Award-winning author Romy Gemmell writes short stories and novels for both adults (as Romy Gemmell) and tweens (as Ros Gemmell.) Today she joins us to talk about Scotland and how she used the setting in her latest Regency novel. Romy short story, Highland Hogmanay, is featured in the FREE Holiday Anthology from Exquisite Quills. Learn more about Romy/Ros and her books at her website and blog.
Scotland as a Setting
Having lived in Scotland all my life, I decided it makes sense to use aspects of the country as the setting for some of my fiction. My home is on the beautiful west coast, half an hour from the great city of Glasgow and about twenty minutes across the river to stunning Loch Lomond. It’s a great location as we have the River Clyde on one side and the hills and countryside on the other.
In my new Regency-era novel, Midwinter Masquerade, I wanted to take the story away from the usual Regency London setting, so it begins in Edinburgh, our capital city. Apart from the impressive castle that sits atop a rocky incline, my favourite part of the city is the Royal Mile, the ancient cobbled road leading from the castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Although now lined with a variety of tourist shops and cafés, the old tenements and historical buildings remind us of its past, the dark, narrow alleyways hinting at skulduggery and dark deeds.
Since this is a winter themed novel, however, the story then moves to the Scottish countryside during the lead-up to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From the lowlands to the highlands, our hills and mountains, rivers and glens are the picture of romance, even without men in kilts, although most young men still wear the kilt to weddings and end of school parties!
|Part of the Royal Mile|
The countryside around the lowlands is filled with rolling green hills and forests of fir trees and my hero’s country estate is in such a setting. Our winters often begin in October or November, which should be autumn months, but it’s no exaggeration to say we can experience all four seasons in one day here. Once the clocks turn back an hour on the last weekend in October, darkness descends by around 4pm in many places, especially on the very rainy days, which we’re famous for in the beautiful, green west coast.
Since autumn and winter are my favourite times of year, it was fun setting Midwinter Masquerade within the cold, frosty scenery and there’s a skating scene on the frozen loch, an activity that still takes place on a small loch in the countryside near me. But my favourite part of the story is the Masquerade Ball on the winter solstice, a magical time of year when the sun changes direction. And it also heralds a change of direction for my heroine before winter is over.
In Edinburgh, December 1816, young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan accepts an invitation to the country estate of Edward Montgomery, the man she once thought to marry seventeen years previously. Accompanied by her godmother, Lady Pettigrew, Lenora forms a friendship with Edward’s young niece and ward, Annabelle, who has a propensity for getting into scrapes and falling in love with the wrong man.
In the days leading up to the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, unexpected guests arrive and family secrets are revealed. Once the past is revealed and the real villain unmasked, Lenora must decide where and with whom her future now lies.