Craggy the Coo was given to me as a Christmas present by my mum way back in 2017. She knitted him from scratch, using her own artistry to produce the woolly mammal who – almost three and a half years later – is about to be unleashed to a brand new audience. I can’t really remember how Craggy’s evolution began. But I remember thinking from the moment I held him in my hands that I ought to repay my mum’s creativity and generosity in kind.
The wee coo whose adventures are documented in my first ever book took his first steps out of my hometown of Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway in early January 2018, and he’s never looked back. I’ve packed him in the coo-themed case (well, wash bag if I’m honest) that keeps him safe on each trip I’ve taken around Scotland. And he got to experience some of my favourite parts of the country, in order that I could share those places with a generation of young readers.
The idea of travelling widely, armed with a healthy dose of curiosity but a sense that someday I’d like to settle in the perfect place, is one that I found easy to translate to Craggy from my own experience. Prior to 2017, I had spent several years living and working overseas as a producer for CNN. I travelled first to Hong Kong, then to Abu Dhabi and finally to Atlanta in the USA before deciding to return to where I belong. Seeing the world has given me an even greater appreciation of my homeland. And it’s an appreciation I am passionate about nurturing in others. My first job was in marketing for the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, and I’ve never shaken off that need to shout about where I come from.
So Craggy has stopped off in several of the places I love to spend time in myself, from the bustle of our two biggest cities to the heights of majestic Suilven in Sutherland. He’s mingled with the comical puffins on Lunga in the Treshnish Isles, and sailed on the mysterious waters of Loch Ness, in search of the ever-elusive Nessie.
Since I returned from my adventures overseas, I’ve rarely been abroad myself. I’ve attended the odd Scotland rugby match in Paris and Rome. I’ve made one trip to Southeast Asia but returned to a ten-day spell in the Infectious Diseases Unit of Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, thanks to a bug that found its way up my leg from a toe wound! So I’m generally safer and happier holidaying at home these days. And having set my sights on writing my first novel, taking in so much native soil, I’ve been given the perfect excuse to do so.
Craggy’s own journey has been a long time in the making since that wonderful and inspirational Christmas gift. And I’d like to thank the team at Crowvus for believing in the wee coo and the middle-aged bloke who penned his story. Getting to share that story with the world has been worth the wait. I’m glad Craggy finally found a home, and I’m equally glad the book found a home with Crowvus. I can’t wait for the woolly traveller to find his way into your homes too.