Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scotland, My Muse; a guest post by Lacey Dearie


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Lets think of some of the Jungle Red Writers' favorite things. Mysteries. Cats. Writing. Scotland. Twitter. What do they have in common? They all meet together in today's guest, Scottish author Lacey Dearie. When we were approaching our 8000th Twitter follower, we decided to mark the occasion with something special. The tweep who turned our odometer over to 8000 would get a special appearance on the blog. Imagine our pleasure when we found out the winner was a smart, funny indie author from the UK.


So that covers the writing, Scotland and Twitter portion. What about cats and mysteries? Let me quote you the back copy of Lacey's latest novellette, LEGER: CAT SLEUTH:


Leger has a comfortable life. He sleeps, chases tabbies and plays with Bob, his Labrador room-mate, when nobody is watching. His life with elderly couple Annabella and Hugh is enviable, but he craves excitement and a creative outlet. However, when Hugh is attacked, the purpose in life he sought presents itself. He turns detective in a bid to solve the mystery of who mugged Hugh. Will he succeed? Will anyone take him seriously as a sleuth? Will his artistic flair help in his quest to find the culprit? Can he stay away from the catnip long enough to focus on the job in hand?

Lacey's been cutting her teeth on indie publishing for a little over a year now. Her first novel, THE TANGLED WEB, reached the number 1 spot on the Amazon UK Free Download list and was in the top 100 Bestselling downloads, as well. Her short story BAKED (the love story of a doughnut and an eclair!) hit number 1 on the French and German short story charts.

However, Lacey's not going to talk to us today about bestselling charts or talking Glaswegian cat detectives or even her upcoming second novel. She's here to talk about what makes her heart sing.





Firstly I want to thank Jungle Red Writers for hosting this guest post.  I’m a huge fan of this blog and I am thrilled to be a guest today.




Firth of Clyde
Every story I’ve ever written until now has been set in Scotland.  This could be attributed to the fact that I am Scottish.  I was born and raised here and as an amateur genealogist I’ve traced my ancestry back over three hundred years.  Despite my family tree being peppered with Irish surnames here and there, every one of my ancestors, as far as I can trace, was Scottish.



Forth Road Bridge, Edinburgh
I grew up in a rural community and have lived all my life in tiny villages.  I can never imagine anywhere else inspiring me more than this part of the world because there’s so much more to this country than castles, whisky and haggis.  Even though it rains ninety per cent of the time (that’s not a genuine statistic, it’s just how it feels) it still can’t kill the romance and mystique of the countryside.







Of course, we have our problems like everywhere else in the world.  There’s a recession to recover from, rising unemployment and social issues such as knife crime and drug abuse.  It’s no different to anywhere else in that respect.  We also have a referendum on independence next year that will divide opinion and shape the future of Scotland and will have a significant impact on the rest of the UK if we gain independence.
Ayrshire coast





When I meet foreigners on vacation or online, they express a genuine affection for this country that is so touching.  It feels like everyone either knows a Scot or has some Scottish ancestry, and if they don’t, they will say something sweet like they loved Braveheart.  Of course I don’t tell them that the movie was made in Ireland and was historically inaccurate.  That would just kill the mood. 
Loch Lomond on a winter's day




It’s not that I’m so inspired by Scotland because it’s my homeland.  There is so much more to it than that.  I love it because each town and city has its own unique personality. 



Edinburgh
Glasgow is the kind of city where you can get on a bus, make a friend and five minutes later when you reach your stop you have a friend for life and could easily write their autobiography.  It’s a shopping Mecca and a few hours there would show you what modern Scotland is really like. 


Dean Castle, Kilmarnock
Edinburgh, although kitsch and touristy in some respects, has a festival every summer that attracts thousands of artists, writers, actors, comedians and a wealth of other performers from all around the world.  If that doesn’t sell you on the place, listen to this: There is a castle on a cliff in the middle of the city.  I dare you to resist its charm!



Even my nearest town, Kilmarnock, is fascinating, if a little rough around the edges.  It is the apparent birthplace of freedom fighter, William Wallace and Robert Burns’ first book of poems was published in Kilmarnock.  It was recently named as the most creative town in Scotland.  That’s no surprise to me but since it has a reputation for being a particularly underprivileged town, it was unexpected for many people.
Dunfrys Village Festival 2013




Scotland has been a muse to countless writers and artists over the years and I always seek out books and short stories written by foreigners that are set here, for curiosity’s sake.  I love to hear how people view Scotland.  Do they arrive in Glasgow Airport and see pictures of cows on the walls then conclude that we are eccentric?  Do they get lost in the romanticism of the castles and fall in love while here?  Are visitors bewitched by the mysterious and atmospheric backdrop of the Highlands? 

