When Horace met Sally - in Milngavie!

Milngavie bookshop Sally Magnusson,  Horace the haggis launch of her children's book'7/8/12'Photo Emma Mitchell
Milngavie bookshop Sally Magnusson, Horace the haggis launch of her children's book'7/8/12'Photo Emma Mitchell

FICTION was brought to life last Wednesday in Milngavie bookshop when BBC Scotland broadcaster, Sally Magnusson, visited with the main character from her first children’s book – Horace the haggis.

Sally’s husband, Norman Stone, who illustrated ‘Horace and the Haggis Hunter’, was also there, while Sally signed copies of her book for a queue of enthusiastic youngsters.

Sally, who lives near Milngavie, says she enjoyed writing the story and is pleased with how it’s been received.

She said: “Children seem to be loving it, thank goodness. There are so many different characters to identify with.

“Martha Mouse is going down well with the girls, and the magpies who have learned to Tweet on their smartphones.

“Grandparents say it’s a great book for a present. They like Major Mole and his Mole Patrol, based on the old TV series Dad’s Army and of course everyone loves Horace.”

Sally has five children and when they were younger they made up stories together, full of fun characters, laughs and a little bit of fear. The book was inspired by Scottish countryside animals but she needed a character who was a little bit different to come in from the outside.

She added: “The idea of a haggis as a live animal is a Scottish joke, but it’s the best we can do for a legendary creature as not many unicorns have been spotted north of Hadrian’s Wall.

“I enjoyed dreaming up how a haggis might look, getting away from the three-legged caricature which I thought was a bit dated.”

Sally says writing for children wasn’t easy – finding the right tone and vocabulary was a challenge. She also wanted to keep it simple without talking down to children.

Guided by her own children, she reckoned as long as they kept engaged and laughing she was on track.

If this book is popular Sally hopes to write a series of adventures, and she revealed exclusively: “Horace gets a pretty bad shock from the cats of Acre Valley – they’re very scary when they get together. He may also find himself travelling one day, some of his ancestors ended up in America after the Highland Clearances, so that’s a small clue as to where he may find himself.”