My kitchen table serves as a desk. What’s on my desk today?
Preparation for two forthcoming assignments: material relating to the prolific Shetland writer Jessie Saxby and her adventure novels for boys published in the 1880s, and essay notes on works by Scottish novelist John Burnside and playwright Sue Glover.
Chapter 1 of a historical novel for children that is set in Ethiopia and has a female protagonist aged 11.
In Ethiopia in June 2014, my daughter (Menen, then aged 11) and I came up with the outline for this novel during a routine four-hour walk to Debark to do our weekly shop. As we climbed the escarpment, I asked her what sort of novel she would like me to write for her and she replied emphatically: ‘An adventure story’. After that we both threw in suggestions and I wrote our ideas down a couple of days later. I’ve been working on this novel on and off since then. I have several children’s novels set in Ethiopia or Scotland on the go, but this is the one that I am furthest ahead with.
From my kitchen window I can see whooper swans that have flown in from Iceland on their autumn migration. They rest and feed in the barley stubble before continuing their journey. From my northern outpost, I watch them fly south and wonder what my children are doing right now.