LISTEN: Linda Cracknell dives deep into the inner workings behind ‘The Other Side of Stone’
Linda Cracknell’s new book, ‘The Other Side of Stone’, explores the lives lived within the walls of a textile mill set in the heart of Highland Perthshire.
Starting from the early days, following alongside the industries boom before the bust, her story reveals the experiences of various fictional characters from the industrial revolution and onto the modern day.
Through them, her characters tackle social issues such as, women’s suffrage, industrial decline, Highland Perthshire’s place in the world and more.
Linda Cracknell said: “There’s a very strong thread in it, it’s a textile mill, it’s been making tweed and woollen fabrics during that whole period; until the demise of the woollen industry in nineteen-ninety.
“But the story of Katherine is, she’s a young woman and she’s come from Paisley with her new-ish husband.
“And they met through union activity, they were very much involved in the Red Clyde’s Side movement.
“She was working in a cotton mill where there was a big industrial action that was won by the mill girls.
“Essentially they came out in force and they created change when quite often what happened in textile mills was that suddenly six machines were being overseen by one person rather than five. And so, they resisted that, and managed to get better pay.
“So, she’s become politicised and she’s very passionate about women’s suffrage and she arrives in the Perthshire village where her husband has come from, and he’s a weaver and he’s got a job back in his home village.”
There she becomes ‘quite a frustrated suffragette’ in her husbands ‘small town’, becoming a theme throughout the book.
Later, a ‘young architect’ takes over the mill and converts it into flats, giving the old mill a new understanding of how it now relates to the world.
Linda Cracknell explained: “When I first started writing the book, that was really a central part of the story.
“Because I was really interested in a building that’s been created for work being used as a home and what kind of reverberations from the past might come up through it; and whether they’re positive or negative.
“I think buildings hold a lot of memory and a lot of history and so inevitably they have a feeling when they’ve been used for something in the past.”
Ultimately ‘The Other Side of Stone’ celebrates the legacy and memory of Highland Perthshire’s history, a lot of which can still be found today.
Fiction makes for an excellent medium says Linda Cracknell because, as she puts it, ‘because you can make it up.’
With some research behind her writing and some inspiration from ‘fragments of history’, ‘The Other Side of Stone’ reflects back a history written at the hands of local labour as that’s evolved over time.
Linda Cracknell added: “There’s a legacy there, and I think even where buildings have been there’s a legacy. And there has been a woollen industry in Perthshire, perhaps not quite so concentrated in Highland Perthshire.
“But I live in Aberfeldy and there’s a woollen mill here and it’s still working, which quite exceptional.”
For her, it’s this history which plays one part in how we unravel what marks Highland Perthshire distinctly out from the rest of Scotland.
Linda Cracknell concluded: “So I think it doesn’t take much digging before you find a past which, all over Britain, would have had a very strong textile tradition, which we’re removed from now since so many of our garments are manufactured elsewhere in the world.”
More information can be found on: https://www.lindacracknell.com/