I believe that we all of us has a special place in our hearts we call home. Montana is the land I love and it will always be my first choice of where I live, but Scotland is truly the land of my heart. This magnificent country is featured only briefly in the first Gallagher novel, Gallagher's Pride, but it played a major role in the second British Agent novel, Blackwood Crossing. It will also be the featured setting in a future trilogy.
From the moment I stepped onto the tarmac I felt as though a part of me had come home. I couldn't explain it then, nor can I explain it now, but it was as though I had found a piece of myself the second I caught sight of the green from the airplane window and I left a piece of myself behind when I had to say goodbye.
I had kept a short online blog journal so these are small excerpts from that. Warning: this is a bit of a long post, but I hope you enjoy seeing a glimpse of my time in Scotland and perhaps understand why I choose this amazing country as a location in my work.
'The fog slowly lifted as our flight descended towards Edinburgh and my first glimpse of the land not only gave me great relief because I had survived my first overseas flight, but I was at last going to step foot upon Scottish soil. No matter how many books I had read or movies I had seen (often not even filmed there), nothing prepared me for my first experience in this spectacular country.'
'Then I saw it - my first castle. Obviously not my castle, but that didn't matter. It was beautiful and magnificent and standing tall above the trees and city. Not caring that I was driving a manual vehicle with the wrong hand on the wrong side of the road, I pulled out my camera and snapped a few photos. Unfortunately these were so blurry they did me no good, but at the time I didn't notice. I was beaming with absolute delight. I was soon driving like a pro, or at least a pro-American who had never driven in a foreign country before. Bonus: I even got into the correct side of the vehicle the first time...not to say I continued to be so acclimated the entire trip.'
'The first day really was an amazing discovery. I found that I wanted to see everything all at once, so I had to slow down, take a breath and make the most of every moment. The first castle I pulled off the motorway to view was Blaire Castle. To be honest I did this because it was the first castle I could access easily off the main road and I wasn't up for getting lost before I even reached the highlands and my hotel.'
'My favorite part about the village was the Whiskey Trail, or trails. There were multiple trails that allowed one to meander or get a workout and the peacefulness and views were incredible no matter which one I took. The above photo was on one such walk and heather being my favorite plant, I was delighted. Oh and the scent of Scotch pine mingling with the heather that floated in the air was so fresh. I felt so at home in my surroundings and delight in the similarities and differences, mostly the latter. I enjoyed the accents, the culture, the smiles of the people.'
'I find history so very fascinating and it was one of my basis for the places I visited and things I did while in Scotland. I really don't know what my fascination is with cemeteries. It could simply be my interest in those who walked the land before. What was their story? How was life during the years they spent on this earth? There were cemeteries everywhere.'
'Whenever that silly question about what type of dwelling you would choose to live in, I more often than not choose castle. Not to say I wouldn't enjoy a nice stone mansion, but there's something so magical to me about castles. It could be their longevity or fascinating stories about the grounds and those who lived there centuries before.'
'I left the inn early one morning just so that I could drive down to Loch Shiel and Glencoe - Loch Shiel being where the Highlander (Hollywood's version) was born. And since I have a great fondness for the Highlander, I wasn't going to visit Scotland without paying homage to him. I actually had no idea of the area's true history and found myself interested to know more about the Glenfinnan Monument.'
'Another bit of a drive I took was to Clava Cairns, an ancient bronze age burial site. The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland.'
'I also visited the Culloden battlefield and monument. The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Taking place on 16 April 1746, the battle pitted the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart against an army commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, loyal to the British government.'
My original holiday was in 2005 and I'd not yet done much research on Scottish history. My book of choice for the flight was a biography on Mary Queen of Scots. I have since enjoyed learning a great deal about Scotland and her history and find that no matter how much I learn, there is still so much out there. Though there weren't historical references in Gallagher's Pride to Scotland, it is easy to see why there is a such a fascination with this home of my heart.
All images ©MK McClintock
View her full Scottish gallery at www.mkmcclintock.com/scotlandgallery