Welcome along to another Friday, and another post to celebrate Indie Publishing! Today I am delighted to share another wonderful book from Cranachan Publishing – this time the fantastic “The Beast on The Broch” by John K. Fulton and share a short interview with the author behind this Pictish tale.
Published: 9 September 2016
A lonely girl. A wild beast. An unforgettable friendship.
12-year-old Talorca is a Pictish girl living in North-east Scotland in 799 AD. When Gaelic-speaking Dalriadans attack her village, her world is turned upside down. Her only friend is the mythical Pictish Beast, who has been injured by the Dalriadans. Talorca decides to take a stand against the invaders and hatches a plan to drive them out.
But she can only do that with the help of the wild beast on the broch.
My Thoughts & Review:
I absolutely love a story that reaches into the depths of my imagination and kindles my love of folklore and mythology and “The Beast on The Broch” definitely does that. Incorporating Pictish legend, Scottish history, and a mythological beastie this is a wonderfully rich tale about a young girl coming to terms with an evolving society and finding her place.
Talorca is a marvellous character, so headstrong and driven, and despite her young age she has a remarkably wise head on her shoulders at times. Other times though, the veil of youth colouring her perception of adult subjects and concerns. However her love of her people and their traditions cannot be questioned or faulted, so the arrival of Dalriadans in the village is a huge cause of concern and unhappiness for her.
The gradual development of Talorca is masterfully done, she transforms from a ‘wild’ ( I use that in the sense of running around the village in her youthful capers) to becoming wise, refined in her thinking and less hasty in her actions.
The combination of young Talorca scheming of ways to drive out the invading Dalriadans with The Old Woman of the village is superb! Seeing both old and young coming together to plot and share stories reminds me of time spent with my grandmother – sharing stories, planning mischief and enjoying the company of a loved one. That’s how I came to look upon the relationship between these characters, Talorca seeking something she felt she could not get from her mother. Talorca’s mother Mael being described as preoccupied with other things but also trying to parent the spirited child alone following the death of Talorca’s father some years previously.
Through The Old Woman and Father Cormac the reader is swept up in tales of yesteryear and folklore, tales that are rich in detail and full of mystery. I particularly liked the tale of the “The Wishing Tree”, a tale the author’s father told him when he was growing up.
The Beast, well that’s an odd entity….Pictish stones throughout Scotland have a wealth of beasties carved upon them, and the author has kindly added information about this at the back of the book for interested readers to find out more. Being lucky enough to live down the coast from the Broch in this tale I have had the pleasure of seeing some Pictish stones and the carvings are magnificent and awe inspiring. Some of the animals that are depicted make the imagination come alive. The Beast is a wonderful character, I love the symbolic connection between girl and beast here, the care that this wild creature shows towards Talorca is fascinating.
At the heart of it all, this is a charming tale that has some important themes running through it. This novel reminds us that acceptance is a two way street, change isn’t always a bad thing but you have to try and be open to it. But most of all, it reminds us of the importance of owning up to what you have done.
Although “The Beast on The Broch” is marketed towards a younger audience, I would say this is a brilliant read for adults and children alike. It’s packed with detail and information that brings NE Scotland alive in 799AD, the characters are interesting and engaging, and the story is one that you can happily become transfixed with and spend a happy few hours soaking in every page of this beautifully written novel.
Another eBook that I have to buy the tree book version of!
John K Fulton is the son of a lighthouse keeper, and grew up all around the coast of Scotland, including Tarbat Ness Lighthouse near Portmahomack, which became the inspiration for the setting of The Beast on the Broch. The often remote and lonely locations of his childhood instilled in him a life-long love of books and the sea. After going to school in Edinburgh, Portmahomack, Portree, and Montrose, he studied Classics at the University of St. Andrews, then went on to take a Masters in IT at the University of Dundee. This led to a career as a technical author, which is just like being a proper author, except it’s excruciatingly boring.
He now lives in Leicester with his partner Sandra. While Leicester is about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK, their home is stuffed with books, which is the next-best thing. In 2015 his first novel, The Wreck of the Argyll, a First World War spy thriller, won the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize. He regularly blogs and reviews books at www.johnkfulton.com
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
The feeling you get when you finish writing a first draft. There’s been a point in writing every book so far where it seemed like getting to the end was going to be impossible, so to come out of the other side of that is a great feeling. Of course, all the hard work of revision and editing is still ahead, which tempers the celebration somewhat.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
Having to deal with rejection. Rejection doesn’t end once you’ve been published, and no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that it shouldn’t get to you, the cumulative effect can be very disheartening.
If you could have written any book what would it be and why?
I was thinking about some of my favourite books (The Hill of the Red Fox, The Lord of the Rings, The Player of Games, Norwegian Wood, Aegypt, Lanark, Black Hearts in Battersea, Mortal Engines) but I really can’t say that I wish I’d written any of them – because then they’d be completely different and probably not as good. All of these books are so distinctive that they just couldn’t have been written by anyone else. I’ll just be content with having written my own books.
How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?
Reading! I’m a great believer in the maxim that you can’t write well unless you read well. For me, that means reading a lot in my own genre (children’s fiction), but also reading other genres of fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy. I don’t read nearly enough non-fiction, but when I do it’s usually targeted towards some writing project I’m working on.
I also watch a fair bit of telly, which can be equally instructive in terms of dialogue, plotting, characterisation, and pacing. Writing is writing, as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes I think the influence can be a little bit too strong, though – I’ve caught myself inserting scene breaks in my books where I think an advert break would be.
Do you have a set routine for writing? Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.
As long as I’ve got my Scrivener writing software, I’m happy. I write on my iPad on my armchair with a wireless keyboard, or in the study on the PC; I write in silence, or with music (never music with lyrics, though – I prefer classical or film and TV scores when writing); I write on weekdays and weekends, work days and holidays; I write in the morning, or the afternoon, or the evening, depending on what time I can fit around my full-time job. My only real ritual, if you could call it that, is more of a trick – at the end of each session, I leave a sentence half-completed. This makes it easier for me to start writing the next day, as I already know what I’m going to write.
A huge thank you to John for taking part and letting us know more about himself, if you’d like to know more about John and his books you can check out his website www.johnkfulton.com or follow him on Twitter @johnkfulton
If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page