I'm Oonagh: story-telling and story-seeking from Perthshire, Scotland. I'm a writer and literature lover, especially fantasy, the Gothic, folklore and poetry. This is a place to share my stories.
I make sense of the world with words. Writing is my passion and over the years I’ve filled hundreds of notebooks with thoughts, stories and the worlds in my head. This blog is a digital version of my writer’s notebook, a place to share my words, creative process and thoughts on writing.
A crumbling castle shrouded in mist. The gloomy North Sea in October. A barren moor haunted by deer. Eerie coffin roads through deserted glens and ghostly townships spattered with rain and memory. The dramatic Gaelic landscape and legends of my home provide the basis for much of my writing, and will feature often on my blog.
I like to fill my life with art, books, music and creativity. Books have changed the direction of my life, and I am continually inspired by the lives and work of other writers and artists. For me, there is nothing more exciting than finding a story, song or artwork that speaks to me, and I try to share as many of my discoveries as I can.
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Here's to the early days of autumn. Is there anything better than feeling that first chill in the air, pulling on an oversized jumper and curling up with an absorbing read? Below is a list of the books I plan to read this season, pages of magic and poetry, ghosts and uncanny quiet. I hope that you will find these tales as enticing as I do...
This morning I woke up naturally, padded into the kitchen and watched the bristle of rain from the window while my tea brewed. The face of the church clock was obscured by silvered haze, the leaves and post-box red fruit of the apple tree glistened with damp.
I paused to appreciate the unmistakable stirrings of autumn, letting my mind drift to a mist-wreathed kingdom of seal-folk and ancient things.
A far cry from where I was a few months ago – stressed, frustrated and lost. Unable to slow down or appreciate my favourite time of day in my hurry to get out the door and to work on time.
On Friday I visited St Andrews with a picnic and hopes for a final summer day out. Here are the thoughts I scribbled afterwards in my writer’s notebook.
The wind blows mutinously from the off, closing the Tay Bridge. Finally we reach St Andrews, where it whistles down dingy closes and tuneless cackles, “Game’s up! Autumn is here!”
I ignore it and find warmth by the sea. A pungent fug of rotting weed and salt. The tide is stripped back, a seal lolls on a rock. The houses lining the coast look like they contain mysteries – consulting detectives, vanishing people and cats guarding ancestral secrets.
I get quite a few messages asking me for tips on how to stay motivated while writing a novel, or even how to work up the motivation to start a project. And although what I have to learn about writing far outweighs the insights I can give, there are a few techniques that always help me out of a creative slump.
I’ve developed these strange habits without much thought over the years, so maybe they just work for me – but don’t let that stop you trying!
I’ve been feeling all kinds of things lately that I’m having trouble articulating. Things that seem best expressed in Gaelic and Scots, old words that, for me, have personal connotations far beyond their ordinary usage. Mostly though, I am just going to feel and create and go wherever my stubborn imagination plods. Or, if it is a russety drifting day then I will be still, read a book, watch the rain and listen.
At the end of June I spent a week on the island of Jersey, a paradise that is neither England nor France but a world all of its own. Below are some of my impressions of the island, taken from my writer’s notebook.
June the month of fire flowers, of heady blooms and a sky that looks like the sea. A month to fall in love with folktales again, the darkwoods and the hidden paths. June with its summer fogs, sunlit picnics and childhood escapes, its antlered dawns and horned dusks.
A month for new islands, medieval chapels whose clean white stone houses dragons and caves that have crumbled into the devil’s hands. The sound of gulls, eerie and shrill. June – a month of revising the first ten scenes and finding grains of magic. A month of getting under the skin and hair and nails of characters who now have accents and arguments without me having to do very much.
Summer spells a season of slowing down, less work, more daytrips and lots of time to read.
While I’m sticking to my self-imposed editing schedule, I will take some time off, especially for reading breaks at my local café or outdoors if the weather is nice.
As I edit my novel I’m finding I crave immersive, intense worlds with characters so real I might meet them on the street (armoured bears aside), so my summer read reflect this. It’s a short list because I always let my mood dictate my reading so I want to leave room for the unexpected. I also received lots of book tokens for my birthday so I envisage a bookish day out that will add a few volumes to my summer reading pile. You know the kind of bookish day out I mean: browse books, break for lunch, browse more books, break for cake…
Today the sun feels like it will shine every day. I’m sitting by the window, books are piled next to me on the desk and around my feet too. Coffee cups clatter in saucers from the café below. Up here I can see the elegant old lady make her regular Saturday trip around the town. Immaculate shoes and hair, the May sun does not tempt her into t-shirt and trainers, she is a dark rose in her black, pressed coat and hair of perfumed steel.