The Chessmen author Peter May on Island Tour

Author of the Lewis-based trilogy - The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man, and The Chessmen - Peter May anticipates his return to the Western Isles with an island-wide tour this month.
Author of the Lewis-based trilogy - The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man, and The Chessmen - Peter May anticipates his return to the Western Isles with an island-wide tour this month.

ALTHOUGH it’s been an emotional farewell for author Peter May, fans of his Lewis based thriller trilogy are set to be delighted as protagonist Fin Macleod returns in the final instalment – The Chessmen.

Following from ‘The Blackhouse’ and ‘The Lewis Man’, book number three’s release (today, January 10th), also sees a return for writer Peter as he gets set to embark on an island tour next week.

“When we came up to Stornoway with The Lewis Man last January I was absolutely gob-smacked by the turnout, it was standing room only and fantastic to have that response,” said Peter.

“My London publisher was just blown away by the Stornoway turn-out, so this time they were fighting over who was coming on tour with me,” he laughed, adding: “But there was such demand for us to go elsewhere last year that this time we’re going to.

“I feel I really owe it to the folk of the islands – the response to the books from the islands has been so positive and hugely supportive and that reaction really was the biggest thing for me.”

Peter finished writing ‘The Chessmen’ just over a year ago, and admits that ending the trilogy and bidding farewell to his lead character was an emotional experience.

He said: “If the reader gets attached to the characters I think the writers do even more so.

“When you know you’re saying goodbye to characters it’s almost something akin to a bereavement. In spending time thinking and writing about the characters they become link friends and family, and I’ll admit I actually wept at the end of The Chessmen.”

It maybe his last adventure, but protagonist Fin Macleod is once again uncovering unsavoury island pasts!

Now employed as head of security on a privately owned Lewis estate, the former detective is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island.

This mission reunites him with local poacher Whistler Macaskill, Fin’s teenage intimate and possessor of a long-buried secret.

But when this reunion takes a violent, sinister turn and Fin puts together the fractured pieces of the past, he realises that revealing the truth could destroy the future.

Fin maybe on the brink of ending the Western Isles’ future, but creator Peter must be applauded for bringing the small north-west Scottish island chain to international attention through his trilogy – and that won’t stop with The Chessmen.

Whilst in Lewis, Peter and his publisher will be meeting with island-based photographer David Wilson to select images for a new photo-book which all involve hope will bring a flood of tourists to the Western Isles.

Peter expanded: “Over the years I’ve been swamped by emails from people all over the world who have read the books and are now all wanting to visit the islands and see the locations I’ve written about.

“The new book – which we hope will be published in the autumn – will contain about 200 of David’s photos along with small bits that I’ll write, so hopefully that will entice more people to come up.”

And although tight-lipped about his next fiction novel, Peter did reveal that it’s once again set in the Western Isles as he hinted: “It’s quite different from the trilogy and deals with a very emotive and historical subject that’s Scottish in essence, but also deeply resonate to the islands, so I’ve used that setting for the story.

“I’ve been researching 19th century Hebridean life and my research has also taken my to Quebec which was an amazing experience. I’m really pleased with how this one is shaping up.”

Peter May’s The Chessmen island tour begins in Taigh Chearsabhagh museum and arts centre, Lochmaddy, North Uist, on Saturday, January 19th, at 2pm, before moving to the Lochboisdale Hotel, South Uist, on Monday 21st at 7pm; Tarbert Community Library, Sir E Scott School, Harris on Tuesday 22nd, 7pm; the Woodlands Centre, Stornoway, on Wednesday 23rd, at 7.30pm; and finishing up on in at Ness Historical Society, Cross School, North Dell on Thursday, January 24th at 7.30pm.