An East Renfrewshire author is shining a light on Scotland’s links to slavery through his first foray into fiction.

Dr Stuart Nisbet’s novel, The Book of Here & There, features the discovery of scrolls that tell the life story of an enslaved scribe named Cato.

It is one piece in the jigsaw of a detective trail which turns the lives of main characters Hamish and Jenny upside down.

Ten years in the making, the book is loosely based on his own research into slavery, which has taken him from Scotland to the Caribbean.

Stuart told the Barrhead News: “I’ve done lots of local history research over the years, mainly on cotton mills, then I got into the merchants who were behind the mills.

“I started chasing after various merchants that were very rich and it turned out they were into sugar planting and slavery.

“I’ve published lots of stuff on that but I was kind of exposing all these Glasgow and East Renfrewshire merchants and they were getting scandalised in a way but they were getting all the attention, so I wanted to write something different.”

Retired structural engineer Stuart is a freelance tutor for East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, leading heritage walks and classes in the area.

For more than 20 years, he has been one of the leading researchers on Scotland’s links to slavery.

During his research, he learned of Cato – an 18th-century slave who escaped from a merchant who owned land around Glasgow, including what is now Linn Park.

“Once you are involved in the subject a long time, it’s quite an emotional thing that all these folk are getting ignored and I wanted to give this Cato guy a voice,” 68-year-old Stuart explained.

“He was a real person and, okay, I have given him a fictional voice but I’m kind of telling the story in his words.

“Lots of people are interested in slavery. In the past year, Glasgow and Edinburgh have published details of all of their statues and buildings that are linked to slavery.

“I have always fancied writing something that was a bit more user friendly.

“I suppose the idea of the novel is that it can reach out to more people in a simpler way.”

Stuart, who lives in Eaglesham, will stage an illustrated talk and book signing at Giffnock Library tonight as his novel is officially launched.

The free event, which is suitable for those aged 16 or over, takes place from 6.30pm to 8pm and places can be booked by calling 0141 577 4976.

The Book of Here & There is available to buy online from Amazon, Waterstones, Book Depositary and Barnes and Noble.