BARROW WITCH Inspiration #3 – Scottish Writers

BARROW WITCH, book 3 of my Gaslamp Fantasy series, A Fey Matter, is available for pre-order! As part of the release, I’m sharing some of the inspiration for the book’s events and places.

A trip to Edinburgh can’t be had without recognizing the amazing amount of influential writers who have lived within the city over the past 500 years. There is even a Writers’ Museum dedicated to some of its most famous inhabitants… not to mention the monuments and statues!

Sir Walter Scott’s influence on Scottish culture is hard to deny, and his home of Abbotsford is filled with the rich history of the man’s life. His books are everywhere in Edinburgh. The Scott Monument dominates Princes Street.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood house on Heriot Row features quite a bit in A Fey Matter. After all, it is the home of Thomas Stevenson. But did you know that you can not only walk to it, but lodge in it as well? It’s a hotel and hosts private events!

Kenneth Grahame’s house is also now a hotel. I’ve enjoyed staying here a couple of times, and can recommend it. Its views of Edinburgh Castle and location can’t be beat!

For J.K. Rowling fans, check out The Elephant House cafe, where reportedly a large part of the first Harry Potter book was written. It has a long history of writers finding inspiration at its tables, and the views of the castle are spectacular!

BARROW WITCH Inspiration #2 – Borders History

BARROW WITCH, book 3 of my Gaslamp Fantasy series, A Fey Matter, is available for pre-order! As part of the release, I’m sharing some of the inspiration for the book’s events and places.

The Scottish Borders region is rife with history, and several of the places I’ve visited made it into BARROW WITCH, although not always in their original form. Without spoilers, here are:

  • The Hawick Mote, a hillfort within a town famous for its Tweed knitwear & an annual Common Riding meant to commemorate the defense of the town against Border Reivers
  • The medieval ruins of Roxburgh Castle, an auld stronghold at the junction of the rivers Tweed and Teviot
  • The Jedburgh Castle Jail, a Victorian jail built atop a medieval castle
  • The mysterious Rosslyn Chapel, where the Holy Grail is kept…?

Hope you enjoy reading about these tidbits as much as I did weaving them into Effie’s adventures!

BARROW WITCH Inspiration #1 – Walking the Scottish Borders

BARROW WITCH, book 3 of my Gaslamp Fantasy series, A Fey Matter, is now available for pre-order! In order to celebrate, I thought I’d share a little bit about the inspiration for the book.

A couple years ago, my wife and I walked the Borders Abbeys Way. Well, most of it…in parts. The point is, we walked a lot for several days! Along the way, we not only saw beautiful scenery, we explored the region’s incredible past, enjoyed its rich culture, and found quite a few spots that made it into the pages of BARROW WITCH. Here is a sampling!

Can you spot the tree where Thomas the Rhymer met the Queen of Elfland?

You can pre-order BARROW WITCH on Amazon! It comes out July 28th!

New Cover for THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN

With the upcoming release of Book 3 of A Fey Matter, City Owl Press is revising the cover for THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN! The new cover ties in the series, so that all the books will have the same look and feel. I’m very excited about this, and I’m looking forward to revealing the Book 3 cover soon!

OAK SEER, A Fey Matter Book II – Release Day!

Greetings! I’m thrilled to announce OAK SEER, book II of the Fey Matter Gaslamp fantasy series that started with THE LAIRD OF DUNCAIRN, is now for sale!

Find OAK SEER on Amazon

In this second installment, Effie must overcome her fears as she’s thrust once more into the spotlight–seen as a hero by some and a traitor to fey-kind by others. And if greedy lords and scheming politicians weren’t enough, a madman is on the loose killing fey without regard, while blood-thirsty cults and armed mobs prowl the city streets.

AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE

Effie peered through the window of the steam carriage as the village of Langmire came into view. The buildings—crofters’ homes mostly—sagged like slump-backed crones. Grey smoke wafted from blackened chimneys sprouting from thatched roofs. Someone baked fresh bread. She caught it on the wind beneath a perfume of moldy timbers, damp leaves, and rusting iron, all remnants of the heavy spring rains that had flooded the River Teith and left the roads full of boggy ruts and bared stone.

Eager for a warm hearth and a cup of honeyed tea, she licked her parched lips. She’d travelled a full day to reach the village. She’d come because Conall Murray had begged her, because without her an innocent woman would hang.

The thought drew her attention to the heart of the village where a stout oak grew. Muckle Ben, the locals called it, Effie had once heard. They’d carved a Green Man into its bark long ago, during a time when such things held power. Now banners pronouncing some celebration hung from its limbs more often than not, but none remained there currently. Its trunk stood as somber as an undertaker. Chickens picked at worms in the upturned soil near its roots, and a lone hound howled at the rustling leaves as the branches creaked above.

Fergus Alpin hacked into his handkerchief, a wet, miserable noise she’d had to contend with the entire journey from Stirling. The Fey Finder sat across from her in the steam carriage’s tight compartment. His wrinkled face was spotted and thin, and he kept tugging his coat tighter about his frail bones. She tried to avoid his gaze, but nothing adorned the compartment for her to study, and she could only stare out the window for so long before feeling rude.

“I’ll do the speaking,” the man said. “You will remain silent.” The quiver at his lip turned into another fit of hacking, yet she still heard his mumbling. “Send a fey to catch a fey, and one with paps at that!”

The steam carriage rocked and bounced, splashing through the muddy road as if fording a stony riverbed. Effie braced herself against the hard, worn benches, the padding flattened from years of service. A lightly stained wood paneling formed the carriage’s walls, floor, and roof. The boiler at its rear warmed the compartment, but at the expense of the coal smoke that clouded the air.

She shifted to relieve her sore hips. Her eyes narrowed. “The Fey Finder General bade me accompany you, Mr. Alpin, and not so I would stand and do nothing.” She tried to keep the bite from her tongue.

Of Fey Finders, Alpin was a journeyman and not a zealot. At least there was that. He sought not to be bothered rather than possessing the fiery hatred common to his profession.

She pressed her palms into the cushion on either side of her, to steady herself. It still marveled her she could sit so close to a Sniffer, a man the crown tasked with hunting down malevolent fey. Malevolent, as if they knew what the word meant. They hunted all with fey blood, and as a Sithling—one with the ancient blood of the Daoine Sith coursing through her—that included her. But things had changed after Caldwell House, and she had a need to trust where once she dared not. The fierce battle there had forced the lords of the empire to open their eyes. They could not rest on centuries of intolerance any longer. They had to welcome the fey into society’s ranks and accept a permanent treaty. They had witnessed the fate awaiting them if they did not.

Effie’s heart warmed. If the lords of the empire could learn to trust, so could she, and perhaps the Scottish fey would live freely for the first time in millennia.

Alpin’s jaw worked. He’d likely never had someone with paps stand up to him. Most Scots of either gender avoided Sniffers as if they carried the plague. “Look here, Miss Effie,” he snapped. “I’ll not have it. You may dine with the likes of lords, but you’re not in some grand procession here. I know the hearts of these gentle folk better than you ever will, and I will not banter with the mind of a devious hag.”

“When you see one, I’m sure,” said Effie, not knowing whether the man had meant her or the poor Spae Wife they’d come to question.

Find OAK SEER on Amazon