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Malachy Tallack

Malachy Tallack

Malachy Tallack is a young writer and musician who has recently been awarded a New Writers Award by the Scottish Book Trust and an Artist’s Bursary by Creative Scotland. He is currently being mentored by John Burnside. He has worked as a reporter on the Shetland Times and his writing has appeared in the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Scottish Review of Books, and in magazines such as Irish Pages, PN Review, Waterlog and Earthlines. In 2013 he launched The Island Review, an online magazine featuring writing and visual arts from islands all over the world.

Getting to know Malachy Tallack

1. Why the book called Sixty Degrees North? It’s about a series of journeys I took to each of the countries along the sixtieth parallel, from my home in Shetland to Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

2. What was your inspiration to write this story? The idea for Sixty Degrees North came to me when I was in my late teens, at a moment in which I was feeling particularly lost and in need of a sense of direction. The idea of following a parallel around the world seemed both mad and irresistible. It took me a long time to get round to actually doing it though.

3. Was there anywhere that stood out to you for any particular reason? Fort Smith in Canada was a real highlight of my journey, in part because I met some wonderfully kind and hospitable people there, but also because it reminded me, entirely unexpectedly, of Shetland. The landscapes of the two places are as different as they could possibly be, but the geographical isolation, and the sense of community engendered by that isolation, were strikingly similar.

4. Were there any parts that were difficult to write? All of it was difficult to write, unfortunately.

5. What inspired you to become a writer? I’m not sure I ever felt inspired to be a writer. I just wrote, and I kept writing. The idea of following a parallel around the world seemed both mad and irresistible.

6. What is your favourite scene or moment in the book? There are several moments that stand out for me in the book, perhaps because those are the moments that stand out most clearly in my memory of the journeys. There is, for instance, the incredible sight of drift ice in Greenland, stretching out for miles beneath the helicopter in which I was travelling; and in Alaska, my fear-filled walk through a forest, when I was convinced I would be attacked by a grizzly bear.

7. Can you share with us something you learned on your travels? Travel is always as much about coming back as it is about going away.

8. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be a writer? Develop inexpensive tastes in all things.

9. What’s the best experience you’ve had while writing a book? Travelling around the world for Sixty Degrees North was a pretty good experience, I’d say. Travelling on my own, spending hours each day writing, was sometimes rather lonely, but I had some very enjoyable times along the way.

10. Who are you generally writing for? I suppose most writers are their own intended audience – they’re creating work that they would like to read – and I’m not an exception to that.

11. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? A singer. Or a journalist. Or a crofter.

12. Why are books important in your opinion? They can entertain us and make us better people at the same time.

13. Where would you like to be right now, anywhere in the world? Fair Isle. Always.

Related books

Sixty Degrees North
The Un-Discovered Islands
Sixty Degrees North
The Un-Discovered Islands