Classroom heroine is brought to book

20th January 2012 at 00:00
A Falkirk pupil has become the inspiration for a new series of school-based tales, writes Julia Belgutay

A pupil at St Mungo's Academy in Falkirk has become the heroine of a new mystery series by award-winning author Cathy MacPhail.

The writer had met Tyler Lawless during a book signing at the school earlier this year, and immediately liked the name. With many of the characters in her novels called after her readers, she decided to name the heroine after the young pupil.

"I asked her name, and as soon as she told me I thought, `Fabulous. I could use that in a book,'" said Mrs MacPhail. Tyler was delighted when she told her, she said - especially as she herself wants to be an author.

Out of the Depths, the first part in the series, was published in November and Tyler proudly joined the author for the launch at the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow, attended by hundreds of schoolchildren.

The idea for the book came to the author in a "lightbulb moment" after a visit to St Joseph's College in Dumfries, "a big old Catholic school with statues and dark alcoves and long wood-panelled corridors", similar to the one Tyler Lawless attends in Out of the Depths.

In the book, the heroine's special gift is her ability to speak to and see dead people. A murdered boy comes to see her in her classroom in the new school she has just moved to and pleads for her help. Statues in the school then seem to come alive and point towards the place where the young Ben Kincaid was killed.

Although Mrs MacPhail had planned only one book, the heroine's special gift made it worth a series, she says. "I wrote to Tyler to ask if that was OK with her and, once again, she was really excited about the whole thing. I couldn't have chosen a better heroine."

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