Pitsligo Castle and Peathill Kirk in Aberdeenshire

Pitsligo Castle

Pitsligo Castle

Crows nest in the old keep of Pitsligo Castle near the village of Rosehearty in Aberdeenshire. Dating from 1424, it’s an impressive and atmospheric place. The Forbes family who built it, staunch Jacobite supporters, lost their lands and titles after the battle of Culloden. The castle was then ravaged by Hanoverian soldiers and fell into ruin.

The oldest part of the castle, the keep or tower:

the towerhouse at Pitsligo Castle
keep at Pitsligo Castle

Many of the rooms round the rubble filled courtyard remain intact. The evening sun added bright effects on this visit.

gun hole ay Pitsligo Castle

A large bird flew out of here. It was all a bit ‘Game of Thrones’…

dark room in Pitsligo Castle

Here and there the sky shows through chimneys, windows and decayed stairwells.

the kitchen chimney of Pitsligo Castle
window at Pitsligo Castle
stairway at Pitsligo Castle

The gateway:

daffodils outside Pitsligo Castle
sungate at Pitsligo Castle

Peathill Kirk

Just up the hill sits Peathill Kirk, where old and new towers stand side by side and, unsightly as it is, mobile phone reception is great.

phone tower, bell tower

Ghosts of Jacobites lurk here too.

grave
plaque

Alexander Forbes, the 4th Lord of Pitsligo, quite a famous Jacobite, and owner of Pitsligo Castle, is buried in the crypt below. He was a most interesting character.

I’ve written about him here: In Search of Lord Pitsligo’s Cave and then in more detail over on The Witch, The Weird and the Wonderful blog. His open minded and fair way of being also inspired the character of Thomas, the Laird, in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

17011541928_1df143d7cd_z

Here he is at the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie (on the right, in the shadows), entering the ballroom at the Palace of Hollyroodhouse.

Bonnie Prince Charlie Entering the Ballroom at Holyroodhouse

The painting, by John Pettie, is part of the Royal Collection Trust.

The two sites make a trip up to Peathill most worthwhile. The castle and kirk would been used and inhabited at the same time – Lord Pitsligo would have sat in the Forbes pew just above where his grave now is – and offer an evocative glimpse into the past.

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Tonya Ulynn Brown: “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read…

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Walking the Witchy Ways of Aberdeen

cobbles, or cassies, as they are called in Aberdeen
Galllus Quines. Wonderful street art in Aberdeen honouring those persecuted for witchcraft.
Gallus Quines

The Quine Shrine: witchcraft in Aberdeen

I ran through St Nicholas Kirkyard, and down and round Correction Wynd, an old medieval lane in Aberdeen, to see this recent street art. I was due to meet people for breakfast, but determined to see the ‘Quine Shrine’ first. The reason being? That first part, on the left, honours those who were persecuted for witchcraft in Aberdeen, and one tile names a few of them, including the three women I chose to write about in The Mermaid and the Bear.

Tile naming some of those accused of being witches in Aberdeen, Scotland

Survey of Scottish Witchcraft

The spellings are different, because spellings weren’t set back then, not like they are today. I chose to go with the way the names are recorded in the Survey Of Scottish Witchcraft from Edinburgh University. It was there that I learned, contrary to popular belief, that only a tiny proportion of those accused were midwives or folk healers; a mere 9 of the 3837 ‘witches’ in Scotland were midwives, and only 141 had some mention of healing in their cases (see the background page of the database).

In my fictional account of these women’s lives, one of them is a midwife and healer, but this is not the reason for the accusations brought against the three quines.

So, with the quine shrine admired and appreciated, on to breakfast:

Turmeric Latte
Turmeric Latte

The Tolbooth

Now fortified, off to gaol we go! It’s difficult to get good pictures in
the 17th century Tolbooth, what with it being so dark due to having windows like this:

Tiny and narrow window in a 17th century prison
Let the sunshine pour in!
Chain in the Tolbooth Museum, Aberdeen
A chain hangs from the wall

Prosecutions for Witchcraft in Aberdeen

I think I did a better job with photos the last time I was there, blogged here. That was when I first read these words:

text, detailing some history of witchcraft in aberdeen

I remember feeling overcome and distressed by the information, but it was then that I decided I was definitely going to write the book. Here’s that steeple, or its replacement, standing tall against the blue sky:

Steeple and clock of St Nicholas Kirk in Aberdeen

Back in 1597, there were two large bells in the original steeple. Now there’s an impressive carillon, and it started to play while I was eating my lunchtime chocolate ice cream in the kirkyard. This is not as creepy and strange as it sounds; there are benches and lots of people go there for lunch! I took a short video, so you can hear the bells.

