The Broch By Graham Bullen
What happens when you have to deal with something devastating you cannot change? In Graham Bullen's The Broch, we follow the moving journey of a man running away from answers and towards the realities of his own mortality in the wilds of the Scottish Outer Hebrides.
Martin, locked inside the prison of his recently acquired alcoholism, is on a quest to fulfil the promise of a holiday booked weeks before his wife’s sudden death. He stays in the reconstruction of an Iron Age dwelling overlooking the white-sanded fringes of the North Atlantic. Twenty miles to his north lies The Clisham, a coastal peak from which he plans to end his life.
We wrestle with the destruction of Martin’s life plan; revelation, drunken misadventure, HBO boxsets and the best of the world’s new whiskies await us. Events take a further turn when he stumbles upon a young woman lying next to a beached and dying whale, reluctantly taking her in. And Martin still has the seven remaining sachets of his wife’s ashes to consecrate and consume, and the possibility of being tracked down by his grownup sons, before beginning what might be his final climb.
With echoes of John O'Brien's Leaving Las Vegas (with the northern lights substituting for the neon), the twisted but hilarious adventures of Withnail and I, and the yearning of Dr. Zhivago for his Lara, The Broch is a page-turner you don't want to miss!
Graham spent the thirty-plus years of his working life in the oil and gas industry, first as a librarian and information manager and then, encouraged by one of his more inspirational bosses, moved into the world of business improvement and leadership coaching. By the end of his career, he delivered or coached others on over five hundred local, regional and global business projects, and trained many other practitioners. He wishes he had started his career with the same listening and questioning skills that he ended with, if only to reduce the number and severity of self-inflicted wounds across the years.
In 2011, he and his wife Joanne relocated to the Highlands, after spells living and working in Aberdeen and London, and now live in the village of Invermoriston, arguably enjoying the worst mobile phone coverage in Western Europe, but able to exploit in return their proximity to the mountains and hills of the West and North West Highlands.
When offered the chance of an early end to work in 2016, Graham grasped it tightly, deciding to finally pursue his long-held but dormant fantasy of being a writer.
He began his first novel, The Quarant, in the summer of 2017, pushing all work-related knowledge out of his head to make room for the infinitely more interesting world of 14th century Venice, in which the book takes place. The Quarant was published on 28 October 2020, but is available through online providers Amazon, Waterstones, The Telegraph Bookshop and WH Smith.
Graham's second novel, The Broch, was published in June 2021. Set in the Outer Hebrides, it tells of a week in the life of a grieving man determined to honour the memory of his deceased wife by going through with a holiday on Harris booked prior to her death. The Broch is available at Bookshop.org, Amazon, Waterstones and the publishers
He has just commenced work on his next book, focussing on the growing rivalries within a family staging puppet shows around 16th century Sicily.
When not writing, Graham enjoys driving to and scaling the Munro’s with Joanne and avoiding, whenever possible, the obligation to participate in any form of Scottish Country Dancing. His favourite evenings are spent binge-watching HBO dramas or reading the masterful words of other writers. In either case, a dram is rarely far from his side.
Synopsis of Graham's first book The Quarant (published in October 2020)
January, 1348. They say bad things come in threes...
The day after an earthquake and tsunami have ravaged Venice, Malin Le Cordier, a successful English maritime trader, sails into the city with plans to mature a coup on behalf of Edward III and Genoa. His time? Short. His guilt? Strong. Keeping the coup a secret from those he loves most weighs heavy on his soul. But Venice is a place with secrets and revenge flows through the city like its canals. For his sake and those he is bound to, it is best he learn to navigate it. And quickly.
Unbeknownst to Malin, there is someone powerful in the city who seeks revenge on Edward III on behalf of his family. Well-situated, he operates under covert circumstances, monitoring Malin's every move - and playing his own long game, merely waiting for the perfect time to strike.
Combining greed and guilt, revenge and undeclared love, this is one trip that Malin may not live to regret.