When Carluke author Richard Swan was seeking inspiration for his latest book, it was a walk around Braidwood Loch that provided the key.
“I had a collection of characters already in my head, and each of the personalities that they would bring to a story, but I was really struggling with the setting,” explained Richard.
“Then one morning last year I went for a walk around Braidwood Loch to get some peace and space to think. And that’s when it struck me that the collection of the road, the water, and the woods, was the perfect set of elements that could allow each of the characters to be brought into the storyline.”
Richard will be well known already to local readers. His book for children, The Listeners, dealing with huge issues such as bereavement and bullying in simple stories took off, even being featured on television, and that led to speaking engagements around the country, as well as at local schools such as Crawforddyke and St Athanasius, which now uses tales from his book in its curriculum.
“I could not believe how well that book has gone,” said Richard. Something that had been “a hobby” brought him national prominence.
“Getting the chance to speak to kids in schools about the issues they were facing with bullying, bereavement, and frustration, was very satisfying,” he added.
But while he was talking to the children, the adults were “constantly dragging me off to the side, asking ‘what about our problems?’” and encouraging him to write for them, covering modern issues like parents overworking, materialism, and people left isolated with modern technology,
And that has resulted in Whispers from the Pond a tale of four people, each carrying their own issues in modern life, who separately come across a wise sage in a mysterious place. Each of them is helped along the way, but they also learn of a dark secret that connects them all.
Richard (45) is married with three daughters and a full time job in IT, so he has been writing in every spare half hour he can find, even on his train to Glasgow.
He adopts pieces of wisdom from international teachers like John Kehoe and Peter Sage into an entertaining story.
“These guys were giving fantastic pies of information and wisdom,” said Richard. “This is gold dust. This is helping me in my own life and and I wanted to spread these gold nuggets further.”
And that led him to the hard work of writing a full length novel for adults.
“Whispers from the Pond is out soon, and then Richard can return to writing the children’s books he plans.
The book’s mystery and drama have been captured in the promotional video starring his middle daughter Cara, And a photo of Braidwood Loch, taken by local photographer Keiran Harris, forms the cover of the book.