Welcome to our alumni bookshelf, showcasing the work of just a few of our alumni authors! Find out more about the works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry our alumni have created. Have you written a book that you'd like to see included? Email us at alumni@abdn.ac.uk

Featured Author

Our first featured author is Professor Dame Sue Black, celebrated forensic anthropologist, anatomist and academic. Born in Inverness, she gained a BSc in Human Anatomy from the University of Aberdeen in 1982 and went on to complete her PhD here with a thesis on 'Identification from the Human Skeleton' in 1986. She is well known as a world expert in iden­­tifying victims of murder and natural disaster and led the UK response to war crimes investigations in Kosovo and worked in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. She has advised crime writers on killers’ techniques and has made numerous appearances on radio and television, including BBC Two's History Cold Case, BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific and even Desert Island Discs! She is also a fellow and President of the Royal Anthropological Institute and a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Biology as well as the lifetime professor of Anatomy for the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her bestselling book All That Remains: A Life In Death gathered a huge amount of praise upon its publication in 2018, winning the Saltire Book of the Year award and receiving plaudits throughout the press. The Guardian described it as an "utterly gripping account of her life and career as a professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology" and Rowan Williams, writing in the New Statesman called it "a model of how to write about the effect of human evil without losing either objectivity or sensitivity".

All That Remains

Sue Black confronts death every day. As a professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology, she focuses on mortal remains in her lab, at burial sites, at scenes of violence, murder and criminal dismemberment, and when investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident or natural disaster. In All That Remains she reveals the many faces of death she has come to know, using key cases to explore how forensic science has developed, and examining what her life and work has taught her. 

Part memoir, part science, part meditation on death, her book is compassionate, surprisingly funny, and it will make you think about death in a new light.

Buy All That Remains here.

Fiction

Jeremy Cowan - 'The Tin Soldiers'

Jeremy Cowan (MA Politics and International Relations, 1982) is the Editorial Director and Publisher of IoT Now magazine and Co-Founder in 2010 of WKM Ltd, its parent company based in the UK and with offices in Krakow, Cape Town and Mumbai. A widely experienced journalist and editor, he has been covering voice and data communications worldwide since 1994. In 1998 he founded Prestige Media Ltd (PML), publishers of the market-leading global telecoms business title, VanillaPlus, now in its 20th year of publication. 

The Tin Soldiers

Raphael Undu is 13 years old, a farmer’s son in Congo’s rebellious, mineral-rich east. When war scatters his family, he must protect his little sister, Keisha, and try to reunite them. He is a tough and resourceful boy, but ranged against him are rebels and a renegade army, vying for control of mineral wealth beyond imagination.

Buy The Tin Soldiers here.

James Findlay - 'An English Dystopia'

James Findlay graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in Medicine in 1959. James’s career as a surgeon led him to Canada, where he spent many happy years with his family. After further specialist training in England, James returned to Scotland and pursued a Consultant Practice. When the opportunity arose for James to take a sabbatical to work on specialist medical cases in Bihar, India, he rose to the challenge. Upon returning home, James took early retirement and finally had the time to write his debut novel.

An English Dystopia

A government in turmoil. An underground resistance. What happens when democracy falls - An English Dystopia. "That England that was wont to conquer others / Hath made a shameful conquest of itself."

Buy An English Dystopia here.

Annie Lamb - 'Weaving Words'

Annie Lamb, originally from Boston, Massachusetts, was until recently a bookseller in Huntly. To enliven quiet moments in the trade she invented several imaginary friends and wrote about them in the Marchbank series of murder mysteries, using the pen name Liz Laighton. As a member of Huntly Writers she has been churning out short stories for some years and is now helping the Hound Holmes in the production of a casebook to be published shortly.

Weaving Words

The Huntly Writers anthology Weaving Words was one of three runners-up for the 2014 Writers’ Circle Anthology Award run by Writing Magazine.

Weaving Words showcases poetry and prose from one of the largest writing groups in North-East Scotland. The collection contains pieces from both well-established and emerging local writers, including many who have had work appear in literary magazines or released their own publications.

At times moving, funny and surreal, Weaving Words features a range of voices travelling through many different forms and experiences, while remaining rooted in the languages and communities of Huntly and the North-East of Scotland.

Weaving Words is the Huntly Writers’ second collection, following on from Spirit of the Deveron, first released in 2008.

Buy Weaving Words and Annie Lamb's other works here.