I’d love to hear what readers of this blog think of when they picture Scotland!


Speaking of 'picture', all the gorgeous photos in this post were taken by Lacey Dearie or her husband, Alex Milligan. Lacey has 2 signed copies of LEGER: CAT SLEUTH to give away to commenters!

You can find out more about Lacey and her books at her blog. You can also friend her on  Facebook, follow her on Twitter as @LaceyDearie, swap book suggestions on   Goodreads and see even more photographs on  Pinterest.

45 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

What a special glimpse into a lovely country . . . and with such beautiful photographs. Thank you! Now, I think I need to add Leger’s story to my to-be-read pile . . . .

Jack Getze said...

Lacey, the book sounds great. Cats seem to have their own sub-genre in the book world, and I'll bet yours hits the top. Love the catnip line. Good luck!

My grandmother Getze was pure Scottish -- McKey -- and I have a photo of her and four younger sisters on the farm in Pennsylvania about 1900 that is priceless. Those ladies look TOUGH! Like they pulled the plow when the horses got tired.

One more tidbit from my California days. I used to double-date (now ex-wives) with the guy who wrote BRAVEHEART -- Randy Wallace. He's a tall southern gent, a sweetheart, but not above changing the facts to suit his tastes. I hear the English are REALLY upset abut some of the "history" in that movie. He lost best original screenplay that year to THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

You have such a lovely country! Went to Scotland last winter for research and had a wonderful time in both Edinburgh and Arisaig. Planning on returning next summer for the "Gathering of the Clan MacNeal" on Barra!

Lacey Dearie said...

Joan: thank you! I hope you enjoy Leger's story. He's a typical tomcat - charming yet aloof, which is also a typical Scotsman!

Lacey Dearie said...

Jack: thanks so much, I really hope my cat sleuth story does well too. I'd love to shake your friend's hand (the one who wrote Braveheart) Although it's historically inaccurate, it's such a feel-good movie and I have yet to meet a Scot who doesn't love it!

Lacey Dearie said...

Susan: I hope my post brought back some nice memories for you of your time researching here. Have a great time when you come back! At least in summer you have a slightly better chance of having good weather while here ;)

Pamela Case said...

Thank you for adding to my pile of reasons why Scotland has to be our next destination. On my bookshelf set 5 of Nigel Tranter's books including a single volume of The Bruce Trilogy (which I can hardly hold in one hand). Becoming an amateur genealogist is my goal upon retirement and I'm on the countdown toward that date. At this time I will say that I do not know of a single Scottish ancestor in my lineage but I bet that will change as I search. I fell in love with Scotland when I was in college. A fantasy love from books - a lovely old volume, "Castles and Keeps of Scotland" which I checked out of the library and failed to return, and an art history book that showed a Henry Moore sculpture alive in Scotland. There is such a pull to go to Scotland and see for myself that I wonder if there may be a past life providing that tug. I've never felt it before.

Lacey Dearie said...

Pamela: yes, if you feel such a connection with ANY place you absolutely should go there. If you do stumble across any Scots in your ancestry when you begin your investigation you should use the website scotlandspeople.gov.uk to find out more about them. It's the website I always use and I've found it to be invaluable.

Hank said...

Wow, fabulous! We're not taking a vacation this summer, Lacey, and this will do nicely in its place!
Lovely photos.


Is it true people are flocking to Scotland to visit the places where Game of Thrones is filmed? That would be pretty fascinating..

And never a dull moment on Jungle Reds on Twitter right? Thank you so much!

Marianne in Maine said...

And Scotland is home to the Wimbledon men's champion!

It's wonderful to meet you, Lacey. Thank you for a lovely tour of your country. I have zero Scottish ancestry(all Irish here) but I've visited there by way of authors' words and pictures - specifically Diana Gabaldon and Deborah Crombie. And now we can read about a sleuthing cat. :-)

Thank you for sharing with us.

Susan D said...

I love love love Scotland. If I could find a way to live in Canada and Scotland simultaneously, I would. (Oh right, I could move to Nova Scotia...)

