There hasn't been a walrus seen in these waters for more than 64 years, but since my new novel, The Walrus Mutterer, came out, a walrus has been splashing about and cruising our coastline, behaving increasingly as if he has read the book and is giving it his seal (sorry!) of approval!
They say fact is stranger than fiction, and really, you just couldn't make this stuff up.
There is a scene in the book involving walruses (there would have to be, wouldn't there, given the title!) and it's set on Sanday, one of northernmost Orkney islands. I did a lot of research to work out where in Scotland would be an appropriate place for walruses, so I was really gratified when, a couple of weeks prior to the book launch, a walrus turned up on that very island. It seemed to indicate that I was reasonably in tune with the kind of habitat they like. It was a good omen.
And then things got stranger. My book was due to launch at the end of March, at home here in Sutherland. And as the date drew nearer, the walrus set off south towards here, eventually being sighted off the Sutherland coast three days before the launch, really as if heading this way for the Lochinver event. On that beautiful day, people were looking out to sea and when someone said they saw a walrus, I really couldn't tell if they were joking or not! I assumed they were, but now I'm not so sure.
Because now it turns out the walrus is still hanging around our waters. I'm due to read in Ullapool at the book festival, on Friday 11 May, at 11.30 am (you can get a ticket here) and the walrus has been spotted lolling about on Harris. Is he planning to saunter across the Minch in time for Friday? And no, I'm not making this up - here's the BBC report and there are videos on Twitter etc.
Needless to say, I'll be heading off in the boat shortly after the Ullapool event, and hope to set eyes on Wally myself. If I do, I'll be sure to read him an appropriate passage from the book!
If you can't make to Ullapool or Inverness Waterstones (where I'm reading on Thursday), and you'd like a signed copy, you can get one here.