An­gus Mac­don­ald

This au­thor with an OBE lives for the High­lands, his true love…

The Scots Magazine - - Scottish Bookshelf -

A Wee Blether With…

You were a founder spon­sor for Mal­laig’s book fes­ti­val, A Write High­land Hoolie. Were you sur­prised by its in­stant suc­cess?

Not re­ally. With such an ex­cep­tional com­mit­tee, I knew it would be a hit. Books and mu­sic is a tempt­ing com­bi­na­tion.

Does this and Scot­land’s other book fes­ti­vals re­flect the na­tion’s love for lit­er­a­ture?

I do sense that peo­ple are qui­eten­ing down, and look­ing for more peace­ful pur­suits like read­ing. I’ve had strangers stop me in the street and ask for book rec­om­men­da­tions. I love that.

You’ve lived all your life in the High­lands. Do you ever fancy city life?

There is a cost to ru­ral liv­ing like hav­ing di­a­bol­i­cal in­ter­net con­nec­tion and higher costs, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Peace to write, fresh air, neigh­bours one knows and a sense of com­mu­nity.

How do you have time to write with all your many in­ter­ests and busi­ness ven­tures?

I only write in the win­ter, start­ing at 3.45 in the morn­ing and writ­ing un­til lunchtime. I love writ­ing. It’s cathar­tic.

What’s the ba­sis for your lat­est novel?

In We Fought For Ard­nish, Don­ald An­gus grows up on Ard­nish in the dwin­dling com­mu­nity be­fore go­ing off to the Sec­ond World War. Of course, there is a girl in­volved too – Françoise from Nova Sco­tia.

Your last two books fea­tured Ard­nish. What’s so spe­cial about it?

The vil­lage of Ard­nish is a row of ru­ined houses along a sandy beach with a view of the islands of Eigg and Rum. It’s im­pos­si­ble not to marvel at the beauty of this place. It stirs the soul.

The Scots Mag­a­zine No Great Mis­chief by Alis­tair Macleod, a book about High­land em­i­grants writ­ten by a re­mark­able Cana­dian au­thor. I love Gavin Maxwell’s writ­ing too.

What drives you th­ese days?

I care deeply about the peo­ple of the West High­lands and want to help them stay in the area where they were brought up. We’ve had em­i­gra­tion for cen­turies too long.

What were your feel­ings about be­ing pre­sented with an OBE?

The ci­ta­tion was for “ser­vices to the High­lands” but in re­al­ity it was for found­ing The Cale­do­nian Chal­lenge. I was thrilled, al­most as much as my mother was.

What do you wake up wor­ry­ing about?

The dis­ap­pear­ance of sea birds! Over 10 years they have van­ished from my view. And sand eels are be­ing swept up by trawlers and used for feed­ing farmed sal­mon and chicken farms. They’re even used to fuel power sta­tions.

What’s a typ­i­cal work­ing day?

Wake up early, get my desk work out of the way, then set off on a kayak. Check to see how The High­land Book­shop in Fort Wil­liam is do­ing and whether the plan­ning for the new cin­ema in Fort Wil­liam is pro­gress­ing well. Th­ese are two ven­tures I’m heav­ily in­volved in.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.