Novels by North-east author tell unheard stories from the past

A writer from the North-east Scotland, is determined to use her passion for storytelling to give a voice to people from the past.

In her debut novel, ‘The Mermaid and the Bear’ (2019), Ailish Sinclair tells the story of Isobell, a fictional character who represents all the women accused of witchcraft and persecuted in the late 16th century.

 “I learnt about the witch trials when I visited the Tolbooth museum in Aberdeen. It felt like the voices from that time hadn’t been heard,” says the novelist.

The book tells the story of an English girl who flees an abusive family and finds refuge and love in Scotland. When she thinks she is safe, she finds herself accused of witchcraft and imprisoned in Aberdeen.

The author draws inspiration for her stories from everyday life, and that’s what makes her descriptions so incredibly effective.

“I’ve explored a lot in the region, the descriptions of the countryside are from up here.” The rocks Isobell is so drawn to were inspired by Aikey Brae, an area the author wandered to multiple times.

Similarly, the castle in the book is based on one Ailish worked in for a short period of time.

At present she is working on two more novels: ‘Fireflies and Chocolate’ and ‘Tendu’.

“The inspiration for Fireflies and Chocolate came from the 600 children that were taken out of Aberdeen in the 1740s and were sold into involuntary servitude in the American colonies,” explains Ailish.

The book will feature a mix of fictional and historical figures, all inspired by actual events.

The second book, Tendu, is a contemporary novel inspired by the novelist’s experience as a dancer and teacher.

“I ran a dance school for a couple of years, and I worked with special-needs children.

“[Tendu] is based in the same castle, which in the contemporary day is a dance school. The main character is a high-functioning autistic young woman who comes to the castle and she has a relationship with her teacher who is twice her age. An awful lot goes wrong for her at the castle. The dungeon is still there, the darkness is still there.”

‘Fireflies and Chocolate’ will be out next spring.

A publication date for ‘Tendu’ has not been established yet.

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