Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blog Chain Blatherskite

H.L. Dyer started this blog chain, to follow it start here: .

Elana Johnson posted before me, here's her link: .

The question this time is:
How do you as an author choose or create your story-world and give that setting authenticity?

Now, when this chain started, I thought, "Cool! this will be easy."
Uh, not so much now. After following all of the wonderful writers that are members of the "chain gang" (listed to the left on my blog), I realize it's true....YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE SMARTER AND BETTER THAN YOURSELF.

Boy have I done that, and now the pressure is on. These writers are all further along than I am (good for me, huh?), in both the writing process, and the understanding of how that process works. Okay, I suppose I should quit procrastinating and answer the dang question, so here goes.

I didn't choose Scotland. I simply SAW a location that my character stood in. I saw the surroundings, the green sloping hills, the steep cliffs that led to a sea inlet. Waves capped in white foam crashing against the rocks. The constant wind blowing inland. And of course the castle to her left. I saw how it seemed to balance on the edge of those cliffs, looking rugged and weathered. The one tower rose above the structure, a winding staircase visible through the dilapidated walls. I knew this had been the home of Margaret, although it was merely ruins now. The crescent shaped cove that it over-looked became the name for her home, Crescent Cove.

Then started the research. I looked and looked at castles. All over Europe. I found some of the most beautiful, fairy tale castles in Germany and Austria, but that was not what she had showed me. I searched Ireland, knowing it had been on the coast. I looked at castles in England, and still no luck. Then I moved to Scotland. I found a few that were close, but just not right.This went on for weeks. Then I found it...Girnigoe Castle.

Now, if I had had any doubts, which I really didn't, as to whether this had been the home of Margaret Sinclair, my "fictional" character, those doubts would have been thrown from the high cliffs onto the sharp jagged rocks below as soon as I found the history on the castle.

The castle was built by a Sinclair, and had remained a Sinclair holding, even to this day. Since Margaret was a Sinclair, I knew I had found my location.

In the last three years, I have bought and read any books, fiction or other-wise, that I could on Scotland. I have fallen in love with the land and people there. Their history is a troubled one, but yet they remain a proud people. The Scots even helped form a lot of traditions here in the states, some good, some not so good.

Now, as far as my book, I couldn't make my time period work if I had used Girnigoe Castle, seeing as how it was destroyed BEFORE the 1700's. I know, I know, creative license and all...but when writing historical romance, you can only use that license every so often, and it better not be too far off the truth. Therefore, Crescent Cove was born (but it's really Girnigoe Castle).

I will also admit that I am forever learning Scottish terms (see my post about Scottish curse words), and descriptions of the locale. My goal is to one day visit Scotland, so that I can do research on a whole new level. There is a lighthouse about a mile from Girnigoe that houses a Sinclair genealogy cool would that be????

I suppose that I have rambled on enough for now. Leah Clifford is next, you can find her blog here:


celticqueen said...

Ahhhh, yet another example of how we are cut from the same cloth - I spend HOURS on the computer looking at castles - sometimes for inspiration, sometimes just because I LOVE them. I have a whole file of castles and locations I have found that I want to write about. I have never yet come across a person that looks exactly like one of my characters, but on two occasions I have stumbled across pictures that are the exact rendition of a location in my book. It is such a weird feeling to be looking through pictures and suddenly be faced with one you have seen in your mind so many times :) Weird, but very very cool :)

Excellent post!!

Abi said...


Welcome to the Chain Gang! This is a fabulous post. I love Scotland (and believe it or not, the street I live on is named Caithness).

It is amazing when imagination and reality meet. Chills ran up my spine when you talked about the castle actually being owned by the Sinclairs. ANd the lighthouse and geneology museum sound really cool.


ElanaJ said...

Wow, cool Terri. I can't believe you dedicated so much to finding that perfect castle. Yeah, I'm not much of a researcher, and I would've quit pretty early on in that process. I love how you took a real place, and made it fictional so it could work in the time period you wanted. That is some major awesome right there. Great post. John Lennon, eat your heart out. ;)

H. L. Dyer said...

Yay! Fabulous posting!

Obviously you were MEANT to find that castle. Beyond awesome that it was built by a Sinclair!!

marylindsey said...

Okay. Your post was really hard to read with that picture of Gerry Butler right there next to it. Really, Terri.

Fantastic post. It further reinforces why I don't write historical fiction. The overall scope of knowledge you have to have to do it right is mind-boggling.

Well done. Thanks for sharing your process.

Archetype said...

Wonderful post. I love how you walked us through your process of finding the castle, and when you learned it had been built by a Sinclair...ah, synchronicity!!

I am so impressed with the historical research. I've said that before and must say it again.

Sandra said...

As other people have said, I think it's really neat how the historical facts dovetailed with your character and her setting. And yes, research never ends; there's always something new to learn about your setting. Great post!

Carrie Harris said...

Fabulous work! I too think it's fab that you took the time to research before creating your fictional castle, because then you know enough to make it REAL. I'm a big... er... Scot-ophile? Anyway, it drives me nuts when people don't get the details right. Even if it's fictional, it still has to be grounded in reality, yes?

In other words, I completely agree.

leahclifford said...

Love castles! It must have been a blast to do that research and find the connections!

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read the article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

Good day!
my name is Tom and im completely new to this forum.

I hope that I'll learn and share a lot of interesting things.

Peace out.