Ruary as Writer
Venturing into the world of self-publication for the first time after
having three books published conventionally, I've written and produced two WWII novels, Luc’s War, and a sequel, Luc's War – Desert Gold, both available from bookshops and from Amazon. I have also published Dorigen, a children's story and Poet-Sight, a collection of poetry
I've been writing poetry (published in Outposts, The Rialto and other places) ever since I was fifteen, but I began serious prose work in 2002. I took an Open College of Arts Creative Writing Course and followed it with an Arvon Residential Course at Lumb Bank, West Yorkshire. Both courses were invaluable. Since then I've had a dozen short stories published in The Leopard Magazine and NorthWords and have been Highly Commended in the John Muir Trust 'Wild Places' Competition.
My first dragonfly book was The Dragonfly Diaries. It's the mostly light-hearted story of my transition from business person to dedicated conservationist.
My second dragonfly book, researched, written and illustrated in conjunction with my wife Kari de Koenigswarter was The Dragonfly-Friendly Gardener, published by Saraband. It’s a simple guide, aimed at almost all gardeners, as to how to attract dragonflies to their gardens
My first book was Aberfeldy, The History of a Highland Community, published by Watermill Books, recently reprinted. It gives the full-length illustrated tale. I give talks to local groups about particular aspects of the book, especially topics such as the Highland Clearances in the area.
I am an experienced public speaker and talk regularly on subjects related to my books
WHY DID I WRITE ABERFELDY THE HISTORY OF A HIGHLAND COMMUNITY?
My maternal family tree is littered with Stewarts of Dull and Robertsons of Logierait, all of whom would have known Aberfeldy well. One of my very first memories is of standing on the little suspension bridge over the River Lyon just downstream from Fortingall. Both before and after WWII, my parents stayed regularly at the Fortingall Hotel during its time under the legendary hotelier, 'Heppie' Heptonstall.
Though born in Edinburgh, my father was a GP in Lincolnshire, and so, apart from two years at a Scots prep school, I was educated in Norfolk, first in Hunstanton and then at at Greshams School, Holt. Most of my working life was spent in London; I worked for ten years for Michelin, finishing as Company Secretary of one of their subsidiaries. I then joined Canning, an international business language training outfit based in London and worked with them for eighteen years, travelling extensively and working my way up from Trainer to Course Director, to School Director, to Recruitment Director and finishing as Operations Director.
But, all the while, the word 'Fortingall' rang in my head with a kind of magic. And so in 1987, I bought a house there, settling permanently in 1993. Since then, I have studied the history of the area with diligence and love, to the point where, when I was asked to write this history, I felt confident enough to take up the challenge. The book took over two years of research, but I'm proud to say that those who have read it have thoroughly enjoyed it. Positive feedback from readers centres on:- a) the fact that I wrote it to be read by non-historians, and b) the story of the valley is set against events across Scotland and the wider world, making it "a sort of mini-primer for Scots history", as one reader put it.
The book is available at www.aberfeldywatermill.com/
WHAT MADE ME WRITE LUC'S WAR and LUC'S WAR-DESERT GOLD?
It's hardly necessary to fictionalise events during the 1940 Fall of France, so extraordinary were they. It's a little known fact that the average weekly death-rate for French soldiers over those critical six weeks in May/June 1940 was higher than any comparable week during the First World War. Contrary to popular opinion, the bravery of some French units facing the German Blitzkreig was astonishing, and the courage of groups such as the Saumur Cadets deserves greater recognition.
During those critical days, French people were presented with unexpected and drastic choices and decisions, the results of which were to affect them for the rest of their lives. Few British or Americans have ever had to make such choices.
Quite apart from attempting to set the record a little straighter, I have a personal interest in that my wife's father was an officer in the French Army at that time; he turned his anti-aircraft guns on Rommel's tanks, then went on to join de Gaulle in London, before fighting once more in Africa, Italy, France and Germany.
What I have done, in order to sew the book together, is to thread my fictional Luc and Odile through actual events; and the odder the event described, the more likely it is that it occurred.
Go to WRITER GALLERY for pictures.