Q&A with Tamara McKinley
Describe Spindrift in one word:
Spindrift tells the story of the courageous Christy Macleod who moves to distant Tasmania from the Isle of Skye when tragedy strikes. Christy is confronted with the difficult task of creating a future for herself from nearly nothing on the other side of the world. What sparked this story idea for you?
I had no knowledge of the Scottish Clearances, and then I read a book in which it was mentioned. Intrigued, I decided to do some research into these tragic events, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write about it.
Christy eventually returns to Skye with her daughter and granddaughter, who know nothing of her secret past. She certainly encounters a great deal of personal adversity and heartache in the novel, what is one character trait will most endear Christy to readers?
Christy is a strong personality who refuses to be cowed by the events of her childhood. She’s determined to prove that despite everything that has happened to her, she will succeed in the new life that has been thrust upon her.
Was there anything surprising that you learned about during the research process for Spindrift?
During my research for Spindrift it soon became clear that a great many of those cleared from the Highlands and Islands went to Canada and America, but as I know very little about either country, I was hoping to find a link with Australia. I came across the story of a group who sailed to Tasmania on an unseaworthy ship. Many of them died, but those who survived settled in Tasmania, and made their names as farmers and horse breeders. The descendants of those first survivors are still living in Tasmania, and are regarded as one of the foremost experts in breeding horses.
What was your biggest challenge in writing Spindrift?
My biggest challenge to writing Spindrift was that I’d never visited Scotland’s islands. Having avidly followed a wonderful television series about the history and legends of those islands, I could see that they would form a powerful and dramatic back-drop for Christie’s story. Arriving in Skye and travelling through the magnificent scenery, I knew where Christy had come from and understood why she was so strong – and why she needed to return.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently writing a series of sagas set during WW2, in a boarding house on the South Coast of England. But there are always new storylines presenting themselves.
1905: Christy has always dreamed of making the journey from her home in Tasmania back to the wild and beautiful Scottish island where she was born – the Isle of Skye, nicknamed ‘cloud island’ by the Old Norse people – to once again lay eyes on the tumbling waterfalls and dramatic coastlines of her homeland. And now, in her sixty-fifth year,
Christy has finally decided to go, her mistrustful daughter Anne and beloved granddaughter Kathryn acting as companions. But what Anne and Kathryn don’t realise is that Christy’s past is darker and more textured than they could know, and that in returning to Skye they will unearth bittersweet memories long-buried – memories that will ultimately change the course of the three women’s lives forever.