A HELENSBURGH author has been inspired to write his latest novel by the 200-year-old diary of his great-great-grandad, which detailed seeing a friend being mauled by a tiger and a whale colliding with his boat while on a voyage to India.

Robin Scott-Elliot is the great-great-grandson of an 18th century Scottish merchant, who left the shores of Scotland for India to spend more than 24 years in Kolkata.

His diary describes his experiences through the Indian Rebellion of 1857 that was brutally suppressed by the British authorities. And now after reading the diary, Robin came up the idea for his second children’s novel – the Acrobats of Agra.

Robin told the Advertiser: “The diaries sat beneath my desk gathering dust for years and then getting chewed by my daughter’s rabbit. I’d occasionally wondered if there might be a story in them yet still took ages to get around to reading them.

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“But as soon as I read James’s amazing description of his boat being hit by a whale on the voyage out to India and then seeing one of his friends mauled to death by a tiger during a disastrous attempt at a hunt, I thought this could make a fascinating backdrop for a story.

“After reading James’ diary, I started researching the rebellion and was reading an old history of 1857 when I came across one line – ‘also trapped in the siege of Agra was a travelling circus from France.’ It leapt off the page at me, who doesn’t love a story about a circus?”

Robin’s second book is dedicated to his youngest daughter Torrin who is a pupil at Hermitage Primary School and owner of the family rabbit.

“If Torrin’s rabbit hadn’t tried to eat the diaries, I would never have picked them up and finally opened them – so thank you Lola and thank you Torrin.”

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