Visit to a Fair Isle
Last Saturday 'From our own correspondents' on Radio 4 featured a report from Fair Isle. The facts were right: the isle is the most remote inhabited island in the UK, lying half way between Orkney and Shetland, it's three and a half miles long, with dramatic cliffs. But for me it captured none of the magic of the place, the beauty or the sense of community. I suppose a flying visit in the middle of winter was unlikely to do that, but I hope it didn't put people off. Fair Isle was my introduction to Shetland. It was where I met my husband and people I still count as some of my best friends. Of course it was where Jimmy Perez my fictional detective was born.
In my head I spend a lot of my time in Fair Isle at the moment. I'm writing the last book in the Shetland Quartet. In it, Jimmy takes his girlfriend Fran back to meet his parents. I've created a field centre in the North Light and the theme has a distinctly ornithological feel - again taking me back to my writing roots. The working title is 'Homecoming Blues' and the form is classic detective story. What could be more traditional or locked room than a remote lighthouse on a remote island?
How would you like to join me there? Not physically, but as a character in the book. If you've reached this diary through my home page, you'll see that I'm auctioning a character to raise money for Vaila's Fund. We first met Vaila's parents Liz and Paul when they ran the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. Later the family moved to Shetland mainland and we stayed friends. The Harvey girls appear in RAVEN BLACK, a tribute to their fun and hospitality. Vaila, the youngest daughter, died when she was sixteen, and her parents and teachers have set up a fund in her memory, to allow young Shetlanders the opportunity to travel.
So if you fancy a virtual visit to Fair Isle, go to Vaila's page on the website and join in the auction. You could become part of the book and the place. Later you might like to go there for real!