Published: 23/10/2015 17:22 - Updated: 23/10/2015 19:22

Writer Jane MacKenzie's returns to Catalonia

Jane MacKenzie in Plockton.
Jane MacKenzie in Plockton.

WRITER Jane MacKenzie clocked up the miles working on her latest novel — travelling between her Plockton home and the French Catalonian village at the heart of Autumn In Catalonia.

Again set in the picturesque village of Collioure where Jane now has a house, the second book takes up where the first ended, following the heroine of Daughter Of Catalonia.

That book introduced readers to heroine Madeleine, a young woman brought up in England, but returning after the war to Collioure, the village she left as a child and where her father, Resistance hero Luis, died.

There she uncovered dark wartime secrets and in the new book from Jane, Madeleine finds more darkness as she explores her family’s roots in Franco’s Spain

Jane said: "I love and have been intrigued by Catalonia and its history in France and Spain for as long as I can remember.

New novel Autumn In Catalonia
New novel Autumn In Catalonia

"It is a fascinating part of the world and, of course, today there is major political discussion about the future of Spanish Catalonia with comparisons to the independence debate in Scotland.

"My first book was set in French Catalonia in 1958 while the new one, takes place five years later over the border in Spain."

Jane became fascinated with stories of life in Collioure and the idea for her first book was triggered by both reading a book about the area during the Second World War and then becoming friends with local character, 91-year-old Catalan fisherman called Petit Louis, who had his own tales of local life.

"The more he talked, the more I thought ‘I want to write about this’," Jane revealed before lher debut novel’s launch last year.

Widowed in 2003 when her husband, Doug died very suddenly from a cerebral aneurism, Jane set out to find time to write a book , something she had wanted to do for some time.

Jane started writing seriously in 2006 and her first novel, Daughter Of Catalonia was published last year and has since sold more than sold 4,000 print copies and 18,000 online.

Before becoming an author, Jane worked mostly in the field of education, teaching English and French and managing schools in Africa, the Arabian Gulf as well as Papua New Guinea.

She once taught the present president of the Gambia when he was at school and spent a year there raising money for a library for the University of the Gambia, where she was a member of the University Council.

First novel in the planned trilogy Daughter Of Catalonia.
First novel in the planned trilogy Daughter Of Catalonia.

Jane established the British Study Partnership (BSP) in 2002, an organisation that strives to give elp to international students when it comes to finding the right university or college course in the UK. She is still a director.

She has also worked at CERN in Switzerland, where the Large Hadron Collider is pushing forward the boundaries of science.

Jane got her post there as she is a fluent French speaker – mostly learned, she says, in the bars of Aix-en-Provence, where she studied for a year during a French degree course.

Jane headed the UK Government’s liaison office and became friends with Nobel prize winner, Peter Higgs of Higgs Boson fame, and he attended her debut novel’s launch in Edinburgh.

Jane is already working on the third book in the Catalonia series, but this time round is doing that mainly in the sunshine by the pool of her French home!

"It’s a dream existence, but I’m still focused on what I need to do," said Jane.

Autumn In Catalonia by Jane MacKenzie is published by Allison and Busby and will be in the shops from Thursday (October 22).

Officially launched at Blackwell’s, Edinburgh, on Wednesday (October 21) at 6 pm, the book’s also having a Highland launch too the following Wednesday (October 28) at Waterstones in Inverness at 6 pm.

For details on Jane and the first book in the Catalonia series: janemackenzie.co.uk

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