Uncle Pete and the Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep

My first children’s book, Uncle Pete and the Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep, was published in April 2021 by the amazing Little Door Books,  with illustrations by the talented Will Hughes.

Uncle Pete and the Boy Who Couldn't Sleep - 9781916205437 - COVER

Here’s the official synopsis…

Uncle Pete and the Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep tells the story of Harry, a young boy who has never slept his entire life, no matter how hard his parents try. With all the bedtime stories, songs and milky drinks in his town exhausted – along with all the people – it’s Harry’s eccentric explorer uncle, Pete, who ultimately comes to his aid with the help of a map, a rickety old biplane, a tiny mouse companion called TM, and one very special sheep.

The story is a magical and hilarious adventure of the imagination involving the remarkable journey undertaken by Uncle Pete and his fearless female sidekick, with themes of determination, collaboration, ingenuity, kindness and acceptance.

It’s available online at, the wonderful Waterstones,  the fabulous Foyles, and the brilliant Blackwells, amongst lots of other places.

You can now watch the online launch event here!

Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks about the follow up, Uncle Pete and The Forest of Lost Things. #ChildrensBooks #Scottishwriters


My first non-fiction book, Board, was published in March 2015 by Edinburgh based Fledgling Press Ltd.2015-01-12-Board-Cover-Full JPEG

Board is the story of my attempt to overcome a lifelong fear of the ocean – despite my coming from a family of seafarers – and learn to surf as a 40–something father. The book charts my first tentative, and hapless, steps in surfing and the challenges and danger I’ve subsequently faced trying to pursue this most demanding of sports off the wild Atlantic coast of my home in Orkney.

As a journalist, my original intention had been to write a light-hearted account of my progress. While Board certainly isn’t short on laughs, writing the book forced me to explore issues such as loss, ego, fear, honesty, fatherhood and friendship. It wasn’t always a comfortable process. I am, as the book reveals, a very average surfer terrified by many of the situations I’ve found myself in at sea. At its heart though, Board is a story of about accepting some limitations – both physical and emotional – and overcoming others.Skate

Whilst surfing is the central theme of Board, I also incorporated the story of my return to skateboarding after a 30-year gap. My decision to turn back the clock to the 1970s would also prove remarkably life changing and, occasionally, utterly catastrophic.

Board was officially launched in the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, on Friday 20th March, with an additional launch taking place in the George Street, Edinburgh, branch of Waterstones, on Thursday 26th March.


“Surfing’s literary canon has a welcome new addition charting the highs and lows of riding Orkney’s waves…Flanagan’s memoir offers a surf story that’s original on two levels: firstly, it puts an unexpected spin on the man-deals-with-mid-life-crisis-by-learning-to-surf cliché by having its protagonist getting to grips with the Sport of Kings in some of the most inhospitable conditions imaginable, namely the board-snapping, bone-crunching reefs of Orkney’s Bay of Skaill; and secondly, it also details the author’s parallel attempts to rekindle his childhood love of skateboarding – a passion which came to a sudden end one Sunday morning in Leith when he accidentally ploughed through a column of veterans attending a Remembrance Day service.”…Roger Cox, The Scotsman.

“This is an engaging and brilliantly written surfing and skateboarding memoir. There’s plenty of action, but it’s also packed with humour and reflection, and deserves to reach an audience way beyond enthusiasts for those two sports.”…Scotland Outdoors magazine.

“A wonderful story of hope and freedom”…Surfer Today

“Thoroughly unpretentious, Board brings a brutally honest account of what it’s like to pursue an extreme sport in middle age.”…Andrew Stewart, The Orcadian.

Board is available directly from Fledgling Press and online from Waterstones, Foyles,, and many other good bookshops. 

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