Excerpts, Guest Blogs

Excerpt – Greyfriars House, by Emma Fraser

isbn9780751566123

Prologue

Charlotte

October 1984

The house looms behind me, grey and forbidding in the moonlight. From the turret window a light flickers so briefly I can’t be sure I saw it. Ever since I arrived on the island I have had the sensation I am being watched, that someone wants me gone. But I no longer trust my senses. There is so much that is strange about Greyfriars.

It is very still. As if the island is holding its breath. I move towards the shore. What my great-aunt has told me so far has shaken me. And there is more to come. More secrets to be revealed. I am not sure I can bear to hear them.

As I pick my way along the rough path I think regretfully of the torch left behind in the porch. But I persevere, wanting to put distance between me and the house. The moon and stars provide just enough light although every now and again scudding clouds obscure the moon and I am momentarily plunged into darkness.

I continue through the trees, innocuous in the daytime, but in the shifting darkness as sinister as watching sentinels. Then at last I am in the open again, the sea, glittering in the moonlight, stretching in front of me. I suck in lungfuls of salty air and my pulse slows.

A rustle comes from the copse behind me and my heart kicks as I whirl around. Something has moved within the shadows. I think of the ghostly presences my mother told me about, then immediately dismiss the thought with an impatient click of my tongue. The only ghosts are the ones in my head. Some placed there by Georgina, others of my own making.

Tiger has run off and I can hear cracking of branches as she sniffs amongst the piles of rotting leaves. A shape swoops over my head and I smother a cry. A flutter and a flash. It is just the owl that roosts in the eaves, returning with a mouse trapped in its beak.

It isn’t just the house that unsettles me, or the two women within, it is me, the way I feel inside. Untethered and adrift. A boat without an anchor at the mercy of the wind and tide.

I’d told myself I’d come here to find answers although I knew, deep down, I was fleeing from the world, my grief, my guilt, from having to make a decision about the rest of my life.

Tiger growls. She has emerged from the bushes and is standing in front of the copse of trees, her ears up, her tail rigid behind her. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I know she is there before I see her. The figure emerges from the shadows, her face hidden. I have seen her before. Edith sleepwalking I’ve been told. I no longer believe it.

 

Greyfriars House‘ by Emma Fraser is available now in hardback and ebook, and in paperback in May, (available to pre-order from Amazon, now).

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Guest Blog – Emma Fraser

I have to write about stuff that excites, intrigues and delights me. In particular; real heroines of the past, old houses, WW2, and Scotland. And I’ve managed to find a way to incorporate all of those in my latest release, Greyfriars House. It’s a time-slip story, moving between the 1980s and WW2, based around a country house which stands alone on its own Scottish island. is about two sisters, a betrayal and the secret they kept for decades.

Eilean Donan castle
Eilean Donan castle

It’s hard to go anywhere in Scotland without tripping over evidence of the past – whether it’s brochs, wheelhouses, viking long houses, castles, country houses, historic cities with their tenements and ‘closes’ or wide open fields and glens that were once the scenes of bloody battles. Wherever I go I find stories I want to write. Who were the people who once lived here? How did they live? Who did they love? What were their hopes, what kept them awake at night?

Culross - where parts of Outlander filmed
Culross – where parts of Outlander filmed
One of over a hundred Green Men carvings in Rosslyn Chapel - home to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail
One of over a hundred Green Men carvings in Rosslyn Chapel – home to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail

We Scots have our fair share of local heroines not least Dr Inglis of whom I wrote in my first novel, When the Dawn Breaks. We have many, many others. For example Mairi Chisholm who treated wounded soldiers right on the front line during WW1; the Duchess of Sutherland who like Elsie Inglis set up hospitals to treat the wounded and, one of my favourites (who may yet feature in one of my books) Lady Nithsdale who rode all the way from her home in Traquair House to the Tower of London to rescue her husband – and succeeded. Traquair House was where I discovered the priest’s staircase – a secret staircase that provided an escape route for the resident priest as practising the catholic faith was forbidden during the reformation and once I’d learned about it, I had to use it in Greyfriars House.

In Greyfriars House, I return once again to WW2 and the women who lived through it and who faced unimaginable circumstances.

Finally, we Scots, or some of us, believe in the supernatural. My grandfather who came from the Western Isles firmly believed he had the ‘second sight.’ He said he dreamt of boats pulled up on the shore whenever someone was about to die. Ghost stories have always been an integral part of Scottish life and sometimes, when I stand in a ruin, or am alone in a Scottish glen, I sense the people who once lived there. There is an element of the supernatural in Greyfriars House too.

Do you have a particular heroine you’d like to tell us about? Have you ever felt ‘spooked’ by something you couldn’t explain? Have you visited Scotland and what did you love most? I’d very much like to hear.

isbn9780751566123.jpgThanks to my wonderful medical author colleagues who invited me to post here. On Monday I’ll be posting an extract of Greyfriars House now out in hardback and ebook and in paperback in May (available to pre-order from Amazon, now). I do hope you’ll return here to read it.