I intended to explore the worst injustice done to a Scot: Sir William Wallace lived in and fought for Scotland but he was condemned as a traitor to England. My main character was to have been a Russian spy who was serving his own country by working for the benefit of Scottish people. The problem was that I couldn’t see a good side to him!
I even set the book in the early 1960’s so that the older people in the novel remembered Russia as a brave ally in the World War but nothing could make me exonerate my spy: he had to be totally self-absorbed to survive. He had to hide his true nature from his wife and his best friend.
The best friend, caring and trustworthy, became the hero of the novel. Troubled by what action he should take to stop the spy, he is forced to deal with his own betrayal of his daughter when the eighteen year old grandson he has never met turns up at his door. Loyalty to family and his community are more important than loyalty to government.
Patriotism, said Dr Johnson, is the last refuge of scoundrels. Should we loyally back the decisions of government? At the start of the First World War it seems clear that most people would have answered ‘Yes’. Things are not so obvious nowadays.
There are still a few ideas floating about in my head that will, I hope, eventually snag and take shape. I think there is a story to be explored on equality – we all applaud the concept but we have to ignore it on a day-to-day basis because it would bring the world to a stop! I am writing a sequel to ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ at present but I am getting inklings of a plot for a novel about a conscientious objector in 1914.
'Loyalty is available as an ebook for 99p from Amazon
Or as an McStorytellers paperback for £4.67
You can find Alasdair's previous work At Wee Voices and McStorytellers