For Gavinton-based actor Euan McIver, the role of author has probably been his most difficult to date.
In a career that has seen him appear naked on the stage of the Lyceum Theatre, working in the USA, on stage with Stanley Baxter, in radio to TV commercials, and local community productions, Euan has had many distractions, and his historical novel ‘The Ochil Eye’ has taken him 25 years to complete.
The book has been through many trials and tribulations: from typewritten sheets of foolscap, handwritten pages of notes, rewrites; abandoned and picked up a dozen times.
Euan’s story focuses on the Ochil Eye which he describes as the almost-orgotten curious Scottish agate stone that looks like an eye.
“I was given two of them and still have them in my possession,” he explained. “What I needed was to find a turbulent period of Scottish history, Covenanters, Jacobites and the religious struggles of the period.
“Mix this up with the battles of Killiecrankie and Sherriffmuir, personal loss for the central character and treachery from the villain of the piece and you have the basis for ‘The Ochil Eye’.
“I used to visit Alva – a small town in Clackmannanshire that lies to the south of the Ochil Hills – as a small boy and teenager,” explained Euan.
“Auntie Minnie, born in Alva in the 1880s, was a nurse in the First World War and spoke with the local dialect.
“This fascinated me, as did the adventure of being on an “island” in a village. The house had been the local smithy, was accessed by a bridge, and was surrounded by water. The backdoor was always open and hens walked in and out of the kitchen. To a city boy, this was something special and the house features in the book.
“She always pronounced Alva “Avay” and so it is in the book as are her stories of local traditions I had never heard anywhere, or since.”
The book was published last month and is available as a paperback and ebook from Amazon.co.uk