Author imagines a hidden world for Edinburgh's statues

Imagine strolling down the Royal Mile with Greyfriars Bobby, trying to solve a mystery with Sherlock Holmes or being given orders from Queen Victoria.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 8:45 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 8:52 am
The statue of Charles II in Parliament Square. Picture: Ian Georgeson

In a brand new crime novel, teenagers all over the city will be given this experience, as the Capital’s most iconic statues and forgotten heroes come to life for just one day.

The Calling, by Philip Caveney, is a story of crime, mystery and the reawakening of Scotland’s historic heroes – including William Wallace, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

The book is set during the Edinburgh festivals season and its plot follows a young boy with amnesia, who gets off a train at Waverley Station and forgets who he is.

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He falls asleep next to The Royal Scots Greys Monument and when he wakes up, to his amazement, the statue is alive.

When King Charles II, situated in Parliament Square, discovers a human has seen the statues alive, he becomes concerned and appoints Sherlock Holmes of Picardy Place to investigate.

Mr Caveney, who lives in Tollcross, only moved to Edinburgh a year and a half ago and was immediately struck by the city’s history and statues.

He said: “Edinburgh is my adopted city, I spend a lot of time wandering around taking in its beauty.

“It really is a wonderful place, and you can’t help but notice the amount of statues that are scattered around and how striking they are.

“I often wander by them and think, what if they stand there watching us?

“Imagine if they all congregated together, I wonder what would happen?

“That’s really where I got my idea for the story from.”

The Calling aims to subtly introduce children to an “eclectic” range of historical events and people, but with an interesting story.

“I just love the idea of the statues having some sort of afterlife”, Mr Caveney said. “I like to educate children in a way that they don’t realise they are being taught – I think they pick things up better that way.”

Mr Caveney’s first novel was published in 1977 and since then, he has written many novels for adults and, since 2007, a series of children’s books – the Sebastien Darke series – that have sold all over the world.

Born Danny Weston – Caveney is a pseudonym – he was born in North Wales in 1951 and after leaving college, he worked in theatre, both in London and Wales.

Last month, he was named winner in the Older Readers (12-16 years) category at the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2016.