Welcome to the fourth instalment of Schubert’s series. I’m so happy that Schubert, my fat, black, mystical witch’s cat has garnered such a following in a fun little series which started with Every Witch Way.
When I started the series with Nessa’s tale, it was a rewrite of a long-ish short story that I did in a coffee shop, many years ago, when I worked in a bank and would get into town early. So I’d head off to Boskoops Café in Old Eldon Square, and have cinnamon toast and an Americano, and do a bit of writing in a notebook. The café where Nessa finds the mysterious book that starts the events of the story off is based on Boskoops and there would sometimes be a gaggle of middle-aged women sitting in the window seat, which was the seat I preferred, and also the seat they preferred. I’m ashamed to say that became a battle of wills each morning as to who would get that seat first…
Boskooops was situated on the first floor of an old Georgian house, one of the original houses in the square – number 1, Eldon Square. A few years later, I did a local history course and we had to choose a building to do a project on, and I chose that one. In a sale in the library, I found a book called A Doctor’s Diary. I randomly picked it up, flicked through it, and realised the chap who had written it had come as a young man in the nineteenth century to be a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne – and he lodged at that very building! It was a weird feeling, thinking I might have been scribbling away, drinking coffee, in a room that he had walked around in.
I just love old buildings and the history attached to them, and I think that’s why I enjoy the historical research so much in my books. It Started with a Pirate was no exception with research. I’ve always loved the romantic side of pirates, but, in a similar way to my obsession with highwaymen, I doubt they’d be very good company really if you met one in real life, doing his actual piratical/highwayman-like job! However, fortunately, we can inhabit the world of fiction and enjoy these bad boys safely, which is lovely.
When I began the research for It Started with a Pirate, it kind of spiralled, and then all came together in the book. The further I dug, and the further I fell down the Google rabbit hole, I came to see a way that pirates, Edinburgh and even the Jacobites could all fit together – and they all do, in this book. Much of my character Mhairi’s story is true – I doubt it all happened to one girl, but the historical records, trials and locations in the book, as well as the connection to the Jacobites, the Orkneys and shipwrecks – were all based on fact. I must also give a shout out to Joanne Baird from Portobello Book Blog for helping me with those locations and answering my questions – so if an author ever messages you and says something like, “um, can you tell me what the Sands of Leith look like now, please, because I believe pirates got hanged there,’ then please be kind, like Joanne was, and answer them! They may have done what I did – found a really interesting article about the skeleton of a pirate turning up in a school playground, and suddenly decide they want to write about it! The culmination of that research is It Started With a Pirate – and I hope you love reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing and researching it!
About the book:
Coffee, cake and cats ...
These are a few of Lexie Farrington’s favourite things, and when she walks into the Thistledean Café in Edinburgh, she’s delighted to find all three: coffee, cake, a big black cat on a purple lead being held by a very grumpy-looking pirate. Okay, maybe she wasn’t quite expecting that one ...
Of course, Billy McCreadie isn’t really a pirate; he just knows a lot about them and is on his way to give a historical talk to school kids, hence the get-up. He’s also in desperate need of a cat sitter.
When Lexie steps in, little does she realise that Billy will be the key to a hidden Edinburgh she would have never discovered herself, and he might also be the man to help solve a certain piratical puzzle of her own ...
About the author:
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.
Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.
Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.
Follow Kirsty on Twitter: @kirsty_ferry
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