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.
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?
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.
Thanks 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.