News from Applecross – July 2021

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
What with a poorly dog and both of us having colds, it has been an enforced quiet month here at Applecross HQ.

As it is the middle of winter too, I can honestly say I haven’t visited parts of the garden for several weeks. What a delight it was then, to find the first signs of daffodils coming up this morning. Spring may be just around the corner after all. 

Our old girl, Jess, gave us a real fright last weekend. She had a bit of a seizure, and for a while we thought we would lose her. These things always happen when the vet has shut for the evening, we’ve just put the dinner in to cook and the rain is driving sideways outside! Nevertheless we got her to the emergency vet hospital, where she spent the next 3 days being cared for. Thankfully, she is on the road to recovery now.

Jess is our famous ‘cover dog’ from the paperback version of The Wideawake Hat, pretending to be James’ faithful collie dog. She’s a grand old lady of about 11 years old and is a little bit of a princess. She has thoroughly enjoyed all the extra attention she’s received this week!
Yes, I know it is meant to be Bird of the Month, but I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Toa, a baby Orca, who has captured the hearts of many New Zealanders these last weeks. Toa got left behind by his pod when he got stuck on some rocks near Wellington. Many kind folk gave up their time to try to rescue him and to find his pod again, but it was not to be. Toa passed away surrounded by those who had cared for him. Toa means ‘Be Brave’ in Māori. 

Kia okioki ia i runga i te rangimarie – rest in peace.
I have just finished reading The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. I thoroughly enjoyed it, not least because it is set in Oxford, Bath and Shropshire – all places I have lived over the years! It is a cleverly constructed, well written book and I thoroughly recommend it to you all. Touchingly sad in places, full of humour and insight, it follows the creation of the first Oxford English Dictionary. Not a promising plot, you would think, but you would be very wrong. If you love words and their meaning, read it soon!!!


Recently, I was invited to speak to the Friends of Christchurch Libraries at their lunchtime meeting. I really enjoyed telling them about the background of The Applecross Saga, especially as most of the 24 attendees had visited the Mackenzie Basin and knew something about the legend of James Mackenzie. It was a real pleasure to engage with such a well-read and interested group of people.

One gentleman told me he was keen to hear how I had come up with the name Applecross, because he had visited the tiny fishing village on the West Coast of Scotland. I’ve been there too – the road over the hills to get there is absolutely spectacular! The truth of it is that I needed a name that was of Scottish origin, but not too Scottish. We had Mackays and Mackenzies already. What better than a real place in Scotland, albeit it with an unusually English name!


There’s been some progress on Book 5 of The Applecross Saga in recent days, despite the distractions of a poorly dog. ‘Mixed Blessings’ is on track for publication in early 2022. I’m knee deep in research at the moment. The 1870s were busy years in New Zealand and I am really enjoying looking into the life of Julius Vogel, who instigated a period of great change, as well as Kate Sheppard, who is generally credited with leading the journey towards women in New Zealand being the first in the world to gain the vote.
Finally, may I make a plea? When you have finished reading any of my books, please consider writing a review online, on the platform you used to buy the ebook, or on Goodreads, or wherever you can shout it from the rooftops! Not only does it help to increase sales, but it gives me a great boost of confidence as I write Book 5. Thank you.
You will find a list of Applecross folk and their dogs in The Applecross Companion. I will be adding more to the companion as time goes by.

It is still a work in progress, but you are welcome to dive on in there and take a look. Go to – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include? Please do comment below, or email me at with any thoughts and suggestions. I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Buy the Applecross Saga

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