Books / Fergus Findlay: Drover / Sullatober Dalton / Uncategorized

John Wayne in the Highlands.

I’ve been talking about the Stuarts but I’m actually rewriting a book called Drover, which will have a new title and is the first in the Drover series. The follow on is Bubbles in the Cauldron. The desire to write about the Highlands started when I first read Kidnapped, but the trigger came from a most unlikely source – my mother-in-law, a lovely woman. She had a friend whose father had been a drover, saved his money, bought a pub and never drank another dram. It seemed unlike the kind of tramp image we had been given of drovers and I did some research. Much to my surprise I found the leader of the drove was trusted all the way from the Moray Firth or the Western Isles to the markets near Falkirk or Glasgow and Fergus Findlay came to life. The ideal time for some strife was either just after the 1745 Rebellion and the Massacre at Glencoe or after Waterloo and the time of the Highland Clearances. I chose the later and was able to include Bernard Cornwell’s hero Sharpe’s favourite Baker Rifle. There was no Help for Heroes, so the Highlands had its share of discharged soldiers and vagabonds.
Droves started in all parts of the Highlands, from Wester Ross to the Moray Firth and, if they were making for Glasgow to supply the emigrant ships making for Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa they passed down the Great Glen to Fort William, down past Loch Lomond and on to Dumbarton and Glasgow, often along the route of the present West Highland Railway. Like the later cowboys of the Wild West, they faced rustlers (rievers), flooded rivers, lightening storms and problems with their companions. The trails were peppered with stopovers where the herd could be ‘corralled’ and the drover’s crew let loose for a dram.
Of course there has to be a girl to save, John Wayne would never allow anything else in a cattleman’s story.
It was fun to write the original but it did have a technical problem or two and, while I don’t like blowing my own horn, the new version looks good. I’ve found myself reading on instead of editing.