Author Interview: Maggie Craig



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Maggie. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

MC-I live in a tiny village in north-east Scotland. There are 22 houses set around the picturesque remains of an old kirk that was a ruin before the Reformation. The recumbent stone form of Tom o’ Daugh, a mediaeval knight, still lies in a niche in the remaining wall with his stone dog at his feet. He’s been there for 800 years and more and he’s a wee touch worn away but you can still make out most of him, including his sword and sword belt. For fun I like to write – on a day when the words are flowing! – read, be outside in the fresh air enjoying the scenery, the flowers and the song of the birds. I love to take photographs of nature too. A perfect day would be a good morning’s writing followed by lunch with friends and family. A trip to the beach is always a great pleasure. I love the sea.  

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

MC-The Jacobite Rising of 1745, the final attempt by the Jacobites and the House of Stuart to regain the throne of Britain from the House of Hanover. I think it has everything: drama, honour, betrayal, love and friendship across the political divide, colourful characters who lived their lives with great passion. The ’45 also played out against the spectacular grandeur of the Highlands and in the cobbled streets and narrow closes of Edinburgh, so the backdrop is fantastic. I love everything about this period, including the way the men and women of the time dressed.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

MC-Not sure I have a favorite historical figure. I’m not one for kings and queens, much prefer to read and write about the so-called ordinary people of history. My favorite heroine from Jacobite times is Anne Leith, at the time a young widow with a schoolboy son. She and two other women went out to Culloden from Inverness as soon as they heard of the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army, taking bandages with them. They did everything they could to help the wounded. Anne carried that through afterwards by tending to the Jacobite prisoners in Inverness and demanding that they receive humane treatment. She landed in hot water because of that. I might ask her if she would do it all again, only I’m absolutely sure she would have!

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

MC-I’ve always been interested in history and the past has always seemed very close, separated from our own modern world by a very thin curtain. With research and imagination you can draw that curtain to one side and look back into the past. I started off writing humorous articles for newspapers but it wasn’t long before I started to write historical pieces as well. Whenever I visit a new place, I always want to know not only what it’s like now but also what it was like back then.

JMR- Maggie, tell us about your new book, Dance to the Storm and your Storm Series.

MC-Dance to the Storm grew from a piece of free-writing. I sat down with a sheet of paper and a pencil and before I knew where I was, I was in 18th century Edinburgh with a party of the Town Guard, the police force of the time, on their way to mount a raid on an illegal dissection. I quickly realized this was only an excuse to come down hard on one of Edinburgh’s suspected Jacobite plotters. Redcoat Captain Robert Catto has been given the assignment of trying to flush them out into the open. He also has personal reasons to hate Jacobites. He soon meets Christian Rankeillor, surgeon-apothecary’s daughter and passionate supporter of the Stuart Cause. Robert and Kirsty clash but the mutual attraction is there right from the beginning. So there’s a love story, political intrigue and all sorts of other complications. These include Robert and Kirsty working together to help two young runaways, fleeing from brutality and perpetual servitude in the coalfields of East Lothian. A writing friend describes my Storm books as “historical fiction with a strong historical backbone” and I do my very best to make them that.

JMR- You also wrote a pair of nonfiction books about the Jacobite Rising. Why do think this rebellion still resonates with readers?

MC-In Scotland, we learn our own history at home. I was still in primary/elementary school when my father took me to Culloden. We stood by the memorial cairn in the centre of the battlefield and he told me the story with tears in his eyes. Culloden is like an open wound which has never fully healed. I think that sense of melancholy and lament speaks to people from all countries who think and feel deeply about the past. I worked for several years as a Blue Badge Scottish Tourist Guide, showing mainly German and German-speaking visitors around Scotland. At Culloden one time, a German man said to me: “You make it sound as though it happened yesterday.” To which I answered: “For us, it did.”

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

MC-Well, Culloden many times of course, with its very special atmosphere. The Storm over Scotland series is set in Edinburgh. I love the place and have spent a lot of time there. A large part of my book One Sweet Moment is set in Edinburgh’s underground vaults, where you can still see stone benches the right height for children to work at. Thinking of young children working long days there shut away from fresh air and sunlight inspired young Andrew Dunbar in that book. The old physic garden also features strongly in One Sweet Moment. It vanished a long time ago under Waverley station, Edinburgh’s main railway terminus but there’s a plaque to recall where it was. I’ve often gone there and imagined myself away from the hustle and bustle of trains and passengers and back to the physic garden.

Gathering Storm was inspired by wandering about the Old Town of Edinburgh and walking down narrow closes where history is awaiting around every shadowy corner. I find it very easy to see my characters in my mind’s eye, be it the swirl of a cloak or the dull gleam of a drawn sword. And I can almost hear the rustle of petticoats.  

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

MC- I’m currently writing the third book in the Storm series: Storm Tossed Moon. A fourth book is in the planning, at the end of which Robert and Kirsty’s story will be resolved – one way or the other! 

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

MC-I have a website and I’m also on Twitter and Pinterest.


(Pinterest) Maggie Craig Scottish Writer

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

MC-Maybe about what it’s like to write both fiction and non-fiction. They exercise different writing muscles but they often complement each other. For example, Damn Rebel Bitches and Bare-Arsed Banditti grew out of research for a novel. Last year I published One Week in April: The Scottish Radical Rising of 1820. I did lots of research and visited the places where dramatic events had happened. Three of the Radicals were hanged as a punishment for fighting for freedom and democracy and I find I’m still thinking about them. There might just be a novel brewing!  

JMR- Thank you, Maggie for stopping by. I have added your book to my TBR pile! Readers, I've include a link to Amazon if you'd like to check out Maggie's writing. 


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