As a writer of Scottish romances, I thought I’d blog about a halloween party featured in my latest novel – Girl in the Castle –
I hope you enjoy the extract. I’ve also added some photos I took at a Halloween party last night and, to celebrate Halloween, there’s a FREE download featured at the end of this blog post.
When Henri entered the Great Hall, it had been completely transformed by the purple gloaming outside the windows, strategically placed candles and the roaring twin fires. A harpist was playing a selection of melodies on a clarsach, and in another corner, children were dookin’ for apples in a barrel of water, supervised by nannies or older siblings. The young guisers, dressed as ghouls, spirits or favourite super heroes, took great delight in frightening the grown-ups with turnip lanterns dangling from sticks and fake Dracula fangs.
If Henri had dressed so as not to draw attention to herself, the other guests showed no such restraint. They were celebrating Samhain in style; the men in kilts, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ jackets over matching waistcoats, dress shirts, black tie, and brogues. The women in long plaid skirts/kilts, silk blouses with lacy jabots or, like herself, in simple black dresses worn with clan tartan in the form of a shawl or a sash. Clearly, this was an evening for showing off, because heirloom tiaras, necklaces and bracelets had been taken out of the bank vault. The jewels caught the candlelight and added extra glamour to the evening.
One man stood apart from the rest, and it took several seconds before Henri realised that it was Keir. She’d never seen the Master of Mountgarrie other than in his work clothes. But this Keir, wearing full Highland dress with unconscious grace and style was every inch the laird she’d dreamed about in the library. Grasping her silver caman for good luck, she stepped out of the shadows and into the hall.
If you’ d like to read more about the Girl in the Castle, download it onto your kindle or to buy and keep a paperback copy on your bookshelf.
Here are the photos from last night’s party – (thank you, hostess with the mostess, Adrienne Vaughan)- lots of spooks and demons, but not a kilt in sight. Unfortunately. You might also catch a glimpse of fellow New Romantics Press’s June Kearns behind one of the masks (!)
If you like spooky stories then check out an anthology Adrienne and I contributed to. It’s FREE to download at the moment, then it’s going – going – gone.
And finally . . . check out this blog post I wrote about a real life spooky event which happened to me and my siblings many years ago.
Have a great Halloween celebration whatever you have planned.
** many thanks to Nick Fiddes of Scotweb/Clan.com for giving me permission to use photos from his fabulous website.
This summer I spent a month touring Scotland, getting the vibe for my fourth novel which I am currently 87% of the way through. It was a fabulous holiday and I was able to touch base with friends, en route. The weather behaved itself while we were in Inverness and so, feeling ‘gallus’, we erected the awning and put out our sunloungers.
On this stretch of our road trip we planned to visit Culloden, Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart. I’m a great fan of Outlander and DK Broster’s Jacobite Trilogy. And, IMO the Broster novels give a more balanced view of the conflict and there’s less of the #highlandersgood/ #Englishbad subtext found in the Outlander novels. After all, many clans fought on the side of the English at Culloden and had no wish to see the Stuarts back on the throne. For them, the battle provided an opportunity to settle old scores. The downside of the Highland Trilogy is, no Jamie Fraser!
(click over each image to read the caption/copyright details)
If you’ve never visited Culloden, here’s a video to give you a sense of the place. The battle site has a haunting and mournful quality and it’s sad to reflect that, after Culloden, the clan system disintegrated and wearing tartan was punishable by seven years hard labour in the colonies. George IV) visited Edinburgh in 1822, and everything “Scottish” became acceptable once more, a tradition continued by Victoria and Albert who bought Balmoral as their highland retreat.
Sadly, by then many of the tartans had been forgotten and those which we see today are a recent reinvention.
(Above- a fragment of Thomas Fraser of Struy’s plaid said to have been worn at Culloden in 1746) image –
Next, we visited the Prisoner’s Stone where seventeen highlanders were taken out and shot, after the battle. Legend has it that one survived and lived to tell the tale. If you do not feel the weight of history pressing down on you when you visit the site, you have no soul. It’s hard not to stand there and weep for those on both sides who lost their lives.
I found it very poignant that clans from the same highland region fought side by side at Culloden – the Stewarts of Appin and the Camerons of Lochiel, for example. In my mind, this was an echo of WWI when adjoining villages joined the Pals’ Regiments and marched off to war together. (click over each image for further details)
Of course, Outlander – the books and the TV series have helped to reignite visitors’ passion for this beautiful part of Scotland. While we were there, many Americans were visiting the site, anxious to find the cairn erected to Clan Fraser and to lay flowers there. I still don’t understand why the Outlander series hasn’t been shown on UK television and why so few of my (UK) friends have heard about it. Here’s a link to my OUTLANDER pinterest board . . .
It’s interesting to reflect how differently things could have turned out had Bonnie Prince Charlie pressed on to London instead of turning round and heading back up north after reaching Derby – just miles from where I live in Leicester.
On a more personal note, one highlight of our trip was finding ourselves camped right next door to Facebook friend Sharyn Farnaby. Here she is with a copy of Tall, Dark which I gave to her to thank her for reading and reviewing my novels.
I have been inspired by the Battle of Glenshiel (1719) to write my next #contemporary Scottish romance which I hope to publish in March 2017. It contains history, a lost treasure, a gorgeous hero (Keir) and a heroine fighting to regain her reputation after an unfortunate incident at university, (Henriette).
In the meantime, here is my current selection of novels. Something to help you cope with the long, dreary winter days, perhaps? See you soon when I’ll be writing about visiting Balmoral and Royal Deeside and meeting up with another friend.
Hi Jo and welcome to my blog. Sit down, Jo, make yourself comfortable and we’ll begin. When I started out as a writer I think yours was one of the first blogs I appeared on – that was back in 2013. Can you believe it? How the time (and the writing) has flown.
I had no idea what I was doing but you soon sorted me out. Now I’m more savvy, I’m happy to repay the favour. So, tell us all about your new novel: SUMMER MOVED ON. Great cover by the way.
Thank you Lizzie for giving me the opportunity to showcase my latest novel,
Summer Moved On.
It’s a contemporary romance set in 2007 about two people from completely different backgrounds meeting and falling in love. Jess Hayden is a middle class girl on course for university. Talún Hansen is a penniless farm worker who lives in the village where her uncle runs the village pub, The Black Bull. Jess already has a boyfriend, surgeon’s son Zac Rayner; someone her father has earmarked as eventual marriage material. However, spending a holiday with Rufus brings her into contact with Talún and the beginning of a forbidden and passionate summer love. But as autumn approaches, a dark shadow from Jess’s past returns, bringing far-reaching and unwanted changes for both of them.
What reviewers have to say…
It’s a real page turner …
Powerful, thought provoking romance…
The location and characters are superbly drawn and Jo Lambert certainly knows how to tell a story…
Entertaining, emotional summer read…
Rich in interesting characters and an equally interesting plot…
Love, heartbreak, loss and friendship – this book has it all…