William Nicol - 'En Canot and the Accidental Artist'

William Nicol went to university in his hometown of Aberdeen, graduating in 1990 with a degree in the Science of Agriculture before a spell of almost a decade working on the West Coast. Work took him south and he now lives in Hampshire with his wife and two children. He wrote his debut novel commuting on the train to and from London where he works.

Since leaving Scotland, he returns every year for a family holiday in the Highlands.

En Canot and the Accidental Artist

En Canot – an exquisite cubist painting looted by the Nazis, last seen at Hitler’s Degenerate Art Exhibition in 1937 and missing ever since, until it surfaces in Russia where a plan is hatched to smuggle the picture elsewhere. 

With a smattering of eccentric aristocrats, an overweight Chinese oligarch and  scheming Russian with a devious mind - what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, until Ranald Milngavie, a hapless Glaswegian artist stumbles into the scam and suddenly the best laid plans of mice and men... 

A cracking Scottish adventure, a rollicking good yarn!

Buy En Canot and the Accidental Artist here.

William Paul - 'Sleeping Dogs'

Born and brought up in the east of Scotland, William Paul (MA, 1976) is a former journalist who now earns a living in digital communications but reverts to old-fashioned reporting most weekends by covering rugby matches in both print and digital format.  He's been writing since an early age - somewhere in the attic is a picture of a fresh-faced youth with his first royalty cheque - and sees no reason to stop now. His ideas for books come at him from all angles and sometimes he finds it difficult to get all that stuff down on the page before it fades, morphs into something entirely different or simply vanishes from his unreliable memory. Wherever and however ideas end up - on the page or in the bin - they just keep coming.

Sleeping Dogs

David Fyfe is a dog lover with a wife and mistress to support and an ambition to retire early. His present lifestyle is complicated enough before past indiscretions come back to haunt him.

Once a gung-ho investigator of murderous criminals and violent crime, Fyfe has been taken off the frontlines and reassigned to the low-profile Fraud Squad — mistakes from years earlier conspired to condemn him to dull work that he doesn’t much enjoy.

His enforced distance from solving murders bothers him particularly at the moment, as a series of seemingly drug dealing–related murders in the city is all anyone can talk about.

When Chief Constable Sir Duncan Morrison asks him to look into the several hundred thousand dollars missing from the Catholic Church’s accounts, Fyfe expects the job to be little more than soothing the Archbishop’s worries — only to discover that things are considerably more complicated than they first appear. 

Sleeping Dogs is a fast-moving, wryly humorous, expertly plotted crime novel with an outrageous finale, and the first of four books featuring DCI David Fyfe.

Buy Sleeping Dogs here.

Penelope Wallace - 'We Do Not Kill Children'

Penelope Wallace (DPLP, 1987) has lived in St Andrews, Oxford, Aberdeen and Nottingham, and is old enough to remember black and white TV. She is a pedantic bibliophile, a sometime lawyer, a not-completely-orthodox Christian (and churchwarden), a wishy-washy socialist, a quiet feminist and a compulsive maker of lists.  She has practised law in England and Scotland, in the fields of employment, conveyancing, and marine insurance litigation (accident claims on oil rigs or fishing boats). For some reason, she invented a world where the buildings and manners are medieval, but the sexes are equal.  In 2012 Dorac Kingsbrother walked into this world, and made her tell his story. Her favourite authors include the obligatory Jane Austen, but also Robin Hobb, Agatha Christie, Nancy Mitford, George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Marilynne Robinson, JK Rowling and the Anglo-Catholic Victorian Charlotte M Yonge. She feeds occasional musings onto her blog.

We Do Not Kill Children

“We do not kill children; we do not commit rape; we do not take pleasure in torment.” Dorac Kingsbrother was one of the King’s Thirty in the kingdom of Marod. That was before he was found guilty of the murder of Lord Gahran’s three children. Though Gahran was a traitor, his children were innocent. The code of the King’s Thirty leaves no room for such a barbaric act, and for this heinous crime Dorac faces a life in exile. The shame of such a sentence is something that Dorac can’t brook, and so he sets off on a journey to the Old Stones, the place where those that seek death meet their end. Followed by Gormad, a child in search of adventure, Dorac is not alone on his final journey. But not everyone believes that Dorac is guilty. Gemara Kingsister, head of the Six, investigates the murder of Gahran’s children; though there is more at stake than the life of a lone warrior in this, the first of the Tales from Ragaris.

Buy We Do Not Kill Children here.