Lunchtime bells

Pinterest

I’ve made a Pinterest board for the book, though it does seem to be rather focussed on the cheerier parts of the story.

pinterest board for  the novel, The Mermaid and the Bear, by Ailish Sinclair
Pinterest board

I am Weather Obsessed

And on another cheery, or perhaps laughable, note, I was recently mentioned in the Evening Standard as an example of a ‘weather obsessed’ Briton.

Ailish Sinclair in the Evening Standard.

I must go now. I have to check on the weather!

The Mermaid and the Bear

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

The book that came from it all is out now in paperback and kindle.

If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. There’s also a love story.

Amazon UK and Amazon Worldwide

Other bookshops (and libraries) can get it too!

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Also: Should we really have fun at Halloween when the north-east led the great execution of witches?

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

More Books

Tendu romps on the tube

Enjoy a kiss on the London tube. Romp up and down the castle stairs! Dance in a stone circle. Attend a Ceilidh in the great hall. Have your brain studied in the dungeon. All fun, I assure you. Well, not quite all…

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

New novel from Aberdeenshire author combines passions from Grampian Online

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

Ailish Sinclair romps in the loch

See my About Page here

Apology for Scotland’s Witchcraft Trials and an Anniversary

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - sunrise
sunrise

Apology

On International Women’s Day, 2022, the Scottish Government issued a formal apology for Scotland’s witchcraft trials. You can read more about it and watch the First Minister’s address to parliament here.

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - chasing the sunrise
Chasing the sunrise…

Anniversary

On this day in 1597, Bessie Thom and Christen Michell were executed in Aberdeen, having been found guilty of witchcraft. I wrote about both women in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and remembered them today as I chased the sunrise round Strichen Lake.

The apology for Scotland's witchcraft trials - sunrise.

Maria Robertson reviewed the performance ‘Witch Hunt’ here, which took place in St Nicolas Kirk in Aberdeen. “It made me think of Ailish Sinclair’s first novel The Mermaid And The Bear as there are a couple of chapters in that based around the treatment of witches in the Mither Kirk back in the days of yore.”

Witch Hunt

And Nelliphant wrote about some Scottish books here, saying this of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE: “The main character, a many-times-great-granddaughter of the Mermaid and the Bear, is an extremely feisty Doric-speaking young woman whom I liked very much…”

In other news (less dramatic and much less historic than an apology for Scotland’s Witchcraft Trials) the new book is now with the editor. So, progress towards publication is being made. And, apparently, I can now chase sunrises round lakes so health progress is happening too.

There were some lovely spring flowers planted along the path through the woods. They seemed like wreaths to me, today. Purple and white. Beautiful and sombre.

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - flowers
For Bessie, Christen and Isobell, and all those persecuted as witches.

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news, from visits to Scottish castles and stone circles, to books and writing and life, by signing up to the mailing list!

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

Writer’s Tip Jar

Chasing a Cover Reveal Along Snowy Pathways

snowy path to a cover reveal

This is the cover reveal for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE!

Other reveals can be seen here for THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and more recently, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.


Last time I had a cover to reveal we journeyed down a rabbit hole to find it… but I haven’t been anywhere exciting like that lately, so we’ll have to stick closer to home, starting on the snowy track into the woods.

Reaching the end of the track, we nip up this narrow path:

narrow path to a cover reveal

Here we are on the loch-side walk now, sunshine to our left.

sunny path in the woods

Wait! What’s that? Something’s moving in the woods, running and leaping through the trees…

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair in the snow by deer tracks

No, that’s not it. That’s the first book (out now!) and some foot prints left by a deer. We need to retrace our steps, I think…

Snowy track to a cover reveal

And yes – finally we come to it – the cover reveal for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, out April 1st 2021!

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

The cup featured on the cover is an actual chocolate cup from the 1740s when the book is set.

Inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies, the story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas (as opposed to my previous metaphorical ones)! And there’s chocolate…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Review from the Historical Novel Society

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news, from visits to Scottish castles and stone circles, to books and writing and life, by signing up to the mailing list!

My Other Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Seeking Pink Castles in the Snow

Through the gates to Fyvie Castle. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Here we are at the start of our quest to find pink castles in the snow. Originally posted 2019.

Fyvie

We pass through the gates to Fyvie Castle where it’s more icy than snowy, and we’re getting down and frosty with it!

A frosty Fyvie Castle. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Great shadows reach towards the castle, but we’re backing away, we’re leaving… seeking out more of those castles in the snow…

Shadows reach towards the castle.Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

We’re travelling across country like Ice Road Truckers to…

Delgatie!

Delgatie Castle lit up in the sun. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

It’s bright and properly snowy here. Let’s walk in the woods.

A snowy scene in Delgatie woods. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

And circle back round to the castle.

Delgatie Castle on the horizon. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Say hello to the unicorns!

The unicorns of Delgatie Castle.

