Lost Solace: Tourism, Social Media and Our Shifting Sense of Place in the North Highlands

Earlier this summer, my husband and I made an evening visit to the harbour at Dunbeath on our way back to Caithness after a day of appointments. In the preceding days, I had been reading Neil M. Gunn’s Highland River and wanted to reacquaint myself with the information boards on Gunn – who was born…

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Pieces of Sky and Stone Author Q&A

In 2021, Isla, a student of creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands, asked me to share my experiences of writing my first novel Castles of Steel and Thunder in this author interview. I’m happy to say that Isla also seemed to enjoy the follow-up book, Pieces of Sky and Stone, and…

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Launching Finn and Friends, A Collection of Verse and Stories

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…

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Finn and Friends at John O’Groats

Back in January, when I wrote about my writing plans for 2022, I mentioned a project that I hoped would come to fruition before the summer. Well, here we are in May – and apart from wondering how on earth time passed so quickly – I’m delighted to say I have some new book news…

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Scotland’s Year of Stories, Wick Voices, and Our Cultural Landscape

I’ve written a lot about stories, how they shape and define places. Here in the north Highlands, it can sometimes feel that our stories are being written (or perhaps, rewritten) for us – a landscape of wilderness in which we not appear. I was comforted recently reading The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks’ beautiful account of…

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My Ten Favourite Books of 2021

At around this point in winter, I like to round up my ten favourite books of the year, in no particular order (and with the caveat that the list refers to the year of reading – I often read books many years after publication). This year I read thirty-nine books in total, fewer than normal…

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Stories and Solastalgia – The Aftermath of Writing About The North Coast 500, Park-Ups, Potholes and Poo

This summer, I wrote a piece about living on the popular ‘North Coast 500’ route through the lens of my own experience as a resident of Caithness. Entitled ‘Poo, Potholes and Park-Ups – Why Highlanders are Tired of Scotland’s North Coast 500 Route,’ the article was probably more even-handed than the alliterated headline might suggest.…

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2020: My Year in Numbers

Around this time last year, I wrote a review of my year in numbers (an idea borrowed gratefully from my friend Suzanne at Inside, Outside and Beyond – thankyou again Suzanne). I enjoyed the format of reflecting on the year numerically, and so I have decided to use it again this year. It also avoids…

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Introducing Castles of Steel and Thunder

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know I recently shared the news that I’m about to publish my first novel, a Young Adult fantasy inspired by the legends of Caithness. Over the October holidays, I was a very busy bee, proofreading typeset proofs and finalising small details with the wonderful assistance of Jen at…

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Hibernation Diaries – Small Steps Back Into The World

In a crisis, we find out who we are. I heard these words on TV the other day as we completed our tenth week of ‘hibernation,’ a milestone that saw Scotland ease lockdown rules to enable people to meet with others outside their household. The new rules have a distinctly outdoor focus, enabling family reunions…

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