Liz MacRae Shaw was brought up in the south of England but spent every summer with her grandparents on the Isle of Skye where she was inspired by the starkly beautiful landscape, family stories and Highland culture. She studied History at Oxford University where she discovered that the Celtic nations of the United Kingdom barely featured in the narrative of British history. Afterwards she worked as a lecturer and later as a psychotherapist. She feels very fortunate to have returned to her roots and now lives on the Isle of Skye where she pursues her career as a writer. She is currently working on two projects: a novel set during the Second World War which travels from Skye to Bletchley Park and the Mediterranean convoys and a children’s book set at the time of the First World War.
Love and Music Will Endure, published 2013 by The Islands Book Trust.
No Safe Anchorage, published 2017 by John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
Synopses of books
Love and Music Will Endure
Love and Music Will Endure is a historical novel based on the life of Mary Macpherson, the Skye bard and political campaigner. She was a driving force in the Land League which fought for the Highlanders who were being driven from their homes in the later 19th century. Nicknamed ‘Big Mary of the Songs,’ she was big in stature and spirit. A crofter’s daughter and native Gaelic speaker she moved to Inverness for work. In middle age she found herself falsely accused of stealing and appeared in a court whose proceedings she couldn’t understand. She unleashed her rage and despair into poetry about the plight of her fellow countrymen. Through force of character she overcame the barriers of background, class and gender to become the champion and inspiration of the dispossessed. Finally, she returned to Skye and when the Land Wars were over she had to face up to the failures of the campaign for crofters’ rights and the disillusionment of the returning exile. Her songs about her homeland are still very much in the musical repertoire.
The title of the book comes from a Gaelic proverb which translates as, ‘When the world comes to an end, only love and music will endure’, a sentiment which reflects her life.
No Safe Anchorage
This novel begins on the remote island of Rona, off the Isle of Skye where a widow keeps an oil lamp in her window to help seafarers navigate safely. Her story intersects with that of Henry Otter, the captain of a Hebridean survey ship, the young Robert Louis Stevenson and Tom Masters, an officer on Otter’s ship. Tom is a square peg in a round hole, unhappy in his profession and further unsettled by the death of his friend. At the funeral a tantalising glimpse of a stranger leads him to jump ship and follow her. His subsequent adventures take him to Canada where he meets other outsiders and creates a new life for himself. But danger and exposure threaten him again and he must go on his travels again in the search for a safe anchorage.
Literary Festival Appearances
Skye Book Festival, 2014 and 2017; NessBookFest, 2017; Penzance Literary Festival Fringe, 2018; Tarbert Book Festival, October 2018.
Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers
Liz MacRae Shaw is a confident and engaging speaker, experienced in taking part in both individual and panel discussions. She can talk about writing in general, but especially the challenges of writing historical fiction. She has a particular interest in Highland history and culture, the Scottish diaspora and the work of Robert Louis Stevenson – all topics which inspire interest on both sides of the Atlantic. Her writing has a strong sense of place and period, based on solid research while the themes she explores range from adventure and exile to love lost and found and have a universal currency.
Contact email: lizmac[raesha]email@example.com (remove brackets before emailing)
Contact telephone: + 44(0)1478 611907