Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
Lochdarnock – The Kiss and The Curse - my first book was published March 28, 2018. It is a family saga set in Scotland – Lochdarnock House, Glasgow and The Lochdarnock Hunting Lodge in the Highlands as well as in France 1914-18.
It tells the story of the Lochdarnocks (an aristocratic family), the Cassidy’s (working class family) and the Ewarts (Shipyard owners) and how their lives interweave. It begins in the present day when Jenny Munroe (a Cassidy family member) takes up her job at Lochdarnock House as Marketing and Promotions Director, and discovers she bears a resemblance to Lady Isabelle Lochdarnock whose newly restored (1907) portrait Jenny unveils. Jenny then embarks on a journey (along with four others) to find out the reason for her likeness to Lady Isabelle and discovers a number of connections – romances and otherwise - between the families.
It can be sourced through Amazon (hard copy and on Kindle), or ordered through Waterstones, WH Smith, Blackwells et cetera.
Is there anything else which prompted Lochdarnock: The Kiss and The Curse? Something that inspired you?
Is there anything else which prompted Lochdarnock: The Kiss and The Curse? Something that inspired you?
The inspiration for the piece was a small plot line from my mother’s unpublished manuscript. I wanted to explore why her great aunt (who was a servant – in a house – not as grand as Lochdarnock) wanted to take my mother to England where she was to work as a servant to a doctor whilst my mum would have been a companion to his daughter. The doctor’s wife had died recently. This event happened in the 1940s, following WWII. I have never discovered what happened to the aunt or what prompted the invitation given to my mother, so I constructed a story to fit around the piece of information I did have and out of that Lochdarnock – The Kiss and The Curse came into being. I researched WWI and The Quintinshill Rail Disaster which I incorporated in the book. The story is a fiction set against the historic background.
I knew I wanted to be a professional writer when I was at University doing my Masters in Theatre Research at Royal Holloway College, University of London. I wanted to show I could write more than 80,000 words but knew I didn’t want to do academic writing (i.e. a PhD). Writing is a perfect job for me. I have MS and writing gives me the flexibility to work from home, it keeps me buoyant and very happy.
I have written plays, sketches and the ‘book’ for a musical which have been performed. The novel took a little longer to come about.
I write in the morning after I swim. I write for around 3 or 4 hours.
I write in the living room of my small flat here on Richmond Hill.
My favorite authors vary. At the moment I am fond of reading Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin (fellow Scots) but both from Edinburgh. McCall Smith likes to take the mickey out of us Glaswegians – uh huh! Watch out, you Edinburgh boys … I also love Armistead Maupin, JD Salinger, Harper Lee, and Shakespeare. I am currently reading a book by a local author, David Young, called Stasi Wolf. Not content with reading one book, I am halfway through Grayson Perry’s book The Descent of Man.
The only advice I have for aspiring writers is ‘there is nothing like doing it but doing it. Go ahead, keep going and keep sending pieces to publishers. If you believe in your work, someone else will too.’ And don’t forget to enjoy the joy of writing – it sets you free!
On taking up her new job as Promotions’ Director at Lochdarnock House, Jenny Munroe unveils a portrait of Lady Isabelle Lochdarnock and finds that she bears a striking resemblance to the Lochdarnock family – even though she knows of no direct link with them other than that a great, great aunt was a servant at the house at the beginning of the 20th century.
She and two others, a retired history teacher who volunteers at the house and an American who has connections with the story of the Lochdarnocks, Jenny’s family (the Cassidys) and the Shipping Industrialists (the Ewarts – who are connected to the Lochdarnocks socially and eventually romantically), pursue the matter and investigate the variety of links each has with the house and the family.
The history of relationships between the Lochdarnocks, Jenny’s family – The Cassidys and Shipping Owners – The Ewarts – are discovered. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, evidence of more than one romance is revealed and revelations about the workings of each family come to light. Jenny’s heritage is explored through investigations that the modern day trio make.
I suppose it’s all going to come out now. Am I relieved? I can’t say just yet – but I knew as soon as I saw the woman walking into the house – as soon as I found out what she was – that the secrets of Lochdarnock (my spiritual retreat and true home, you might say) were bound to spill into the open at last.
I love this place. God knows that’s the truth. The sheer beauty of the estate at this time of the year is startling.
Its river, The White Cart, quick-running and full – winds around the grounds, through frost-covered fields and interestingly shaped ‘winter naked’ trees – which seem to stand in dogged, dark majesty against the pallid afternoon skies which are common enough in these parts. Remnants of ancient woodland sit now as a determined metaphor for the folk who made this place what it once was, and is still.
Modern man has introduced to the landscape Highland cattle which attempt to graze the winter-hardened land but easily give up, preferring to take the soft option of food provided in the metallic mangers which are periodically dotted about the fencing that encloses the beasts. The small, hardy herd is kept outside, year round, adding to the picture postcard ‘Scottishness’ of the scene.
