#AuthorSpotlight with Moira McPartlin @moiramcpartlin @FledglingPress

Front cover

This second thrilling volume of the Sun Song trilogy takes Sorlie to the floodlands of southern Esperaneo to discover that family, love and resilience can triumph against even the harshest regime. Escaping from the penal colony on Black Rock, Sorlie joins his grandmother Vanora’s revolutionary army, expecting to find freedom. Instead, he finds murder and mayhem. With her army in disarray and her network of supporters disappearing, Vanora chooses Sorlie to become her warrior.When Vanora is kidnapped, Sorlie becomes injured and marooned in the strange reservation of Steadie where old people and specials are hidden and protected from The State. But these outcasts are not the only secrets Steadie keeps. Why is Sorlie kept drugged for over a week? What are their links to The Blue Pearl Society? Why are they so wary of the Noiri black marketeers? And who is The Prince everyone is whispering about?The Sun Song trilogy explores life in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Britain where society’s norms have broken down and life has to be lived differently.

The Landscape of Future Fiction By Moira McPartlin 

It is no secret that JRR Tolkein took inspiration from the British countryside and the Swiss Alps to create the landscape for Middle Earth.  This landscape is now so familiar to generations of readers and movie goers that there are tourist trips build around this fictional place.

So how important is landscape to fiction? When I think back on some of the best books I’ve read it is normally some aspect of the landscape that I remember.  If someone mentions The Shipping News by Annie Proulx the image of a house being dragged across a frozen lake springs into my mind first. Or in The Great Gatsby where the ash fields of Flushing Meadow are described so evocatively, each time I read it I’m reminded of the power of great writing. These, of course, are historical settings. Can the same be true of future fiction?
bealach na ba

When I began writing The Sun Song Trilogy, set in 2089, I wanted the landscape to be alive and authentic. It must be remembered that landscapes rarely change. But in the year 2089 climate change may have taken its toll.  Coastlines are changing and glaciers are retreating. In fact for my own use I have a fictional map depicting what the British Isles could look like in the year 2100 and I am dismayed to say it is mostly water. But the Highlands of Scotland might remain untouched, with the exception of industrial windfarms and tree plantations, but these are manmade and could disappear as quickly as they appeared.  It is from these Highlands and Island, the landscape that I know today, that I draw from to recreate the landscape for my future fiction and at the same time pay homage to the history of the land.

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Ruined Church

In my early writing career I spent long periods of time on the Applecross Peninsula.  While there I’d walk out to remote croft houses in secluded bays, soaking in the landscape’s features and filing them away for future use. Many times I stood in the carpark at the top of the Bealach na Bà, surrounded by weird fairy-like cairns while I stared over to the misty Isle of Skye. At times like these my imagination sparked with possibilities and I always knew this image would come in handy. When I began writing Ways of the Doomed, Book One of The Sun Song Trilogy, I had a ready-made landscape for my main character, Sorlie. Like a movie rerun, I could close my eyes and make him stand where I stood, or run and trip and race along a mountain path in my footsteps.  I could create tension by having him walk along a knife edge ledge as I’d done many years before on Skye.

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Much of the action in Ways of the Doomed happens on the island of Black Rock.  For that I took a map of the Isle of Raasay, flipped it on its head and created my own topography, using walks from Applecross, Mull, and Rhum. I didn’t need to walk far on these islands to stumble on ruined crofting settlements; to remember the history of the clearance and imagine the families who once lived and loved there.  Feelings of grief and longing seeped into my bones which I would recall to authenticate my own stories even though I transported those feelings to a fictional island and a future time frame. The ghosts of the past followed me on to the page and their stories came alive with the images.

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In Wants of the Silent, Book Two of The Sun Song Trilogy, the action moves south to the Lake District and Blackpool, but I still drew on many of my Highland landscapes for this novel.  I wanted to invent a couple of secret communities. One is Steadie, a radioactive site that I fashioned on what was once Sellafield in Cumbria. The other is another island community who live in underground roundhouses. The idea for the souterrain roundhouses came to me while I was on holiday on South Uist where today you can find the remains of an ancient society who once lived and worked there.
Wherever you base your novel it is important to create a great sense of place. It is not necessary to copy a place. Hand pick landmarks and landscapes you are passionate about and place them like chess pieces on a board. They can be moved to suit the story and will help to bring your world alive.

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Merry Christmas from Kelly & The Team, thank you for all your support and love in 2017.

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