Our In the Freethinker's Footsteps project has been made possible thanks to Publishing Scotland's Go-Digital Fund.

Episode Three: The Author

This episode was recorded during our launch of Doubting Thomas at Waterstones Byres Road in Glasgow. Amongst other things, you’ll hear author Heather Richardson talk about the true story that inspired her novel, her favourite character vs the one she most enjoyed writing, and her original idea for the story’s form (which was not a novel at all). 

Scroll down for bonus clips from the launch, including real versus fictional characters from the novel; writing tips on historical fiction and location visits; and details on how Heather brought her novel from PhD to publication.

The Freethinker's Footsteps podcast is a literary podcast series. In five episodes it engages with academics and artists to explore the religious, political and gender controversies of 17th C Scotland. It's inspired by Heather Richardson's historical novel Doubting Thomas, based on the strange and sad true story of Thomas Aikenhead, the last man to be executed for blasphemy in Britain.

Bonus Tracks

Truth is Just as Strange as Fiction

In this bonus track, Heather Richardson, author of Doubting Thomas, reveals the truth and fiction in her historical novel. It includes the real story of a servantwoman who nearly died from an overdose on James Aikenhead's "pastilles espagnole" (meant to be aphrodisiacs), as well as a story about an interesting trip to a character's grave in Ballycarry.


From PhD to Publication

Doubting Thomas was originally a PhD project. When Heather decided to seek publication, she realised she had to make some significant changes. In this track she discusses those changes.


Writing Tips – Location Location

In this track, Heather shares her experiences with writing stories that take place in foreign countries, and the importance of knowing your location.


The Benefits of Historical Fiction

In this clip taken from a separate interview, Heather Richardson discusses the role of historical fiction in drawing parallels with present-day issues, as well as the built-in benefits of working with historical fiction as a genre.


Finding the Right Structure

In this clip taken from a separate interview, Heather Richardson describes the story and structure of Doubting Thomas. Using multiple narratives, Heather was able to explore true stories from Thomas Aikenhead's short life from a variety of perspectives.