Dane Love on local research and writing

Dane Love is a man with a passion, a passion for old maps and the stories behind some of their markings and for sharing those stories through his writing. To date he has written 30 books on aspects of Scotland and in particular on Ayrshire, its legends, its history and its people.

We sat enthralled as he told us his story of how he became a writer, beginning as a small boy in primary school when he wrote an adventure story about a young lad exploring the island of Gigha. The fact that he had never been there himself was no hindrance to his story-telling.

Fascinated by maps and the information therein, as a teenager he listed all the mountains in Britain over 2000 feet. Despite nibbles from publishers, it was one of his few manuscripts which has never been published. His first book ‘Scottish Graveyards’ was published in 1989 and since then he
has never looked back.

He is a man of many talents, designing and building his own house complete with turret (from his love of castles) in which he has his study, lined with curved bookshelves containing just some of his vast collection of books. His skills also run to beautiful line drawings which he uses to illustrate some of his books, and a curiosity to follow up snippets of information gleaned from his researches. This has led him down unexpected paths, so much so, that it is not unusual for him to be writing two or three books at the same time depending on where his interests take him.

He let slip some nuggets of information about himself in the course of his talk; he has never had a passport and counts going to England or even Wales as a holiday as he has no interest in researching anything he finds there – unless of course it has a Scottish connection. Although a prolific writer and now a publisher too, he still has to retain a very demanding day job as earnings for even a successful writer as himself cannot support a family and mortgage. A sad commentary on the situation of authors nowadays.

We could have listened to him for far longer as he only touched on a few of the topics about which he is extremely knowledgeable. Back home, I looked out one of his books in my bookshelf and began rereading it, much better informed about its author and even more impressed by his research, his ability to make the topics fascinating and the quiet modesty with which he discusses his success.

Ann Burnett

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