Portobello by the sea

People often ask me where I got the inspiration for my first book Sewing the Shadows Together. The idea was in my head for many years before I actually wrote it, but it was inspired by a place that is very dear to me, Portobello, which i have already mentioned several times on my blog already!

Portobello is the seaside suburb of Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth, with a wide sandy beach and a long promenade. This has always been a special place for me because my mother came from there and as a child I spent all my holidays at my grandparents’ house near the seafront.  I later became an English teacher at Portobello High School and when my sons were young I also spent many happy hours playing on the beach there.

It was at this time that the first seeds of an idea for my novel came to me. A tragedy which still hangs over the name Portobello took place when, in July 1983, a five-year-old  girl was abducted from the prom by the serial killer, Robert Black.

I wondered then how the family and friends of a murder victim could ever come to terms with such a terrible event and this formed the basis for my novel. I deliberately made the circumstances as different as possible, with a teenaged victim, a another decade and a completely different kind of murderer,  but I kept the setting of Portobello as a very important element in the book.

The book opens with the main character walking along Portobello prom, as I do every time I go back to Scotland and I miss it so much.  Living in Switzerland, about as far as it is possible to be from the ocean, I long for the sound and the smell of the sea, the far horizons and the wide open sky. This week I felt so homesick that I went to Lake Constance just so I could look over the water and imagine that I was back in Portobello.  It was nice but just not the same.

By | 2018-03-31T23:08:44+00:00 May 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

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  1. Joanne Baird May 31, 2017 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    And it’s beautifully sunny in Porty today Alison!

  2. Edward May 31, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Great feelings portrayed here.

  3. Linda Huber July 19, 2017 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    As you know, I see Lake Constance every day – it’s lovely, but you’re right, it’s not the same! I have the same feelings about the Isle of Arran, where I spent all my teenage summers. There’s something about the ocean…

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