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Author goes in search of Nessie and pens a monster hit book of legends

By David G Scott

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The Highlands and Islands feature heavily in a best-selling new book by a former Wick High School pupil who includes a tale about his search for the Loch Ness Monster.

Dr Aaron Mullins, who hails from Wick, scored his third bestseller in a row with a book of Scottish monster legends, which soared into Amazon’s top 100 bestsellers charts on its day of release.

The book was a top 10 bestseller in multiple folklore and mystery categories, sitting alongside books by Neil Gaiman and Stephen King.

Dr Aaron Mullins is an author from Wick.
Dr Aaron Mullins is an author from Wick.

In the book, Aaron has shared legendary tales from Caithness and beyond, as well as his own monster hunting attempts on Loch Ness.

The author has drawn on his experience as an award-winning psychologist to add an edge to his re-telling of famous Scottish monster tales and bring these mythical creatures to life.

Scottish Legends: 55 Mythical Monsters features stories from the Highland’s rich folklore history. From bauchans and bodachs that terrorised Caithness farms and castles, to the boy from Thurso who had his finger bitten off when he tried to ride a kelpie.

Aaron Mullins new book is topping the charts in an Amazon list.
Aaron Mullins new book is topping the charts in an Amazon list.

Dr Mullins said: “Ancient Scots were curious about the world around them and their fantastical explanations of natural phenomena often involved the creation of mythical creatures with amazing powers. These Scottish monster myths can give insights into the local customs and folklore of their time, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, which were heavily influenced by Viking legends.

"I have told the tales of giants, monsters and other astonishing creatures, particularly those that roamed the North Sea. I grew up swimming in the Trinkie and at Reiss Beach and was inspired by the sheer terror my younger self felt at unseen creatures brushing against my legs.

"Like the tales told in my previous book Scottish Urban Legends: 50 Myths and True Stories, the real power of these Scottish stories lies in their ability to not only entertain us as monster tales in the present, but also to forge a living link to our past. New generations can enjoy these legends and feel connected to the land and its people."

Aaron's latest bestseller caps a successful couple of years for the author, who was one of the featured writers at the opening showcase of this year’s Tidelines Book Festival, based at the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine.

With three bestselling books, a competition-winning poem and a double-page interview in Ayrshire Magazine under his belt, Aaron has emerged as one of the Scotland’s most popular up-and-coming authors.

He added: “Scotland, like its national animal, the mythical unicorn, has a proud, untameable and magical element to its landscape, stories and its people.

"I think we need a bit of escapism from the upheaval of lockdowns these past couple years, so I want these tales to remind us of simpler times when the tides were the breath of a great sea dragon and thunder was the angry roar of a living god. Mythical beasts that still live on in our hearts and minds, with every re-telling of their legendary deeds."

Aaron said he went on a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. He is pictured here standing beside the Stone Dragon statue in Irvine.
Aaron said he went on a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. He is pictured here standing beside the Stone Dragon statue in Irvine.

In the book, Aaron also shares his own unsuccessful attempts at hunting the legendary Loch Ness Monster: “Having sailed on a boat cruise down Loch Ness, I can see why the huge and beautiful body of water has achieved its legendary status. Even on a calm day, the odd-looking wave or shadow on the water draws your eye away from the stunning scenery.

"And just for a moment, you think you might be, after all this time, the one to finally capture Nessie grinning away as it ends the longest ever game of hide-and-seek by popping its head out the water. Alas, all your dreams of monster stardom are dashed when the boat draws closer at an agonisingly slow speed and you realise you have been filming a floating log for the past ten minutes."

Growing up in Wick, Aaron said he was aware of local legends, like the selkie’s grave in Castletown, from a very young age. He remembers being surrounded by forests, mountains and the sea, "which to our young imaginations contained all manner of beasts".

Full book cover for Aaron Mullins' new book.
Full book cover for Aaron Mullins' new book.

"We travelled to Orkney on both school and family trips, immersing ourselves in the history and legends of its islands. One of my favourite memories is of another school trip, to Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, where my younger self was in awe of the skulls, stuffed heads and life-size replicas of various animals that adorned the hunting trophies room.

"These memories and my growing interest in the cultural history and folklore tales of Scotland inspired this book.”

Aaron aimed to capture some of these memories in Scottish Legends which is now available to buy on Amazon, where his many five star reviews display the growing popularity of this author from the far north. You can find his previous bestselling Scottish books on his website www.aaronmullins.com

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