Robin Pilcher

Visit Robin's website at

His Books

  •    An Ocean Apart 1999
    "A premium Scottish blend of robust characters and intriguing plot that satisfies to the last page...[Pilcher] writes...with every bit as much insight and meticulous detail as his mother." -Library Journal
  •    Starting Over 2002
    "Pilcher writes with an excellent sense of the pace of his story. It's easy to feel you know these people and to grasp the complexities of their relationships...a worthy novel." -Houston Chronicle
  •   A Risk Worth Taking 2005
    "One wonders why Pilcher didn't take up writing years ago." - Ireland on Sunday
  •    Starburst: A Novel 2007
    "A beautiful and cohesive story about the human spirit and our capacity for adaptation and growth." —Booklist
  •   2010
    "The Long Way Home is Robin Pilcher at his best. I devoured every word of this masterful storyteller." —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Shortbread Stories

SHORTBREAD stories is a FREE community website dedicated to revitalising the short story. For authors, it provides a showcase for their work, giving worldwide exposure, and for readers, it offers free access to short stories which can be read as a text document or if selected by our members listened to as an audio file.

From the website: was founded by author Robin Pilcher and bookseller William Thomson to develop a concept for publishing short stories. As Robin Pilcher explains:

‘A few years ago, I attended a writer's workshop at a literary weekend in Glasgow and was bowled over by the quality of writing that was on offer. Every story was worthy of being published, but I knew that, at the end of that weekend, most of them would probably be shoved away in a bottom drawer and forgotten about. I left determined to find a way to let those voices be heard.

Shortbread is the result, a website designed specifically to be a showcase for writers and to make their stories available to a worldwide audience. So lets open up that bottom drawer and resurrect those hidden treasures.’

Chat with the Fans

Robin Pilcher was the guest of the Rosamunde Pilcher Book Club (RPBC) Egroup in Yahoo, for a live chat using Yahoo Messenger, on January 22, 2009. He visited with the club members for about 90 minutes, answering questions, asking questions, and sharing tidbits of great info. He especially wanted to share his new venture, Shortbread Stories.


If novelist Robin Pilcher ever gets in a literary pinch, he doesn’t have far to go to get advice. His mother, longtime successful novelist Rosamunde Pilcher, lives about a mile away.

Robin calls his mother his "secret weapon."

"She took one look at my first attempts at writing and said, ‘Robin, you write dialogue. So everything you have to say, say it in dialogue.’" He continues: "So I went back home and said to myself, ‘Right! I’m writing a novel, but I’ll just work it like a screenplay. Imagine that you have 105 minutes to tell the whole story.’ What transpired, I hope, was a novel that flows like a page-turner."

That effort was the novel AN OCEAN APART. He says he used the same criteria when he started writing STARTING OVER. And it’s clear as one listens to the novel in audio that he followed his own advice. The story is dialogue-driven, yet the descriptive passages offer a solid sense of place. He continues that style in A RISK WORTH TAKING. In fact, RISK shares several traits with STARTING OVER. They both take place in Scotland. And both focus on taking control of one’s life and breaking with the past.

Pilcher spent several years as a documentary filmmaker. That career, he says, has influenced his writing in a roundabout way. "My experience behind the camera and understanding of the complexities of film gave me the perfect launching pad. I’m delighted that the film rights of AN OCEAN APART have been sold. It’s like everything coming full circle, to its rightful ending."

Pilcher loves to listen to audiobooks. "If I’m driving long distances, which we do quite often in Scotland, I always have one on."

But he says producing audios does not influence his writing. "That would be too much for my small brain to cope with," he says with a gentle laugh. "However, I think that my books do adapt quite well, simply because I work hard to bring them to reality. I imagine everything as if it were in film, and that has to be the nearest medium to audio production."—Richard C. Gotshall

An Interview with Robin Pilcher

Growing up with a mother who is a bestselling author, did you always want to write yourself?

The funny thing is that, when I was young, I was never too aware of Ros writing because she confined it all to termtime when we were away at school. Then during the holidays, she would stick her typewriter away and devote her time to her incredibly spoilt children! She was also, I think in retrospect, quite protective of that part of her life. We never sat around the kitchen table discussing her plots. We neither gave advice nor were we asked for it. Nevertheless, I think we were all pretty proud of her, even though in those days, she wasn't that well known. The fist book that I read of hers was Sleeping Tiger (that was the book that received the review in The New York Times which said 'Rosamunde Pilcher, where have you been all my life?'). It still remains my most favorite of hers, regardless of the worldwide success of the other books. You have to realize that by the time she hit the jackpot with The Shell Seekers, I was 37, so I never actually grew up with a bestselling author!

