“I love you kilt and thistle with your tartan bounty and rich heritage”

Notes from a morning in Portland, Oregon, during which I continue to be perplexed about the fact that people make sporrans — Scottish manbags/kilt accessories ...

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Ponies and Horses

I have been neglecting this blog recently… because I’ve been scurrying about setting up my own wee publishing empire, Ponies + Horses Books, with my ridiculously talented illustrator/designer friend Tracy Craig. Our first book, The Mostly True Adventures of Jim Craig, came out in November and has already sold in exceedingly pleasing numbers.

Next up is the first in a series of short works of travel writing, wee books, if you will. This one is called ‘Island of Cats’… and it’s by me! February will be a pretty exciting month for me, since ‘Island of Cats’ is just one of two island-related tomes I’m authoring! It comes out mere weeks before my first full-length P+H book, How To Buy a Private Island comes out in paperback and e-book. I spent a couple of years as editor of a fine magazine called Private Islands Magazine and thought it was time to put my extensive knowledge of archipelagos to good use.

Meanwhile, I’m still working away on bringing The Scottish Ambassador to you in book form. Watch this space! xxxa

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TV screenplay, Travel Memoir and Fruit de Mer Fiction

One of the things my mum found most hilarious in life (along with Terry Wogan’s annual commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest and most things after a couple of drams of Jameson’s) was the fact that I once asked for help with the personality quiz question, “Am I Decisive?” I insisted afterwards that I was only asking her that for comic effect. This was a lie. The 15-year-old me really couldn’t decide how to answer that one, because, well, then, as now it depends on the question. The answer “sometimes” was not an option.

So, armed with this piece of information, it may not surprise you to learn that I am currently writing three different books. One fiction. One travel. One not actually a book at all, a TV screenplay/series. My mum would not have approved of this manner of working at all. She would be frowning at me and telling me to do one thing first, then move onto the next, then she would have a couple of drams of Jameson, see a picture of Terry Wogan and his unflinching hair and forget about her chastising.

But I enjoy ricocheting (during my more energetic days) or drifting (on days like today) from one to the other, depending on my mood, the weather, the surroundings I am in and the number of distractions/eavesdropping opportunities in the vicinity. I enjoy the variety of writing about Michigan, seahorses and the crises of the ex-pat all in the same day, almost as much as I enjoyed my mum’s enjoyment of Terry Wogan’s wisecracks.

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Rush Hour Reading

I’m trying to read a book a week on the streetcar on the way downtown each morning. The feeling of finishing a book is a splendid one and if accomplished during a morning commute, shunts my day into the success category before most people have even struggled to their desks. Very little needs to happen […]

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Chariots of Fire, the Xylophone version, or Why I Love the State of Michigan

This wee bit follows on from this post… where, having been racing through Detroit Airport in the hopes of catching the day’s final flight to Tennessee, I have given up and am standing disconsolately on the moving walkway, my hopes of reaching Knoxville dashed. But, just at that moment, just when I’m ready to hang […]

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Seattle to Gatlinburg and An Alphabet of Knowledge

At the airport in Seattle, Courtney and her daughter Caitlin are in the check-in line in front of me. I ask Courtney if she has Irish heritage and she looks confused. “No.” She shifts the toddler to her other hip. “Why?” “I just thought that because of Caitlin’s name.” “Caitlin is an Irish name?” “Yes. […]

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Tired of the Elephants: In New Mexico with Jose Cuervo, Jesus and a penguin

I found a wee scrap of diary from a trip to report on Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Hot Air Balloon Fiesta for The Irish Times a few years ago… It was one of my very first travel writing trips. It was pretty great; I looked at America from a train for two days, drank tequila and […]

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