1) Do you feel that there is enough representation of the disabled community in the world of writing?
To be totally honest, no. There are some great books out there, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a very small percentage. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to write The Good Hawk; I was working in a special educational needs school at the time and wanted to create a character that the children I was teaching could relate to. It’s so important for every child to see themselves reflected in the books they read.
2) What made you decide to introduce another main character (Sigrid) into the second book in the trilogy?
One of my biggest fears when writing The Broken Raven (book 2) was that I would end up writing a story that was too similar to The Good Hawk (book 1). Sigrid helped me avoid that; she’s a boost of originality and helps keep the series fresh. It was also important to me to show a positive side of the Norvegian community. In The Good Hawk, the deamhain are all seen as ruthless killers; Sigrid – who comes from Norveg, is noble and empathetic – gives an alternate perspective.
3) Your writing style is very unique: each chapter is not only from the POV of one of the main protagonists, but it is also written as they themselves would think it. Do you find this difficult?
It actually makes it easier for me to write. I think because I’m an actor, having distinct voices helps me get inside the characters’ heads, and then I just let them do the talking. I also love the creative freedom it gives me – especially when writing Sigrid – to play around with language and make up new words.
4) Do you have any personal links to Scotland, and the Isle of Skye?
I’ve spent a lot of time working in Scotland over the years, and I also trekked the width of the country when I was a teenager – a similar journey to that made by Jaime and Agatha in The Good Hawk. When I was writing the first book, I spent a week holed away in a bothy on Skye and went out walking every day for inspiration. It’s such a beautiful island.
5) If you could change one thing in either of the books, what would it be - would you even want to change anything at all?
Now that’s an interesting question! I don’t believe in regrets, so I’ll have to say I wouldn’t change anything. There comes a point in the writing process – after you’ve edited and re-edited a book what feels like a hundred times – that you have to let go and know you’ve done your absolute best. No regrets!
6) Are any of the characters based on personal or famous people and icons, or do they even represent bigger themes?
Lots of the characters have aspects of people I know (including myself!) in them, but none of them are based solely on one person. The characters themselves don’t represent themes; it’s more that through their actions and experiences, the themes in the book are revealed.
7) Did the ideas for the Shadow Skye Trilogy accumulate over a long period of time, or had you always had the inspiration to write this series from the start?
When I first had the idea, it was just Agatha, on a wall, looking out to sea. I could hear her voice really clearly in my head and just started writing her story from there. The rest of the novel developed organically as I wrote. It wasn’t until I reached the end of book one that I decided I wanted to make it a trilogy.
8) Do any of the more mythical characters and creatures (like the sgàilean and the Badhbh) come from Scottish folklore, or your own imagination?
I’ve always loved mythology, so there are elements that have crept in from many different cultures: Scottish, Greek, Norse… The majority are from my imagination, though; one of the things I enjoy most about writing these books is inventing my own mythology and folklore.
9) The Clann-a-Tuath islanders have many rules about what is dùth or not; are any of these based on real regulations from past tribes which inhabited Skye?
None of the rules are specifically based on Scottish history; they’re more timeless and universal. There are many cultures throughout the world that have at one time (or still do) hold similar values. As the books progress, both Jaime and Agatha are forced to question which they believe in and which they ought to challenge.
10) If you had to be Jaime, Agatha or Sigrid, who would you choose?
Another great question! I’m not sure I could choose between them… Can I be a mix of three? I’d take Jaime’s compassion, Sigrid’s determination and Agatha’s unwavering self-belief.