Donald S Murray is the author of two critically-acclaimed novels set on his native Isle of Lewis. His debut, As The Women Lay Dreaming, which deals with the aftermath of the tragic sinking of the Iolaire, a ship carrying island soldiers home from World War I, won the Paul Torday Memorial Prize.
His latest work, In a Veil of Mist, which The Times described as a “moving portrait of a place and its people,” is set in 1950s Lewis against the backdrop of Operation Cauldron, the secret testing of biological weapons on animals on board a ship anchored in the Minch.
Donald is also a poet and a prolific producer of non-fiction writing, much of it dealing with the nature and cultural heritage of the Hebrides. In 2018 he came to the Islay Book Festival with his book The Dark Stuff: Stories from the Peatlands and he’ll be joining us again via Zoom on 10 June to share some of his latest poetry while exploring how peat landscapes and the peat-cutting tradition have given his work the flavour of an Islay whisky.
As a taster for that event, part of the Islay and Jura Peatlands Project being run by the Islay Natural History Trust, the festival’s Angus MacKinnon caught up with Donald for a chat about all things peat, his latest projects and life under lockdown.
Continue reading “Donald S Murray talks peatlands”
Islay and the rest of the Highlands and Islands are facing a “calamitous” fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, one of Scotland’s leading historians has warned.
Speaking to The Ileach ahead of his participation in this year’s online Islay Book Festival, Professor Jim Hunter said the collapse of tourism under lockdown underlined the need for new thinking on how to diversify island economies and unlock their full potential.
Continue reading “Islands facing “calamitous” Covid fallout”
Scots novelist Karen Campbell made her name with the Anna Cameron series of police novels before publishing two critically acclaimed contemporary dramas: Rise, set against the backdrop of the 2014 independence referendum, and the refugee story This is Where I Am.
Now the graduate of Glasgow University’s Creative Writing Masters programme has turned her hand to historical fiction with The Sound of the Hours, a powerful tale set in the final stages of World War II around Barga, the Tuscan hill town to which many Scots Italians can trace their roots.
Published in July by Bloomsbury, Campbell’s latest work tells the story of Frank Chapel, one of the black American “Buffalo Soldiers” who played a pivotal but long-underplayed role in the liberation of Italy, and Vittoria Guidi, a young Scottish-Italian woman caught in the middle of an occupied town and a divided family.
Karen, who will be talking about her new novel at this year’s Islay Book Festival, spoke to the festival’s Angus MacKinnon about how her latest work came about and how it fits into her eclectic writing career.
Continue reading “The Sound of the Hours: An Interview with Karen Campbell”