Olga Woitas - 'Miss Blaine's Prefect and The Golden Samovar'

Olga Wojtas (MA English, 1977) was born and brought up in Edinburgh where she attended James Gillespie's High School the model for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, which appears in Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She was encouraged to write by an inspirational English teacher there, Iona M. Cameron. Olga won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015 and has had more than 30 short stories published in magazines and anthologies.

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar

Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name.

Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a one-week mission in 19th-century Russia: to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained origins.

But, despite all her accomplishments and good intentions, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. As the body count rises, will she discover in time just who the real villain is?

Buy Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samova here.

Non-Fiction

Ned Bertz - 'Diaspora and Nation in the Indian Ocean'

Ned Bertz is associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. Ned was an exchange student to the University of Aberdeen from 1992-1993.

Diaspora and Nation in the Indian Ocean

The vibrant Swahili coast port city of Dar es Salaam—literally, the “Haven of Peace”—hosts a population reflecting a legacy of long relations with the Arabian Peninsula and a diaspora emanating in waves from the Indian subcontinent. By the 1960s, after decades of European imperial intrusions, Tanzanian nationalist forces had peacefully dismantled the last British colonial structures of racial segregation and put in place an official philosophy of nonracial nationalism. Yet today, more than five decades after independence, race is still a prominent and publicly contested subject in Dar es Salaam. What makes this issue so dizzyingly elusive—for government bureaucrats and ordinary people alike—is East Africa’s location on the Indian Ocean, a historic crossroads of diverse peoples possessing varied ideas about how to reconcile human difference, social belonging, and place of origin.

Buy Diaspora and Nation in the Indian Ocean: Transnational Histories of Race and Urban Space in Tanzania here.

Callum Christie - 'Goodbye Colonialism, Farewell Feudalism'

Callum Christie graduated from the University of Aberdeen in Political Economy in 1958. He then joined the Colonial Service and served for 5 years in Northern Rhodesia as a colonial district officer. His book is based on the letters he wrote during his first three years based in a very traditional kingdom called Barotseland. All proceeds go to a Zambian charity that helps needy children and young people in Zambia.

Goodbye Colonialism, Farewell Feudalism

Callum Christie has a fascinating story to tell about the last days of Barotseland, an African kingdom which was a British protectorate for over 70 years. The rulers of Barotseland, in the remote west of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), had little idea of the political tsunami that was about to engulf them. Elsewhere in the country a growing nationalist movement was soon to take power from the British Government and the white settlers, and consequently from the traditional rulers of Barotseland. Callum Christie, posted to Barotseland fresh from university in 1959 tells the story, and much besides, through his letters home to family and friends. This talk will be illustrated with a stunning series of images.

Buy Goodbye Colonialism, Farewell Feudalism here.

Andrew Erskine Dawson - 'This Far-Off Wild Land'

Andrew Erskine Dawson graduated in 1952 with a Degree in Agriculture. Here, Andrew masterfully shares the story of his great-great uncle Andrew Dawson (1820-1872), recorded in letters his uncle sent to his family in Dalkeith, Edinburghshire (Midlothian) from Fort Berthold, Fort Clark, Fort Union, and Fort Benton, and neatly quill penned fascinating unique details of his exciting "life and time" living amongst warring Native Americans.

This Far-Off Wild Land

In the mid-1800s, Andrew Dawson, self-exiled from his home in Scotland, joined the upper Missouri River fur trade and rose through the ranks of the American Fur Company. A headstrong young man, he had come to America at the age of twenty-four after being dismissed from his second job in two years. His poignant sense of isolation is evident throughout his letters home between 1844 and 1861. In This Far-Off Wild Land, Lesley Wischmann and Andrew Erskine Dawson--a relative of this colourful figure--couple an engaging biography of Dawson with thirty-seven of his previously unpublished letters from the American frontier.

Thoughtfully annotated, Dawson's letters, discovered only recently by his relatives, provide a rare glimpse into the lonely life of a fur trader in the 1840s and 1850s. Unlike the impersonal business correspondence that makes up most fur trade writings, Dawson's letters are wonderfully human, suffused with raw emotion. Combining careful research with a compelling story, the authors flesh out the forces that shaped Dawson's personality and the historical events he recorded.

Buy This Far-Off Wild Land here.

Jim Fiddes - 'The Granite Men'

Jim Fiddes went to Aberdeen Grammar School and received an Honours Degree in History from the University of Aberdeen in 1973. He started his career as a librarian, and spent 29 years at The Robert Gordon University, mostly as librarian for the School of Architecture and Construction, and the School of Art. He retired early and spent five seasons as a guide for the National Trust for Scotland at the iconic fairytale castle of Craigievar. He lives in Aberdeenshire.

