Sunday, January 22, 2023

Q&A with Carole Johnstone

From my Q&A with Carole Johnstone, author of The Blackhouse: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Setting is hugely important in all my books. I always try to write a story that could only be set where it’s set and nowhere else. The setting therefore becomes almost another character, so it’s pretty inevitable that my novels end up being named after that place.

Originally, The Blackhouse was actually titled A Thin Place, but this had to be changed because of another book out around the same time with a very similar name. A thin place is a place where the walls between our world and other worlds are said to be at their thinnest; they are often considered to be very spiritual and important landscapes, such as Stonehenge. The Outer Hebrides were considered in Celtic mythology to be thin places, and the Norse that settled there in the 9th century believed something similar. The Blackhouse is set on a fictional island off the Atlantic coast of the Isle of Lewis and Harris. The Outer Hebrides are wild, isolated, and brimful of legends and cautionary tales. They are islands that are sometimes as frightening as they are beautiful; as dangerous as they are peaceful, and I really wanted the title to reflect that contradiction and otherworldliness.

Equally though, the blackhouse itself is very central to the story. Blackhouses are the traditional domestic dwellings of Hebrideans going back centuries. The titular blackhouse is the place that both main characters, Maggie and Robert live, albeit 25 years apart. As Maggie tries to find out who murdered Robert and begins to uncover the truth about his terrible fate, Robert’s own story is...[read on]
Visit Carole Johnstone's website.

Q&A with Carole Johnstone.

--Marshal Zeringue