Skip to main content

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: On the Hoof!

When people say they’re doing something “on the hoof”, it generally implies they’re making it up as they go along. When it came to writing my first book, I did so on the hoof in more ways than one.

The photos that feature in Craggy the Coo Wants a Place to Call Home were snapped all over Scotland, from the top of mountains to the surface of Loch Ness. But the words that accompany the pictures were largely concocted near my hometown of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway. I’m relatively notorious in these parts for embarking on epic walks of 20-30 miles around the surrounding hills. And while most people would carry their phone to chart their route or maybe listen to music, I used mine to put words to my pictures.

Having all the photos of Craggy’s travels on my iPhone meant I could weave a clear narrative together based on where he happened to be, and what could be seen in each image. So I would set off on a long walk armed with all I needed to create the verses and his direction of travel (while obviously keeping an eye on my own). The “Notes” app became my answer to a Victorian typewriter, with the added bonus that I was able to delete big chunks of text with ease when I’d thought of something better.

Nicol's (and Craggy's!)
"Book Week Scotland 2020" video

The fresh, crisp air and the rolling hill scenery around Langholm also acted as an inspiration for the book’s message – that no matter where you travel and the sights you behold, you’ll know when you’ve found somewhere you are happy to call home. As I piled on the miles, I also created ever-more content, which was eventually distilled into the product that’s being released this week.

For as long as writing has existed, those putting their thoughts down on cave walls, parchment or paper have been stimulated by their surroundings. I’ve been very fortunate with Craggy in the sense that not only have I been able to take the cuddly coo to some of my favourite places around the country – I’ve been able to immerse myself in glorious Scottish countryside as I’ve put the pieces of his journey together.

I can safely say that writer’s block was never an issue in the undertaking of book one. And I’ll just need to ensure that I keep writing “on the hoof” in the great Scottish outdoors when the day arrives that I embark on a sequel.


Popular posts from this blog

GUEST POST - "Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book?" by Jessica Norrie

  The Magic Carpet  is available at I'm absolutely thrilled to share this gem of a blog by Jessica Norrie on the Crowvus Book Blog. It's personally relatable for me, too, as I'm teacher who also writes children's fiction. I just love all the comments made in this blog - they are so true! It's a delight to meet another author/teacher/soprano! Check out the links to Jessica Norrie's books at the end of the blog too! Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book? Primary and English teachers spend their days with books. It’s not surprising many dream of writing their own. Some make the big time - think Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, Michael Morpurgo. Teachers start with several professional advantages: 1) All child and adult human life enters the classroom. Teachers overhear conversations, respond to different personalities, encounter heartrending or enviable household  circumstances. They see family and cultural likenesses and cont

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: My Inspiration

When I’m asked who my favourite author is, I also tend to consider who my favourite writers have been at various stages of my life. When I was very young, Roald Dahl could not be beaten. Like many children, I found his sense of mischief combined with superlative storytelling and Quentin Blake’s glorious illustrations irresistible. In my angsty teenage years, I must have re-read JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye  about 20 times, dreaming of leaving boarding school and running off to the States with just a rucksack on my back (which I actually did for a year when I was 17. I wasn’t quite as rebellious as Holden Caulfield though. It was all above board.) But the writer who has stood the test of time with me most, and was taken from us far too soon, is Iain Banks. I love the twisty intrigue of Complicity , in which my hometown of Langholm has an early cameo. I adore the assault on the hypocrisies of organised religion that lie at the heart of Whit . In my teens, I was traumatised in a can’t