A breakthrough – at long last

It may not be great news for anyone else but it’s great news for me, so please excuse me if I let you know about it.

I began my first [Easter] eco-adventure for grown-ups of all ages, say, 10-100, when my children were tiny little sprogs, and they’re now in their 40s – so that gives you some idea. I tried in vain for tens of years to get it published, even to find an agent after my last one retired [actually before he retired, he’d found celebrity authors and no longer really wanted an old naturalist with whom to bother]. But I never gave up; I so much believed in the story (based on fact in the Scillies). So alongside trying to place that title, I began a second (Summer, also based on a true story in the Lake District), and then a third (winter and back on the Scillies), making this my ‘accidental trilogy’ – working title ‘Omens and Havens’ (there have been many down the years but I think this is the best.

Now, a publisher has picked them up, not an agent (I’m still looking for one of those) and they’ll be published in 2024, I hope as a series rather than one great 270,000 word galumphing doorstop.

From being in the literary doldrums for so long, even though the new edition of my badger saga has done much better than we expected), I’ve now begun a sequel set up here in the Scottish Highlands, and already – let me see – 10,131 words into it.

We are just recovering from a fire which destroyed my shed with my lovely old easel and an antique oak chest which had been in my family all my life. The insurance company has taken an eternity to fulfil their obligations but I hope now it’s progressing, and that I can get on with drawings for the stories (which I very much want to do, and the publishers do too – I’m very cheap) and a painting commissioned by a collector in Gloucestershire. This I’ll be trying to do flat (a la Alfred Wallis) – a new technical challenge for me because I can’t see myself buying another studio easel, not now at my age. But writing and drawing I can manage fine.

It’s still glorious up here, near Skye, and we’ve heard the Cuckoo every day since May 27th, an amazing treat after so many silent years down south. One day I actually saw three: a pair and a rival male. Other notable birds: a Redstart and Garden warbler along with the usual summer migrants. A Pine marten visits regularly and badgers have followed me up here! The eagles have disappeared for the summer but should be back soon.

Wishing you all a great summer (if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and a fulfilling time wherever you are).