Scotch and the Scottish go together like bears and honey.
For Kelowna author Jack Whyte, he likes to add a story aspect to the mix too.
“A storyteller, no matter which period of history you’re in, human beings need storytellers, for others who don’t have the gift of gab,” Whyte said in his Scottish brogue.
The Scottish historical-fiction writer will be visiting the Schubert Centre Sept. 24 with the Sons of Scotland Kildonnan Camp #166. He plans to give a speech, have a book signing, and provide input on the various scotches available.
Next year is the 25th anniversary of his first novel Skystone, which is being released as a special edition.
The prequel, Vulcan’s Laughter, is set to release in the summer of 2017.
The original story follows a Roman soldier who was dismissed from the army. His grandfather discovered a stone from the sky (which is stainless steel), and creates a dagger from the material. The story begins with the soldier opening his grandfather’s forge and starting his own business.
Numerous readers requested the story of the grandfather so Whyte decided to tell the tale.
“I was just happy to be published. It was a matter of pride,” he said.
In 1974, he started writing manuscripts for his first four novels, which his wife, Beverley, encouraged him to publish.
Skystone was published in 1992, and took him nearly 15 years to write, along with the three other manuscripts.
In 2009, his books sold more than a million copies in Canada.
But novels are not Whyte’s only form of storytelling. As a musician for 25 years, he has no fear of audiences, and has been a regimental bard of the Calgary Highlanders for more than 30 years.
He also has experience in various forms of writing, from CBC’s The National to various advertising companies and communications.
The 76-year-old has a fascination with Roman and British history and his love of language runs deep.
Whyte was inspired to write by four teachers during Grades 4-7 (equivalent) in Scotland after the war, from 1950-1954.
“Those four maiden ladies had passed me along the craft of writing, language, and of storytelling,” he said.
He comes from a large family, the oldest of 11 children. During the Second World War his father, Frank Whyte, lost his eyes so Whyte would read to him to help him study to become a physiotherapist.
“My earliest reading memories were sitting in an armchair, sitting in my dad’s lap with a giant book, reading Grey’s Anatomy.”
A veracious reader, he reads Guy Gabriel Kay and Jeffery Farnol, and when in an “escapist” mood he enjoys Lee Child and Dean Kuntz.
The sound of reading aloud stuck with Whyte.
“All my books are written to be heard.”
And it was an iconic Canadian event that convinced him to move to Canada.
“My favourite auntie came here and brought pictures of the Calgary Stampede.”
In 1968, Whyte achieved his dream of attending the stampede and sang at the Grandstand Show at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
The father-of-five enjoys a variety of scotches depending on his mood including: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and Macallen.
The Scotch tasting is Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $55, available online through ticketseller.ca/1231 or at the Ticket Seller box office at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, 3800- 33rd St.