Highlands author gives fans a glimpse into new book in interview

One of the authors set to appear at Borders Book Festival this year before the coronavirus lockdown cancelled the event has nevertheless launched his new book.

Thursday, 6th August 2020, 12:30 pm
Angus MacDonald at home in the Highlands.
Angus MacDonald at home in the Highlands.

And fans of Lochaber businessman Angus MacDonald’s writings can now enjoy an online virtual interview, below.

Angus launched the third book in his Ardnish series at The Highland Bookshop in Fort William last week.

To celebrate the launch, he took part in a virtual interview with Scottish wildlife author and photographer Polly Pullar, during which he discussed his family’s personal connection to this story – his great-grandfather was present at the creation of the Lovat Scouts, the regiment featured in this book, and his grandfather also joined the Lovat Scouts, so between them they served in the Boer War and both world wars.

The pair also talk about the Boer War itself, which features heavily in the book, and discuss why it is often overlooked in histories, and the atrocities that took place within concentration camps in South Africa.

During the interview, Angus explains a bit about his research process, his trips to South Africa to gather information, and his use of real historical people in his books.

He said stories have been a huge part of his life.

He says: “My father is a great historian and there’s nothing he likes more than the history of the Highlands, but he never really documented his stories.

The third book in his Ardnish series.

“I started off by writing them down and that gave me great material to pull together into a novel.”

They also discuss the Ardnish series more generally, as this is the third book in the series and the culmination of 20 years of research and writing, and he reveals he is working on a fourth in the series which will be set in 2016.

Inspired by his beloved Highlands, the curious draw of Ardnish‘s abandoned settlements and his passion for military history, MacDonald set about creating his first novel Ardnish Was Home in 1999.

Its success ensured a follow-up novel, We Fought For Ardnish, which was inspired by the Special Operations Executive selecting their training posts at estate homes around Arisaig and Lochailort for their secluded locations, harsh terrain and tough weather conditions during the Second World War.

Inspiration for the third book in the trilogy (and the first, due to its timeline) is a story of love and family secrets set amid the Boer war and was prompted by MacDonald’s reading of Lovat Scouts activity during those wars, and involved a research trip to South Africa.

Angus has lived all his life in the Highlands and is steeped in its tales.

He served in his local regiment, the Queen’s Own Highlanders.

A serial entrepreneur, he has built businesses in publishing, renewable energy, recycling and education.

He founded The Caledonian Challenge and runs The Moidart Trust, and is the owner of The Highland Bookshop in Fort William.

As if that wasn’t enough, he plans to open a cinema and arts centre there later this year.

Published by Birlinn, Ardnish is available in-store at The Highland Bookshop and at the online shop with 20% off when all three books are bought together.