Book interviews and country diary

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I’ve still got my head down working on a longer term project, but in the mean time I continue to conduct interviews and edit for the literary site Five Books, which you should visit and follow if, like me, you like to keep a to-be-read pile larger than your bedside table or to hear authors/academics/public figures talking about their areas of expertise in depth. Recently I’ve spoken to author Matthew Green about post-traumatic stress, journalist and memoirist Bryony Gordon about depression, and academic Philippa Levine about eugenics.

I also contributed another short entry to the Guardian’s Country Diary, this time about horse-riding in the Black Isle during pheasant shooting season. Text at the Guardian website here, or after the fold.  Continue reading

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Paperback edition of Thicker Than Water

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I love the new paperback covers. Available from 23 February, 2017.

I’ll also be appearing alongside the historian Jim Hunter at the Aye Write! book festival in Glasgow, at the Mitchell Library on Wednesday 15th March at 6.30pm. We’ll be discussing the impact of the Highland Clearances – in Scotland and beyond. Hope to see you there. Tickets.

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TTW picked as one of The Times’ Books of the Year

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I somehow managed to miss this when it first came out, but a friend has very kindly drawn my attention to Thicker Than Water‘s inclusion among The Times’ Books of the Year 2016.

It was picked by reviewer and columnist Melanie Reid, who also wrote the lovely  review that will feature on the new paperback cover (out February 23rd). I’m delighted and extremely grateful.

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Recently

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Just a quick note about recent work—I was delighted to hear earlier this month that I’d been shortlisted for feature writer of the year at the Scottish Magazine Awards for my work on the equestrian magazine EQY. It was a wonderful evening, and although in the end the title went to the very deserving Pennie Taylor, a former BBC health correspondent, I was pleased to see my writing on the shortlist.

Elsewhere, I’ve written another dispatch for the Guardian’s Country Diary, this time from the far northeastern corner of the country, at Duncansby Head near John O’Groats, where I was lucky to come across a seal colony during the pupping season and hear their haunting siren song. (Full text can be found on the Guardian website).

I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to do a series of reviews of some of Scotland’s top hotels, in remote and beautiful areas of the country, for the Telegraph. Our stay at Arisaig House was blissful—helped no doubt by an invigorating swim at the silver sands at Camusdarach, in the clear winter sun—while Torridon House offered ultra-luxe accommodation in a most perfect location down by the lochside. Ardanaiseig House, near Oban, was a perfect romantic getaway (in a secluded country house decorated in flamboyant style by a noted antiques dealer), while Natural Retreats in John O’Groats was a bastion of Copenhagen cool in a part of the country that, to put it kindly, is not well known for its style. Continue reading

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Australian coverage of McMillan name change

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-20-49-11Australia’s national public broadcasting network SBS ran a segment about the ongoing campaign to change the name of the McMillan Electorate in Victoria, now that McMillan’s role in the brutal massacres of the Gippsland ‘black war’ has become more widely known and accepted. Historian Peter Gardner, Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, Koorie heritage consultant (and Gunaikurnai man) Russell Mullett and myself were all interviewed by SBS reporter Sacha Payne. Watch it and read the accompanying article here.

 

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The trouble with lichen

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I had another short article in the Guardian’s lovely Country Diary section a few days ago, about lichen land grabs and the slow wars waged over centuries.

Find the full text here, or after the break.

Continue reading

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Islands and otters in the Guardian

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I was delighted to contribute a piece to the Guardian’s lovely Country Diary section, about a close encounter with three juvenile otters while camping on the beach on Gigha, a small island off Argyll. Find the article online here, or after the fold. Amusingly it was featured on the Guardian’s homepage under the heading ‘breaking news’. This is the sort of news I like to break best. Continue reading

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Thicker Than Water: dates for the diary

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Since I last wrote, Thicker Than Water has made a few more appearances in the media. I was ecstatic to see it featured in the Guardian’s ‘Best books of summer 2016’, selected by the brilliant writer Reni Eddo-Lodge. It has also appeared in The Economist and The Week, as well as being chosen as BBC Radio nan Gaidheal’s book of the month (Leugh an Leabhar). Short extracts have also run in the Scotland on Sunday and the Metro.

Over the coming, I’ll be doing some more book-related events, which I detail below. Maybe I’ll see you there!

  • 4th August, 7.30pm: Skye Festival, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (Sleat, Isle of Skye). Tickets.
  • 16th August, 2.15pm: Edinburgh Book Festival (with Candace Savage). Tickets.
  • 27th August, 3pm: solo event. Canberra Writers Festival (National Library). Free tickets can be reserved here.
  • 28th August, 11.30am: Unveiling Hidden History with Cal Flyn, Bruce Pascoe and Tom Dusevic. Canberra Writers Festival (Museum of Australian Democracy). Tickets.
  • 29th/30th August: Sydney, currently only private events – I’ll post an update if that changes.
  • 31st August, 7pm: Collins Bookshop, Sale, Gippsland. Full details to follow.
  • 1 September, time TBC: book event, Yarram. Details to follow
  • 22nd September, 7pm: Edinburgh Bookshop, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh.
  • 25th September, 10.30am: Wigtown Book Festival (County Buildings). Tickets.

 

Cover story: who wants to live forever?

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I was delighted to contribute the cover story of the latest (summer) edition of the New Humanist magazine, an article about efforts to transcend death via cryonics, gene therapy and artificial intelligence. During my research I shadowed a training day run by Cryonics UK and interviewed several who have signed up to be ‘frozen’ after their death, in the hope of revival, plus the leader of a Mormon association who plans a mass-sign up of Mormons and Christians so that they might be reborn in accordance with scripture.

 

It can be found in full on the New Humanist website here, or after the fold.

Continue reading

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Further coverage of Thicker Than Water

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I thought I’d pull together briefly some of the coverage of Thicker Than Water over the last few weeks:

  • Full page review, by Elizabeth Lowry, in The Guardian.

    Flyn deftly captures the looking-glass world of the antipodean landscape, so alien to European eyes… Her account is vivid with a sense of its strangeness; lyrically responsive to the odd local fauna and flora…
    The urgent question, “How can things be fixed?” infuses every page. To her credit, Flyn is aware of the ugly likelihood that they can’t.

  • Review, by Allan Massie, in The Scotsman, who took issue with the “fashionable” concept of ‘inherited guilt’, but otherwise found the book

    full of interest and intelligently and evocatively written. [Flyn] gives a vivid picture of the landscape and way of life, and explores the complexities and silences of Australian history… Her book is not only continuously interesting, and the author’s character as pleasing and sympathetic as her eye for detail and oddity is sharp, it also offers a salutory lesson.

  • Review in The Economist:

    Tracing McMillan’s footsteps, she conjures up the landscape of Gippsland, plaiting together travelogue, history, diaries and reflections… McMillan has come to symbolise some of the very worst excesses of Australia’s violent colonial past. So it is a tribute to Ms Flyn’s empathy for his “moral ambivalence” that when she comes to write of his death—possibly suicide—aged 54, the reader feels pity as well as relief.

  • A drawing together of reviews, in The Week
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  • Interview on Radio 4’s Midweek: full episode of Libby Purves’ Wednesday arts show is available to listen to here.
  • Interview on BBC Scotland’s Culture Show with Janice Forsyth: available to listen to here.

Continue reading

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