For various reasons I am struggling to focus on my edits of ‘Song of Vanora’, although when I do manage to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time, it is rewarding. Going through the printed version, I’ve established that the change in point of view I put in a couple of weeks ago will have to be taken out as it’s confusing; my main antagonist is going to have to change his identity since I can’t reconcile the character I thought he was going to be with the one he has turned out to be; as usual I need to add in more detail in places to explain what’s happening. Sometimes I think I write the first draft in a kind of shorthand, using sentences that only I will ever understand. And all the time I really want to be editing ‘Frozen in Crime’ instead, but I’m still determined to wait until August to make a start on that.

Meanwhile, life goes on. We have packed up the props ready to take them to the theatre for our first Fringe show. Well, I say theatre but it’s really a church hall, since our usual theatre is not available during August. It’s almost always occupied by American youth groups which perform lots of very high quality shows. We always settle in well to our temporary home, and it does have its advantages. The main one from a props team point of view is that the back-stage area is very small and we can’t stay there during performances, so we can go home after setting up for the evening!

Today I’m going over to Dunfermline for a family reunion, which occurs every two years. It’s a very extended family of people who are descended from a miner in 17th century Dunfermline. We did all the research ages ago, and it’s all on Ancestry in a colossal family tree, so the meetings are really a chance to catch up with all the distant cousins on my mother’s father’s side of the family. We rarely learn anything new these days as it is all so slow once you get past the basics. I don’t have much time for the research at the moment but it occasionally feeds into my novels in various ways. ‘Song of Vanora’, for instance, features quite a bit of the information I’ve gathered over the years while researching the Angus Glens branch of my family. To get back to my original theme of ‘focus’, in my experience it’s best to concentrate on one branch of the family at once. You get a feeling for what sort of people they were and what they were likely to do, such as marrying a farmer, or moving to a different mining area, or going off to sea.


A water-wheel at one of my ancestral homes


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