The Granite Men

Granite is the most unyielding of building materials. The great granite quarries of the North East are silent now, as are virtually all of the 100 granite yards that existed in Aberdeen around the year 1900. Yet in its time, the granite industry of north-east Scotland was the engine that built civilisations.

As early as the sixteenth century, granite from Aberdeen and its vicinities was building castles. In the heyday of the mid-nineteenth century, the granite men of the North East hewed this material from the bowels of the earth and used it to fashion the iconic structures that defined the age. It paved the streets and embankments of London. It was used to build bridges over the Thames. It was carved into monuments for kings and commoners not only in Britain but all over the world.

None of it possible without the men that toiled in those quarries and yards. This is the story of those granite men and their industry.

Buy The Granite Men here.

Leo B. Hendry - 'Reframing Adolescent Research'

Leo B. Hendry is an Aberdeen graduate and now, after a long and varied career teaching psychology across institutions such as the Norwegian University of Science & Technology and University of South Wales, Leo now works as an Emeritus Professor here at the University of Aberdeen. He has authored 150 research articles, 30 chapters and 22 books.

Reframing Adolescent Research

How can we ensure that adolescent research is really assisting the optimal developmental transitions of young people, now and in the near future?

Reframing Adolescent Research suggests that what is needed is a ‘paradigm-shift’, a movement towards implementing more systemic, innovative and inter-disciplinary approaches to youth research, which are more suited to resolving the real issues that young people face in the twenty-first century.

This ground-breaking volume will encourage debate and dialogue on the future of youth research. It is valuable reading for advanced students and researchers in adolescent development and developmental psychology.

Buy Reframing Adolescent Research here.

Judith Ross Napier - 'The Assynt Crofter: Allan MacRae, A Life'

Judith Napier Ross graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1982 with a Degree in English, and worked thereafter as a news reporter in the Highlands for local and regional press. She covered the Assynt Crofters buy-out and remained friends with Allan MacRae until his death in 2013. His family asked her to write the biography, which was launched in front of 100+ guests at the Assynt Crofters Trust's 25th anniversary celebrations.

The Assynt Crofter: Allan MacRae, A Life

Some names are so closely linked with historical events that they almost become one and the same. One such is Allan MacRae, who, along with a small group of fellow crofters, led to victory the ground-breaking Assynt Crofters Trust land buy-out. Judith Napier’s biography explores the life of a remarkable man – stonemason, orator, athlete, campaigning writer, but above all a crofter who cared deeply for his beloved Assynt.

The Assynt Crofter is now short-listed for the Highland Book Prize 2018.

Buy The Assynt Crofter: Allan MacRae, A Life here.

Brian Robertson - 'A Gordon For Me'

Brian Robertson was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1936 but was raised and schooled in rural Aberdeenshire when his father bought a small farm at Rothienorman. He left school as soon as possible to work on the farm. Conscripted to the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders he served for two years mostly in Cyprus and then returned to farming. Brian married Marjorie in 1959 and returned to schooling and education, graduating with a BSc in Botany from the University of Aberdeen in 1970.

He taught secondary school science in Scotland before taking the family to Papua New Guinea in 1978 where he worked in curriculum development and subsequently worked in Australia and the Solomon Islands. Since retiring Brian has written a number of books, including textbooks for South Pacific schools.

A Gordon For Me

An honest and brave account of National Service in the 1950s. Brian Robertson spares no detail in his story, from simple farmer’s son to a Gordon Highlander. A Gordon For Me is an entertaining and compelling story of one man’s experiences of the Armed Forces, and the true nature of international conflict. 60 years ago, Brian Roberston left his family farm to undergo two years of National Service.

From Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee to Cyprus, Brian experienced much, much more than the average farm-hand ever would. What starts off as an exploration of the eclectic nature of the army, takes an unexpected twist down the obedience, ruthlessness, and brutality of training and war. This book is not a celebration of war.

Buy A Gordon For Me and Brian's other books here.

David Sawyer - 'Reset: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money'

David Sawyer (MA History & Politics, 1995) is a United Nations award-winning PR man and 2:40 marathoner. RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money is his first book. Sawyer is not a guru. He’s a middle-aged family guy who woke up one day wondering “is there another way?” Six years later, the result is RESET – “the unconventional early retirement guide for midlife professionals who want to be happy” that will wipe the windscreen of life so you can see again.

RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money

Are you happy? Is there more to life than this? What if there is another way? Hidden in plain sight within the 300 or so pages of RESET is an elegant synthesis of the latest thinking in financial independence, lifestyle design, and age-old philosophical wisdom – cunningly disguised as a breezy pep talk from your witty mate down the pub. In a world that's forever racing past us on a screen, it's a reminder of the potentially life-changing power of a book.

What if that way doesn’t involve jacking in your job, leaving your partner, having a midlife crisis, uprooting your existence? What if that way just involves small actions, taken every day? With no more effort than you now spend tending your social media flock, superglued to a screen.

Best of all, what if that way costs you little? In fact, what if that way saves you a tonne of money and lets you retire a few years earlier?

Buy RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money here.

Nigel Scotland - 'George Whitefield: The First Transatlantic Revivalist'

Nigel Scotland (PhD University of Aberdeen 1975) is Field Chair in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Gloucestershire. His most recent publications include Sectarian Religion in Contemporary Britain (2000), Good and Proper Men: Lord Palmerston and the Bench of Bishops (2000), and Charismatics and the New Millennium (2000).

George Whitefield: The First Transatlantic Revivalist

George Whitefield proclaimed the Christian message to more people in history than anyone else, before or since, who spoke with an unaided voice. A preacher of revival almost form his childhood, when he prophesied his own destiny, he had a profound impact on the social, religious and political life of both Britain and America. He crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, and merged as a celebrity figure, whose message captivated both rich and poor alike. Whitefield heralded a new kind of revival that was both spiritually powerful and entertaining at the same time. He was also a man of contradictions. He loved the Anglican liturgy but would happily break canon law. He was a devoted Puritan yet he was also able to befriend those with more liberal morals, Above all, Whitefield was a driven man, and his overwhelming passion was to preach New Birth in Christ - the theme he was to speak on over a thousand times. He valued education, opposed slavery, cared for orphan children and changed the course of both British and American history.

Buy George Whitefield: The First Transatlantic Revivalist here.

Penny Spinks - 'Clinical Psychology in Action'

Penny Spinks (MA Psychology, 1969) is a clinical psychologist from Berkshire. 

Clinical Psychology in Action: A Collection of Case Studies

Clinical Psychology in Action: A Collection of Case Studies illustrates the range and diversity of modern clinical psychology practice, gives discussion material for students and practitioners of psychological therapy, and provides case materials for students of abnormal psychology. The book is composed of 5 sections. Part 1 deals in the field of adult mental health, particularly the elderly. Part 2 contains cases of children and adolescents and their families. The third part describes work with the mentally handicapped. Part 4 presents work by clinical psychologists in medical settings such as neurological, orthopaedic, rehabilitation, surgical, medical and primary care settings. The last part describes developments in clinical psychology practice in the area of service development and organizational planning. 

The book will be of value to clinical psychologists, students, and teachers of psychology.

Buy Clinical Psychology in Action here.

Poetry

Ian A. Olson - 'Facing The Persians'

Ian Olson (MBChB 1962, MD 1969, DHC 2006) is a long-retired doctor, trained at the University of Aberdeen's medical school, whose career largely in medical science and education took him to England and the Middle East. He has a parallel career in Scottish traditional culture, especially its history and balladry, writing in both popular and academic journals, and singing before the Edinburgh International Festival. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen.

Facing the Persians

Ian Olson has distilled sixty years of writing and publishing both poetry and song into this book, calling on Greek, Scottish and French history, employing also at times Scottish and Irish Gaelic, modern and classical Greek, Latin and French.

Buy Facing The Persians here.

Marcas Mac an Tuairneir (Mark Spencer Turner) - 'Deò '

Marcas Mac an Tuairneir (Mark Spencer Turner) (MA Gaelic Studies & Hispanic Studies, 2008) writes poetry, prose, drama and journalism, in Gaelic and English, and splits his time between Edinburgh and his hometown of York. 

He has two full collections in print: Deò (2013, Grace Note Publications) and Lus na Tùise (Lavender) (2016, Bradan Press), as well as beul-fo-bhonn (heelster-gowdie), a pamphlet co-written with Stuart A. Paterson (2017, Tapsalteerie).
 
Marcas’ poetry has been published in various journals and short-listed for several poetry prizes including Duais Filíochta Dhúbhglas de hÍde and Comórtas Filíochta an Chornéil Eoghain Uí Néill. In 2017 he won the Wigtown Book Festival prize for Gaelic Poetry.

Deò 

In Deò, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, an up and coming young poet, released his first collection of poems in Scottish Gaelic. This book is fully bilingual Gaelic – English.

Buy Deò here.