Tell us a little bit about your book?
My book “I an an Island” is a true story and memoir. It is written in three acts and tells the story of my moving out of London to a small Hebridean island to run a croft and to live closer to the land. It talks of the joys and losses involved and then of some harder years, when all you might usually fall back on in times of difficulty or crisis, suddenly shears away. It is a story of resilience, love and loss and inner transformation, that is set against an immense story of the power of the natural landscape and wilds to provide, when everything else has been stripped away.
How did it come about? What inspired you?
i needed to make sense of some very intense and challenging times I had experienced. Experiences that were still very raw and close to me. I’d been living right at the edge – in the natural landscape, and also internally. It is was this intensity of experience that formed the emotional energy of the book. I knew there was a story in there – I just had to try and access it. Translating this very deep experience of living in solitude, immersed in the natural world and the raw elements was the inspiration. It helped me to journey out of very difficult times, and to navigate loneliness, and my experience as a woman living alone at the margins. I wanted to try and communicate this in a visceral way so that the reader might journey with me – and also to experience the core human elements that this book explores, in a way that might touch them deeply. This was my starting point.
Experiencing the natural landscape, as a presence, was my inspiration. I wanted to share a deep atavistic connection to nature, and for the language to also be immersive. The landscape here is often harsh, and it made me realise how this journey was like a quest. The island was a metaphor for a bigger experience of humanity. It goes beyond a specificity of place to something more universal, and relevant to each of us. I wanted this book to speak to anyone who has ever felt alone, unheard or silenced. This book explores how love is always stronger than fear.
The natural wilds became my starting point and return. There is a beautiful phrase, in my end is my beginning, and sometimes it felt like this. It was the landscape that drew me originally to the island, yet I had no idea in those early years, what a source of immense comfort it would provide. It felt anathema initially because the conditions, especially out of season, are often harsh yet by immersing so deeply into it, during those tough beautiful years that I write about in my book I AM AN ISLAND, it also instilled and inspired an incredible strength and resilience. My true story is of connecting deeply to nature, and the earth, and finding a true belonging and kinship here.
This story is a song to the wilds. It is asks what can we rely on when all we rely on has fallen away. And how that gift of belonging lies inside us.
I am an Island is published by Penguin Books and available online and in all good book shops.