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27 March 2018
Walrus Muttering

Yesterday was one of those glorious blue days that you can’t quite believe at this time of year, rewarding all of those people who came huge distances to join me in the launching of The Walrus Mutterer. Thanks to everyone who came! We had a day of genial conversation on which we sailed back into the past.

The morning was spent with the P6s from Lochinver and Achiltibuie primary school, introducing them to some of the archaeological finds from Clachtoll Broch and, with Alex Nye, encouraging them to make up their own, perhaps ghostly, stories about the people who lived there. It was, I hope, not only the weather, but also the hard work of Fiona, Kat, Steph, Roz and the other helpers, which made one of the children declare it ‘the best school day ever’!

Particular thanks are due to Dave McBain, who led us in beautiful walking conditions out to the broch at Clachtoll and talked about the excavation last summer. Thanks also to Weeza who helped quench our thirsts and hunger at Stoer hall afterwards, Bill who made sure everyone had a glass in their hand in the evening, and Alex who managed the swift trade in books at the end.

The best thing about the day for me was that Margaret Elphinstone and Ian Stephen, two of my favourite writers, both of whom have been instrumental in bringing the book to fruition, joined me in reading and talking about historical fiction writing last night. I found it fascinating to compare, for example, my process of trying to stay true to archaeological facts with Ian’s fastidious approach to the stories that he gathers, and the way that all three of us weave our imagined characters into the weft of lore and history. I hope the audience found it equally enthralling.

There was much talk of the walrus who has been making his way from Sanday in Orkney down to the Sutherland coast (if you don't know about this, see here). Bill reckons he glimpsed him off Clachtoll. Between the walrus and the spectacular weather, it certainly felt as if the forces of nature were giving their ‘seal’ of approval to the Walrus Mutterer project!

If you haven’t managed to get your copy, please support a real bookshop or a library.  If you want a signed one, you can get one here and Achins bookshop in Inverkirkaig has several signed copies too.

(Thanks to Chris Puddephatt for the image above).

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