Highland Clearances book for kids is a bestseller

HISTORICAL Highland Clearances children's novel hits number one Amazon Bestseller Spot on day of launch
Debut author Barbara Henderson. Picture: ContributedDebut author Barbara Henderson. Picture: Contributed
Debut author Barbara Henderson. Picture: Contributed

Barbara Henderson, 44, the Inverness debut author of a new children’s novel on the Highland Clearances, can’t believe her luck.

Not only did her novel ‘Fir for Luck’ sell out to a strong crowd of over 100 who flocked to the Waterstones launch in the Highland capital last week, but the book also reached the Amazon bestseller top spot for its category, YA historical fiction in Europe.

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Barbara said: “I just never expected Fir for Luck to do as well as this.

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“The advance reviews have been great, but the reaction to the launch has just completely blown me away.

“We think of Scotland’s history as a niche subject, but the Amazon popularity has just shown that there is much wider interest. With so many displaced people in Europe and beyond, it feels quite topical: the haves and the have-nots, injustice, displacement - and a young person’s courage to make a difference.

“Maybe history is more relevant than we tend to think.”

On publication day, Henderson visited a local primary school to read from her work and talk about the context of the novel.

Anne Glennie, of Cranachan Publishing, said: “The children were all really interested and asked excellent questions.

“It couldn’t have gone any better. Many children had pre-ordered and had their books signed, and we sold out of the extra stock on the day.”

Delighted Barbara said: “We sold all seventy-five books Waterstones ordered in. I sold my five complimentary author copies. I even sold the book I read from, and there were still some people who had to go empty-handed. There was such a buzz.”

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With a range of author events, school visits and appearances planned across the country, including a trip to Skye for Book Week Scotland, Barbara’s’s diary is filling up fast.

Barbara may be a debut novelist, but she is no rookie writer. Winner of a range of writing competitions and shortlisted for the prestigious Kelpies Prize in 2013, it took perseverance and patience to see her manuscript accepted for publication.

Fir for Luck tells the story of 12-year-old Janet, a feisty heroine who decides to take action when her village is threatened with eviction in 1841.

Based on real events, the book paints a vivid picture of 19th century Sutherland while making its timeless themes of justice, power and fate accessible to a modern young audience. Well-known historical fiction author Elizabeth Wein described Fir for Luck as ‘brave and beautiful’.

Raised in Germany, Barbara has lived in Scotland for 25 years, 12 of them in Inverness.

She recently established a group for children’s writers and illustrators in the Highland capital and is the chairperson of the newly established NessBookFest.

A part-time Drama teacher at Culloden Academy, she devotes half the week to writing.