SJ Maclean

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S.G. MacLean

Shona (SG) MacLean was born in Inverness and grew up with her four siblings in various small hotels run by her parents around the Scottish Highlands. The writer Alistair MacLean was her father’s brother and a very kind and perceptive uncle. She studied History at Aberdeen University, with a view to an academic career, but the logistical demands of family life led instead to fiction-writing.

After over 25 years around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, she returned with her family to the Highlands in 2010. Her husband is gainfully employed in education, but not all the ills of society are his fault. Her four children are almost all grown up now, and she should have more time for writing, but on the loss of their much-loved old Labrador last year, the family bought a puppy who is unimpressed by literary pursuits.

She helps run a toddlers’ group at her local church and is secretary of the local Pipe Band. The toddlers are a good deal less trouble than the Pipe Band. Her favourite pastime is cycling, in which no lycra is involved.

Interviewed 10 August 2019

Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...

A rigorously-pursued attempt to avoid getting a proper job.

Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...

A facsimile map of 1650s Bruges
A photo of my Dad strolling along in the sunshine
The new, bigger kilt that my son was given at Pipe Band last night;
The Stuart Kelly book on Walter Scott and his legacy that I’ve just finished reading
Some sort of plant I bought at a school fair nine years ago that is miraculously still alive
The small hand-bell marked ‘tea’ my children gave me for use in emergencies
A book bag from the 2008 Edinburgh Festival
A small, oval-framed snapshot of my uncle Alistair (Alistair MacLean) looking at me with wry resignation
A ‘3 wise monkeys’ ornament which my father loved and my mother loathed – a happy reminder of them both

Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?

A disaster (eight hours preparation time would have the same result).

Seven people you'd like to go for a drink with ...

Seven? You must be joking! Maybe my dog. And Jurgen Klopp.

Six things you can't live without ...

My dog, my bike, my stove-top coffee pot, BBC Radio, chocolate, my Christian faith.

Five favourite words ...

Bourach, stramash, schadenfreude, catastrophic, spectacular.

Four places you'd run away to ...

Tiree, Amsterdam, Dundee, Balintore.

Three books you've bought recently ...

Usborne Animal Hide and Seek lift-the-flap book
Eva Scott’s The Travels of the King: Charles II in Germany and Flanders 1654-60 (1907)
Ian Rankin’s Rather be the Devil (My brother’s always saying: ‘Why can’t you write something like Ian Rankin?’, so I asked Ian to sign the book for him at the recent Cromarty Crime and Thrillers Weekend).

Two things that make you rant ...

Car engines being left running while the car is parked outside a shop/school – I’m getting perilously close to face confrontation.
Absentee property-ownership, particularly as trumpeted in the weekend broadsheets. Do not get me started.

One thing you'd tell your teenage self ...

Don’t worry – you will eventually develop something approximating to dress sense.