Five questions: Margaret Elphinstone

This article is from 2009

Five questions: Margaret Elphinstone

The ancient history of Scotland is a subject which fascinates Margaret Elphinstone and provides the basis for her fiction. Here, she dips into our Q&A

Give us five words to describe The Gathering Night?
Our hunter-gatherer past in Scotland.

Which author should be more famous than they are now?
Harry Thompson’s novel This Thing of Darkness is the best 21st century historical novel I have read.

What do you love about book festivals?
Relaxing in the café when one’s own event is over, the adrenalin subsides, and one can just enjoy what everyone else is saying and doing and writing.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive?
Pytheas the Greek. I would like him to tell me what was in his lost manuscript About the Ocean. What were the Celts really like in 320BC? And did he get to Iceland? Or was it Norway? Who gave him the sailing directions? And was he upset by the bad reviews when no one back in Massilia would believe a word he said?

What would you change about the publishing world?
I would make it possible for small, independent, local publishers to produce fascinating, maverick, experimental, subversive lists of old and new authors, irrespective of mass-market economic demands, global anxieties, huge prizes for the few and mind-numbing conformity.

28 Aug (with Janet Paisley), 8.30pm, £9 (£7).

Margaret Elphinstone & Janet Paisley

FINE FICTION Ancient Scotland is the backdrop for masterful historic novels by two of our finest writers. Margaret Elphinstone's The Gathering Night is a story of conflict, loss, love, adventure and devastating natural disaster; it may be set in our Stone Age past but it resonates as a parable of our troubled planet…

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