SCOTLAND has a long history of literary excellence and it’s a trend that has continued into modern times. The literary scene is incredibly strong at the moment with Scotland producing and nurturing some of the leading authors in the world.
During, and after, university I worked in a bookshop and the Scottish literary scene has grown massively since then. Authors such as Iain Banks, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, AL Kennedy, William McIlvanney and many many others have become hugely respected and popular authors, and this strength of talent in the country seems to act as a catalyst to encourage more and more authors to come to the fore.
I have always had a love of books, and writing, and I have immensely enjoyed photographing the authors for this week’s instalment of my project. Without a doubt, if I could choose any job in the world to do, I would want to be a writer. Admittedly in my head it is all sipping mojitos and Hemingway-esque adventures of absolute excess, which is probably not what being a writer entails. Or maybe it is...
All the authors I photographed this week were incredibly generous with their time and each one was an absolute joy to photograph. From Val McDermid’s wind-whipped Northumbrian coast to Sara Sheridan’s bed, I have thoroughly enjoyed photographing these incredibly talented and interesting people. So much so that in a few weeks there will be another set of authors photographs appearing.
This week then we have Ian Rankin, the hugely successful author of the Rebus series of novels as well as numerous other works. His latest novel ‘Saints of The Shadow Bible’ is proving as popular as ever. TV adaptations of ‘Rebus’, initially starring John Hannah and latterly Ken Stott, were very well received. Originally from Cardenden in Fife, Ian lived in London and France before returning to Scotland. I photographed Ian along the Water of Leith near to one of my favourite parts of Edinburgh, The Dean Village, on a day when the first hints of spring were becoming noticeable in the chill Edinburgh air.
Fellow Fifer Val McDermid has been a stalwart of the literary scene since the publication of her first novel in 1987. After becoming the first person from a Scottish State School to attend St Hildas College, Oxford she went on to work as a journalist before turning full-time to writing. She is now the author of well over thirty books. I spent a very pleasant afternoon photographing her near her home in Northumberland, learning a lot of local history, and an excellent rundown on the merits of the village pubs (which I put to good use before my train home).
Playwright and screenwriter Stephen Greenhorn is the creator of River City, and the writer of the award-winning play ‘Sunshine on Leith’. He also wrote the screenplay for its highly acclaimed film adaptation, released last year. He has numerous TV writing credits to his name including Glasgow Kiss, Doctor Who and Marchlands to name a small few. For me personally, his best work is his beautiful play “Passing Places”. I saw it several times in the late 90s and it still remains one of the finest couple of hours I have ever spent in a theatre.
Since the publication of her first novel ‘Truth or Dare’ in 1998 Sara Sheridan gone on to be the author of the ‘Mirabelle Bevan’ series of crime novels as well as historical fiction and books for children. Her latest Mirabelle Bevan novel, “England Expects”, is published next month. I had a lot of fun photographing Sara and once again the time and enthusiasm she gave was hugely appreciated. I realised guiltily that she was the only author who I had not read, so after the photoshoot I put that right and am now reading her novel ‘Brighton Belle’. And it is great!
Finally this week we have the author Daniel Gray. His book ‘Homage to Caledonia – Scotland and the Spanish Civil War’ is a powerful work and formed the basis for STV’s documentary ‘The Scots Who Fought Franco’. He has also written two of the finest football books you will ever read. Both deal with football away from the glamour and the money of the top flight teams, looking instead at what it means to follow those teams who very rarely, if ever, achieve success. “Stramash’ looks at Scottish lower league teams, and “Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters” does a similar job for English lower league teams. He remains mystified as to why he has yet to sell the film rights to his other book - “The Historical Dictionary of Marxism”.
• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.
Alan says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.
“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”
• All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/100 weeks of Scotland