The inspiration behind A Hunter’s Moon

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology. Since moving to Edinburgh some years ago, I’ve been immersing myself in local legends and occasionally, I find something that feels suitable for adaptation. Of course, if you’re writing a piece of fiction, there has to be a lot more than that, otherwise I’ll end up with something more suited to an encyclopaedia of the supernatural. I need to find a fresh approach to it.  So for instance, my recent novel Inchtinn incorporated the myth of the selkie. But it’s only a relatively small part of the book and since this particular myth has been appropriated by so many other writers before me, I knew it was important to find a fresh way of looking at it. I think I managed that successfully.

The idea of a demon dog has interested me ever since childhood. I read The Hound of the Baskervilles at school and it’s always remained my favourite Sherlock Holmes story. So when I stumbled across the myth of the cù sith – the supernatural hound said to be the servant of the trows (faeries), I was immediately hooked. I envisaged lots of dark, woodland settings, red eyes glowing in the undergrowth, the awful feeling of being hunted by something sleek and powerful. In short, a tale of terror.

I immediately discarded the idea of a contemporary setting. I wanted instead to go to a place (the Scottish Highlands) and a time (the 1700s) when pagan beliefs still held sway and where the weapons available to take on supernatural forces would be primitive  to say the least. 

I decided that my protagonist would be a young boy – I named him Callum – and because I wanted readers to be on his side from the get-go, I made him the servant of Fraser, a totally unlikable ex-military man, who prides himself on being a fearless hunter . He only employs Callum because he’s won the boy’s services from his father in a game of cards. Of course, I also needed a strong female character, and that’s Mhairi, the inn-keeper’s daughter. She has a very mysterious background and a strong belief in the Walkers in the Woods – a local term for the faerie folk. But, put aside any thoughts of charming, winged creatures dancing around in the moonlight! The Walkers are an unseen force, who haunt the shadows, and do not take kindly to any human who dares to venture onto their sacred ground. Mhairi believes she is their child – and woe betide anyone who tries to tell her differently.
Did I mention that A Hunter’s Moon is scary? This is a myth that has elements of horror, so I’ve done my best to chill my readers to the core. I hope they enjoy the ride.

A Hunters Moon is published by UCLan publishing, and is suitable for readers aged 12+

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