Today I’m featuring Fiona Maclean who writes under the pen name of Sylvia Anderson. Her first novel, Where She Will Shine, was self-published in April. Here’s the blurb:
Where She Will Shine is a contemporary literary work of fiction which concerns the life of a student, Mary MacDonald, in 1960s Scotland. It is a vibrant tale full of contrasts, colour and excitement. When Mary leaves the croft for the “big city” of Glasgow she meets individuals who will change her life forever. Her life is lonely and raw at the start until she meets David Cochrane, who has a life hidden from his mother, but Mary falls in love with him – her first “real love”.
In the late sixties, the Beatles were in full swing and dance halls were popular as meeting places for young people. It was the generation of full employment and the post war “baby boomers” had a satisfying life. The characters in the book, however, battle with issues which were as topical then as they are now – coming of age, student life, parenthood, rape and homosexuality.
Fiona has written a lovely post about her inspiration for writing Where She Will Shine and, also, her characters. So, without further ado, I’ll hand over to Fiona.
“My inspiration for my work, Where She Will Shine, came from a visit to a First World War Monument in Perth, Scotland. The brave war heroes remembered, sacrificed their lives so that the youth of today could shine and make the world a better place.
I enjoyed my student years, for it was a world that my parents had not had the chance to experience. I’m a ‘Baby Boomer’ and echoes of the war years were still around whilst I grew up – poor housing; austerity; rationing. I wrote the novel for folk in a similar position, who cherished the chance to ‘shine’ and for others to see inside the emotional head of a first-year student in 1968.
Life could be tough for my eighteen-year-old protagonist, Mary, but it is never as hard as the life of Alice, the waif she befriends in Glasgow and whom she helps to move on and make her life a success.
Mary was an only child – when I think about it, my best friend when I was growing up was an only child and I did envy her having her parents all to herself – I was one of five. She had a totally different life to mine with extremely caring parents who catered to her every need – be it the beautiful food she ate; her immaculate school uniforms and shoes (mine were hand me downs) or lovely skating dresses (we met at the local ice rink).
I have met poor teenagers like Alice in my work as an Occupational Therapist and always felt pity. Despite Alice’s brave and gauche front, she longs to be looked after by ‘proper’ parents like Ruaridh and Mhairi. In the end, this happens to her and she has a good life after a deprived and unsupported beginning.
I have never lived on the west coast of Scotland but have had many holidays there. It is my favourite place in the whole of Scotland. Breathtakingly beautiful white beaches and mountains covered with beautiful flowers, make it a place to relax and enjoy nature. Mary belonged to such a place and it gave her, ‘an ache in her heart’ when she thought of it. One can imagine the change in her lifestyle when she arrived in Glasgow in 1968 into a student world of riot; the end of the Vietnam War; an intolerance of everything ‘old’ and conmen and women (Jimmy and Yvonne) on every street corner.
Where She Will Shine is my first novel. I enjoyed writing it and was greatly motivated by ‘The Writing Classes,’ which I joined when I moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2014. My tutor, Anne Hamilton, was particularly inspiring. This was a great experience for the other writers commented on everything one wrote and I looked forward to every Monday, for a new exercise. Kuala Lumpur is a city of very poor and very rich, like most cities in Asia. I communicated largely with other ex-patriot wives who had gone out there with their partners to support them. In the sunshine, every day we would walk and talk in the KLCC Park under the Petronas Towers. It was a magical time and amongst the ex-pat women (forty-four of them), I had understanding, tolerant friends. I miss them!”
Many thanks for that, Fiona. It’s always delightful to hear about the success of new writers, especially fellow alumni of writingclasses. I’m looking forward to reading Where She Will Shine!
Where She Will Shine is available as an ebook from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-Will-Shine-Sylvia-Anderson-ebook/dp/B06Y98WTQ4