Who is Author Angela MacRae Shanks?
I am a new author, The Blood And The Barley is my debut novel. I wrote the first chapter as a fiction assignment for a writing course I was doing, one of many assignments, and then thought no more about it.
On reading it, my tutor told me if I doing nothing else in life, I must write this novel. He offered to critique each chapter as I wrote it as a personal favor to me, as he believed in me. So that’s what we did. I wrote a chapter, sent it off to him (he lives in Yorkshire in England, I’m in Scotland) he read it and offered his opinion, which was precious to me. I made any changes I thought appropriate, then wrote the next chapter. When I’d finished, I had the rough draft of a novel but had no idea what to do with it. I put it in a drawer where it languished for 15 years. Two years ago I ‘found’ it and read it with fresh eyes, thinking it was actually quite good. By this time Amazon and Indy publishing was all the rage, so I thought, what the hell, I can do this myself. I had the book professionally edited and my daughter, who is an award-winning artist, designed the cover, and voila! The book was born.
What’s your latest book all about?
The story actually began as an article for a Scottish history magazine about the illegal origins of the famous single malt whisky, the Glenlivet.
I was interested in this as my family on my mother’s side belong to this area and I have many relatives living in and around Strathavon/Glenlivet in the north-eastern Highlands of Scotland.
How did you get the idea of writing this book?
My research led me down more and more interesting routes, and I came to see that the people of the area had led very difficult lives.
They were Catholics at a time when the faith was outlawed, they were Jacobites, and for what I soon discovered were economic and political reasons, they were whisky distillers and smugglers.
I wrote the book as a kind of literary tribute to these people. They and their way of life were virtually unknown to the wider world. They were my ancestors.
They had whisky in their blood, dirt under their fingernails, and another language on their tongue – Gaelic – I wanted to bring them to life.
There is also a growing love story running through the book, a high stakes one, but the book is essentially about loyalty and kinship.
Where can readers contact you?
Readers can sign up to be told when the next book is out at www.subscribepage.com/angelamacraeshanks