To wrap up our mini-vacation to the Scottish Highlands, I'm delighted to welcome Harriet Schultz onto the blog today. I met Harriet on Twitter last year. I've read both of her books and really enjoyed them! As an added bonus, Harriet is offering to give away TWO e-copies of Legacy of the Highlands! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment in the comments section below. We'll leave the giveaway open until next Tuesday at midnight and contact the winners on Wednesday morning. (Don't forget to leave your email in the comments section, or check back to see if you won next week.)
The Romance of Scotland ~ by Harriet Schultz
Scotland is one of my favorite places to visit. Perhaps it’s the country’s dramatic beauty or its captivating, romantic and brutal history or something else entirely. But there’s a quality about Scotland that draws me to it.
My husband and I spent three weeks there last year. It was a vacation for us both, but for me this trip had an added bonus. I would see, hear and smell the locations in my already-published romantic suspense novel, Legacy of the Highlands, to see if I’d gotten it right.
It was with a sigh of relief, therefore, that we dropped off our rental car 1,500 miles later. For me, that relief came from the realization that I’d chosen and described key settings well. My husband’s was that we hadn’t killed ourselves or anyone else as we drove on the wrong side — to us — of Scotland’s narrow, unforgiving, and occasionally one-track roads where drivers of cars traveling in opposite directions must have the good manners to “give way” or crash head on.
We followed the coast north from Edinburgh to John O’Groats with a day trip to the Orkney Islands before continuing as far west as we could go. We then turned south as far as Oban before returning to Edinburgh for our flight home.
Two destinations were of particular importance to me — the coast north of Aberdeen, between Cruden Bay and the town of Boddam and Arbroath Abbey where the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath was prepared.
A pivotal dramatic scene in my novel required a location that had physical characteristics similar to Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. The Internet is a wonderful research tool and I felt confident that the Bullers of Buchan, near Boddam, could be the perfect place for the action I’d planned. But I had to be sure. I posted my question to a Boddam-area chat room. Participants not only confirmed my hunch, but actually went to the site and then posted videos — with sound! — so that I could have a sense of the place. Their generosity was stunning and I thanked the Grampian Life Forum in my book’s acknowledgments.
Despite this, I still wanted to see the Bullers for myself. It was raining as we entered the small car park and headed up the narrow path to the deep hole in the cliffs that fills with the churning waters of the North Sea. The sound was deafening. Hundred of squawking birds nest in the rocks and waves pound the cliffs with a roar. It was perfect.
Before visiting the Bullers, we stopped in the town of Arbroath. My novel is contemporary, but a phrase in the Declaration of Arbroath and an oath taken by its signers form the basis for a murder that occurs almost 700 years later. It was with wonder that I roamed through the abbey’s preserved ruins, imagining the courage it took to ask the Pope to urge the English to leave Scotland and her people in peace.
Novels are creations of a writer’s imagination. And while there’s a bit of leeway in fictionalizing actual locations, I think that the more real they are, the more believable the tale.
Harriet's bestselling prologue, Lust and Honor, is available as a FREE download on all the retail sites.
To find out more about Harriet Schultz, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @HarrietSchultz. And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Legacy of the Highlands!