Researching in Scotland by Madeline Martin
I love research of all kinds – guess it’s a good thing I’m a historical romance author, huh? When I wrote my first series, I learned Krav Maga so I could give merit to the fight scenes my heroine performed in Deception of a Highlander, and then I took up making balms and teas with all natural ingredients when I wrote about my healer in Enchantment of a Highlander. My favorite part of research though is going to Scotland and getting to see where my characters would have lived.
That wasn’t my only trip to Scotland – I went again this past August and it was just as magical the second time around. There’s something about going to a place where you’ve visited in your head and your heart every day while writing in front of a computer. It curls around you and draws you deeper into it, closer to it and creates this bond that ignites all kinds of wonderful inspiration.
Not only did I get to visit castles I planned to incorporate into my current series (Mercenary Maidens) to better layout the land and surroundings in my books, I also got first hand education at every site we visited. Scotland does a fantastic job filling its historical sites with historical experts who are well-versed in the details of what transpired at each location. And, yeah, I was totally the dork furiously scribbling while they talked (I’m sure I made them regret asking if anyone had any questions after too LOL).
The castles in Scotland are all in various levels of repair, some are completely restored and decorated in former century detail, while others still are little more than old stones jutting from the ground. My favorite are the ones in disrepair, the ones that make my imagination spin with an attempt to recreate the way it must have looked, the people who must have lived there.
My favorite of these castle was Findlater Castle. From a distance, it looked exactly as the ‘pile of old stones’ it had been described to us as. And then I noticed a note at the bottom of the placard advising us to ‘not take unnecessary risks’ by going closer to view it. But then there was a trail leading down the steep side of a cliff and snaking around to the ruins. Of course I had to go!
It was by far the most incredible experience of our whole trip. Because after I made the trek (worth it for the scenery alone!), I discovered the castle was open in the back and I could crawl down inside the ruins and go Indiana Jones with exploration (no snakes, don’t worry). Granted it was all kind of slanting downward in an attempt to spit intruders out into the ocean very far below, but it was totally worth the adrenaline rush to crawl around in those long ago abandoned rooms and dream of a life lived so long ago.
That experience, as well as so many other magical moments from Scotland, will stay forever in my soul so much more than anything I could read about. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go – and even moreso that I get to write about it now!
Blurb for Deception of a Highlander
Connor Grant, trainer of the fallen women from the English court and personal assassin to the king, is just as broken as the women he trains.
After catching Ariana cheating at cards, Connor has a new trainee to instruct at one of the king’s many confiscated castles. In the dilapidated ruins, he discovers Ariana is more than she appears.
Ariana suspects Connor isn’t telling her everything—not just about the mission they venture out on, but also about his past. Will the secrets between them threaten their mission? And will they be able to fight their attraction as they wonder who they can trust?
“The first of Martin’s Mercenary Maidens will intrigue readers seeking a story filled with a large cast of characters, plenty of adventure and heated love scenes. Martin showcases her talent for storytelling as this fast-paced tale moves from one adventure to another at lightning speed. . . . readers longing for a good old-fashioned adventure with empowered women will find much to enjoy.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Appealing. . . a solid thread of teamwork and family, provided by the strong supporting cast of Ariana’s fellow spies underlies the romance between Ariana and Connor, creating a community that will surely thrive as the series continues.”
Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (AKA OldestMinion and YoungestMinion) along with Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.
Her hobbies include rock climbing, running, doing crazy races (like Mud Runs and Color Runs) and just about anything exciting she can do without getting nauseous. She’s also a history fan after having lived in Europe for over a decade, and enjoys traveling overseas whenever she can. Her favorite place to visit thus far: Scotland.
Find out more about Madeline and her books at: http://www.madelinemartin.com
*all photos were provided by the author