Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Jesse Blackadder Book Launch

Jesse Blackadder, author of the Scottish epic The Raven’s Heart was heralded into Shearer’s Bookshop by two wailing bagpipes whom were heartily cheered by friends and family in one of the most memorable launches Shearer’s has experienced.

Bernie Hobbs, journalist and judge on the science programme The New Inventors, launched into the evening by excitedly describing her friend’s book as a “bodice-ripping epic” and later confirmed (to rapturous applause) that the “girl-on-girl” action received a big tick. 

She then asked the question which was on everyone’s lips – “Are you related to Rowan Atkinson?”
Apparently Jesse and Rowan are not related, but the connection is not completely tenuous.  There was indeed an Edmond Blackadder to whom Jesse found she was related.  A road trip instigated by a random opening of the street directory took her and her cousin to the front gate of what was the site of Blackadder Castle. 
A trip Jesse described as “A great moment of fate” that unearthed the history of the Blackadder’s misfortunes and of Alison Blackadder, who would become the heroine of The Raven’s Heart.

“The story finds you” said Jesse, who then regaled us with the incredible tale of bravery, savagery and treachery that befell the Blackadders and intertwined their fate with that of the charismatic Mary, Queen of Scots.  She had us on tenterhooks.

As every plot development that occurs in The Raven’s Heart actually took place in history, the process of writing was an incredibly complex, six year journey.  However the editing process was very short and publication of the book took place not even 12 months after Harper Collins optioned it. Sue Brockhoff, Head of Fiction at Harper Collins, quoted her colleague Jo Butler in describing the book as “a breathtaking epic from a remarkable literary talent”.  The Raven’s Heart was the recipient of the Harpercollins/Varuna Award for Manuscript Development and has been published under the Fourth Estate imprint, which includes authors such as Geraldine Brooks and Hilary Mantel.

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