Gwen Hardie, who writes under the name Elizabath Burton, has just released Kismet and Karma, the second of three novels about Isobel Caldwell, a woman who has the gift of foresight.
Set in 1965, it follows Isobel’s fortunes as the tenant crofter of the Black Glen, a remote croft in the Scottish Highlands. The story is loosely based on fact, and explores the role that fate plays in our lives.
“I’m very interested in the idea that fate can guide you, and in the idea that our lives are predetermined,” Gwen, whose family have been in Earlston for five generations, told The Berwickshire. And fate has played an important role in Gwen’s own career. “People often ask me how I got started. I had been writing historical pamphlets about Thomas of Ercildoune (The Rhymer), and I was asked if would consider putting together a book.”
When it came to finding a publisher, fate also played a helping hand. The publisher of a text that Gwen used as part of her research asked her if she had a publisher of her own lined up, and offered to take the book on.
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Gwen’s second book, The Black Glen, was very different, “but I would never have thought that I could write a novel if it hadn’t been for the Thomas the Rhymer book.”
Llanerch press have also published Gwen’s novels, despite the fact that their subject matter is a departure from the firm’s usual remit.
Grandmother Gwen, who also runs Earlston’s Harbur Guest House, is already working on the trilogy’s third book, but is unsure about the direction it will take, or whether it will, indeed, be the final instalment. “It depends on where the book wants to go,” Gwen says. And understandably, Gwen is happy to continue to let fate play its part.
Kismet and Karma is available now from Abbotsford Visitor Centre, Milestone Garden Centre, From Me To You in Jedburgh and Masons of Melrose, as well as direct from the publisher, Llanerch Press.