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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For updates on my current writing projects, exclusive peeks into my writers notebook and an insight into my creative process sign up to my monthly newsletter. All subscribers will receive my prose-poem Song of the Deer, which I do not share anywhere else.
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.
February’s writing prompt was all about landscapes, both inner and outer. The places we visit in our dreams or in real life, childhood haunts and spirit lands - the places where we felt ourselves. Reading over the month’s responses I’ve been transported to magical woods, a wintry fishing port, a glorious Japanese dawn and the most intimate corners of a writer’s soul.
I am humbled that so many talented writers have chosen to participate in February’s Month of Words and take readers on a journey into the kingdom of their souls. Below I have chosen eight of my favourite responses to this month’s tag with links to places where you can read more of the writer’s work.
I’m not particularly romantic when it comes to Valentine’s Day (as you might have guessed with this post arriving ten days late) but one thing I can get sentimental about is a good book. So, I decided to celebrate the month of love in my own way with a list of six books that have made me cry.
Because surely the sign of a great writer is one who has rendered you a weeping ball by the last page?
In January I met with talking wolves, mysterious rebels and spoke with the spirits of winter. I saw the graves of giants, wrote enchantments and pondered the power of wishes.
The ‘My Month of Words’ prompt began simply as a way to keep my mind off my novel but I could not have envisioned just how liberating the process would be. It has been a joy to begin the year on such a whimsical, carefree note. Once I let go of the novel and trusted that a ‘writing holiday’ would do it the world of good, I’ve seen my writing grow in directions I could never have expected.
In the last few weeks have I settled into a new rhythm and felt my imagination unhook from its icy moorings at the edge of the sea to roam uncharted lands. This is the first time I’ve ever used prompts as a writer and I am surprised at how useful the process has been (and dismayed that I didn’t use them sooner!)
With Burns Night just around the corner I am turning to poems from my native land to inspire my writing sessions. As this month’s theme is ‘Folklore & Fairytales’ I’ve selected four poems of myth and magic, poems that encapsulate that eerie sense of uncanny which Scottish writing does so well. If you’re following #mymonthofwords on Instagram, I’ve included prompts below each poem on how you might use these poets’ interpretations of fairytales and legends to add a touch of the supernatural to your own writing.
If you are simply here for the poetry then I hope you enjoy these poems as much as I do.
Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been ~ Alan Alda
Last time we spoke I was writing the final pages of my novel. The right words arrived before Christmas and so for the past two weeks my manuscript has been sleeping in my drawer while I have strayed from the land of the seal-people back into a mortal world of celebration and feast. I have found that time in the mortal realm can be just as deceptive as faerie time, for in the blink of an eye the old year has slipped away with a flurry of snow and the soft crackle of fireworks. I find myself on the edge again, at the hinterland of story. It is a place of shifting sand, formed and yet unformed, where skin is shed, characters may change sex and the route, though carefully plotted, may still lead somewhere unexpected.
A few weeks ago I travelled through a snowstorm looking for reindeer but was forced by the weather into Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore. Rat Murchus; ancient pine forest of the Caledonians, where an ancient winter still blows. The trees are bones, keepers of memory. Fir giants, covered in snow. Sometimes the place you end up in by chance is the place you need to be.
In the Caledonian pine forest the blizzard stopped. Time stopped, ran backwards, to a great winter of old. People came into the forest, dogs came. Folk came and went, leaving only footprints. I left my footprint too, returned to the blizzard I arrived in, but parted with the mark of the forest upon me.