland pupils about local poet Rob Donne were also an excuse to drink in fab scenery. March also saw me get unduly emotional: I defy any new author to walk into a room with sixty kids holding copies of your book, and not to cry a little. Thanks St Mary’s RC Primary School in Hamilton!
April: RESEARCH: As the holidays, family weddings and other ‘life’ stuff got in the way, I took the opportunity to drag the family away to the Solway Firth for a spot of immersion in a Smugglers’ story I was writing. Fingers crossed, one day you’ll all get to read it! We also popped into Caerlaverock Castle, another place of interest to the historical novelist – this one in particular!
May: EXPLORING NEW SHORES: I love getting to know new parts of Scotland as part of author visits, but the biscuit was well and truly taken by the beautiful Isle of Lewis. Thanks to my hospitable publishers, the gorgeous Hebridean Huts and the friendly Pairc School, this was an unforgettable trip. Can’t wait to go back! The exhibition in Groam House also opened, featuring work created during my workshops, which was just a bit special!
Edited in Lumia Selfie
June: BUSY TIMES: June was the busiest month for author visits I have had for a while. Perth, Dingwall, three sessions at a local secondary school for creative writing, Edinburgh, a new children’s writers’ free class at Eden Court Theatre, Gourock, Fortrose… I barely came up for breath! But the best bit was making the book trailer for Wilderness Wars – almost my favourite part of the publishing process!
July: BREAK: Visiting family in Germany, seeing the legend Paul Simon in concert, watching too much World Cup football and a relaxing (slightly research-motivated – can’t help myself!) short break in Lochaber, followed by a week in Iceland. This month was about taking a deep breath because…
August: LAUNCH: Because August was about giving Wilderness Wars the best start possible! Seeing all three of my books on the shelves at Edinburgh International Book Festival was particularly special. Launch events in Edinburgh, Nairn and Inverness, with a lovely school launch at Lorne Primary in Edinburgh and Cradlehall Primary in Inverness secured lots of press coverage of my inflatable seagulls!Being on a Historical Novelists’ Association conference panel with fellow Cranachan author John Fulton was also an absolute pleasure.
September: FAMILY: I cancelled a lot of my scheduled events in September due to a family bereavement. Flying to Germany and keeping in touch with my nearest and dearest was the priority here, although I also finished a new novel this month.
October: NESSBOOKFEST: The autumn is usually dominated by the organisation of this festival, although I wasn’t chairperson anymore this year. My remit is press and social media coverage, so i was churning out press releases and tweeting as if my life depended on it. Meeting such a wide array of writers and illustrators was a real honour. It was also the month I resumed author events, with the Word on the Street Festival a particular privilege.
November: BOOK WEEK SCOTLAND: I wouldn’t be surprised if I was one of the authors to cover most ground that week: Peebles’ Read-a-licious Festival, Tongue, Inverness and Dingwall all featured in a bit of a full-on schedule – of which I loved every minute, by the way! Author visits also took me to Perth and Cumbernauld.
December: COMMUNITY MARKETS. People buy books at this time of the year, and as writers, we ignore this opportunity at our peril! I had a go and actually quite enjoyed setting up camp with my box of books. As a result, a couple of dozen books of mine will grace present tables around the country and beyond 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone. May 2019 be good to you!