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  • Writer's pictureJessica M. Simpkiss

What do you mean you're not Scottish?

Wendy Moore asked Jessica M. Simpkiss: I was shocked to find out after reading your book that you are American. Your descriptions of the landscapes and understanding of the dialect blew me away. How were you able to do this so well not being from the culture?

Jessica M. Simpkiss That's a great endorsement for how well I pulled of pretending to be Scottish !!! Thanks for the great question.

I watch a lot of BBC and British programs! No, really, I do.

The descriptions came from seeing my settings in real life. While I visited the Isle of Lewis, the main backdrop for The Spaewife’s Secret, I took notes instead of trying to write what I thought would turn into pages for the book. I noted the way the wind blew through valleys, what it sounded like, what it felt like, how the water rippled, how the grass swayed, the smell of the grasses, the dirt. When I was home and ready to get back to work, I used my detailed notes to set the scene.

The dialect was a little trickier. The Isle of Lewis is very remote and desolate, thus I did not talk to many locals while visiting, because we hardly ever saw anyone else. But we did talk to some and when we did, I took mental notes of the draw and cantor of their voice, specific words they used, sentence structure and length. This, couples, with lots of Scottish and British television helped me to develop a better understand of the dialect and get it down on paper.

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