Littoralis Press, e-book, £3.99
2nd edition 2016
‘Love, lust, pottery and fossils’ – and the wild northern coasts and moors of Sutherland …
Set in the far North of Scotland, this is a modern story of the love of two very different men for local artist and potter Anna, creator of the ‘floating stones’ of the title.
Oxford geologist Stephen Rhodes and his students Kat and Max set up temporary homes in the rugged beauty of Sutherland for a summer of scientific fieldwork. As a result they are brought into intimate contact with both the landscape and its inhabitants.
Donnie, a local shepherd, Kat, Anna and Stephen become involved in a four-sided relationship whose complexity only gradually becomes clear.
For Stephen, the summer becomes the story of his conflicting desires: on the one hand for his wife and growing sons, who offer stability, a safe home and a rational career, and on the other hand for his new-found lover and the entirely different life that she represents.
The geological background to the story couldn’t have been written without Professor Richard Fortey’s input, and I thank him for the amusing conversations we had about trilobites, the geology of northern Sutherland, and the Iapetus Ocean; his books, Trilobite! (HarperCollins 2000) and The Hidden Landscape (HarperCollins 1998) were also invaluable in helping provide answers to the questions I forgot to ask.
Several trips to Sutherland, camping and hill-walking, have convinced me – despite visiting or living in many other beautiful or wild places – that Sutherland is one of the best places to be (Torridon is the other), and I hope I have managed to convey a sense of the landscape and its influence.
Several years ago I bought two unusual ceramic ‘floating stones’ made by the Sutherland potter, Lotte Glob. It was to our mutual astonishment, long after I had written this novel, that I discovered that her website depicted the scene described on the first page of the story. I will always be grateful to her for her humour and willingness to let me continue to use this, and for any (completely unforeseen) apparent parallels between Lotte and ‘Anna’, in terms of appearance and their work. ‘Anna’ in Floating Stones is not, of course, Lotte: and Lotte says she is now on the look-out for a ‘Donnie’!
This is the second edition of Floating Stones: the first edition was published by the ground-breaking ebook publisher Online Originals in 2003.