How I see Scotland?
http://www.dalyght.ca/scotland_getaway.html

Tammy said...

Great to see you here, Lacey! I have my own love story with Scotland, after spending a term at Edinburgh Uni during college and returning every chance I got for a few years after that. I haven't been back for a while, but I will be back someday! The Festival (the Fringe, mostly) is not to be missed.

Hallie Ephron said...

Have to say, I'm a sucker for cats in mystery novels. And I love hearing you talk about Scotland. We spent a lovely week tooling around, drove up from Yorkshire (Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay) to Edinburgh and continued up along the coast. Delicious salmon everywhere, sticky sweet desserts, and haggis.

carol weston said...

Although my background is from Wales, Lacey's blog certainly made me want to explore Scotland.

Anna Lee Huber said...

Oh, Lacey, your book hits on so many of my loves! I will have to check it out. :)

I was fortunate enough to visit Scotland 2 years ago & absolutely fell in love with it. I always tell people, I think it's something in your blood. When you're there, either it will sing in you, or it won't. It was definitely singing in me. :)

There is just so much rich history & mystery there. And the landscapes practically beg you to write about them. I also think that, at least for Americans, so many of the attributes we hold dear came from our Scottish heritage. So it's awfully hard not to love Scotland. :)

Enjoyed your guest post. Best wishes!

Lisa Alber said...

Hi Lacey!

I'm a big fan of all things Celtic, whether Irish or Scottish, and cats! As I was reading your post, I couldn't help but think about "Tartan Noir" -- I see that term all the time. You're in fabulous literary company!

What do you think of the Tartan Noir subgenre craze?

Fun to be invited to guest post, isn't it? :-) Hope you're having a great day with it (I did!).

Cheers, Lisa

Deb said...

Hi Lacey! What fun to have one of our best Scottish tweeps!

You know how much I love Scotland... I've been very homesick for Edinburgh the last couple of years. I keep trying to figure out how I could justify putting my London detectives in Scotland for another story. But it would give me an excuse to visit!

And as you can never have too many cats, I can't wait to make Leger's acquaintance!

Rhys Bowen said...

Welcome Lacey. You made me realize that it's too long since I've been to Scotland. I'm remembering eating fish and chips on a hill above Oban at ten at night, watching the sun set. So spectacular.

Denise Ann said...

I visited Scotland in 1966, and remember Edinburgh as being heavenly and soggy. I had read lots of Stuart history, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," and "Greyfriars Bobby" in preparation. My friends and I attended "fringe" events, ate well, went to a Military Tattoo at the castle, stayed at a YWCA, and left Glasgow for Belfast with "hard seat" tickets on a night ferry. I have always wanted to return!!
I'm not a cat person myself but this book sounds perfect for a friend who is visiting next week.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful country with us today.

Lacey Dearie said...

Hank: I think Game of Thrones is another one we have now lost to Ireland, sadly. But the landscape there is beautiful and it's a boost for Celtic tourism as a whole, so it's all good. Jungle Reds are keeping me very entertained on Twitter, looking forward to more of your tweets, ladies!

Lacey Dearie said...

Marianne: Yes it is, we're all so proud of Andy Murray here. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and pictures and it's wonderful to meet so many new people through this blog.

Lacey Dearie said...

Susan: It's one of my dreams to see Canada one day. Which part of Canada would you recommend for a trip?

Lacey Dearie said...

Tammy: Edinburgh definitely seems to be a place that people fall in love with. It's wonderful to hear about people like yourself who visit time and again :)

Lacey Dearie said...

Hallie: I only started reading cat mysteries in the last year or so but I quickly grew to love them. Salmon and the desserts, I love. I am not a true Scot when it comes to haggis though. I can't stand it! I feel like such a traitor to my country.

Lacey Dearie said...

Carol: I think there are a lot of similarities between Scotland and Wales, but sadly I've never been to Wales. It's on my travel bucket list!

Lacey Dearie said...

Hi Lisa, I have to admit I am more of a cozy mystery fan and find the tartan noir genre a bit too hard boiled for my tastes but my house is full of tartan noir as my husband loves it! And yes, it's been great guest posting here. I've met so many new people through this blog post :)

Lacey Dearie said...

Deb: I wonder if your London detectives could be solving a mystery while on a trip to Edinburgh? If it means a research trip, I think it's worth considering ;)

Lacey Dearie said...