On to a stormier day and a dark ruin:

Huntly

Pink castles. Pinks castles… Not quite a pink castle, Huntly. More ‘pinkish’ in certain lights, really.

Huntly Castle peeks through the trees.

But look at the old chimneys…

The snow dusted ruinous walls of Huntly Castle.

And the slopes and trees…

Sloping trees at the back of Huntly Castle

Finally, it’s time to snuggle up at home with hot chocolate in a mermaid mug!

Hot chocolate in a mermaid mug! Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Historical Fiction

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

My historical novels all involve dark events, romance and a little magic and snow…

They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

The Contemporary Books

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland.

She’s soon dealing with her boyfriend’s obsessive ex, the strange research taking place at the castle school and her own ever-evolving relationship issues.

Amalphia works hard to be the best dancer she can be, but as tension builds within the old walls of the castle, she begins to wonder if she will ever escape the dank dark of the dungeon…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of unconventional love, dance and obsession.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

About Page

Ailish's feet

See my About Page

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Over the Sea to Skye and the Fairies

Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

Over the sea to Skye

These days, you don’t have to catch a boat or ferry and can drive straight over the large Skye bridge. That’s the Old Man of Storr in the hills above, a beautiful rock formation visible for miles around. This post details a holiday I took with my family in 2017, before chronic illness put paid to such things as holidays. For now. I have to believe, for now. But enough of that, over the sea to Skye we go!

Dun Hallin

The island is a place of fairies: there’s a castle and a glen and a bridge, much smaller than the one taken to get to the island. But first, back to another rock formation, specifically the one spied from the bedroom window of our holiday house.

‘That’s an interesting rocky outcrop,’ said I to husband.

‘Aye, we should walk up to it,’ he replied.

So we did.

Dun Hallin on the Isle of Skye

And there was Dun Hallin, an Iron Age broch we had intended visiting but thought would be hard to find. Duns, or brochs, were a complex form of roundhouse, probably defensive, precursors to castles.

I loved Dun Hallin and the surprise of finding it like that. And the wonderful views of Trumpan Point.

The Trial Stone

Trumpan Kirkyard held surprise too. An ancient standing stone, Clach Deuchainn, the Trial Stone:

The Trial Stone on the Isle of Skye

Trial stones were used to try a person. In this case if the accused could put their finger in the hole located on the stone, while blindfold, they were innocent. The stone is undoubtedly far older than this use. It is also known as the Priest Stone and the Heaven Stone.

There were some interesting graves too; these, and the gruesome history of the church can be read about here.

John Bowlby's grave on the Isle of Skye

Fairies

But back to the fairies. Firstly the Fairy Glen, an unusual land formation, which sadly does not have anyfolklore associated with it, but it does feel otherworldly when you walk round it.

The rocky peak is known as Castle Ewen:

Castle Euan on the Isle of Skye

It’s Dunvegan Castle that we need for fairy legends!

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Displayed inside the castle, so no photos, is the ancient and tattered Fairy Flag. There are many stories and traditions surrounding this relic and its origins. The tale favoured in the information provided to visitors is the one in which the Chief of Clan Macleod marries a fairy. The couple have a child together but the fairy knows she has to return to her people in Fairyland. She leaves the magical flag, imbued with protective powers, wrapped round the baby, and this she does a few miles away at the Fairy Bridge:

There are also Fairy Pools on Skye but we did not get to them this trip. We did manage a quick visit to Kilt Rock:

We also took in the Museum of Island Life, one of the few places on the island with good mobile internet which meant I was distracted by a sudden barrage of Twitter notifications!

Near to the museum is the memorial to Flora MacDonald:

One more fairy mention: the house we stayed in was previously owned by the writer Aileen P. Roberts, and full of books, so I read her novella Fairy Fire while there, which was set in Skye and surprising and perfect.

The sun rises over Dun Hallin:

And sets at Trumpan Point:

Trumpan Point on Skye

We’ll be back over the sea to Skye again one day!

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My Books

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

Ailish's feet

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Witch Stone in Winter

Frosty hill leading up to the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

The ground is solid, all the ruts and bumps, hard and crunchy under my feet as I climb the hill. And there on the top, small from this angle, is the Witch Stone.

It’s said that witches were burned there in the past.

It’s quiet now. Cold. Peaceful.

Ladybirds are hibernating on the Witch Stone today! I hope they survive the season.

Ladybirds hibernate on the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

A delight from end to end.” Undiscovered Scotland

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Newletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Spooky and Serendipitous Week

spooky ballet picture and pumpkins

It always feels a little spooky at this time of year. The shops are full of monsters and items that have been ‘Halloweenified.’ The clocks go back an hour here in the UK, making the nights instantly much darker. I feel a little monstrous again, but I’m boring myself with that, so I won’t detail it here.

