Never before have I been through so many different working titles for a project. Nothing seemed to sit quite right, from initial concepts (The Silver Glen) through to more considered and longer-lasting titles (Forbes’ Challenge or The Forbes Challenge). Part of the problem was that this book grew from a tiny seed but is now a vigorous young oak tree. It’s no longer just about the mystery of Braigh Riabhach or the mountain voyage of James Forbes. This story has grown roots, and it has become my most Scottish book to date – and (I hope) a work of true Romanticism in the fine old early 19th century tradition.
I believe that my new title and cover help to convey those qualities. The Atholl Expedition is about more than just one man’s quest through the mountains of Atholl and Mar – although Forbes remains a critically important main character. The image of the stag (Damh-mor, the champion hart) is evocative of Scotland, as are the craggy heights and ominous skies above. The image itself is strongly romantic. I selected it because I believe it conveys an impression of the dominance of nature above and beyond man, or any of the other creatures which voyage through the mountain realm. This is one of the most important themes to this story, and indeed all of my work.
I also believe that this cover identifies the book as historical fiction first and foremost, mountain fiction second – the mountains are there, but there is no ice axe motif, no vertical wall of ice. I want this book to be enjoyed primarily by lovers of historical fiction and of Scotland, yet it retains my signature style.
Finally I think I have a title and a cover image I can put my name to with confidence.
I hope to release this novel before Christmas. Subscribers to my new release mailing list get to purchase the book at a cheaper price before the official launch date, so if you would like to sign up then please click here.