No, I never imagined myself for a moment being a writer, not because of any feelings of inhibition regarding my mother's success, but for the simple reason that I didn't think that I was particularly adept at the English language, having flunked all my exams with flying colors. However, the imagination was never stemmed as a result, and I'd find other outlets such as writing revue material or idiotic poems or song lyrics whatever came up, I'd turn my hand to it. When I left the army in 1969, I was given a number of contacts for jobs, those being in advertising, public relations and the documentary film industry. I did a copywritng test for the advertising agency and was actually offered a job. However, the film industry seemed at that time an exciting prospect, so I decided to follow a career in that. Six years into that job, it became apparent that the industry was dogged by union problems, so I left London and headed back to Scotland to farm.

How much did your mother's work influence your writing?

The key feature about her books is that they deal with real people, believable people, present day people. Readers can identify so easily with her characters, and she expresses her own poignant philosophy through those characters. That is what is captivating about her books. If I felt that I had grasped, either by genetics or through sheer graft, an iota of that formula, I'd be a happy man.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have always had a great affinity with films. Although I only worked as a documentary film cameraman, I loved screenplay and the disciplined framework in which it worked, as opposed to the rambling bounds of novel writing. I wrote a couple of pilots for TV, but never bothered doing anything with them. I was busy farming at the time. Then later, while I was working for a PR company in Edinburgh, Ros was approached by a Hollywood film company and asked to submit a screenplay treatment. She was working on September at the time, and asked me if I had any ideas. So when I started putting in together, the discipline that I worked on was making sure that her hallmark plot was stamped upon it - dealing with different generations in a family environment. Anyway, the long and short of it was that the film company was taken over, and the production team was changed, so the screenplay was banished to the floppy disc. However, seven years later, I decided to take a year's sabbatical and resurrect the story and see if I could write it as a book. The result is An Ocean Apart. I don't think that it would have ever been the first book that I would have chosen to write, but I can honestly say that what started out as a discipline in writing turned out to be a joy in creation.

Are any of the characters based on people in your own life?

No, not on anyone in particular. However, all the characters had faces in my mind, usually those of actors. For example, when I first started the screenplay, David was definitely Pierce Brosnan. This was before he hit the big time with James Bond, and I know that at that time, his wife had just died of cancer. His face sort of stuck with the character thereafter. Benji was the young boy who played Frances in the Disney film production of Swiss Family Robinson. He was just such an enthusiast.

Besides all that, in 1985, my wife Kirsty and I took our three children to Australia for five months, and while there, I did a few odd-jobs as a gardener. We also house-sat for a family who had a poodle called Dodie, and the song Dodie the Fun-Loving Poodle was penned as a result. No, I'm afraid that it's only Dodie who has been immortalized in the book!

Why did you decide to set part of the book in the United States, why Long Island in particular?

The plot was originally set in Australia, but then I realized that the logistics and timing didn't work. It was too far away. So I changed it to Long Island, because my sister and her family live there, and having visited them a number of times, I knew it quite well. But then I realized that the different cultures complemented themselves well in the characters. David, the reserved, self-effacing Scotsman, set against the confident, heart-on-the-sleeves world of the American people, resulting in each being able to help the other understand the good and bad points of their respective make-ups.

You've had a variety of careers, including farmer, cameraman and public relations consultant. How have these dtfferent experiences influenced you as a writer?

Every experience has helped, because I have met such different people in each separate walk of life, and from these people, one draws one's characters. It's an amalgam - you just take a bit of this one and a bit from that and stick them together - like Plasticine! The one career, of course, that made me realize that I could actually write was public relations. Now that is a discipline one minute writing about the attributes of some obscure piece of machinery, the next creating a working outline for a corporate takeover. All in all, I don't think that I was ever ready to start writing fiction until the moment that I sat down at my desk almost two years ago and penned the first few words of An Ocean Apart.

What has the reaction been from family and friends?

To the book or to my taking up writing? With regards to the latter, Kirsty and the children have been totally supportive, and they have definitely helped. You have to draw on their experiences and their thoughts, because the outlooks and standards of differing generations change constantly, so I don't think that one can be expected to understand how each character would react to any given situation. Alice (19), in particular, was brilliant with Sophie's character helping to strengthen her just that little bit. As for the former, Kirsty, Oliver (22), and Alice have read it. I think it's all right, because I haven't been coshed with a wet haggis by any of them yet!

As for friends, I have kept the fact that I'm writing a book as quiet as I can. If I meet someone out in the evening and they ask me what I do, I usually just say 'Public Relations.' That's usually a conversation stopper. Once the book is actually published, I think that I might then start saying that I'm a writer.

What's next for Robin Pilcher?

There's some saying about life being totally fulfilled if you get married, have a child, and write a book. Maybe I'm just making it up, but at any rate, it's a great feeling! Nevertheless, I don't think I'll be content in stopping there. The mind churns on and something else is a-brewing, although it might be slightly different from An Ocean Apart - but the poignant magic of family relationships will still be a major feature.