A MILNGAVIE writer has revealed that his experience as a trainee reporter at The Milngavie and Bearsden Herald when he was a teenager inspired him to pen his first novel.
Kenneth Macleod (39), the son of well-known former local GP Rona Macleod of Milngavie’s Station Road practice, has just landed a two-book international deal with publishing conglomerate, Hachette UK, for his first novel The Incident.
The former Douglas Academy pupil launched his writing career with The M&B Herald in 1989 when he did three months work experience at the paper after leaving school aged 17.
He became a freelance newspaper journalist in Glasgow and the west of Scotland for 11 years until 1999 when he gave it up to do an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
The course is famous for having produced some of the UK’s best literary writers including Booker Prize winners Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Anne Enright and Kenneth developed his fiction writing under the tutorship of the then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.
He began working on the idea that would eventually develop into his first novel while he was studying and he wrote it while he lived in Berlin for 10 years.
The writer is now based back in Milngavie and completing a PhD at Glasgow University.
Kenneth of Dunmore Drive, Fairways, said: “I spoke with quite a number of local Second World War veterans, and service personnel from more recent conflicts when I was at Milngavie and Bearsden Herald.
“While their stories were all very different, much of what they said made a very strong impression on me, and I have never forgotten the quiet fortitude of those men and women or the nature of their sacrifices they made in the course of serving.
“Many of them experienced horrific events that stayed with them for the rest of their lives, and they did it for the sake of current and future generations.
“I don’t seek to glorify war in my book, but I hope it contains an implicit acknowledgement, albeit in a small and indirect way, of the sacrifice and service those men and women gave.”
He added: “During the creative writing course I was mostly working on short stories but towards the end I also started tinkering with a bigger idea of interlinked tales which would straddle the middle and second half of the 20th century – stories that would tackle the themes of war, guilt and tragedy. Eventually, over years, that project slowly grew into a unified novel.”
The Incident is about three young men from different generations whose lives are linked by birth, tragedy, history and chance.
Gordon McInnes is a Scottish merchant seaman whose oil tanker is torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War Two, leaving him shipwrecked.
More than 40 years later his grandson, Craig, takes a student job as a lifeguard on a North German beach, but one day makes a mistake that results in tragedy and Gerd is an East German citizen who, as a teenager in the 1960s, fled to the West after he was recruited as an informer by the Stasi – the secret police – and manipulated into betraying a young woman at their behest.
The Incident is available in hardback in UK bookshops priced £12.99 and £6.99 for Kindle and other e-readers, it will be published in paperback next year.