The House With 46 Chimneys: Excerpt Two

Author's Note

This book is a work of fiction and should be read as such. All characters are fictional and, except as noted below, any resemblances to real people, either living or dead, are purely coincidental.

Likewise, the events that are described in this book are the products of the author’s imagination.

The only real people mentioned in this book are the 19th Century Earls of Dunmore, the Murray family. They built Dunmore Park, and the Pineapple, and the village of Dunmore. Their murderous cousin, Edward Murray, is an invention.

Most of the places that appear in this book are real. These includes Dunmore Park, whose ruins can be seen on aerial photos to have 46 chimneys, as well as The Pineapple, Elphinstone Tower, the stable block, and the village of Dunmore.

Places visited incidentally are also real, including Tappoch Broch, Torwood Castle, Torwood Blue Pool, the Antonine Wall and Rough Castle. Not forgetting Sainsbury’s in Stirling, of course. Forthview House is an invention. Its site occupies part of what in the real world is a farmer’s field beside the River Forth. The design of the house is based on one whose build was featured on a TV programme and which is located on the other side of the River Forth quite some distance downstream.

The real locations are generally as they are described in this book. I say ‘generally’ because of the elephant in the room.

This is a book about people coping during the lockdown that was imposed in late March 2020 to contain and control the coronavirus pandemic. It depicts one family’s life in the early stages of lockdown, and it was written during the lockdown. The characters in the book break the lockdown rules frequently, in small ways and in larger ones. This proved necessary simply to make them interesting enough to write about and, I hope, to read about.

Their creator did a rather better job of obeying the rules. That meant I had to abandon my normal approach of visiting and photographing every inch of every real location I use in my novels. In describing places, I had to rely on photographs taken on earlier visits made for other purposes and memories of those visits, backed up by Google Earth and Street View. As a result, some details are inevitably not right.

During the editing of this book, after the initial lockdown was eased, I revisited the main locations used to see how accurately I had described them. I have, however, resisted the temptation to make any changes to my descriptions of them. To my mind there’s a fitting sense of circularity in writing a book about the strange world we found ourselves in during lockdown that has itself been entirely constrained by that same strange world.

Moving on, I want to thank my wonderful wife Maureen, whose company made lockdown bearable and whose comments and advice as this book evolved from the germ of an idea to a finished story have been hugely helpful.

I would also like to thank my grandson, Alistair who, as noted in the dedication, helped me write this book. The comments and suggestions he made via text exchanges helped me see the lockdown through the eyes of a 10-year-old. He also helped keep me grounded – unlike four of the characters – firmly in the right century. The character of Kaleb is inspired by Alistair.