When I started writing in 2008, my intent was to write children's short stories. I eventually branched out into adult short stories, and I've dabbled in poetry. I had no desire to write a novel.
Then, I cyber-met Courtney Rene and she became one of my critique partners. I was privileged to read A Howl in the Night during its infancy. Chapter by chapter, I watched her novel grow and I was intrigued. I thought that if I could write a chapter at a time, maybe a novel wouldn't feel like such a tremendous task. But what would I write about?
One day, while reading an interview in O magazine by Jonathan Lethem, I read a sentence that resonated with me.
I want books to be old and to have this weird talismanic property where they've had different owners, and they convey a sense of history.
I read it over and over. I wrote the sentence and taped it to my wall (eventually pinning it to my cork board.) It was the kind of sentence that sang to me, flashed at me, made me forget everything else and play with the feeling it evoked. The kind of sentence that says, "There's a story here somewhere..."
I stared at that slip of paper every time I sat down to write, but still, there was no clear story in my head.
Then, one day a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to London. Ummm...YEAH! Hubby said I could go, as long as I didn't go to Scotland without him. My friend and I made a date far enough in advance to save up the money. She told me to surf the web and find all the tourist attractions I wanted to visit. While lost in the UK on the internet, my ADD kicked in, and I researched my mother-in-law's maiden name. I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was an actual castle?"
Well, there is a Buchanan Castle, but it's in total ruin. Check out this link for the site record. There are some grand photos of the place before it fell to disrepair.
Check out this site for some wonderful photos of the ruined castle.
I looked past the total devastation and pictured myself walking through those halls, trying to imagine the grandeur. And then, I read the history of the castle:
The last Laird of Buchanan died in 1681 and the house and estate were bought by the 3rd Duke of Montrose (of the Graham family). The original castle on the site was the ancestral seat of the Clan Buchanan, and burned down in 1852. The current building was built by the 4th Duke of Montrose in 1854. This new house replaced Mugdock Castle as the official seat of the Clan Graham - no Buchanans have ever lived in this building.And there it was. It all came together for me. All I had to do was ask myself, "What if?"
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