We are delighted to announce that pre-orders are now available for Linda Cracknell’s fabulous novella, The Other Side of Stone, and can be placed through the Our Books section of our website.
Spanning three centuries in an intimate study of those connected to a Perthshire woollen mill, the novella follows characters such as 19th century stone mason and rural suffragette, with each story interwoven to create a haunting tale of Perthshire’s wool industry that explores the struggle for women’s rights, and the long-term impact of industrialisation on rural Scotland.
The Other Side of Stone began twenty years ago when Linda was awarded a bursary by the late Gavin Wallace of Creative Scotland, a close friend of my family whose essay in The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature first inspired the name of this press. Three years before the Creative Scotland bursary, Linda’s first short story, ‘Life Drawing’, had been published as the winner of the prestigious Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Award. The final judge of that prize was Ali Smith, however there was a screening process prior to that stage during which the best stories were chosen – the man with the responsibility of that job was my dad, Robert Alan Jamieson.
I was seven years old then. I have vague memories of Gavin and his son, also named Patrick, playing at our house in Perth – the ‘Soutar Hoose’, so named because of the poet who had once lived there – a couple of years before. Now, over twenty years later and with a son of my own, I’ve been fortunate enough to revisit and rediscover that childhood, not just through the process of working with Linda, but through the vivid world of Perthshire brought to life in the book itself. I wasn’t aware of the Macallan link when I first read the manuscript for The Other Side of Stone. It was later revealed to me as one of so many strange and meaningful crossovers in the short history of Taproot by my mum, Wilma, who gave me a collection of the Macallan winners as a gift. It was her favourite of the 1998 Macallan batch too, she’d said.
This crossover with Linda wasn’t the first of its kind; ever since we published ‘Plague Clothes’ last year I’ve seen names pop up in my inbox that I know from spines around the house, faces in profile pictures I vaguely remember from old photo albums. But it confirmed something that I’ve felt ever since starting the press with Dani: that for me this is a journey back in time as much as forward, a kind of personal archaeology. Every discovery reveals a little more about the literary history of Scotland that I inhabited as a child, but never affected, and – like any archaeological find – each tells me a little more about how best to move forward in the present. Taproot will always be an intensely personal venture, and – regardless of where the press goes or how it develops – it has already helped me connect to my past in a way I might not have ever done without it. Having the opportunity to publish books as wonderful as Linda’s, well, that’s a bonus.