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Mike confesses all!

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By Christie Breen
Dumfries and West
Mike confesses all!

AN author has confessed on a popular podcast that he once stole a book from a Newton Stewart bed and breakfast – and still feels guilty about it 35 years later.

Former editor of the Galloway Gazette Mike Kernan recently confessed his “crime” during an interview on The Book Alchemist podcast.

Mike, 67, who has written two hit novels, told her: “Stealing the book was my last deliberate criminal act.”

It happened in the late 1980s when he was staying overnight in Newton Stewart after being interviewed for the editor’s job. Mike explained: “I’d never been to the town before so I booked into a bed and breakfast in the main street so I could have a look around next morning before a long drive home.

“It was freezing cold so I didn’t venture out to sample Newton Stewart’s night life.

“Instead I picked up a copy of Docherty, by William McIlvanney, from a bookcase in the guest house.

“I started reading and got so caught up in the story I didn’t put it down till the early hours.

“I don’t condone stealing but I was desperate to find out how it ended.

“The next morning, I sneaked it into my overnight bag so I could finish it when I stopped for a break on the way home.”

Mike, who now lives in Largs, Ayrshire, but still visits Galloway regularly, continued: “Every time I drive through Newton Stewart I think about taking that book from the B and B.

“Even all these years on, I still feel bad about it.”

STOLEN BOOK . . . the fabled copy of William McIlvanney’s Docherty

But there was a surprise twist to the story, about a dozen years after the theft, Michael’s daughter Lynn arranged to interview McIlvanney for a post-grad journalism course.

Unknown to her dad, she took along his copy of Docherty and told the celebrated author, who died in 2015, how it had been acquired.

Mike added: “Luckily for me he found the story amusing and even signed it with a message which started, ‘I do admire a cultured thief, your crime flatters me’.

“The book, along with the inscription, is one of my most treasured possessions and now I’m an author myself, I like to think I’d have a similar reaction if anyone stole one of my books.”

A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR . . . William McIlvanney’s inscription to Michael