Oh, to wander in the woods…

That is my favourite bit of path in the woods by my house. It’s also the most productive. When I get stuck with a storyline or a finicky little plot detail that just won’t iron out, that’s where I go, and solutions become clear. Big epiphanies about characters and back stories happen there too. Maybe it’s because it’s a timeless landscape. Or maybe I just feel relaxed and at peace there.

Just now though, I am recovering from flu and can’t walk in the woods. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. I can sit up and write so I may really need to go there soon!

I’ve been deeply touched by how much thought people have been putting into their reviews of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

Local Quine Kate the Quiet Knitter’s review “This wonderful magical tale then takes a deviation towards the darkness and from here Sinclair’s research and writing really shines. Her portrayal of 16th century Scotland is entrancing, and the details of the witch-hunts taking place in that time are fascinating.”

On the Mum, Write NOW blog “Overall the characters are lovable, I found it interesting that their lives intertwined slightly with Shakespeare and also touched on LGBT culture and attitudes at that time. It really felt that there was a depth of historical knowledge informing the narrative which I always enjoy.”

And the Wee Writing Lassie wrote about the book and asked me 7 impertinent questions! “Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized women, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!”

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The same path, though the other end and other direction, in the woods, in summer:

Rocky Shores for Release Day

rocky shores at Broadsea

We’ve moved North and round the corner from the golden sands of Fraserburgh beach, and arrived at the rocky shores of Broadsea and a beautiful rock pool, the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in the background.

rocky shores and clouds

But the book is out! Released! That’s all that’s really on my mind today… though I can be momentarily distracted by shells:

shells

It’s a strange feeling this, like opening a window and letting something precious and secret fly away to where it can now be seen by anyone who wants to see it!

Broadsea house

That’s my favourite little house at Broadsea, right beside the rugged rocky coastline.

rocky shores

So… deep breath…

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, 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.

And it has a castle.

And a stone circle.

And medieval Christmas.

Out in paperback and Kindle NOW!

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Mermaid blurb

Gnarly Roots and Carbolic Soap at Aden Country Park

Gnarly tree at Aden Country Park

Aden Country Park in Aberdeenshire is a wonderful place to visit, though I have to admit that when I lived near it I took it a bit for granted. In fact I became a little disenchanted by some aspects of the place.

But it’s beautiful. From the ruined mansion house…

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A Map of Witches and some Autumn Beauty

Map of Witches

The Map of Witches is a brand new resource from the University of Edinburgh, utilising the extensive data collected in their Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database. See it here. It’s a visual and clickable map of over 3000 people accused of witchcraft in Scotland, and is both fascinating and terrible, as this subject always is. My three quines from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR are included (see Isobell’s entry above) as are a disturbing Witch Pricker’s Journey and various other stories. You can choose to view a modern map or a historical one, the latter suiting it better, I think.

After peering back into the dark like that, I need to look at beauty, so here’s some from recent days:

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A Fairy Scene, an Opening, and an Article

fairy scence: toadstool and wood sorrel

I came across this rather lovely little scene in the woods on a rainy day last week. It made me think of fairies…

Yesterday Paragraph Planet revealed the opening of The Mermaid and the Bear on their site. It’s gone now, but I took a screenshot, below. It was while walking in the same woods pictured above that the first line of the book came to me.

the opening of The Mermaid and the Bear

Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books have published my article Researching Historical Fiction: Immersing Oneself in the Past in which you can read about me setting off smoke alarms and eating primroses (yes, really) in the name of research.

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

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Aviemore Stone Circle in the Highlands

Roses bloom in Aviemore stone circle

Aviemore stone circle is unusual, though not unique, in that it is situated in the middle of a housing estate. On the day I visited, the summer solstice, roses were blooming at the edge of the circle, adding to the magical atmosphere of the place. The houses don’t detract from that, bushes and trees lending some privacy to the ancient stones.

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Loch Morlich, big blog, little blog

Ducks by Loch Morlich

The tiny blog is this one, sent from holiday. The big blog is my guest post on the official tourism site for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire: 10 Mystical and Magical Places in Aberdeenshire.

And Loch Morlich is in the pictures. I was there before the ducks were up today!

The Cairngorms beyond Loch Morlich

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The Land Girls Gate

The Women's Land Army Memorial in Clochan - Ailish Sinclair, author
The Women’s Land Army Memorial in Clochan

The Women’s Land Army was formed in 1917, and then again in 1939 when WWII broke out. Women as young as 17 signed up for the duration of the war and took on all forms of farming and food production. The Army was eventually disbanded in 1950. There’s lots more information about the Land Girls here.

The memorial at Clochan in Moray is a joyous piece of art, paying tribute to the women who served in the Land Army throughout Scotland. Stones from various farms across the country have been incorporated into the ground around the gate. The fact that the memorial is surrounded by working farmland feels perfectly fitting too.

If you visit on a Sunday morning, as I did, there’s a small car boot sale going on just down the road in Clochan, with pancakes and tea being served in the village hall. It’s rather lovely and feels a bit like stepping back into a simpler time.

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The Land Girls Gate in Clochan, colourful farmland beyond
The Land Girls, farmland beyond

Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle

Sunshine and snow at Aikey Brae stone circle. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

Beautiful Aikey Brae. Of the 150 or so recumbent stone circles in the North East of Scotland, this is my favourite.

I used to live close by and enjoyed many a summer picnic and winter stroll there. One year I watched a solar eclipse, with my children, sat right in the middle of the circle. The setting made it feel timeless and magical.

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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 it! I hope they survive the season.

Ladybirds hibernate on the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

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Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'
Out October 18th 2019

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

Waterstones