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Scott, Manda

Scott, Manda

PERSONAL:

Born in Glasgow, Scotland. Education: Attended Glasgow University Veterinary School. Hobbies and other interests: Rock climbing, running her dogs, riding.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Suffolk, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Veterinary surgeon, equine neonatologist, anaesthetist, and fiction writer. Worked as a veterinarian in Newmarket, England, late 1980s.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Orange Prize shortlist, 1997, for Hen's Teeth.

WRITINGS:

Hen's Teeth, Women's Press (London, England), 1996.

Night Mares, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Stronger than Death, Hodder Headline (London, England), 1999.

No Good Deed, Hodder Headline (London, England), 2001, Bantam (New York, NY), 2002.

Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Boudica II: Dreaming the Bull, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Boudica: Dreaming the Hound, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2006, Delta Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

Dreaming the Serpent-spear, Delta Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Scottish veterinarian Manda Scott was born and raised in Glasgow, where as a child she loved animals and dreamed of becoming a farmer. Attending Glasgow University, she eventually became a veterinary surgeon and specialized in horses. After many sleep-deprived years, Scott finally decided to change careers, becoming a professional writer instead. Today she resides in Suffolk, England, and has several contemporary crime thrillers to her credit, among them the thrillers No Good Deed and Hen's Teeth and the historical "Boudica" series of novels, set during the Roman invasion of Britain. Praising Scott's debut novel Hen's Teeth, Books ‘n’ Bytes reviewer Harriet Klausner called it "a fabulous medical thriller" that "deserves much reader attention."

Published in 2002, No Good Deed opens with a deadly shoot-out as a police sting in Glasgow goes terribly wrong. Special Branch agent Orla McLeod is left standing alongside nine-year-old Jamie Buchanan, while Orla's lover and the young boy's prostitute mother are brutally murdered by Tord Svenson, the violent criminal McLeod and her unit were attempting to catch. Her cover now blown, McLeod takes the wounded boy to her mother's secluded cabin in the snowy Scottish highlands, where she hopes to remain safe while the boy recovers from his injuries. However, McLeod begins to wonder whether she can trust the friends to whom she has confided her situation; one of them appears to be secretly working for the other side. When Jamie is kidnaped at gunpoint, it is up to McLeod to get him back safely while continuing to track down the villainous Svenson.

"Besides exposing the gristle and bone of human violence, Scott astutely probes the aftermath of crime—the loss of moral certitude that truly shatters the soul," stated Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review. While Carrie Bissey in a Booklist review maintained that "the obviously close-knit relationships between Orla and her partners are never fully explained," the critic went on to compliment No Good Deed as "an unflinching portrayal of police work at its dirtiest" with a protagonist whose life story "lends authenticity to her tough yet vulnerable persona." Jane Judd, writing in Publishers Weekly, commented that "Scott's prose suits her tough yet sensitive heroine and her storytelling is equally unflinching. Graphic violence contrasts with wilderness beauty in a thriller that has plenty of touching moments."

Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle is the first book in a series of four novels that relates the life and times of Breaca nic Graine—later named Boudica—the queen warrior and legendary leader of the Eceni, who led the revolt against Rome in 61 A.D. While little is known about Breaca and her times, Scott manages to create a thoroughly detailed environment. The story begins with the slaying of Breaca's pregnant mother, after which young Breaca is sent to live with another family and develops a relationship with her half brother, Bán. In the Eceni tribe members are shown their destiny by the gods in dreams that lead them to become dreamers or warriors; while Breaca hopes to be a dreamer, her dreams reveal her to be a strong warrior. Breaca's brother Bán, a dreamer, returns to Britain after escaping a rival tribe's ambush, where he joins Breaca in attempting to ward off invading Roman forces. Laurel Bliss, writing in the Library Journal, praised the "Boudica" series, noting that "Scott weaves the stories of Breaca and Bán into a complicated and satisfying pattern. Definitely not a tired old retelling of a legend, this novel is beautifully written and lovingly told, filled with drama and passion."

Scott's series continues with Boudica II: Dreaming the Bull, as Breaca and Bán find themselves on opposite sides of a terrible war for their country: Bán as part of the Roman cavalry and Breaca defending her tribe. When Breaca's lover, Caradoc, is caught by the Romans and faced with death, Bán is forced to rethink his loyalties and confront his heritage.

Boudica: Dreaming the Hound, the third in the "Boudica" series, finds Breaca hiding in the west after her failure to stop the invasion of Britain by the Romans. When she attempts to rally and fight back, she is captured by the emperor's tax collector and flogged, and her daughters are raped. The women barely escape death by crucifixion when Breaca's half brother Valerius rescues them. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Scott has teased a few facts from the ancient record to create an absorbing story from history and myth." Booklist reviewer Margaret Flanagan called the book "epic in scope." Sandy Freund, reviewing for the School Library Journal, praised the story, stating that "the characters are fully developed with their own motives, strengths, and weaknesses."

The final installment of the "Boudica" series, Dreaming the Serpent-spear follows the struggles of the famous female warrior to the bitter and tragic end. Laurel Bliss, in a review for the Library Journal, remarked that the Scott's effort reflects "a true passion for her heroic subject matter, and her lyric, mystical tone suits the epic nature of the story." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted the well-known story makes it difficult for the author to maintain much suspense regarding her ending, but ultimately found that "the Boudica legend … allows Scott enough poetic license to keep readers intrigued to the sanguinary end."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of No Good Deed, p. 1216; January 1, 2006, Margaret Flanagan, review of Boudica: Dreaming the Hound, p. 60.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), December 18, 1999, Margaret Cannon, review of Stronger than Death, p. D25.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2002, review of No Good Deed, p. 216; May 1, 2003, review of Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle, p. 639.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Laurel Bliss, review of Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle, p. 157; May 1, 2007, Laurel Bliss, review of Dreaming the Serpent-spear, p. 75.

New York Times Book Review, May 19, 2002, Marilyn Stasio, review of No Good Deed, p. 44.

Publishers Weekly, March 11, 2002, review of No Good Deed, p. 52; November 21, 2005, review of Boudica: Dreaming the Hound, p. 29; February 19, 2007, review of Dreaming the Serpent-spear, p. 146.

School Library Journal, May, 2006, Sandy Freund, review of Boudica: Dreaming the Hound, p. 166.

ONLINE

Books ‘n’ Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (October 12, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of Hen's Teeth.

Manda Scott Web site,http://www.mandascott.co.uk (May 15, 2004).

Mystery Reader Web site,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (August 13, 2000), Wendy Crutcher, review of Stronger than Death.

Time Warner Books Web site,http://www.twbooks.co.uk/ (October 12, 2003), "Manda Scott."

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