We all have afternoons we will never get back. First-time playwright Calum L MacLeòid had one when he was supposed to be writing Stornoway, Quebec. He became obsessed with a historical detail about 19th-century Canada. “I lost about an hour trying to figure out when drawing-pins were patented,” he says. “They had to put a poster up. How do you put a poster up? Was it drawing pins? Was it paste?”
Ironically, he had been determined not to go down this rabbit hole. In 2020, he published Fon Choill, a novel so heavily researched he had to remind himself it was a work of fiction not a dissertation. With the play, he wanted to be creative and free himself from drawing-pin detail.
Apart from that one instance, he was largely successful, not least because his work on the novel gave him a bedrock of security. This was a world he knew. “If there were things I couldn’t remember, I’d ask what the play needed and do that,” he says. “The research for the novel drove me mad, so I decided to draw on everything that was still rattling round in my head.” [READ MORE]