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Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Edinburgh Castle
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.

Snowy Loch
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 caf├ęs, 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.

Midwinter Masquerade
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.


anne stenhouse said...

Good morning Ladies. I couldn't agree more, Romy, about the variety and opportunity our ancient cities and wild countryside offer to the novelist. The cover of Midwinter Masquerade is so evocative and I'm really looking forward to reading your latest. Anne Stenhouse

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for hosting me here, Lois/Serena!

Thanks so much, Anne - really enjoyed your new historical!

Janice said...

I know Glasgow and Edinburgh very well and I really enjoyed your photos and descriptions, Rosemary. It's always a thrill to walk along the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh castle - you can feel the history beneath your feet. I'm really looking forward to reading Midwinter Masquerade.

E.Ayers said...

I love the cover and the story sounds wonderful. You've just added to my TBR pile. I loved your story in the Exquisite Quills' Holiday Anthology. Such fun!

Vikki said...

I loved reading Midwinter Masquerade and felt the Scottish setting added to the atmosphere

Kemberlee said...

Your photos make me long for a visit back to Scotland. The Royal Mile is certainly a special part of the city, never mind the tourist tat. I saw a ghost once in the High Kirk ;-)

I love that you moved your Regency out of London. It's a great step out of the box, IMO.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Janice - thanks so much for that comment!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Elizabeth - thanks so much for visiting and for your very kind comment!

Hi Vikki - many thanks for your lovely comment!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Kemberlee - many thanks for your great comment. Love that you've seen a ghost there!

Myra Duffy said...

Yes, this is such a good read for this time of year (or any time) and I absolutely love the cover.

Joan Fleming said...

The Scottish setting adds to the storyline in Midwinter Masquerade. As a Scot, I could relate to the atmosphere of the book - a great read. Brilliant cover.

Unknown said...

I so one day want to visit your country.
Book sounds fantastic.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Myra - thank you!

Many thanks for commenting, Joan!

Thanks a lot, Victoria - hope you get here one day!

Rena George said...

You paint wonderful pictures of Scotland, Rosemary. Makes me feel quite homesick. Rx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Rena!

Glynis Peters said...

Visiting Scotland is on my bucket list! I really must take in some of the glorious sights.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Glynis - thanks for commenting. Hope you do manage to get up here some time!