with Duncan A. Bruce
The Great Scot
By Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta,
Q: You have previously written two very
successful non-fiction books, The Mark of the Scots
and The Scottish 100. What compelled you to go in a
different direction with this historical novel?
A: My eldest daughter, the
singer-songwriter Jenny Bruce, demanded that I write the story of
Robert Bruce. Jenny is persistent and is not easy to say “no” to.
Q: How long has this idea been on the
back burner for you? Why now and not earlier?
A: Jenny was after me to write this book
for years. When Mac Talley of St. Martin’s Press became interested a
few years ago, I had no more excuses and had to write it.
Q: Why did you decide to tell the story
through a fictional narrator like David Crawford? By the way, I hope
we have not heard the last of him, even though he was 84 years old
when he penned the last words of the book. There certainly are other
stories he could draw from during his lifetime.
A: Davie Crawford starts out as King
Robert’s page and moves himself up to a sort of special assistant.
Since he is so close to The Bruce, he can report on the king’s
private life. At the end of his Introduction he says, “I was with
King Robert in most of his important battles and shared many of his
private moments that have never been recorded previously.” He
couldn’t report on these moments if he was an historical person. I
don’t know if Davie has any more to say.
Q: While driving to Moultrie, GA several
years ago with you and your lovely wife, Tamara, for Beth Gay’s
Scottish Weekend at which you were the honored guest, I asked if
there was another book coming. You would not commit, but the brief
hesitation led me to believe there was something on the back burner.
Thus, we now have The Great Scot, your third book. I
asked you that question in the privacy of my car with three people
in it. Today I ask you before the 70,000+ subscribers of The
Family Tree, is there a fourth book for us to look forward
to? Many of us will hope so!
A: Frank, scout’s honor, there is no
other book planned. But I would like to write another someday.
Writing gets to be a habit.
Q: Once you said to me, “My first book
picked up several dozen rejections; my second was sold on one phone
call; for my third book, a publisher invited me to lunch!” Have
prospects of another book been even easier as to securing a
publisher in the Big Apple?
A: That depends on the reception given by
the public to The Great Scot.
Q: If I am correct, you began writing
after a long and illustrious career on Wall Street. What advice
would you give to someone, regardless of age, about writing his or
her first book? Go far it or hold off until later in life as you
I would say, “go for it” but if your background is
Scottish and Presbyterian as is mine, you will probably wait until
you have made some money in the “real” world!
Q: Duncan Bruce, I salute you as a writer
of Scottish history. You are to be congratulated for reminding the
Scottish community of the “marks” of their people, the best 100 of
them, and now for the exceptionally beautiful story of Robert the
Bruce, starring the fictional David Crawford. Is there a last word
from you for our readers?
A: Frank, I really appreciate you and
The Family Tree reviewing The Great Scot. I
worked hard on the book, and I hope everyone, not just Scots, likes
it as much as Jenny does! (6-29-04)