Today we welcome Ailsa Craig as we travel to Far North Queensland to learn how Fairy Rock, dogs, dolphins, a mountaineer, and Scotland Yard relate to the ocean of Alisa’s life. Slip on the hiking boots, or perhaps the beach shoes, let’s begin this voyage …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ailsa Craig, an actual little island off the West Coast of Scotland. My mother, a Scot, named me after the rock. It has quite a little history and it sits like a large, ominous presence on the horizon overlooking the village of Girvan. It is also called ‘Fairy Rock’ which I can relate to as my mind is constantly running off to places in my imagination where the beauty of magic exists.
I grew up surrounded by books. Every Christmas one of my uncles would give my sisters and I a beautiful picture book which we always managed to get lost in and the prizes at church and school were always story books full of adventure, secret societies or horse stories. One of my loves from a very early age was Africa; I wanted to live in the jungle, ride elephants and live in a village hut – so my first book was about a young village girl called Nada. I loved any books to do with Africa, especially biographies about explorers, their adventures and discoveries etc. thus my love and intrigue about others’ lives and their journeys through life. I haven’t as yet visited any part of Africa on my travels, but do have a close friend in Botswana, who I plan to visit one day. I have though lived for quite a few years in Papua New Guinea.
Another of my loves is romance, the initial bloom of love and the journey it takes you on which led me to my poetry and pouring my heart out in poems from early teens to now.
Growing up in a science and mathematics family, I was always a bit different to my lovely sisters who are very highly sought-after tutors in both these areas. I was more theatrical and studied for awhile with The Melbourne Theatre company youth theatre which I loved – escaping into someone else’s life or feeling the joy of dancing and comedy. However, after never really finding my niche in study at University, I found a great job in a medical college then took time off, packed my backpack and headed off overseas to find my story, which I certainly did. I still love to travel, to talk to interesting others about their lives and see the beauty and magic of another country.
I am a mother of three beautiful children who are spread far and wide and three gorgeous grandchildren all under the age of six. My husband still works in PNG while I live in the beautiful tropics of Far North Queensland and write. I can find a story anywhere; romantic, travel, within nature or in the mountains and seas.
In which genre do you write?
Poetry and life stories.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
Well, I’m in my office at the moment and surrounding me are all my happy and inspiring memories – photos of Nepal, the sea, Scotland, musicians I like, my grandies and my children. My guitar sits next to me as well as my dog. This is where I write stories. However, my poetry can come at any time so I carry paper and pen with me to jot down lines that come into my head, then melt into my favourite spot by the window overlooking the garden and put it into poetry. I also write a lot in my head, while walking in the bush or by the sea or wandering through an interesting place with friends – I just hope I remember my thoughts but usually the feeling I come away with is enough to jot it all down.
What are you currently reading?
One of my loves and studies is health and wellbeing – holistic approach to weight management and selfcare, so I’m currently reading a book about hormones.
What would you choose as your spirit animal, mascot, avatar?
I have a lovely gold dolphin I have been wearing around my neck for many years, representing my love of the sea and my love of dolphins; I love their spirit, their spirit of play and connection and freedom.
While fishing with friends in PNG, we were always surrounded by a pod of dolphins – they were beautiful. They would swim beside us, glide through the water and do somersaults around us. One of my friends used to say, it was because of me they would come and have a laugh. Maybe my spirit animal.
But I have always had a dog in my life and by my side and have connected very deeply with each so maybe that’s my mascot.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I am currently studying to better equip myself in helping people become who they want to become. After I qualified in weight management, I started to study mindset, the brain, physiology and exercise/movement etc so that I can honestly help people and know how I can help people.
I have a love of natural foods so am always experimenting with cooking tasty meals and snacks that are truly good for your body. Other than that, when I’m with friends we’ll go somewhere interesting and listen to good music, enjoy a few drinks or find a nice beach to visit and walk.
How do I prepare myself to discuss my book?
I love acoustic guitar so listening to this type of music gets me in mood in such a good way I get excited about discussing anything. I take my mind back to a time and place that meant the world to me and put myself back there so I can pass on that feeling in my voice. Or I might have a swig of whiskey to calm the nerves and get the smile going – only joking, or am I?
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
Well I think I have covered that in another question but I will say my month in Nepal was a turning point in my life. I was so fortunate to travel with the inspiring people I was with; they were the best thing to happen to me. The whole journey was physically tough, emotionally all over the place and mentally inspiring from every view I saw, every person I met, my little Nepalese school friend who I adored and adopted me as her friend, the guidance of the Sherpas and our guide, their lives, their families, the simplicity of their lives and the toughness of their lives. It was something I needed and absorbed and I fell head over heels for a mountain climber who inspired so much poetry – it flooded out of me.
One crazy thing I did, with the help of friends, was try to find my mountaineer, so we wrote to Russian, Ukrainian and British mountain climbing groups and sent a photo, hoping to turn a lovely moment into a lovely story, but our efforts were in vain until a Russian mountaineer checked me out on Facebook and then I seemed to attract lots of Russian climbers following me on Instagram – quite amusing really and still not the one I shared a beautiful moment in time with; a moment though which inspired many heartfelt poems.
PNG inspired me for a couple of the same reasons. Becoming a mother to three amazing human beings and a grandmother, that’s crazy and wonderful and to meeting beautiful friends who seem to find a place in your heart and curl up and remain there for a while.
