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A Highlander and his Books

A Chat with Duncan A. Bruce
Author of
The Great Scot
By Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta, GA, USA

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 did?

A:  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)

Return to August/September 2004 Index Page  |  Visit Frank Shaw's Page


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