One great thing about literature is the way that authors are inspired by things like location, and luckily between Scotland’s scenic glens and vivid (or brutal) history, the country seeps into some great books by authors from all over. Here are just a few.
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is, admittedly, one of the more obvious ones. British Army nurse Claire Randall goes on a second honeymoon to Inverness after their work in World War II, and soon finds herself taken back in time, stuck in the realm of Jacobites. On top of the fact her medical knowledge is a marvel, her story crosses romance and historical fiction, with a little time-travelling edge, and her adventure put Scotland at the forefront of many a book lover’s mind, before being adapted for TV in the last few years.
Not only does Gaiman think of Scotland as his second home, he has a house on Skye as well as having worked here for various projects. His children’s book The Wolves in the Walls was made into a National Theatre of Scotland production in 2006, he has been a judge for the Dundee International Book Prize and he wrote a ‘Scottish tale’ The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains which he read on a tour around Scotland with a string quartet in 2014.
George RR Martin
When you think of Game of Thrones, you’d be forgiven for being caught up in the politics, Kingdoms and, of course, dragons. In a world so large and well-crafted, it’s nice to know that Hadrian’s Wall influenced the Wall that separates the North from those who lurk beyond it. Then there’s the infamous Red Wedding scene, which Martin notes was influenced by the brutal massacre of Glencoe and the Black Dinner.
If it wasn’t enough that the world’s leading school of witchcraft and wizardry is meant to be up in Scotland (away from all those muggles), you can also take a tour of Edinburgh to see where plenty more of JK Rowling’s inspiration came from. That includes the graveyard where names of characters that feature prominently throughout the Harry Potter series were drawn from, for one.
An added bonus to keep an eye out for. Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season series has crafted a new realm based in London and Oxford, and the third book, The Song Rising, will at least partially be set in Edinburgh. Her dystopian world of clairvoyancy draws from a city’s history and streets to ground her fantasy with one foot in reality, and soon we’ll see where the cobbled streets of the ‘burgh fit in.