Spoonie Days, a Pink Sunrise and Snowy Spring

sunrise on a spoonie day

That was a beautiful pink sunrise a few weeks ago over a local doocot. Before I got ill. And spoonie time started. Again. Sigh.

Having revelled my way through the beauty of winter, celebrating the fact I was staying so well, I have been struck down once more. But I’ve been a lot worse. And I’m not in hospital, so that’s good. And, as my appearance here today shows, the medication is starting to kick in.

Spoonie Days

I have managed to keep up my writing schedule. My first spoon of the day goes on that. There’s quite a good explanation of the term spoonie here. Basically, spoons represent the energy you have for tasks and activities each day. And with chronic illness, the spoons can be very limited.

A Dancer’s Journey Series

Quote from TENDU by Ailish Sinclair

These books are long, and involved. They’re rather a Magnum Opus at over 100,000 words each. They’re all at different stages of the editing/proofing process. I’m so enjoying working with all the editing feedback and bringing them together into something strange, intense and, hopefully, beautiful. So they will still be out this year. I will not stop till they’re done. Update: Amazon!

But that’s my blogging spoon spent. For today. I’ll leave you with the scene that greets me most mornings at the moment… I’m not sure what happened to spring!

My Books

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • 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.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

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

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Eilean Donan Castle – Writing Sad Stories

The Sea Gate at Eilean Dinan Castle. Writing sad stories.

That’s the Sea Gate at Eilean Donan Castle, in the Highlands of Scotland, above. It’s two things at once. In the present day, it’s beautiful. But it’s said that people used to be thrown out of it, in acts of punishment or coercion. So, it’s terrible too. Sad, even.

And it’s the same with writing stories. Yes, they can be sad, and dark, and terrible. But they’re not only that. Or they don’t have to be. As with many things, in writing or life, it’s all about how it’s done.

A view from Eilean Donan Castle

view from Eilean Donan Castle

Writing Sad Stories

It was a recent review of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE that got me thinking about this. Here’s the pertinent part of what the reviewer said:

I was somewhat hesitant to read this novel as I thought it would be too sad, but was glad to have chosen to read it as Sinclair did not disappoint with the telling of an exceptionally satisfying tale.

I felt the exact same hesitancy about writing the book. It was while researching local history for THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR that I stumbled across the information that 600 children and young people had been kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s. They’d then been transported to the American colonies where they were sold into indentured servitude. It was terrible. It was sad. And, almost totally, overlooked. It wasn’t history that got talked about much. In fact, most people knew nothing about it. So, it was precisely the sort of story, sad or otherwise, that I liked to tell.

scenery on the way to Eilean Donan Castle
A photo taken somewhere between Glen Shiel and Eilean Donan Castle

Making Historical Characters Relatable

I wanted to bring those people from the past to life, to make them human and relatable. But, wouldn’t it be too depressing to open the door to those particular historical events?

Eilean Donan Castle door
The castle door…

The answer is: no. I don’t think so, anyway. I found the book great fun to write. In fact, I think it’s the least dark of my novels. The main character, Elizabeth, is so determined, and so easily enraged. She kicks sadness to the side. Mostly. She does have some despairing moments. I wrote about one of those times in response to a question on the Wee Writing Lassie Blog (see the whole interview here):

A young girl was found dead in First Mate Alexander Young’s bunk during the voyage from Aberdeen to America. History has not recorded her name so I called her Maggie, and her death has a deep impact on Elizabeth in several ways. It causes her terrible grief, informs her opinions of what ‘fine gentlemen’ can actually be, and provides a specific awareness of how much danger she and other women and girls are in at times.

The publisher had this to say about Elizabeth, or Beth as she becomes, in their press release:

Fiery and forthright, Elizabeth isn’t someone to be argued with. She knows her own mind, and isn’t afraid to speak it. Through her experiences, the reader sees her grow from a girl, into a woman with a powerful voice… a woman of her time, but very much of ours too.

