Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Michael Phillips shares his connection to Scotland

Angel Harp is the story of a widow who travels to Scotland to pursue her dreams. Last week author Michael Phillips spoke about the inspiration behind the story. Today, I asked him about his special connection to Scotland.

You have written many books that take place in Scotland. What is your special connection to that country?

The answer is a simple one and only takes two words: George MacDonald.

Many of my readers know all about MacDonald. In fact many of my readers discover my books because they have first been reading George MacDonald. Anyone who is interested in learning more about MacDonald and his books can find out everything on our website.

Briefly, for those unfamiliar with the name…George MacDonald was a 19th century Scottish Victorian writer. It was MacDonald’s books that began C.S. Lewis’s spiritual pilgrimage out of atheism and into Christianity. All his life, Lewis considered MacDonald his spiritual mentor, and even went so far as to call MacDonald his “master.”

However, in the 20th century MacDonald’s books went out of print and became more and more difficult to find. After Judy and I discovered the writings of George MacDonald in the 1970s, it became my passion to do what I could to bring his books back into print, and to inform the public about the spiritual connections between C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald.

To accomplish this, I edited a number of MacDonald’s longer novels that had originally been written in heavy Scottish dialect. These were published in the 1980s and 1990s by Bethany House Publishers. We also published full length originals of MacDonald’s works through our own publishing company, Sunrise Books. And I wrote a biography of MacDonald called George MacDonald, Scotland’s Beloved Storyteller.

That is in brief our connection with George MacDonald. It was because of him, and inspired by his writings, that I began writing novels of my own. My first books were all set in Scotland because, through MacDonald, that was a setting and kind of writing I was familiar with and loved.

When we closed our Christian bookstore several years ago after 35 years, we decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and purchase a small home in Scotland, in the heart of George MacDonald country. It is about twenty miles from MacDonald’s birthplace, and in the same village where MacDonald wrote and set what is my favorite of all his novels, Malcolm. When I am there, I feel the ambiance of MacDonald’s influence, and I feel very creatively stimulated.

Except, of course, when I get writer’s block!

Want more information about Angel Harp? This is the summary from Amazon:

Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland. His latest release, Angel Harp releases January 26 from Faithwords. You can reach him at his website

It's giveaway time!

Faithwords has offered to give away a copy of Angel Harp to one lucky reader. The contest is open to residents in the US and Canada. To enter, leave a comment for Michael with your email address. The winner will be chosen February 3.

To earn bonus entries, read and respond the other installments of Michael's interview. Click here if you missed part one.


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