It’s sometimes hard to remember, or even to realise to start with, that we walk on terrain trodden by countless generations before us, that the land on which we live has a story that is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. That’s especially true here in the Highlands of Scotland, where – due to the dramatic passage of our country’s history – the past, even very recent, can be so easily forgotten.
I’ve had cause to reflect on Inverness’s own dramatic history thanks to an exciting project I’m privileged to have been involved in. I’ve played a small part in bringing to life the first in a series of young adult novels that connect dramatic events 1400 years apart and which weave themes of war and peace, faith and friendship, jealousy and revenge.
The series is written by a friend of mine, AJ MacHugh, who lives in Inverness and has thought much about Inverness’s long history. With a story buzzing around inside him, he was eventually motivated by a dream to bring the idea to life. AJ (the name is a pseudonym – and no, it’s not me) asked me for some help given my own experience of writing books, and so I’ve helped out in a few areas of editing, publishing and promotion in the past year or so to bring the first book into reality.
King Brude’s Treasure is the first in the Xander Munro series, novels aimed at young adults (but it appeals to older ones too). In this first book, two twelve year olds Xander and Katie stumble across strange goings on in the forested hillside on the edge of Inverness, where they live, where rumours of Pictish treasure attract the interest of a shady billionaire and his brutal henchmen. Meanwhile, 1400 years earlier in the fort of Pictish king Brude, the coming of St Columba and his story of a new religion brings political turmoil to that very same location. Through a bizarre sequence of events Xander and Katie are drawn into this epic conflict, in a story to be played out across time, across different Celtic nations, and as I say across a series of books.
When I first looked at the draft of King Brude’s Treasure, I instantly was drawn in by the rich characters, the evocation of the Highland scenery in both timelines, the compelling and at times violent story, and AJ’s deft and humorous narrative. It’s an exciting story, and it’s great to see Inverness’s rich cultural heritage being so dramatically explored and celebrated in this way. An already excellent story needed little input from me, and the first book is now released into the world.
AJ’s a new writer, at least in this medium, but King Brude’s Treasure bodes well for the series. His anonymity, for now (and no, it really isn’t me!), plus the fact the book is self-published, means he’s relying on other people to get the word out. Hence this blogpost.
Check out his website and the book on Kindle and in paperback. If you dive in, you’ll hopefully find yourself eagerly waiting for book two. Which I believe will be coming in the near future… at least, much less than 1400 years from now…