Kate will be giving away the ebook of Promised to the Highlander and a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter.
Any writer will tell you that no matter how much they know a subject, there will always be a need for a certain amount of research. For me, this is one of my favorite parts of being a writer. I have always been fascinated with Scottish culture and history, and now I get to take some of that history and shape it into a story.
I’ve set my series in the fifteenth century, during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name. This king’s story has always captivated me. Imprisoned in England for some 18 years, he returned to Scotland with an English wife and new laws on authoritative reform. He wasted no time in imposing them, either.
Can you imagine how that went over with the nobles? The resulting power struggle eventually ended in his assassination just 13 years after his return to his homeland. But his legacy lived on, and the Stewarts continued to reign in Scotland for many generations.
The other fascinating part of researching this time period was learning about the clans who supported him and those who vehemently opposed him. Each of the five books in my series focuses on a different clan chief and shows his challenges and, of course, his love story.
The series is set just about as far north as one can travel, Tongue Village is nestled along the side of the Kyle of Tongue and is lush and as green as I’ve ever witnessed. Atop a lonely hill sits the ruins of an old watchtower, which gives an incredible vantage point for the surrounding area. No wonder the ancient MacKay clan built Varrich Castle where they did, as they would be able to see anyone coming from any direction for miles out.
My favorite hero in the series so far is Fergus MacKay from Promised to the Highlander. From the first moment his name spewed from my fingers in Bound to the Highlander, I was enamored with him. I needed to know everything I could find on the MacKays and, in doing so, learned of their long-standing feud with the Sutherlands who are the focus of book three.
Both, incidentally, were not supporters of King James I. They could not see how anyone could rule and care for their clans from so far away. And so for a time, they did not recognize him as their king. Having said that, the Sutherland/MacKay feud was legendary and lasted generations.
My primary research up to this point was from online searches and a wee clan history book I’d bought at the Loch Ness gift shop. In it, I’d read a legend of a young warrior who had to prove his mettle by slaying a wild boar guarding the door to the warrior’s celebratory feast.
This didn’t sit well with me and after visiting the museum and learning more about the warrior MacKay clan, I decided to switch it up a little. In the prologue of Promised to the Highlander, I tell the story of a very young Fergus MacKay and of his initiation into manhood. He has been left hungry, but so has the boarhound guarding the feast. Instead of slaying it outright, Fergus assesses the situation to determine how to best handle the situation and then he acts in a manner he feels is most appropriate for the situation.
As fiction writers, we have the benefit of taking pieces of history like that and changing them slightly so that we tell what we feel is a better story and, in my case, one that paints a more accurate picture of the hero I wanted to portray.
I’ve been fortunate in that I have been able to visit all the sites I have written about (or made up) in my series. Driving up through the Highlands and seeing Linlithgow Palace, Dunrobin Castle, and the Varrich Castle ruins up close and personal, have enable me to understand my character’s world so much better.
|Varrich Castle ruins to the Kyle|
Have you ever wondered if a certain scene or character in a historical novel is based on fact or fiction? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment and I will pick one winner randomly later to win an e-copy of Promised to the Highlander and a $10 Amazon gift card.