In October 2017, at the urging & beseeching of my daughter, Ella, I embarked on a 1,800 mile journey (2,900 kilometres) that took me up to & around Scotland.

The purpose of our expedition was to visit as many sites as possible where the novel OUTLANDER, by Diana Gabaldon, was filmed as a television series.

Some days we drove over 300 miles (480 kilometres).

I eventually visited the wonderful & amazing village of Falkland and, there, I was inspired to write ‘The Fire Tree’. I went into the Rowan Tree gift & crafts shop - on the high street - and there I saw a pendant in a display cabinet. I don’t know if I believe in magic, but - that night - in my sleep, I dreamed the broad outline of the story for ‘The Fire Tree’.

On embarking upon the physical writing, I soon discovered the perils of writing historical fiction: For every hour of writing, there are, at least, two hours of research!

If anybody reading this is an expert on Scottish history in the 1600’s, please make yourself known!

My Grandmother once told me, when I was little boy, that when my mother was 3 or 4 years old, she would tell how she had once been a Queen. Asked when this might have been, she would say: “Before I came to you.”

My Grandmother asked if this meant that she had lived in a big castle with lots of servants. My mother said that this wasn’t the case. She said that she had lived in a tent, just like everybody else, but that they treated her different because she was Queen. Asked whereabouts she had been  Queen, she said it was in Scotland. She said it was a long time ago, when they had fought the men with horns.

Asked to clarify that she had been Queen of Scotland, my mother had said: “No, I wasn’t the Queen of all of Scotland, I was just Queen of the West.”