The animals’ presence is clearly a marketing ploy which works judging by the number of folk who drive slowly through the grounds with their cameras (usually sophisticated phone contraptions) ready to capture images to be sent back from whence the snapper comes.
Given the immediacy of new technologies, the interlopers share precious vacation shots almost instantaneously with friends and kin, no matter how far afield their home might be, making Lochdarnock accessible world-wide – a fact that I am uncomfortable with, given the jealous regard I have for the place.
The house itself is a show-off affair, rebuilt in the eighteenth century and added to in the nineteenth and early twentieth. This monument to good-taste replaces the original building (a castle), situated far too near the river for safety’s sake in the twelfth century and the later fifteenth-century building, also a castle, which was similarly unsuitably located and seems, according to the sources, to have fallen foul of an unpredicted bursting riverbank.
Whether it’s my love of the estate or of the folk of Lochdarnock that has caused me to be protective in the way I have been for so long, I can no longer say. I just didn’t and don’t want the wrong people ‘in on it’.
I am aware that I’ve been selfish keeping it, ‘this story’, to myself all these years. I’ve squirrelled away the source material, the historical evidence, that long I don’t know how to share it.
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not a devious man by nature, so I can’t imagine how to go about ‘leaking the story’ using the modern convention deployed by ‘D’ list celebrities and ambitious politicians alike. Maybe it’s best to let the story emerge bit by bit – to let her find out the history through diligent attention to the archive as I did, after all it’s obviously Jenny Munroe’s story and history more than mine. How that came to be is as yet a mystery to her and there are bits of the puzzle I’m yet to put in proper place myself.
It’s certain Jenny’s here to gather as much as possible in the way of knowledge about Lochdarnock, and I know with this latest ‘find’ she’ll be hunting down the story I have kept, the secret I have buried as best I could, now that she’s got a sniff of it.
Unlike me, I think, Miss Munroe is a girl with the quarry firmly in her sights. She’s the determined type – you can just tell. Her newly achieved title of Lochdarnock Estates’ Promotions Director is impressive but not the prestigious job my daughter Heather would say ‘floats’ a girl like Jenny’s boat.
Even if she hadn’t already been employed to showcase the place, the resemblance she has with the Lochdarnocks is so uncanny a body couldn’t help but wonder, wonder and pursue the truth of the matter of her family heritage – she just must have a genetic link with that crowd somewhere, I am sure. Aye, I know a lot about the Lochdarnock/Cassidy (Jenny’s family) connection but even I am not aware of the full story, it seems – not yet anyway.
The portrait clearly came as a shock to the girl – girl! Given that Jenny Munroe is fifty plus I know it’s wrong to keep calling her that – apart from the politically correct stuff that drives me to distraction, there appears to be little that is childlike about the lovely Ms. Munroe. But a girl is what she seems to me at this advanced stage in my life, nonetheless.
The poor thing did her best to hide it but I saw her shaking after the unveiling – standing there in front of Lady Isabelle Lochdarnock’s portrait, standing there in front of a picture of what could have been herself, a picture that she had been brought here to unveil as the first act in her plum new job.
I feel bad about that. The thinking was that all images of Lady Isabelle had been destroyed by the laird’s second wife – Fiona Ewart – I was the only one who knew differently, having found several photos of Isabelle which had been secreted away by a concerned party an age ago, in amongst the books in the extensive library at the house.
Universal Amazon: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B07BQBNF33
“I have just finished reading Lochdarnock and enjoyed the book very much. I am looking forward to further novels by Ri Adam. Much research has gone into this novel the two world wars, Scottish gentry, and life in Glasgow plus so much more to keep the reader enthralled.” - Maggie, reader on The Book Guild Publishing site
"What a fantastic read Lochdarnock is. I really enjoyed the writing style of Ri Adam’s first novel. The characters and settings were vivid and once I started reading the book I didn’t want to put it down. Congratulations, Ri, and look forward to any future books you write." - Anne, reader on The Book Guild Publishing site
“A real family saga that keeps you guessing right until the end. I can’t wait to go to Pollok House Glasgow to ‘see’ Lochdarnock!! One question – when’s the next one due?!! I need to know!” - Bellamy, reader on The Book Guild Publishing site
Author Ri Adam lives in Richmond and has written and performed a number of plays and sketches, including performing at venues as part of the 2012 London Olympics.
Upon writing Lochdarnock, she says, “I was inspired to write the story by my mother’s family history and a National Trust Property in which I was a volunteer, as well as the tragedy of WWI and the implications that had for society as a whole and the relationships of individuals as the 20th century unfolded”.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ri-Adam/e/B07BH4C9JS/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/troubador_publishing/ Publisher: https://www.bookguild.co.uk/