The Thrillers with Attitude Literary Smorgasbord began in 2015. Over the next three years, an eclectic feast of authors, poets, songwriters, artists, bloggers, journalists and stand-up comedians shared their tales of dedication and inspiration, frustration and laughter. Five years on, I’m delighted to publish five new interviews featuring four of the original Smorgasbord guests, plus a tasty new interview with someone I’ve been trying to pin down for some time. First up is the fabulously inspirational Shona Macpherson, first interviewed in August 2015.
Hi Shona, you’ve had some adventures (to put it mildly) since your last Smorgasbord interview in 2015. Would you like to share some of what you’ve been doing?
Wow – it feels like so much has happened in five years. I was in my late thirties when you last interviewed me. A year or so after was my 40th which was a major turning point. I started solo adventures. It started with cycling the Hebridean Way and then cycling home from Oban to Inverness, for my 40th. And each year since I’ve done a solo outdoor adventure: the NC500 on bike; the Cape Wrath Trail; and then last year I spent five months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (from the US-Canadian border to the US-Mexican border). The PCT was epic!! An adventure of a lifetime.
I’ve also transitioned from being a personal trainer to being a life coach and counsellor. I qualified as a counsellor 11 years ago and it feels amazing to have the confidence and updated knowledge and skills to be back in practice. It feels like I’m doing what I was always meant to. I’ve also started working part time for a local suicide prevention charity – Mikeysline. In October I’m doing some training on “taking therapy outdoors”. This fills me with excitement!
What impact have these experiences had on your writing?
I’ve really enjoyed writing about my outdoor experiences and how connection with nature changes my perspective. I was doing this in the form of blog posts, and more recently social media posts. I was also very fortunate to win the Moniack Mhor Katherine Stewart award and as a result I participated in a nature writing course at Moniack (Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre). Whilst on the Pacific Crest Trail I developed the habit of writing a journal entry everyday which I published on Insta and my blog. I’m so glad to have this solid memory and it was lovely that others read and commented and in this way joined me on the journey.
At the start of COVID I felt the need to take a break from social media for a few months and it’s been wonderful but now I’m going on a walking holiday from Fort William to Knoydart and then the Skye Trail, and I think I’ll start writing and posting again. It feels fun to share the journey. I took a break as I want to write from a place of fun and the authentic desire in sharing the story rather than feeling like I ‘should’ ‘create content’ for my business. (As a counsellor I now get most clients through the Counselling Directory so that has taken any away the need to write for marketing purposes. This feels like freedom).
What writing plans do you have for the next five years?
I’ve started a short poetry course. I’m playing with trying to distil the things that interest me to their essence through this medium. My poetry is joyously terrible, so this leaves huge room for learning and improvement! I’m keen to just live this lovely adventurous life that I’m fortunate to have, with curiosity and wonder. Writing helps me notice and reflect – and it’s lovely when this feels connected to and with others. So, all that is to say – no big writing plans… just staying curious and trying to keep putting pen to paper- finger to key – heart to page.
Who will play you in the Shona Macpherson biopic?
Ha, no idea!! Someone short and lively? I loved Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky – there’s a scene where she’s standing up as she cycles her bike over the Thames, it’s pure joy. I lived in London at the time and cycled everywhere. I feel the most joy when I’m moving outside or goofing about. Yeah Sally would do a good job of acting Shona Macpherson!
How was your lockdown experience?
I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying I had a pretty good lockdown experience. If it hadn’t been for the major elements – death, suffering, isolation, loss of livelihood for others, it quite suited me for a season. I’d only been back from my big trek for four months and I wasn’t enjoying how I felt. I was allowing myself to get sucked back into a busy and overly digital life. Lockdown felt like a big exhale.
I’m very self-sufficient and enjoy time alone. I worked throughout and I did lots of running and cycling. Apart from not seeing people it was pretty much as I live now. I joined a ten-week writing challenge during lockdown which was fun. We wrote short pieces based on a weekly theme. I loved being creative again and I found that I revisited a lot of childhood memories of my parents. Mum was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer during COVID. Amazingly she’s all clear now. The experience made me feel closer and more appreciative of her. She’s a pretty special woman.
COVID has felt like a small life.
A few short questions to finish:
Recently read and enjoyed?
Anne Tyler, Redhead by the Side of the Road.
Recently watched and enjoyed?
BBC i-player has some pretty addictive stuff: Normal People and I May Destroy You had me hooked.
What was your go-to food during lockdown?
I made lots of massive salads with grated carrots, avocado, seeds, rocket, apple and chicken breast and balsamic vinegar. I pretty much ate that for lunch every day.
What’s on your current playlist?
Ha – my running playlist has Kygo’s update of Tina Turner What’s Love Got to do with It which I’ll probably sicken of soon but love it just now. Also, random discoveries of old songs: We Shall Not Be Moved by Mavis Staples; Highwayman by The Highwaymen; and I was very excited to discover Highwoman by The Highwomen. I’m a lyrics girl!
Books by LG Thomson are available from online and from bookshops in the Highlands. Writing as Lorraine Thomson: The New Dark dystopian trilogy, published by Bastei Entertainment, is available online. More info at thrillerswithattitude.co.uk
Read Shona’s 2015 interview here.