(Cawdor Castle, near Inverness – Linda in her red jacket wandering the grounds doing research.)
Today, I am thrilled to welcome, indie-author, Linda Gillard to my humble blog. Hailing from Black Isle, Scotland, Linda began her writing career as a traditionally published author – oh, come on, you know the kind I mean – a writer who has an agent and a publishing house behind her. She had three published novels under her belt, when she decided to write a book that stepped a bit too far out of the genre box for her publisher’s liking. She was told the book had no selling mileage. Unwilling to accept such a judgement, Linda waited around in the hope that her agent would find her novel another home. When that didn’t happen, Ms.Gillard went indie and she hasn’t looked back.
Linda has recently released her seventh novel, Cauldstane. I posted about this release a couple of weeks ago – check here! Today, Linda has a delicious guest post to share. I dare you not to shiver as you read of her inspiration for Cauldstane. She has also been kind enough to supply a few castle photos to get us in the proper mood.
So, without further ado, I turn the spotlight over to award-winning author, Linda Gillard.
Echoes From the Past
I’ve just published my second novel set in a Scottish castle. The latest book is called CAULDSTANE, the name of a fictional Highland castle and home of the MacNab family. Cauldstane is a decaying 16th century castle and a money pit. The MacNabs have lived there for generations, but in the 21st century they’re finding it hard to hold on. The family is now divided. Should they should sell up, or try to use the castle and estate as the basis of a business? Cauldstane is blessed with quirky architecture and a riverside location, but there’s also an ancient curse and a malevolent ghost who poisons lives and relationships and wants to drive the family out.
(Another stunning shot of Cawdor Castle.)
I first got the idea for CAULDSTANE when I visited Cawdor Castle, near Inverness. It’s privately owned and still inhabited, but open to the public. As I walked round, I started to think about what it might be like to live in a castle and of course, I wondered if it was haunted.
I’d already done a lot of castle research for a previous novel, UNTYING THE KNOT, in which an ex-soldier restores a ruined 16th-century tower house (a small, domestic version of a castle.) I visited more castles, read books about them and biographies of the people who lived in them. I loved doing all the research, though in the end not much made it into CAULDSTANE. But that’s how I think it should be with research. Readers shouldn’t be aware of it, but it should enrich the story and make it seem more authentic. Some readers have said Cauldstane Castle seems almost like another character in the book. One reviewer likened it to Manderley, the country house featured in REBECCA.
Many Scottish castles are reputed to have ghosts and there’s a great deal of evidence – some of it recent – about sightings and strange incidents. So did I see any ghosts on my visits? I sensed nothing at the Disney-esque Craigievar, which is supposed to be thoroughly haunted, but at Cawdor there was one corner of a room where I had what I can only describe as a very bad feeling, one I’ve had before when visiting ancient buildings. On a subsequent visit, I experienced the same sensation, but as soon as I moved away from that corner, I felt fine.
(Craigievar Castle near Aberdeenshire and herself trodding the path. Disney-esque indeed!)
If you asked me, do I believe in ghosts, I would have to say, I think there’s something, some sort of echo from the past which some people can attune to. I live near Culloden Battlefield, one of the eeriest, most desolate places in Scotland, though it’s not far from a main road. In the Highlands a sense of history – much of it tragic and brutal – is almost palpable. It’s hard to ignore the powerful presence of the past. That disturbing presence is something I’ve tried to bring to my latest novel, CAULDSTANE.
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Now that Linda has my readers in the haunted castle frame of mind – here’s my review of Cauldstane to further wet the appetite.
A Novel of Redemption in True Gillard Fashion
Once started, I couldn’t stop reading until the last page of Gillard’s latest novel was turned. The characters leapt to life; they grabbed hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. A highly recommended read by an author that is tried and true.
When I was a little girl, I used to dream of living in a real Scottish castle. As a teen, I read more than my share of Harlequin romances that featured feisty young women falling in love with dour Scottish Laird’s. And guess what? These guys had castles!
My childhood fantasies were stoked and stroked by Cauldstane. For readers of Gillard’s other novels, familiar themes are woven through – a not so young but still vital heroine searching for something more in her life, a sense of having journeyed to the Scottish Highlands, a glimpse of things that occur outside the normal realm of our senses (ghost alert), the faint strains of music, quilts and savoury home-cooking.
Caulstane throws in an armoury complete with a darkly haunted, breathtakingly handsome man who hones blades and wields a sword like a master of times gone by, a ghostwriter with a few dark secrets of her own, and a superbly drawn ex-physicist/now vicar waiting in the wings to save the day.
But as always, what keeps me coming back for more of Gillard’s storytelling is the sense of redemption her novels convey. Cauldstane did not disappoint in that regard!