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What’s Greenock Famous For?

Posted on 26/05/2016 in Author Interviews Guest posts

There’s something in the Greenock water! With three wonderful authors from this West Coast town, we decided to ask them what makes Greenock famous and how it influences their writing. Here’s what they had to say…

David MacPhail:
MacPhailThorfinn1AwfulInvasion-3dNot many people know this, but Greenock had its very own Bastille Day, which took place during the so-called ‘Radical Rising’ back in 1820. The townspeople attacked the militia, stormed the town jail and freed all the radicals who were being held there. The militia opened fire, killing many. There’s long been a vein of subversiveness in Greenock, and it shows in the sense of humour. I like children’s books to be subversive too, and I don’t mean just poking fun at pompous adults. In a world full of rude and nasty Vikings a nice and polite wee boy like Thorfinn is subversive!

Paul Bristow:
BristowSuperpowerProject-3dGreenock is probably most famous for ships, steam and sugar. I grew up as Greenock was moving away from heavy industry into a period of regeneration, and that changing landscape and how it impacts on place, memory and history has been hugely influential on my writing. In The Superpower Project, the main characters Megan and Cam are exploring old buildings and forgotten spaces to try and solve a mystery, but they are also rediscovering their home town. I’ve always enjoyed the idea that everyday places can be mysterious and magical. The Superpower Project also features a robot built by Greenock’s most famous son, James Watt – inventor of the steam engine. I really like how throughout his life, Watt tinkered with and rebuilt all sorts of things – from musical instruments through to telescopes. It just seemed to me that he might have had a go at building a robot too!

MacPhailDevilYouKnow-3dCathy MacPhail:
Greenock breathes through my stories, even if I don’t mention the town by name, it’s always there. The Gourock Ropeworks, our wonderful cemetery, graffiti on the walls as the train pulls into Greenock station – they’ve all made it into my books. Those foggy steps in Another Me? You can still walk up them… if you dare. Stories of real people, gangs and crime in Greenock have inspired my writing too and I got the idea for Devil You Know when wondering what would happen if a group of decent boys got on the wrong side. I suppose it is Greenock itself that fires the dark and brooding part of my imagination.


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