AS HOST of The Review Show she is more used to dishing out stern criticism than taking it.
Kirsty Wark will brave the critics herself next year when she launches her debut novel, a multi-generational story of love set on Arran.
The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle follows a young woman as she inherits a house on the island and unlocks its secrets over several decades.
The Scottish broadcaster, 58, said she first came up with the idea nine years ago, but only brought it to fruition recently, finding time on her regular Scotland-England commute to pen the eagerly-anticipated novel.
It coincides with the her BBC Scotland colleague James Naughtie – who now fronts the flagship Good Morning Scotland – publishing his novel within days of hers.
Wark’s book will be released in hardback in March and it is understood that Naughtie’s political thriller The Madness Of July will now debut in February. Wark’s will run in paperback from August.
“I always thought I’d like to write fiction but I didn’t want to force it,” Wark told a local newspaper.
“I actually had the idea nine years ago but I didn’t have the proper story until a couple of years ago.
“It’s very different from doing Newsnight and it’s completely different to TV, where you’re working with a team. I love working with a team and the whole creative process where everyone plays a different, but equal part. With writing, though, you’re on your own and you’re absorbed with yourself and the story you’re writing.”
Her book is set around the life of Elizabeth Pringle, a reclusive resident of the isle of Arran who leaves her house and worldly possessions to a mother she once spotted pushing a pram along a street 30 years before.
Martha, the baby, returns to the house years later to discover how her mother came to own the house and Pringle’s belongings.
Described as captivating and haunting, it has been praised by top British author Penny Vincenzi as: “Completely enchanting. The story of two women’s intertwined lives draws you in and holds you spellbound to the end.”
Wark divides her time between Glasgow and London and says the train journey is ideal for writing.
“With writing you really need to shut yourself away but this gives me four clear hours to write, which is great,” she said.
“It definitely isn’t easy, but I love being a writer and I’ve already started the next one although it’s at a very early stage.”
Wark joked in a recent magazine column that Naughtie could be a potential rival, if only because of the close release dates.
“The only danger I see with that is that there might be a party clash. I’m on it”, she wrote.
Naughtie’s early morning starts – Today begins at 6am – appear to have been no impediment to completing his book, described as a “sophisticated political spy thriller” set during the Cold War.
It interweaves the stories of three brothers, two of them spies, and is said to draw on his experiences as a journalist in Westminster and Washington.
“Working with a writer as observant and intellectually stimulating as Jim, a household name and hero to so many people, is not only a huge privilege, but also immense fun”, his publisher Head of Zeus said earlier this year.
It is set in a sweltering July in the mid-1970s and follows Will Flemyng, a foreign office minister and former spy, as he delves into a mysterious death in government.
“This has been a long time coming. Like Radio 4 long wave, it comes and goes. The trouble is, I know that good political novels are difficult, but I can’t resist having a go. Spies, ministers, the political world of the Seventies – to me, I’m a sad old thing, it’s irresistible”, he said of the book.