Although crowds turned up to visit Alexander McCall Smith at Lochmaddy Village Hall on Friday 24 July, his warm, conversational manner gave the impression that the renowned author was speaking directly to each one as an individual, writes Roz Skinner.

"I suffer from a condition, and it's called being a serial novelist," he revealed, confidingly.  "It manifests itself in a tendency to write novel after novel." 

According to Mr McCall Smith, this started with the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and has moved him to write many best-selling series, such as the Isabel Dalhousie novels and 44 Scotland Street - the longest running serial novel in the world! 

During his talk, Mr McCall Smith discussed various subjects close to his heart, including how to silence people!  "I've just bought a concordance on Proust," he revealed, confidingly.  "Try quoting Proust to people.  They look awkward and start shuffling their feet.  If any of you are members of a book club, you'll know there's always one person who has read more or knows more than everybody else - quoting Proust will silence them quite effectively." 

The 44 Scotland Street books usually end with a poem, and Mr McCall Smith read the closing verses from The Importance of Being Seven to the audience, by way of ending his talk. 

In a voice that was both warm and melodic, Mr McCall Smith read about love of home, warmth of friendship and happiness of heart - all of which can be found in the world of his books.