Please welcome Kate Carlisle, author of the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring book expert Brooklyn Wainwright. She's the winner of the Golden Heart and Daphne du Maurier awards, and she spent twenty years in television production as an assistant director in game and variety shows, including The Gong Show and Solid Gold. She also has sung, acted and spent a year in law school. Today she blogs for us today about Scotland and her roots.
From early childhood, I’ve had a deep fascination for Scotland. I think it started in elementary school when I worked on a genealogy project. Like most Americans, my DNA comes from many countries, but I chose my Scottish ancestors as the ones with whom I most identified. My mother’s last name was Campbell, and you can’t turn a corner in Scotland without running into a Campbell or two. (Especially true when you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road!)
What allure did Scotland hold for me? I grew up in California, where “new” was synonymous with “improved,” and the only castle I’d ever seen in real life was at Disneyland. In California, a fifty-year-old building was considered old. But my people live in a place where history has visceral meaning. The past is the present, as they walk the ground where our forebears fought fierce battles, raised children, fell in love, and cursed their enemies. Traditions are clung to fiercely in a land carved out of the rocky countryside with bare and bloodied hands.
I was in my mid-twenties the first time I visited Scotland, and my love for the country was cemented immedi
ately and forever. In my heart, Scotland is my homeland. With its brooding beauty, Scotland spoke to something inside of me right from the start.
The people spoke to me, too…not that I could understand what they said! They are the warmest and friendliest people ever, but I think they’re also a little suspicious. (And who wouldn’t be, after the wars they’ve been through?) I’m convinced they exaggerate their accents when meeting tourists, as a test of our fortitude. Scots are a hearty lot, and they have no patience for namby-pambies who aren’t even resourceful enough to figure out what the hell they’re saying. No, if you ever travel to Scotland, just know that you must face the lingual challenge with determination.
When I began to write the Bibliophile Mysteries series, I knew that at least one of the books would have to be set in Edinburgh, my favorite city in the world. In If Books Could Kill, which was released this month, antique book expert Brooklyn Wainwright is a guest of honor at the Edinburgh Book Fair. A former lover asks her to protect what could well be a never before seen book of poems by Robert Burns. If authentic, the secrets revealed in this book will ignite a scandal of international proportions, a scandal that someone is willing to stop at any cost, even murder.
Edinburgh is the best mix of old and new. (And by “old,” I don’t mean fifty years old!) The modern city is built right on top of the ancient city. I was able to walk down dark and narrow steps and touch the very walls that my ancestors built.
After my travels, I feel even more connected to my Scottish heritage. It’s no wonder, really. My maiden name is Beaver, so you can imagine the teasing I got all through school. My dad (who was a regular laugh riot, let me tell you) always claimed we were Native American, named after Chief Shooting Beaver – hence the appeal of my mother’s side of the family!
Carlisle is a Scottish name. (Some say English, but I’m sticking with Scottish. Carlisle, England is right on the border of Scotland, and I think the town fathers named it such in an effort to be annexed.) You can see my coat of arms at http://www.houseofnames.com/xq/asp.c/qx/carlisle-coat-arms.htm. The Carlisle motto is “with humility.” What they don’t tell you is that humility is a necessity for a clan who keeps tripping over our own feet!
What nationality is your last name? What does it mean? What do you wish it meant? (Go ahead, make up some fun alternate meanings for your name.) What do you think your family motto should be? Rather than “with humility,” I sometimes think mine should’ve been "with fries."