Fife author takes inspiration from Highlands for new novel

Alan Gillespie.
Alan Gillespie.

A Glenrothes teacher has used his time living and working in the west Highlands as inspiration for a novel.

Alan Gillespie (33) grew up in Pitcoudie, and now works as an English teacher in Glasgow.

During his time teaching and living in the west Highlands, the landscape inspired him to write ‘The Mash House’, a story set in the fictional landscape of Cullrothes and focuses on simple people antagonising each other to the limits of human endurance.

Alan said: “The landscape there really inspired me. In my book the remote setting is almost like another character. I want to write about the good and the bad side of people. We’re all the hero and the villain really.”

From a young age Alan showed an interest in writing.

He explained: “At primary school I wrote a seven page story about me and my pal Scrag going back in time to meet some Vikings. I had some great teachers at school who encouraged my writing. Then when I got older I found I was curious about people. I watched and listened to how folk spoke and acted.”

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Being a teacher, Alan found the biggest challenge of writing the book was finding motivation and time.

He said: “The job can consume your energy and headspace. I can be quite prolific when I’m bored – I worked in a mailroom for years and used to write loads during my lunch hours.

“Getting this book deal has been a great incentive. It’s like being given permission to focus on the work of writing.”

The book is being published by Unbound, who use a crowdfunding model. Alan explained: “This means they’ve given me a target to reach with pre-orders before they go to print.

“It allows them to sign up unknown writers without much risk. So I need people who are interested to buy advance copies. All being well the book will be out in 2020.”

You can pre-order a copy of the book at https://unbound.com/books/the-mash-house