My latest story has carried me back to the rocky crags, shimmering lochs, and magical lands of Scotland. Aye, tis a bonny place to be. Hours and hours I get to stare at pictures and imagine my characters frolicking across those green glens, or whipping around corners in old crumbling castles. I put together soundtracks filled with bagpipes and Celtic lilts that play behind each scene I write. I scour Gaelic dictionaries to find the perfect words to sprinkle in for flavor. Then of course there’s the historical research of where to set the scene, which clans were in the area, the political climate of the time. All this research, plus a certain bridge that took me forever to find and ended up being right under my nose, and of course the Commandos, led me to Achnacarry Castle, seat of clan Cameron. Neither the Camerons nor their castle are major players in the story, but the short moments they do have are pivotal to the plot.
The story kicks off with my heroine training alongside the Commandos at Achnacarry during WWII only to time travel back in time to 1745 where the heart of a Highlander is waiting for her. The only thing to convince her the impossible has happened is gazing upon the castle she thought she knew only to find it resembling nothing familiar as the original burned down in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden. This worked out perfectly plot wise, but not so much for the detail-oriented person I am. There’s not much known about the original castle except it had fine gardens, offices, and a long line of beech trees that the 19th laird was planting at the time of the Uprising. So I did what any other good writer does and emailed the clan Cameron museum on the castle grounds in hopes they could give my imagination a little help in recreating this place. They didn’t have much information beyond what I had already read online, but the curator did send me some great shots of the chimney which is the only thing left standing from the old castle. The ruins are west of the current castle, next to the steading buildings and near the driveway entrance. For those of you like me who have no idea what a steading building is, it’s simply a farm building, and the castle has renovated theirs into holiday apartments. I think a vacation is in order! For research purposes of course … 🙂