The lovely Jared A. Carnie has written a guest post especially for this event. His debut novel, ‘Waves’ was published in September last year and has been getting some really good reviews.
Waves, my recent novel, is set on the Isle of Lewis, where I used to live. Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone could live in the Outer Hebrides and not write a book set there. It’s hard to get across what a wonderful and unique place it is.
Here’s an example:
I was working for Western Isles Council doing admin work (the council is one of the only places up there for unskilled office workers to get a job). It was a Friday afternoon and I was nearly done for the day. I got a text from my friend Callum. It said do you fancy going out to Horgabost tonight? We can camp out. I’ll pick you up after work.
Horgabost is a beautiful, isolated campsite down on the Isle of Harris, which is actually the same bit of land as the Isle of Lewis. I know that’s confusing. I got told it’s like that because hundreds of years ago, when these places got named, the mountains in the middle of the two isles made it impossible to get from one to the other through any route except by boat, so they were in effect two separate isles, despite being connected by land. Today, they still have their separate names despite the fact that you can drive straight from Lewis to Harris. And if you’re ever up there, I recommend you do, as it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch.
Anyway, I told Callum I’d love to go camping and would see him in a bit. So, at half past four (because it’s an island and nobody has to work late) Callum picked me up outside work. We drove down to Horgabost, passing the sheep in the road, passing the glassy lochs reflecting the sky.
When we got there, unsurprisingly, we were the only people at this giant, white, impossibly clean, beach. Callum and I set up the tent ready for the evening. By the time we were done, a few of Callum’s other friends had started to arrive. One of them had brought some fireworks for later. He said he’d called the coastguard, and warned them that we would be setting off fireworks around 10pm, so that was when we would have to use them.
Callum had brought some burgers and after an hour or two of sitting around drinking we got a fire going to cook some of the meat. At that point, as it was starting to get dark, Mike arrived. I’d not met Mike before. Mike was just back from being out on his boat, and he’d brought some lobster he’d just caught with him. Now, I’d never had lobster before. So, this ended up being the way I had lobster for the first time: with six people, alone, on a vast, mediterranean-looking beach, by a roaring fire, with our own, private fireworks display.
And it was all pretty much free. And just down the road from my house. And at 3pm that day I’d expected to just be spending the evening at home watching TV. That’s the magic of the island. Things like that would happen all the time. My girlfriend and I would text each other at lunch sometimes and suggest a bit of the island we wanted to head to after work. We’d head out and find ourselves alone on other beautiful beaches or seeing whales off the top of the island or stumbling across deer on walks or eagles in the sky. Things people would pay thousands of pounds to do were just down the road for us. And that’s why, when people ask why I decided to write a novel set on the Isle of Lewis, I can’t help but think how could I not?
‘Waves’ is available to purchase from:-
Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/waves/
Jared A. Carnie’s website – http://www.jaredacarnie.com/
Twitter – @jacarnie