Autumn in Catalonia | Jane MacKenzie



Jane MacKenzie has travelled far and wide in her career, set up a successful business and now is a published author whose second book “Autumn In Catalonia” is due for an October launch date.

She has worked for the most part in the field of education, teaching English and French and managing schools in Africa, the Arabian Gulf as well as Papua New Guinea.

And closer to home, she headed up the Commercial Department for what was formerly James Watt College in Greenock where her role involved managing a major Conference and Training Centre on Greenock’s regenerated waterfront, as well as developing a major international business for the College, bringing millions of pounds of revenue into the local economy through consultancy contracts with foreign governments, and by recruiting international students to study in Scotland.

Most recently, the 57-year-old, who lives between Plockton in Ross and Cromarty and another beautiful coastal village, Collioure in French Catalonia, worked at CERN in Switzerland, where the Large Hadron Collider is pushing forward the boundaries of science.

There, because she is a fluent French speaker – mostly learned, said Jane, in the bars of Aix-en-Provence, where she studied for a year during her degree course – she headed the UK Government’s Liaison Office and became friends with Nobel prize winner, Peter Higgs of Higgs Boson fame. She continues to undertake some consultancy work for the Government.

Her brainchild, the British Study Partnership (BSP) was established in 2002. It is an organisation that strives to give real help to international students when it comes to finding the right university or college course in the UK.
Government departments, companies and schools throughout the world use its expert service, as well
as individual students to whom it offers a very personalised service.

BSP, currently representing more than 50 universities and colleges throughout the UK, also advises its UK partners on the needs of the Arabian Gulf and other parts of the world, managing as well to negotiate some important agreements between the Arab world and UK education.

“I have enjoyed all aspects of my career as they represented fresh challenges, brought new demands and tested me in so many different and interesting ways,” said Jane.

“Setting up BSP was exciting as we knew we were convinced we could offer a great advisory service in so many countries. To see it continue to operate most effectively is hugely gratifying.”

But now, while still Director of BSP, Jane is totally focused on a new way of life – a full-time author, whose second book will hit the shops in October. Day-to-day it may be a far more isolated role, miles away from the hustle and bustle of business meetings and the needs of clients, but she is revelling in it and the demands she is placing on herself.

“I was widowed ten years ago and I set out to find time to write a book as it had been playing on my mind for some time,” she said.

“I started writing seriously in 2006 and ‘Daughter Of Catalonia’, which came out last year stemmed from my life in Collioure and my fascination with the local history. It got me thinking.”

Jane’s debut novel had 18,000 online sales, and almost 4,000 in its print version. A Daily Mail review enthused: “Mackenzie evocatively captures the beauty of the Banyuls region of France and how its mix of French and Catalan culture forms something unique . . . This is a novel of quiet intensity and deep emotion.”

“The book, set in 1958, is a story about love and war, about rupture and healing, and about survival and ultimately hope. It is a love story immersed in the heat of the Mediterranean sun, which I do enjoy immensely,” she said.
“Now I have written a second related book, ‘Autumn In Catalonia’ and this is a story set across the border in Spanish Catalonia five years later. I am very pleased with it and, obviously, getting more excited as the launch date looms ever closer.”

Jane is already hard at work on her third book in the sunshine by the pool of the home she had built in Collioure. “It’s a dream existence, but I’m still focused on what I need to do,” she said.