For inquiring minds, those of you who want to know, or are mildly interested, suspenseful romance novella Somewhere My Lass, was an intriguing tale to weave and quite an adventure. It’s also one I had no intention of undertaking until the vivid dream that led to the startling intro: the hero, Neil MacKenzie, returns home from work to find his elderly housekeeper lying murdered at the bottom of the winding staircase and a young woman in full Scottish dress slumped at the top. She, however, isn’t dead.
‘What the heck,’ I said to self. And that’s all I had to go on at the start of this venture, but was so intrigued I had to learn their story and pondered all the clues given. An old Victorian house, check, I’m very familiar with those; man wearing modern suit, so the story opens in present day, got it, but the young woman came from the past. Scotland’s past. This will take some doing, I concluded. Being a member of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, a fabulous online group, was/is a great resource. I’d taken a Scottish history class and reread that trove of material while doing my usual obsessive research. I love gleaning more about the past and used an actual feud in 1602 between the MacKenzies and MacDonalds as a jumping off place.
Both Neil and the heroine, Mora Campbell, were so clear in my mind and a lot of fun to work with—send their regards—and definitely rank among my cast of favorites. The romance between them is one of the best I’ve written. The chemistry just took off. The story, though, is not super-hot, but seductively sensual. I actually received a high-five along with a ‘warning’ from one reviewer because it wasn’t erotic. Weird. Warning, warning, this is not super-hot. Who sends out a Mayday alert for that? It says something about the state of romance today.
Interestingly, the Scarlet Pimpernel, a classic love story, plus he’s ingenious, never does more than kiss the ground his beloved’s exquisitely shod feet have trod, because he can’t trust her enough to express his undying passion until the end when he tells all and carries her in his arms, as her poor feet are bloodied and bruised from a selfless attempt to save him. Only he didn’t need saving. I don’t recall even a kiss between the two, except when his heated lips brush her hand, and yet it’s deeply romantic and has sparked many films. But I digress. Frequently.
Regarding the setting for Somewhere My Lass, until this novella all my stories took place in America, past and present. This departure to Scotland was a challenge, but I drew deeply on my English Scots-Irish roots, which I’ve been doing all along. Apart from the prominent Native American characters in some of my work, the others are of English/Scots-Irish backgrounds, with a smidgen of French. My ancestors, too, have a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who fought with William the Conqueror, and some French Huguenots.
One unique aspect of the story, is that rather than beginning with the hero or heroine going back in time, I brought her forward (as was the case in the dream) before sending them back together. I also included kewl sci-fi features, new for me. I’ve learned a great deal from my journey into Bonnie Old Scotland. I fell in love with the characters, new ones nudge at my mind, and I’m at work (possibly forever) on the sequel. The colorful secondary, Neil’s quirky friend Angus Fergus, has a lot of fans.
In writing Somewhere My Lass, certainly I was influenced by my beloved Author C S Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia that I grew up reading. I’m still looking for Narnia. Isn’t everyone? My love of old castles and the Scottish Highlands also lent inspiration.Many of the early Scots-Irish settlers in the Shenandoah Valley, my ancestors among them, chose to live here because of the resemblance the valley and mountains bore to Scotland and Ireland. As near to home as they were likely to find in the New World.
The concept behind my Somewhere series, of which Somewhere My Lass is Book Two (though written to stand alone) is that the story opens in present day, so far my home state of Virginia, and then transports the reader Somewhere else. Either back to an earlier time in the same house, as in Somewhere My Love and Somewhere The Bells Ring, or another place altogether, as in Somewhere My Lass. The wonderful old homes I grew up in and visited over the years are an integral part of the inspiration behind this series. In Somewhere My Lass, I used a compilation of Victorian homes for the mysterious house in historic Staunton, Virginia where the story begins. How do they go back and forth in time, you may ask. Why through ‘the door to nowhere,’ of course, a portal to the past. I was acquainted with just such a door as a child. However that was typically Victorian, not the ancient door pictured, a royalty free image, I hasten to add. No, this Medieval door is where one enters on the other side of the portal.