My novel, Loving Susie, is set in the Scottish Parliament. Why? I wanted a heroine with a high-profile, pressured job, so that when she was unexpectedly subjected to additional pressures, the effects on her would be very publicly visible.
It wasn’t too difficult to settle on something – my husband, Robin Harper, was a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for twelve years, so I had a source for background information right at hand!
I don’t know what life is like for most MSPs, I can only go by what I saw during Robin’s term in Parliament, and as he was the sole Green Party MSP, he was hugely in demand from just about everyone – the media, first and foremost, but also from schools and universities and just about any project with a green tinge to it – or one that wanted to be seen as ‘green’.
I deliberately didn’t make Susie a member of a specific Party because in no way is this a political novel, but I made her a bit of a rebel, with passionate views that set her at odds with her Party (more pressure), and one who was greatly in demand because this and because of her charisma.
I was also lucky because I know the Parliament building pretty well – I’ve been in there many times. Susie crosses the Garden Lobby several times, to reach her office in the private MSP block. I think the Garden Lobby is the most beautiful space in the whole complex (with the possible exception of the Debating Chamber). It has multiple boat-shaped roof lights and is bright and airy.
I do urge anyone who has the chance to go and see the Parliament for themselves. I think it’s a building of two halves – you don’t expect a building of such great beauty from the outside, but once you get in, it’s truly exceptional.