Book of the Month competition: The Bone Cave

Start date: 30 October 2023, 09:00

Closing date: 30 November 2023, 23:59

Topics: Competitions
Author Dougie Strang, a white man with a beard wearing a fleece and hat, next to the book cover for his book The Bone Cave

We are delighted to be able to offer five copies of The Bone Cave by New Writers Awardee Dougie Strang in our November Book of the Month competition, courtesy of our friends at Birlinn Books.

This is a book about the stories of people and place and a more-than-human world. Join Dougie as he journeys to the setting of a series of Scottish folktales and myths. 

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of this mythically good book, all you need to do is answer the question at the bottom of the page by midnight on 30 November. All entrants must reside in the UK and full terms and conditions apply.

Check out our competitions page for other giveaways.

About The Bone Cave

A vivid account of a journey through the Scottish Highlands, The Bone Cave follows a series of folktales and myths to the places in which they’re set. Travelling mostly on foot, and camping along the way amid some of Scotland’s most beautiful and rugged landscapes, Dougie Strang encounters a depth of meaning to the tales he tracks.

Dougie sets out on his walk to coincide with the start of the red deer rut. The bellowing of stags forms the soundtrack to his journey and is a reminder that, as well as mapping invisible landscapes of story, he is also exploring the tangible, living landscape of the present.

Q&A with Dougie Strang

How did you first get into writing?

I read widely in my late-teens, but in my twenties, I began to focus on the work of contemporary and historic Scottish writers and poets. It was a way of culturally grounding myself, and it also inspired me to begin to write my own material, mostly short stories and poems. I didn't really commit to the craft though, and found myself drawn to other forms: performance work, theatre, storytelling. I was experimenting, trying to figure out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. It wasn't until my forties that I came back to writing and began to properly engage – to develop a writing practice, to find my own voice. 

What can readers expect from The Bone Cave

I wasn't sure what kind of book The Bone Cave would be when I started writing it. It's based on the journal that I'd kept whilst walking, so there was an obvious trajectory to follow, with a start and end-point; but I also suspected that it would soon stray off the path of a typical travelogue. That's proven to be the case, and what has emerged is a book that combines travel, folklore, memoir, and nature writing, as well as the stories themselves – the folktales and myths that I set out to track. By weaving such strands together, I hope I've created a book that will allow the reader to fully immerse themselves in the depth-culture of a Highland landscape.

What inspired you to follow myths to their physical source?

For many indigenous and traditional cultures, the idea of a story not being located in a particular place would seem strange, unsettling even; as though, without being held in place, the story might lose substance, might drift away. That anchoring appeals to me, and although I've thoroughly enjoyed hearing and telling stories at various festivals and events, I was keen to find out what might happen if I took some of those stories out into the landscape – took them back to the places that held them. It's a frivolous notion, I suppose, but it's one that led me on quite an adventure!

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Which of these famous caves is in Scotland?

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If you are under 16, you can still enter the competition but will be asked to provide an additional contact email for a parent or guardian.