Born just outside London, I grew up in Northern England. The stories started as soon as I could write. I read English Literature at the University of Birmingham and became a creative copywriter, winning over 20 national and international creative awards. I wrote Black Snow Falling in the margins of the day for over a decade, while working full-time and raising my daughter alone. Along the way, I started writing two other novels but always returned to this multi-layered magical realism story. It was published in 2018, when I married once again, and moved to the Scottish Borders in 2019. Since the launch at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, I’ve spoken regularly at festivals and schools. I’m available through the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature programme.

Black Snow Falling was nominated for the prestigious 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal, Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award and the Historical Association’s Young Quills Award. Scottish Book Trust Book of the Month December 2018. Prior to publication, the manuscript attracted Creative Scotland funding, and it was long-listed for The Times Children’s Fiction Prize.

Today, I’m a creative practice PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow, working on my debut novel for adults and a critical reflection (supervision by Professor Heather Walton and novelist Dr Carolyn-Jess Cooke). The medieval literary fiction novel is set when the Gaelic Lords of the Isles fall from power at the time of James III, against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses – Macbeth meets Romeo & Juliet.

Author L.J. MacWhirter at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Author L.J. MacWhirter at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

The story behind Black Snow Falling

In Tudor England, Ruth is the spirited daughter of a bereaved merchant. When she is betrayed, it doesn’t just break her heart but splits apart time itself, where sinister creatures are stealing dreams and rampaging through the years.

Black Snow Falling is about Ruth’s struggle to find agency. Stories which use myth and go beyond reality can help meet that need in us to explain how things can go so wrong, to articulate unspeakable things.

The novel (for young adults and up) draws on my fascination with psychology, the inner workings of minds and mechanical machines, and how people can be controlled by culture. As a child, my engineer father introduced me to science and the industrial revolution museums around Manchester. On a trip to Florence many years later, a 500 year-old moving Armillary Sphere made a deep impression on me. The Medicis had commissioned this in the 1500s, and it embodied the long-held belief that the earth was at the centre of the heavens. Early science, in opposition to this prevailing belief, was cast as heresy. It became a motif for Black Snow Falling.

Medici Armillary Sphere
The 16th century Medici Armillary Sphere in Florence’s Science Museum which inspired Black Snow Falling