Amanda is taking Tuesday off for a little pre-4th of July picnic prep, but Michelle Willingham is filling in with a post about Scotland and her exciting new release, Tempted By The Highland Warrior!!ย Comment for a chance to win a copy.ย See you next week…
Visiting Scotland for Research
When I was contracted to write a Highlander series, I knew I had to visit Scotland. In my mind, I envisioned tartan-clad heroes riding across the hills, with their claymores drawn. I pictured William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and of course, the eternal Highlander as we drove on those narrow, winding roads.
It’s a stunning land, full of wild beauty. But during our days there, it rained every single day. At the time, I was a little frustrated. I had wanted to hike through the mountains of Glencoe, seeing the mountains in all their glory. Instead, I saw fog and clouds, blocking our view. Our windshield wipers got a great workout, and every time we stopped the car to take a picture, both of us were fighting off the rain.
But when the rain stopped and the mists rose, the landscape left behind was breathtaking. It was a haunting place where I could feel the stories. We visited the infamous Loch Ness (and yes, I did look for the Loch Ness Monster like everyone else), but what drew my eye was Urquhart Castle. Although there were fortifications there as early as 460 AD, the first castle was likely built in the 13th century. It was there during the time of William Wallace and it provided the perfect research location on what a castle might look like during the era I was researching.
As you approach the main gate, there was once a portcullis to counteract the effects of a battering ram. Two guard towers were on either side, and a small deck made of timber allowed the defenders to pour hot oil on the invaders or attack from above.
Inside, although the floors have all rotted away, you can see the upper floor was divided into several rooms, one of which was used as a banquet all to serve honored guests. Music and feasting were part of the tradition of Urquhart Castle, which were held by the Comyn, Durward, Gordon, and Grant families. Boats could travel along Loch Ness, bringing news to the castle inhabitants or bringing items to trade.
The castle was captured by Edward I of England in 1296 and was transferred through different families until it was almost destroyed in 1609 by Williamite forces who were holding the castle against the Jacobites. By destroying it themselves, they ensured that it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands (a strange move, but one that worked). It remained a ruin and is now owned by the state.
When I was writing my MacKinloch Clan series, Urquhart Castle provided a wonderful inspiration for the settings of the different books. My newest release, Tempted by the Highland Warrior features a mute Highlander who grew up as a prisoner-of-war. He’s in love with Lady Marguerite de Montpierre, the daughter of the Duc D’Avignois. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story of two lovers who are worlds apart and try desperately to be together.
Today I’m giving away a signed copy of the book (or Kindle if you prefer) to one lucky commenter. Just tell meโ what’s the weather like in your part of the world?