Rosemary re-imagines Flodden for her first novel

After Flodden author Rosemary Goring
After Flodden author Rosemary Goring

A writer from Dunbar with an ‘autobiography’ of Scotland under her belt has returned to the site of childhood holidays for her first foray into fiction.

But Rosemary Goring, whose debut novel is set during the aftermath of the Battle Flodden, isn’t getting carried away.

“Excitement isn’t exactly the word,” she says, “that would be going too far. It’s an odd feeling.”

The novel, ‘After Flodden’, has drawn praise from Costa Prize winner Andrew Miller, who described it as “A well-told tale of a violent time; fast-moving and packed with incident.

“I come from Dunbar,” says Rosemary, “I remember my father taking all the family to Flodden and it really made an impact, and I remembered, recently, that I even wrote a short story about Flodden in school!”

But Rosemary recognises that the battle hasn’t made that kind of impact on everyone.

“The major role that it played in Scottish history cannot be overestimated,” she says, “but I think that if you mentioned it to some people, perhaps English people in particular, they wouldn’t necessarily know what you were talking about.

“In fact, I recently mentioned to a student that I was writing a novel about the Battle of Flodden.

“They just replied: ‘Which one?’”

“The research was easy for me,” she says, and it comes as no surprise, given that she took a prize for Scottish History while in her final year at St Andrews University.

Rosemary then went on to become in-house editor for Chambers Biographical Dictionary, and in 2007 published her own book, ‘Scotland: the Autobiography’.

“I am used to research,” she says. “I used the letters of King James and Patrick Patiner, his right hand man, as well as treasurers accounts from the time, so that I knew what they would be wearing, what they would be spending their money on, things like that.

“I write so much in my life as a journalist that getting the words on the page wasn’t the hard part. Journalists write so easily, maybe too easily, so the challenge was to make it as good as it could be.

“I’ll never write a bad review again in my life!

“Writing fiction is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” and she plans to keep at it.

“I am working up a sequel, just now, which I’m just putting together, based some time after the battle.”

“The main character, Patrick Patiner, in real history he died, so he’s out. But he has a son, who eventually goes on to become an advisor to Mary Queen of Scots, so he might appear at some point.”