“I’m a Scottish writer, based in Perthshire. After many years working in the mental health field, I started writing about three years ago now, mainly short stories, and blogging. My blog http://seapenguin-thecurioussheep.blogspot.com has become a fairly epic construction and a review can be seen in the current edition of Northwords Now magazine. I’m very interested in Scottish language and culture, and I think that’s inevitably reflected in what I write, but I’m definitely not a nationalist. My plan is to write more stories and maybe a play.”
Favourite place – there’s a sheltered grassy ledge on the seaward wall of a Dun somewhere on Skye, with a view of the Cuillins to the south and the Outer Hebrides to the far north west. On clear mid-summer nights when the sun never really sets, the sky is spectacular. On warm summer days it’s the ideal place to settle with a book. When you get tired of reading, you can watch the seabirds banking off the cliffs, and maybe spot seals or porpoises. Perhaps even a whale.
Favourite food – it’s not my favourite food, but it’s practical and on such a day I would have a packet of decent quality Trail Mix in my pocket. When buying it I’d have homed in on the packet with the most dried papaya and pineapple, and almonds. Easy and light to carry, not messy, quite nutritious and sustaining for a short walk. I’d have had a pretty substantial breakfast first, of course – and I’d have a hip flask full of gin with me in case of “emergencies”.
Favourite activity – reading. I would take Colette’s novella The Cat with me. Again, it’s easy to stick in a pocket and carry with you on a walk. I like cats, and in this tale the cat in question comes out on top in a gripping tripartite marital war. I really enjoy the way Colette, without anthropomorphising, gives the cat equal billing to the human protagonists. Colette is probably my favourite writer.
In another pocket I would have favourite thing number four – another book. This time it’s E.W. Hornung’s The Amateur Cracksman. This is a book of tales about the adventures of Raffles, the devilishly handsome and debonair gentleman thief, and his easily-led partner in crime, Bunny. Very very funny indeed. E.W. Hornung was Conan Doyle’s brother in law, which adds an extra touch of interest, but the stories are superbly entertaining in their own right.