Emma’s local inspiration

Emma Healey's first book was inspired by her grandmother from Creetown
Emma Healey's first book was inspired by her grandmother from Creetown

There was quite a stir in the world of literature recently after a young writer’s debut novel, ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ prompted a bidding war between publishers.

this led to rave review in the national broadsheets and beyond after it went on sale last week.

Author Emma Healey’s main inspiration for her crime novel was her paternal grandmother who lived in Creetown and her desire to come to Wigtown’s September Book Festival connects Emma back to her solicitor grandfather Irvine McDavid, who was the town clerk there in the 1950s.

Twenty-eight year old Emma told The Galloway Gazette: “My dad was born in Creetown, where three generations of his family ran a tailoring and kiltmaking business. His father was a solicitor in Newton Stewart and town clerk of Wigtown from 1948 until his early death in 1962.

“My grandmother, Nancy, who provided the inspiration for the book, grew up in Castle Douglas.

“Nancy gave me the initial inspiration for the book when she was in the car with my father and me one day.

She was showing the first signs of multi-infarct dementia – forgetting things that had just happened and finding herself in a muddle – and she was worrying aloud about a friend. Flora was missing, she said.

“She had tried phoning her, but had got no answer. It didn’t take very long to discover the solution as Nancy still had a lot of friends at the time and we soon got hold of someone who knew where Flora was.

“So that was the end of the mystery, but the episode brought her situation into sharper focus for me, and as her dementia got worse I began to wonder what that was like from the inside.

“Fiction seemed like a good way of exploring some of the questions I had.”

Emma is very keen to add Wigtown, with all its personal connections, to her itinerary in the near future.

She added: “I’d really love to be a part of the Wigtown Book Festival and I hope very much to be invited to participate.”

Festival Manager Anne Barclay confirmed an invitation had already been sent to Emma.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is published by Viking Penguin priced £12.99.

This stunning debut novel introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon’s Christopher, Maud,

Read the full story on the novel at www.gallowaygazette.com