SCOTLAND seems to be a hot tourist spot for writers on vacation this summer, and I am kind of stunned and flattered at the luminaries who have purposefully put “Connect with E Wein” on their itineraries. Or maybe the word is leaking out that I am an excellent tour guide, having had previous experience as the “Infomistress” at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire over a quarter of a century ago (I wish I had paid more attention to the rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots that was the theme that summer).
ANYWAY, here’s who’s come to see me in the space of two months:
Kim Brubaker Bradley, Newbery Honor winning author of The War that Saved My Life was here at the end of May – her husband and son were golfing at Gleneagles, so I whisked Kim and her daughter Katie away for a single delightful morning to Stirling Castle. It was Kim’s desire to see the reconstruction of the Unicorn Tapestries that were made there and now hang there in the restored state rooms. We also had tea and cake in the Stirling Castle café. Much discussion of current projects occurred, and Katie was gracious in putting up with the Writers’ Craft stuff.
Then in June I had a much-anticipated and all too brief visit from Ellen Kushner - of Tremontaine & Riverside fame - and Delia Sherman, most recently the author of The Evil Wizard Smallbone, both of them old friends and mentors in many ways. Ellen and Delia, who had a bit more leisure time than Kim, got a proper afternoon cream tea at the Gloagburn Farm Shop and then a tour of Huntingtower Castle (both just outside Perth) - Sara came along for the authorly banter. And before they took the train back to Glasgow, they got served an actual evening meal by yours truly IN MY OWN HOUSE, something of a wonder, and in addition to catching a glimpse of the elusive Tim and Mark, they even got to meet my father-in-law! And they left a souvenir pencil from their 20th anniversary party, which I did not discover until this week. I very stupidly did not think to give them the Francis Crawford Tour of Perthshire (it was pouring), though we did whiz past John Buchan’s birthplace in the car.
In July, I spent most of a day with rising star (or maybe just plain old STAR) Emily Kate Johnston who’s probably most famous for her Star Wars young adult novel Ahsoka but is most recently the author of That Inevitable Victorian Thing and writes something ridiculous like 10,000 words a DAY. SHE got whisked away for lunch at the Winter Garden of the Crieff Hydro, then a tour of Drummond Castle Gardens (where they were selling small but perfectly formed fruit from the walled garden hothouse, including grapes off a vine that is certainly 100 years old), and then a trip to the wonderful Innerpeffray Library, c. 1680 and appearing in The Pearl Thief as “Inverfearnie,” which is currently my Favorite Place In Perthshire. Sara and Mark joined us for our final tour venue of the day, Elcho Castle. All this within 20 miles of home - we never left Perthshire.
And finally, last week I had dinner in Edinburgh with Steve Sheinkin and his family – partner Rachel and their two young children. Steve’s awards and honors for non-fiction are too numerous to mention here (his latest book is Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team) and I do kind of feel like I am in the presence of genius when I’m around him – modest, friendly, dedicated genius. We ate at a restaurant on the Royal Mile, walked up and down a ton of stairs and closes, and rode the Ferris Wheel in Prince’s Street Gardens. Rachel filmed us as Steve interviewed me for his occasional “Walking and Talking” feature on School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 Production blog. Ok, that was really hard work because I was JUST SO SELF-CONSCIOUS and in awe of Steve and his many talents and also I was trying to do my Edinburgh Tour Guide thing AND not be boring to the kids. I hope he pulls it off because I reckon that being made into a comic is true immortality.
A feature of these visits was the children in attendance – plus or minus theirs or mine. Coincidentally, none of the Author Children ever managed to meet each other. Everyone will have to come back.