A retired local high school teacher has had his first novel published, based on a fascinating true story which focuses on guns in the USA.
Former Lasswade and Dalkeith High School English teacher, Douglas Brunton, hopes the topical subject matter of Mrs Winchester’s Gun Club will attract interest.
His debut novel is a work of literary fiction set in San Jose, California, at the turn of the 20th century. It tells how Sarah Winchester is gripped with guilt. Left a fortune by her husband’s invention of the Winchester rifle, she is haunted by those it has slain, and by her own complicity in their deaths. In an effort to ease her conscience, she begins the construction of Winchester House, a maze of rooms meant to house the dead. The novel handles themes of grief, responsibility, atonement and ultimately forgiveness.
Douglas said: “My two youngest daughters told me about this mystery house in California. The Winchester was the famous rifle you see in cowboy movies.
“So Sarah had this incredible guilt for all the people the gun killed. She had this colossal fortune from marrying into the family. So she just continued to build on to this building. It’s massive, with 200 rooms and 10,000 windows.
“This was too good a story just to leave. So I wrote a book about it a while ago but threw it in a drawer. Then about three years ago I sent it out and it was accepted by an agent. The agent found a publisher and now it’s been published.
“It’s a compassionate book about forgiveness. But hopefully it also makes you think about guns and what’s going on in the world at the moment, particularly in America.”
Douglas has been writing for 30 years. He is widely published in short story anthologies and has won prizes for his writing within the last decade, including the Neil Gunn Prize and the William Soutar Prize. He is published in literary magazines including Northwords Now, Interpreter’s House, Transmission and Bare Fiction Magazine. He is now excited about his first published full novel.
He said: “I am hoping the book attracts some attention. The Winchester Mystery House are interested.
“My agent now has my second book in his hands so I’m hoping this debut novel is a step for me into regular publishing. I retired last year so I could have time to do this.
“I have released a children’s novel and short stories, but this is my first adult novel. I have written about 13 novels which just kind of sit in the bottom of a drawer. For the last 10 years or so I have been writing short stories and winning competitions and they have been appearing in magazines and things.
“I have had lots of support. There are various clubs and writing groups I have been in, so I would like to thank them.”