I have also done a couple of unintentional somersaults, one in camp in Nepal which made all the Sherpas run to my aid wondering how on earth it happened – I looked sheepishly at them and said the shoelace from one boot hooked onto the other boot – lucky it wasn’t on the side of a mountain. I won’t go on about the other incident only to say, it was enough to make my daughter go into labour with her gorgeous little son on time and have a quick labour to boot. All these times and many many more, inspire me to write about so many things.
A penguin knocks on your door wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you?
“Excuse me, my name is Pedro, I seem to have had too many tequilas and ended up in this ‘penguin’ suit with your address in the pocket. Do I know you; do we have a date?”
How many published books do you have?
I have just published my fifth book.
What interesting writing quirk do you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I don’t sit down and think I am going to write about this topic today – for some reason, I will hear a word, a sound, a song which will bring me the first lines of a poem, like a memory or vision of something meaningful in my life, that I have to write then and there. There is no rhyme or reason, it just appears in my mind and then on paper; it can be anywhere at any time and a lot of times in the middle of the night or before I go to sleep.
If I try and think too hard about something, it just won’t appear and I don’t like what I write – poetry wise. If I’m writing a story, it’s totally different and I usually get a run on once I get started.
If I could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would love to sit down and chat with so many who have had interesting personal stories. There are many authors that I have read, who have written about their lives and I have felt like I was sitting in the room with them listening to their story, they’re the ones I would love to share a coffee with and just be inspired by their journey whether through life, countries, climbed Everest, reached heights in business or battled illness – I am in awe of them. Too many to name just a few.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I would be Tinkerbell due to the fact I came from ‘FairyRock’ , love making magical things happen for others, if I can, love her outfit and being in nature and most of the time, wear my hair up like her ..
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
Well I have done many things strange and otherwise over and through my lifetime, some that just happened – like being saved by Scotland Yard after nearly being kidnapped, and other like stories. Chased through the streets of Istanbul because I didn’t want to pay for an uncooked chicken dinner. Been locked up in a windowless room in Spain then learning how to say (in Spanish) I would meet my captor the next weekend for a ‘get together’ if he let me go to meet my friends who were waiting for me and many other stories like this. The best one was my trip to Nepal which captured my heart, found my physical strength, found love, freed my soul and gave me back to myself – this reinspired me to write again and remember and tune into, all of the above and everything that has followed on ever since.
So probably not intentionally strange but all added up to an interesting story that could probably only happen to me because I have been told many times, ‘You certainly attract strange things and people into your life. You have to learn to walk away.’
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I try to as I feel its very important to close the day with; to write down what you’re grateful for, or wins for the day or accomplishments etc, your feelings.
I think my poetry is a kind of diary because of the messages that seem to come through and remind me of a time or person that have meant so much to me and I have to write about it or them – a bit like a clearing of the mind. It has certainly helped with my books and always takes me on an emotional path while I write what comes to me and I hope this comes through in my verse and is relatable to the reader on some level.
What do you miss about being a kid?
The fun my friends and I had just being ourselves. The imaginary adventures we went on in the back yard which still seem so real, the great friendships, feeling invisible, being able to run and climb without fear and the joy of Christmases and birthdays; so much fun and smiles.
What was the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I have been watching some pretty heavy shows lately and wanted something light so picked ‘Wine Country’ on Netflix with a cast of some funny ladies. It was very enjoyable, a bit sad too as the women were confronting a few issues we all face and the prospect and freedom of getting older.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
My sensitivity comes into play quite a bit and lets me feel so much and connect to certain elements around me and my friendliness will sometimes lead me down paths I maybe shouldn’t wander but my inner ability to work things out, gets me through somehow. I have very strong intuition which I get from my mother, so more than usually my senses are right and then I have to deal with whatever is occurring both good and bad. This all helps me to write and understand where my writing journey is taking me to and why.
What is your favourite place to visit in your country and why?
Well I guess I would have to say the coast line up here is absolutely beautiful – where the mountains kiss the sea (literally) and the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is all around me with gorgeous little islands dotted here and there. Just a lovely place to sit and contemplate one’s life.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place etc.
Early morning wander or early evening wander along an isolated surf beach, just as the sun is rising so I can greet another day and watch the colours light up the morning sky or watch the sun set and melt into the horizon and know I have lived to see another day through. I would have my camera and dog with me, and, as well as just absorbing the beauty and listening to the waves rolling in and crashing along the shore, I would be snapping away trying to capture it exactly as it is.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My recent poetry book is called ‘The Sand Between My Toes’ and is the fourth book of my series of poetry books representing my journey through many relationships, travel, connection with nature, friendship, sadness and happiness – it is a wander through my emotional memories which have remained in my thoughts and heart or drawn from other’s experiences that I’ve felt deeply about.
It also represents the footprints left behind over the many years included in my writing and the many connections I’ve made as I wander the shoreline in my little world.
Thank you Ailsa for being a part of MTA. Ailsa and I have been “digital” friends for more than a year now. I am blessed by her kindness and friendship, and loving that I got to interview her. She sent me the sweet gift of her book; which I just received upon returning from a trip. I cannot wait to enjoy your beautiful book. Oceans of fairy love to you! –Camilla
Where can we find your book?
It is available on Amazon and most online book seller sites or in my own little bookshop I have at home.
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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …