‘The Bone on the Beach’ is a mystery and a ghost story.
The ancient legend of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ is recognized as the most tragic of all Celtic stories – the tale of a young girl trapped by men’s perceptions and the expectations of her community, whose only means of escape endangers her life and the lives of those she has chosen to love. Reimagined and written as a contemporary mystery, with dual timelines and two viewpoint characters, two stories and lives are interwoven – that of Deirdre; and of Meghan Bell, who, fifteen years later, revisits the mystery of Deirdre and seeks the truth behind the legend.
Deirdre yearns for a life beyond the confines of the village and excitement and love. She is restless and outspoken, and stunningly beautiful. It is a dangerous mix, and only Brigid, her aunt, and confidante, who has the gift of second sight, foresees the perils ahead. Meghan, who resembles Deirdre in many ways, is fleeing the grasp of a controlling lover in the city and seeks peace and solace in the village where Deirdre lives. From her first day in the town, Meghan’s life becomes irretrievably involved with Deirdre’s. There are unanswered questions and whispered secrets in the village. And Meghan is haunted by Deirdre. If she can lay Deirdre’s spirit to rest, will they both find a way to move on in this world and the next?
The novel will be launched by Ringwood Publishing in September 2023. Pre-launch signed copies are now available at www.ringwoodpublishing.com It will be released in paperback and on Kindle, and available on Amazon, at Waterstones and bookshops near you.
Fiona Gillan Kerr was born to Scottish parents outside Cambridge, where her father was stationed with the R.A.F. and was educated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at Berkhamsted School and Durham University. She has been a teacher & an investment analyst; sold magazine advertising & package holidays; worked in a large international airline in reservations, P.R., and commercial training, creating interpersonal skills training courses across the globe; and worked as a fund-raiser for schools and a modern classical music foundation.
Now, with her husband, she divides her time between the States where their four sons live and her Scottish home in the Highlands – a restored crofter’s cottage in a small village by the sea. Since childhood, she has dabbled in writing short stories and poetry. And when her last two sons (twins) left for college, she started writing a novel. This is her fourth completed novel and her publishing debut.
‘The Bone on the Beach’ is inspired by the beauty and mystery of the Highlands, where history dictated that homes would be burned and villages abandoned for centuries, legends continue to haunt, and each succeeding generation remembers the past. Fiona has already started working on her next novel, also set in the Highlands.
RINGWOOD PUBLISHING NEWSLETTER – August, 2023
An Interview with Fiona Gillan Kerr: Author of upcoming novel The Bone on the Beach
By Ashleigh Tucker
Fiona Gillan Kerr was born to Scottish parents outside Cambridge, where her father was stationed with the R.A.F.; and was educated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), at Berkhamsted School and Durham University. Now, with her husband, she divides her time between the States where their 4 sons live, and her Scottish home in the Highlands – a restored crofter’s cottage in a small village by the sea.
The Bone on the Beach is her debut novel inspired by the beauty and mystery of the Highlands, where history dictated that homes would be burned and villages abandoned for centuries, legends continue to haunt, and the past is remembered by each succeeding generation. The novel is due to be released at the end of September with a launch event happening at Inverness Library on the 28th of September from 5-6:30pm.
How would you describe your debut novel The Bone on the Beach?
It is a reimagination of the ancient Celtic legend of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’. A tragedy and a love story which has been passed down, told and retold by storytellers through the centuries. A great story is often passed on through this oral tradition. Occasionally it is re-enacted in its original setting by the great writers, such as Sophocles or Homer.
But, if it’s retold in a contemporary setting, it can take on a new life because an audience or readers can relate it directly to their own lives and experiences. I’ve tried to do this in The Bone on the Beach. My hope is that readers will be able to do this with Deirdre’s, and Meghan’s, story.
Of course, this novel is also a mystery and a ghost story, and who doesn’t love those?
What inspired you to write The Bone on the Beach?
Quite literally, one day walking along a beach in the Highlands, I found a bone. My first thoughts were – Whose bone is it? Why and how is it here?
In my writing, I’m usually inspired by an out-of-place physical object. A single black high-heeled shoe abandoned in the middle of a busy road. A swing swaying back and forth in an empty garden on a windless day.
A broken tea cup displayed in the window of an antique shop. The questions are always the same. Why this? Why here?
The Bone on the Beach is set in the gorgeous Scottish Highlands. Why did you pick this landscape as the location for your book?
It is a Celtic story and I live in the Highlands. How could I not be inspired to write about what I see and experience every day? The landscape is, as you say, ‘gorgeous’. But it’s much more than that. Every day, every village, every glen and moor evoke memories of a rich past – sometimes glorious, sometimes heart-breaking, always fascinating. And Highlanders have long memories. Superstition and ritual is still alive and well today, I’m delighted to say. Whether you believe or not does not matter. It is the richness of the possibility which makes it interesting.
Deirdre and Megan are like two sides of the same coin, one desperately wants to escape from the quiet village, while the other runs to the village as a sanctuary from her life in the city. Do you believe these girls reflect each other?
Yes, absolutely. It’s trait of human nature to believe ‘the grass is greener’ somewhere else. Growing up, we want to explore what’s out there, wonder if there’s a better way to live. It’s a healthy trait. Both Deirdre and Meghan are looking for a new start. Their stories reflect the same problems. They both believe that finding sanctuary elsewhere is the answer. In some ways, it is the answer… but really only because it gives them time to put their lives into perspective, gives them the courage to face up the past, take the good and abandon the bad, and move on.
If you can share it with us, what is your favourite moment or quote from your book?
“But Deirdre was like Brigid, different from most of those around them, knowing and seeing things in another dimension. It was their fate to be misunderstood, but never to deny their right to be so.”
This would be my choice of quote. To me that is the affirmation of what living is all about – the importance of being true to yourself. Our uniqueness makes us who we are – undefined by others, by our appearance, our gender, our age, our background or job or status in the community and the world around us. Deirdre always had this quality; and Meghan grew into it.
My favourite moment would be the finale, the last chapter. But that’s a secret I don’t want to reveal to readers until the end. It’s what all good mysteries do, isn’t it? Keep the best to last?
Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer? Do you feel these influence your writing in any way?
Everything an author reads must influence their choices when they’re writing, often unconsciously. That and, of course, their own experiences. Above all, I’m a fan of any novel with twists and turns, cliff-hangers at the end of chapters and, above all, a good ending. I try to incorporate these into my own writing. More specifically, I love Hemingway’s use of language – it’s so immediate, you feel you are there. Somerset-Maugham’s short story endings are wonderful. Joyce Carol Oates’ characters with their intricate family dramas fascinate me. Ann Cleeves’ Highland mysteries and Peter May’s Fin Macleod series in the Outer Hebrides are intrinsically woven into their settings. Their stories could not be set anywhere else. And another special novel for me is Tortilla Curtain by the American writer, T. C. Boyle. The twist at the end of that is brilliant, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.
Author Inspiration for the Bone on the Beach
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