An Alternative Halloween Article

spooky article on witch burnings

Should we really have fun at Halloween when the north-east led the great execution of witches?

Excellent piece from @NeilDrysdale. I cite the case of Bessie Thom in the article, a woman who features in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, as an example of what happened to one of the more than 3,000 victims of the witch trials.

“Bessie, quite possibly, went into the North Sea before being committed to the flames during a very public execution.”

Less Spooky, More Serendipitous

ballet dancers: spooky

The Wee Writing Lassie asked me this question on her blog last week (about TENDU): Amalphia’s story takes place in the beautiful and cutthroat world of professional ballet – what inspired the decision to set her story in that particular backdrop?

My answer: When I was first considering writing a contemporary romance, I was unsure exactly where to place it. Inspiration struck while I was lying in the bath contemplating the issue. I saw a line of dancers in my mind. They were at the barre performing ronde de jambe, a circular leg exercise, and I knew the ballet world would be the setting for the story. My own dance training and career provided many of the details, and everything grew from there.

The serendipity: the picture above is almost identical to the image that appeared in my mind thirteen years ago. It arrived in my house, totally unexpectedly, in beautiful wall-mounted form, the day before TENDU released. Some lovely people, who I don’t even know that well, thought I might like it. I can see it from my desk now. And it’s a wonderful reminder that, even though bad or spooky things happen in this world, magic happens too.

The Books of this Post

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

“I fell in love with the book from the first page, and the love affair continued to the end.” Review from Lena on Goodreads.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair goes into the woods

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

I’m Ailish and I write Romps

Ailish Sinclair romps in the loch
Ailish Sinclaie romps in the garden

I do. I write romps. I can’t seem to help myself. I try to write a thriller: romp. A sweet romance? Nope. That quickly went dark and rompy.

When THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR was on submission, one publisher told me they felt they were reading ‘a medieval romp’ and that they were looking for something more serious. It was a fair comment, though I assume they didn’t reach the witchcraft accusations of the story. That press has since gone out of business, so it was a lucky escape for me.

Ailish Sinclair romps upside down

The latest of the romps is OUT TODAY!

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair
TENDU: Dancing in the Castle

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland.

She’s soon dealing with her boyfriend’s obsessive ex, the strange research taking place at the castle school and her own ever-evolving relationship issues.

Amalphia works hard to be the best dancer she can be, but as tension builds within the old walls of the castle, she begins to wonder if she will ever escape the dank dark of the dungeon…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession. 

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Reviews from ARC readers

  • “This book has so much representation in its characters with autism, dyslexia, medical issues and LGBTQ+ characters…” Emma-Louise on Goodreads and TikTok
  • “Knowing there are two more books in the series made it easier to accept that the tale was coming to an end. It can be so hard to finish a book when you are loving the story so much.” Molly on Amazon.com
  • “So there we have it: mad experiments, paranormal powers, exciting dance sequences and lots and lots of sex. And did I mention the mystical forces in the old stone circle?” Tom Williams on his blog, author of the James Burke historical novels.

Posts about the inspiration behind TENDU

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Dance Research in the Dungeon

Tendu: Dancing in the Castle by Ailish Sinclair

In TENDU (out now) some rather strange dance research takes place in the dungeon studio of the castle. Much has changed in the story that I first conceived thirteen years ago, but that part has stayed more or less the same.

Childhood Memories

My late father was a research scientist, and I grew up hearing about how scientific studies can be heavily influenced by those that finance them and how they can be geared to lead to desired results. They can sometimes be unscientific. And unethical. It was all very interesting, and it stuck with me.

  • I should note that Amalphia’s parents are not based on my parents. Lynn and James Treadwell (very minor characters) are an example of the narcissist/enabler dysfunction as described in the book Toxic Parents.
dancer
Photo: David Hofmann on Unsplash – Simone (an antagonist in TENDU) vibes here…

Dance Research and Therapy

I do four grand pliés in fourth and fifth position every morning while I wait for the kettle to boil for tea. It feels like a strong way to start the day. I find it calming and grounding. And I need that just now, with a book release so close. For several years, due to illness, my legs were too weak to manage this exercise, so it’s joyous as well as beneficial.

The benefits of dance for conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease are becoming quite well known, of course, and it’s dancers’ brains that get studied in my books. They have been studied quite a bit in the real world too. Examples below:

The fictional research I created is a bit different from these very serious studies. It had to have some instant and dramatic effects to be interesting as part of a novel. Different characters will believe different things about those effects over the series, and I hope it’s entertaining to read!

Tendu: Dancing in the Castle - dance research in the dungeon

About the books

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

A Dancer’s Journey is available in paperback and Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Dance and Despair: Writing What You Know on Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books.

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

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Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish's feet

Read all about little old me here!

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