Mary Smith – an update on a new book

Mary Smith was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in March 2016. She’s back now to tell us of a non-fiction book, on which she collaborated with photographer Allan Devlin, that’s just been published.

Castle Douglas Through Time
by Mary Smith and Allan Devlin
Published by Amberley Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, local history, photography

The market town of Castle Douglas, beside Carlingwark Loch in the southern Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway, is relatively new, though the area has been inhabited from prehistoric times and the Romans had a military base close by. In the fourteenth century, Archibald the Grim, the 3rd Earl of Douglas, built Threave Castle nearby.

The town came into being thanks to fertiliser found in the loch and wealth merchant William Douglas, who laid out the present town in 1792. Though his dream of creating a cotton industry failed, Castle Douglas became a flourishing market town. The opening of the rail line to Dumfries in 1859 improved the town’s connections.

Castle Douglas from Dunmuir Hill. The imposing spire of St George’s Free Church dominates the old picture of the town. Houses have been built along the old railway line and a green space, Burghfield Park, has been created.

Though the railway closed in 1965, the A75 trunk road ensured the town’s survival as a major stopping point for travellers. Today, it is a major tourist destination, with many visitors using it as a base for exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.

All these changes are recorded in this unique and fascinating series of new and old photographs, making this book essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Castle Douglas.

                                                                   Douglas Arms Hotel, King Street. The picture shows the many changes in transport over the years. The hotel was owned for 83 years by the Payne family who offered to send a bus to meet all trains. Charabanc outings to the countryside were popular.

 

 

Background to writing the text: Amberley Publishing approached me about four years ago to ask if I was interested in working on a book, Dumfries Through Time. Of course, I said yes. I teamed up with photographer Allan Devlin who is a stunning landscape photographer and together we began to search for the 90 old images needed. After it was published, Amberley asked if we’d be interested in another book and so we began to work on Castle Douglas Through Time. We both search for old images, Allan takes the photos of the places as they today and I do the research, write the introduction and captions for each pair of images. I loved doing the research but writing the captions is extremely frustrating as there is an 80-word limit. I find it almost impossible to tell the history of some of the images in 80 words!

Where to purchase copies:
The paperback edition of Castle Douglas Through Time is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon CA

Mary and Allan at the book’s launch party.
Photo credit: Keith Kirk

Mary Smith

Mary Smith - web ready Mary Smith

What is your latest release and what genre is it? No More Mulberries – I would class it as contemporary women’s fiction but classifications are a bit of a moveable feast. The only time I was accepted for a BookBub promotion they changed the genre to literary fiction!

Quick description: Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves working at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married. When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. An old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers as to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

No More Mulberries - web ready

Brief biography:
I was born on the island of Islay, Scotland, home of some of the best whisky in the world, but moved to the mainland to Dumfries & Galloway when I was seven. Finished school and had the longest gap year in history which lasted about 30 years while I travelled a bit in Europe, lived in England where I worked in a factory, was a child-minder, and went on to work for Oxfam UK before a chance holiday in Pakistan led to work there. This was followed, three years later by a job in Afghanistan. I returned to Scotland when my son was five and when he started school I finally went to university.

I had started selling articles while working abroad and have continued as a journalist – sometimes freelance, sometimes staff – ever since. Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women (a title which seriously curtails tweets) is a memoir from my time in Afghanistan. I worked on what became No More Mulberries while doing a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

Links to buy Mary’s book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Mary’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blogs:
a blog about caring for my father who had dementia: My Dad’s a Goldfish
Take Five Authors
Novel Authors at Work
Amazon.com author page
Amazon.UK author page

What are you working on now?
I should be working on a follow up to No More Mulberries but have been side-tracked by two other projects. One is turning my blog about my father’s dementia journey into a book and the other is a local history project on the town where I live.

Mary’s reading recommendation:
I’ve just finished reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. The title drew me because “She was completely beside herself” was one of my mother’s sayings.