Earlier this month, myself and fellow writers Andrea Wotherspoon, Ian Leith and Charlotte Platt launched new book Finn and Friends at John O’Groats – A Collection of Verse and Stories. The launch marked the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work, which started with us meeting at John O’Groats to discuss how three new model animals near the landmark sign might fit into a children’s story book – and ended at pretty much the same spot as we gathered for photos on a sunny Sunday afternoon in June.
After several pictures with the finished book at said sign (and a few other places), we headed for the Seaview Hotel where we read excerpts from the book and signed copies for an assembled audience. Thanks to everyone who came along to support us on the day, and to those who have since expressed interest in buying a copy – if you’d like one, books are available in outlets at John O’Groats and via the John O’Groats Development Trust website (link to buy here).
Finn and Friends centres around an orca called Finn, a puffin called Peter, a cat called Black Cat, and Meg Watt, a wind-seller from local legend. The book includes a verse from Ian and short stories from Andrea, Charlotte and myself. All four tales reflect the three fabricated model animals installed near the new John O’Groats Trail start and finish signs in 2021, the handiwork of local crafter Robbie Anderson. The book was also supported through original artwork from the children of Canisbay Primary School, proof-reading by Sharon Gunason Pottinger and book production by local business Kerrie Moncur Typesetting and Design. Finn and Friends has been very much a community-based effort and there were no author fees or royalties associated with the project. All proceeds from the book (after printing and production costs) will go to the John O’Groats Development Trust, who work to enhance facilities and attractions for the benefit of local residents and visitors to Caithness.
But back to the launch – and after our busy afternoon, myself, Andrea and a few others visited Dunnet Beach on the way home – a lovely, sparkly-sea end to a day that had been pretty much perfect. That early evening visit also felt like a nice end to our time on the project, and a fitting way to say goodbye to Finn and Friends. As much as the book was fun and rewarding to be involved with, I’m now looking forward to spending more time focusing on my own writing projects. It was lovely to see Finn, Peter and Black Cat splash, fly and saunter (because that’s what I imagine Black Cat does), on their way and off into the world.
If a copy of the book ends up in your hands, I hope you enjoy the fun and the stories.
And next time you’re in John O’Groats, watch out for Finn, Peter and Black Cat (and if you see them, do tell them to behave!).
G x .
Finn and Friends at John O’Groats is suitable for all ages, with a reading age of approximately 8 years and upwards. Copies are priced at £10 and can be purchased from local outlets and on the John O’Groats Development Trust website (UK shipping only) here.