Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh those Scots and their kilts

I've been keeping an eye out for books set in Scotland because I want to write a book set there. I'm not sure what kind but I'd like to explore the history of my clan, Clan MacBean. Several MacBeans fought and died at Culloden (picture at left is Gillies MacBain, a martyr/hero of that battle), and I've been to the Memorial Park above Lochness, seen pictures of the family homestead (alas, it was no castle). I'm not sure what form the novel will take--toying with a contemporary mystery, or maybe--branching out for me--a time-travel book.

(MacBain plaid to the right)
Right now I'm reading In The Time of Kings by N. Gemini Sasson. It's a time-travel, and I wasn't sure I'd like it but I find I'm anxious to get back to it. The main character, Ross Sinclair, falls off his bike, hits his head and wakes in the 14th century. What I like is that he maintains his 21st century identity in his mind, and thinks only about how he can get back to his bride who is in a coma in a hospital. At first he thinks he's fallen in with a bunch of whacko re-enactors but gradually it dawns on him he's really been transported back in time. And his fellow clansman know exactly who he is and where he's been--imprisoned in England. They attribute his lack of knowledge of family (including a wife) and current events to loss of memory. I'm only halfway through, but so far I like Roslin in the `14th century better the besotted, neurotic Ross of the 21st.
Next on my reading list is To the Hilt, the only book the late Dick Francis set in Scotland and one of the last he wrote before he began collaborating with his son or son-in-law.
One thing I know I won't write is a lusty romance of unbridled passion. There are a lot of contemporary romances that fit into that narrow genre and do very well, gathering awards and readers both. I've long held the theory that (almost) any man looks sexy in a kilt and I gather the idea is not unique to me. There's a fictional image embedded in the public consciousness of the lusty Scottish warrior brandishing his claymore. After the Clearances when so many were deported to America, they brought with them a reputation for fighting hard, drinking hard, and playing hard. What better heroes for romance?
I do believe I'd blush if I tried to write such a novel.
A final anecdote: the MacBain Memorial Park is on the banks of Lochness, above the village of Dores.  The other day I said if I went back to Scotland, I'd d want to spend a couple of days in Dores. Son-in-law Christian was incredulous: "Why would you want to stay indoors?"

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