Sunday, 17 May 2015

Interview with Scottish Writer Christine Richard

We continue with the Scottish theme on the blog as I highlight some great Scottish writers and books. Today I am joined by Christine Richard, author of Whitewalls, a contemporary Scottish saga. Welcome Christine. It is a real pleasure to have you join us on Bookaholic. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions about your life and your writing. I know you are busy so it is kind of you to take time out to meet with me.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Yorkshire but came to Scotland with my first family as stepmother to three baby boys whose mother had sadly died and had my daughter, Fiona, who designed the book cover of ‘Whitewalls’ and prepared it for publication. I remarried and had a second family of stepchildren. One of my sons, Christopher died four years ago of heart failure and we all miss him greatly as he was a ‘golden boy’ who went round the world doing good! As far as my own history to date is concerned I have always been involved in politics, since the age of 16 and current affairs. I stood for Parliament three times and served as a Councillor in Edinburgh for 12 years – four of them as Leader of the Opposition. In 1992 I was made an OBE and I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Simultaneously with politics I have had a career as a qualified Business Studies lecturer and non-executive director. I have been scribbling both poetry and prose from a very young age. Now, I suggest that is quite enough about me!

Can you tell us something about the setting for your book?

My book ‘Whitewalls’ is a Scottish family saga set in the present day. The title comes from the name of the house, which is a Scottish Baronial style whitewashed house which I have set on the banks of the River Tweed. It is the heart of the family which has four generations included from boy and girl twins aged 9 to a very naughty great grandfather, Sir Alistair, who is still being naughty in his eighties. There are two sides to the family, the Douglas’s (named after a racehorse owned by my late husband, John) and the Bruce’s. As well as the Borders I have locations in Edinburgh Perth, Yorkshire, the Cotswolds, London and France. Rosie who is in her fifties is the gentle matriarch whose mission in life is to ensure the happiness and prosperity of her extended family. What I wanted to show in writing this book about and upper middle-class family who, on the surface, have everything – money, lovely homes, talents and successes but who suffer the same troughs and peaks as the rest of us.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

In a way this is the easiest question. I followed the sound advice ‘write about what you know’

Your book sounds really interesting. Can you tell the readers about it.

In a way I have mentioned some of this already. But here is some more! Art is one of my interests and one of the main characters, Rosie’s husband, Jamie, is an artist as well as helping his father, Roddy, to farm at Roddy is a widower. Polly, their daughter, is married to Richard, an Edinburgh lawyer and they are the twins’ parents – Minty and John. Horses are another interest of mine so they feature too. Hughie Bruce is Rosie’s brother and their mother, Lady Elizabeth Bruce was married to the rascally Sir Alistair who she divorced many years ago. The house belongs to the Douglas family. Charles, Jamie and Rosie’s son, is a professional soldier currently in Afghanistan and in love with a lovely actress, Maggie, who has red hair and green eyes. She is very close to her grandmother, Florette, who is French. Hughie is married to Virginia and they live in an Elizabethan Manor house in the Cotswolds. So it is quite a complicated story with a large cast and, I think, just as you had read enough about one group I take the reader along to the next part of the family at a different location.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read?

I read all kinds of books from the classics, the Brontes who lived close to where I was born and I have a full set of their books. I read political biographies and autobiographies, I like Rosamund Pilcher’s work and found some inspiration in her storytelling, also Penny Vicenzi and for light relief, Jilly Cooper.

Have you any other books in the pipeline?

Yes, I am completing the sequel to ‘Whitewalls’ which took place over one spring and summer, with the title ‘Autumn at Whitewalls’ which will be launched in time for that season and the early Christmas market. As the first one this will be published by New Gewneration, which is part of Legend Press and a good halfway house between self publishing and mainstream. They are very helpful.

As a new writer what would be your number one piece of advice to other new writers?

Just do it! Don’t ask too many people’s advice. Whatever you choose to write about it has to be your composition. It isn’t easy. So many people have said to me ‘I could write a book, if only I had time!’ If you want to write with enough passion to do it you will find time. Once you have started make up your own ‘rules’ about how you go about it. Get to know your characters, do your research where necessary. Every time you get to a point where you have an idea what is going to happen next, STOP. This will be the perfect time to begin your next session.

If you were to choose one writing book to recommend to a new writer what would it be?

I wouldn’t. Apart from the few simple rules I have mentioned – research, characters and plot (the plot will change as you go along) own your own work.

Now we are going to get personal. What would you say is your favourite type of music?

Classical music – Rachmaninov, Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy.

Do you use music to help you write? If so what type?

I prefer to write in silence – no distractions.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Theatre, concerts – I am a patron of the Edinburgh Festival and King’s Theatres Trust’ I helped to obtain the Festival Theatre (which I was allowed to name) when I was a Councillor. I enjoy spending time with family and friends as well as horse racing and the countryside. I am Arts Editor of online magazine Lothian Life and do book and exhibition reviews. Also I am an accredited ‘journalist’ covering the Edinburgh International Festival (I served on the Board of that for the maximum 6 years) I am sure that is more than enough.

Thank you for answering my questions so patiently and in such great detail. I have loved getting to know you and your work and I am sure my Bookaholic readers will enjoy meeting you too.

You can find out more about Christine and her work by clicking on her Amazon Author Page

You can buy copies of the book from Amazon UK and Amazon USA by clicking on the links below. 


I will receive a few pence commission if you buy the books through these links. You do not have to do so and can buy them by going direct to Amazon

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