Rhys: Oh, do you know I haven't been to Oban in years. The last time I was there was 2003 when my husband and I went for a secret weekend away together. We were still dating then. Now I want to go back and eat fish and chips and watch a sunset too!

Lacey Dearie said...

Denise Ann: It sounds like you had fun! "Heavenly and soggy" is a description I just have to adopt now, as it's so perfect for Edinburgh.

Pat D said...

It is so interesting to hear your comments about your home and how others perceive it. I live in Texas and people who've never been there also have notions of what it is like---some pretty crazy! (Especially if it is Hollywood-inspired). I definitely have Scots in my family background and have always wanted to visit Scotland. And hooray! I am doing so at the very end of August.We will not be on a guided tour so expect to meet people and just enjoy each day.

Anonymous said...

Nice article! I love visiting Scotland and seeing it's gorgeous scenery and friendly locals. And Cat Sleuth looks funny!

Gram said...

I love to hear about people who love their home/town/state/country. I also love books with animals. Dee

Deb Romano said...

Lacey, you sound like the perfect tour guide for Scotland!

Your stories sound just like the sort of off-beat type of thing I love. I downloaded Leger and plan to order the others, too.

Reine said...

Scotland is wonderful. What I think of most is that it was the stopping point of my father's ship during World War II. Before the US entered the war, they joined the British Merchant Navy in Loch Ewe to form an arctic convoy. Their mission was to deliver supplies and support the war effort in Russia. He was a 16-year-old high school student in Boston who was recruited with his friends during class. They were promised a diploma in June if they went.

Lacey Dearie said...

Pat: I think all my ideas about Texas are inspired by watching Dallas and the Silhouette Desire paperbacks about raunchy cowboys I read as a teenager! Probably way off the mark but I would love to go there some day, maybe for the Formula 1 Grand Prix (I'm a huge fan). Enjoy your trip to Scotland in August, I hope you have an amazing time.

janice stewart said...

Im scottish born and bred, would never live anywhere else even though it never stops raining (except for this week) we even holiday in Scotland although i have been abroad, Im very proud of our country and consider myself Scottish not British and looking forward to our independance. I have also read your book about the cat and enjoyed it very much as i did with your other books, so well done x

Lacey Dearie said...

Anon: Thanks!

Gram: Me too :)

Lacey Dearie said...

Deb: Thanks so much, I really hope you enjoy Leger - Cat Sleuth.

Lacey Dearie said...

Reine: Wow! I can't imagine most of the 16 year olds I know being mature enough to fight in a war, but it just shows how times, and people, have changed. It was because of him and other young men and women from both sides of the Atlantic that we enjoy the freedom we have right now. Respect to them!

Lacey Dearie said...

Janice: Thanks! I feel much the same way about Scotland. It's who I am and my heart would break if I had to leave forever. Thanks for buying my books, glad you enjoyed them :)

Lacey Dearie said...

Anna: I absolutely agree with you about the landscape. Although I try to be subtle and not push too much descriptive prose onto readers I hope there is a definite flavor of Scotland coming across in my writing. If you decide to check out Leger, I hope you enjoy it!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, that'll teach me to listen with only one ear. Well, it SHOULD have been Scotland, okay? :-)

You're so fabulous to spend so much time with us!

danielle-momo said...

Love Scotland! I visited Edinburg, Inverness and surroundings, Culloden. Love the way words are spoken (broug?), the kilt, the celidh, the sceneries , the lakes and mountains.Some places look a little like here in Québec .And Québec has tried for independance too. The warmth of hodpitality too. Hope to return some day.
Good success with your book!

Cindy said...

Oh, I skipped a few days on Facebook, and miss a Scotland post! We lived in England for 6 years from 1985-90, and the highlight of our time there was a road trip I took to Scotland! My Grandfather wanted to see some of his heritage, so we drove from Cambridge to Edinburgh. To experience the city was such a treat! I have walked the city and long to go back. I read Alexander McCall-Smith books, and Ian Rankin, and get such a different feel for the city from the perspective of the writers. I hope to go back at some point soon! And Andy Murray is a treat to watch play tennis!

Lacey Dearie said...

Danielle: thanks for your good wishes for the book. Quebec is another place on my travel bucket list - all of Canada in fact!

Cindy: I too love walking through Edinburgh. I try to go there at least once a year, usually at Christmas time when the German markets are in town. And yes, Andy Murray is everyone's hero here right now ;)