Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little about the story.
I’ll do my best! Mary’s the Name is a story about a wee girl named Mary, and her Granpa, Arthur. Mary’s parents died when she was very young, and Granpa has raised her on his own. After he gets caught up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, Granpa takes Mary away to Skye for the summer. While Mary makes friends and explores the village of Portree, she realises Granpa has stolen money from some dangerous people, and they’re coming to get it back.
It's a great title and I'm curious; when did you come up with the name, Mary, and was the name important to you?
My late gran’s name was Mary, as well as being my mum’s middle name. So it’s a family name really! I knew I wanted a traditional name for the character, but also memorable. Mary’s are a bit rarer these days so it seemed like a good fit!
On the same theme, was this always the title or was there a working title?
There were a few actually, but the main one (which was used when I submitted to Cranachan) was ‘The Portree Kid’. This was based on the Corries song of the same name. I liked it, but you’ve no idea how many people thought I was saying ‘poetry kid’.
I was lucky enough to hear you read on the day you were presented with your first copy of the physical book and I'd love to know how you felt when you first held the book in your hands.
It was a great feeling obviously, but it wasn’t the emotional moment I thought it might be. I had already seen the covers, as well as a PDF of the inside. Also, all my friends were staring at me, which made me feel pretty awkward! Reading from the physical copy was amazing. It makes such a difference from reading from loose sheets of A4. I felt like a proper writer!
I love the cover, and I'd certainly pick it up in a bookstore. Did you have any input into the final design?
Myself and Cranachan consulted over many different options. The final cover was the third effort, but I’ll admit, I didn’t have anything to do with that one! Anne sent it to me for my feedback, and my feedback went something like: it’s perfect, don’t change a thing.
I seem to recall you mentioned you were a drama student. If the book was to be dramatised and made into a film or TV series, who would you like to play the main parts?
I was in the drama society at the University of Stirling for a year while I did my Masters. If that ever happened, I’d actually love for unknown actors to be cast! For Mary that might be a necessity, as I can’t think of any eight-year-old Scottish actresses off the top of my head.
Are you currently working on something new? If so, please tell us about it.
It’s in the very early stages, but I hope to write my next novel set in my hometown of Stirling, particularly around the Bannockburn area. It’ll likely be about a couple of schoolboys getting involved in a police investigation when they pull a sickie!
I've downloaded my copy of Mary's the Name. Let me know if you do the same.
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.