The trouble with lichen


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.

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Islands and otters in the Guardian


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

Cam Cope:Steaphan Paton's Wallung Githa Unsettled series4

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).

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?


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.

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Further coverage of Thicker Than Water

Credit Cam Cope 4.jpg

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.

  • 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.
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On the cover of Equestrian Year

EQy 2016_cover (1)

It’s been an exciting week, what with the launch of Thicker Than Water, and the first, great review in The Times, so it was an extra bonus to find myself on the cover of the Scottish magazine EQy (Equestrian Year), interviewing Game of Thrones actor Clive Russell on horseback on the beach at St Andrews.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Olympian and cross-country course designer Ian Stark — from his hospital bed! — for the same issue. It’s on newstands until the new year, but I’ll post the text online after that.

Last year, I interviewed Zara Phillips for the same magazine at Blair Castle ahead of the European Championships.

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Thicker Than Water reviewed in The Times of London

review in times

I was delighted to find a lovely review of Thicker Than Water in The Times’ Saturday Review section this weekend – I was especially pleased to find it was written by Melanie Reid, whose Spinal Column in The Times Magazine (about her recovery from a terrible riding accident, which left her tetraplegic) I have often admired for its bravery and emotional acuity.

The resulting book is stunning. Thicker than Water is a thrilling debut, a true story that reads like classy, compelling fiction… 

Thicker than Water combines memoir, history, travelogue and lyrical nature writing into a dramatic page-turner. It succeeds above all because of its two striking protagonists: the dishonourable, flawed McMillan, as brave and brutal and morally ambiguous as his century, and Flyn herself. Her ballsiness and likeability, as the narrator and the heroine of the travelogue, made her an irresistible companion

My book is available on pre-order from Waterstones and

The full review can be found on the Times website here (£) or after the fold. Continue reading

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Puffin spotting on the Isle of May


I spent a lovely day on the Isle of May, a beautiful nature reserve off the coast of Fife, spotting puffins and other nesting seabirds for this Country Diary entry for The Guardian. It was a gorgeous, cloudless day, and the birds there are thick upon the ground – literally! I almost stepped on several eider ducks who nest in the grass and regularly in the middle of paths, and will not shift for anything!

I travelled on the Osprey rib from Anstruther, which was fast, exciting and vastly superior to the’pleasure cruise’ that chugs the same route, which we zipped past and looped the loop around. From the rib we also had fantastic views of low rocky shelves where seals were basking in the sun, and were raced by flashy boy-racer eider ducks (who abandon their women to their nesting duties). While stopped at the foot of a sea stack, several puffins flew down to dive right by us. Fabulous.

Text of the Country Diary piece can be found on the Guardian website here, or after the fold.  Continue reading

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Thicker Than Water: out now in Oz

Thicker Than Water is now available to buy in bookshops in Australia. I spoke to ABC Radio National’s Cassie McCullagh on Tuesday (Wednesday there) about the book, and what it felt like to learn and research these terrible events, which is available to listen to here.

The Weekend Australian published an extract of the book on Saturday, which is available online to subscribers here. An Australian friend was kind enough to send me a photo so I could see what it looked like in print (thanks Evie!).


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Jenni Fagan and the Sunlight Pilgrims


I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the brilliant Scottish author Jenni Fagan for an interview for The Sunday Times. She was recovering from having launched two books (a new novel, The Sunlight Pilgrims, and a book of poetry, The Dead Queen of Bohemia) within the space of a week.

Text of the interview can be found below, or a slightly shorter version is on the Sunday Times website here.

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