The sun comes out over Eilean Donan Castle
The sun comes out over Eilean Donan Castle

Learn More

You can learn more about Eilean Donan Castle on the offical website here.

And more about FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE on the book info page here or on the links below:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

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!

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

A FIREFLIES flip-through and quote:

@ailishsinclair8

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate! Paperback and kindle on Amazon. “Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick #HistoricalFiction #romance #KindleUnlimited #booktok #kidnapstory

♬ 24/7, 365 – elijah woods

A Dancer’s Journey Series: unconventional romance

Swooning books: A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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…

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

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

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance. Shoes ready for pointe work.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

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

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land…

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!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

About Page

Ailish's feet

Bio, socials, articles and interviews.

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.

Eilean Donan Castle
A final, more iconic, image of the castle

Writer’s Tip Jar

New Book: Sisters at the Edge of the World

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair
Aesthetic for the new book from Ailish Sinclair: Sisters at the Edge of the World.
Aesthetic for the book

Work on the new book is forging ahead nicely. The aim is for it to be released this summer, but that may be subject to change.

Update

The book released on the 21st of September 2022.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

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

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on publishing options. My publisher, too, gave me lots of wonderful advice and information, and while they would have been willing to look at the manuscript, despite its shortness and strangeness, I am choosing to self-publish this novel.

Thanks also to everyone who has donated through Kofi. With traditional publishing there is no cost to the author (remember that, don’t be taken in by vanity presses posing as traditional pubs; there’s a lot of them about), but this time I’ll be paying for everything myself, so thank you so much!

Being ill, having chronic conditions and facing my own mortality have made me want to experience things while I can. And if those things can be accomplished sitting at my desk, all the easier. So, it’ll be an adventure! That’s how I’m thinking of it anyway…

Aspects of the book

  • The main characters are fiercely bonded chosen sisters. Can their bond survive betrayal and perhaps even death? (Already attempting to write the blurb here).
  • The story is set in the 1st century CE and features the battle of Mons Graupius between the Roman invaders and the Caledonian tribes.
  • There’s romance, but it’s rather complicated romance this time.
  • The stone circle is still there in all its glory.
  • The castle is not, obviously, but there is a great round house where it will be one day. And a wee hoosie in the woods.
sunshine and frost in the woods
Sunshine and frost in the woods

Edit in: and now it has a cover!

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Do sign up to my occasional mailing list to be kept abreast of developments and also for exclusive photos…

The traditionally published books

Ailish's books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

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

When I’m Away From the Keyboard…

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Every so often I step away from the keyboard and take a day off. Not because I want to. I resist and avoid and cling to my desk in a desperate fashion. Friends persuade and entice me outside. And it is always good, always nourishing and refreshing. There’s a planned outing later this week, and I can just picture my characters’ reactions when they realise I’m not there…

Sharp-witted Justin notices first. He looks up, listens and checks again. “She’s gone out!”

Every character sags with relief. They go back to bed and sleep in till lunchtime. Later, they shuffle downstairs to get tea and food, and they sit in silence in the great hall of the castle.

People who usually snipe and gripe at each other, pass the sugar without word. Two of them exchange a wry smile, for without my omniscient presence to keep them busy, they can sense what’s coming; not the details, but the shadow of something bad ahead, something they would avoid if they could. But like my day out, it cannot be avoided. It has to happen.

A Dancer's Journey

They head to bed early, exhausted by the hours of doing nothing, tired from the rest and relaxation.

No arguments. No sex. No laughter.

How boring! These people need me. Maybe I shouldn’t step away from the keyboard after all…

The desk of Scottish author Ailish Sinclair when she's not stepping away from the keyboard (so, most days)...

They didn’t get left alone for long, those poor characters. I soon pulled them all back into the drama and the story.

And that story will be out later in 2023, in the form of a contemporary three-book series called A Dancer’s Journey. As you can see from my editor’s comment below, Justin and the others were completely justified in being relieved that I was gone.

Update: the whole series is out now!

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.

More on the series:

My Historical Novels

I put the characters through the proverbial wringer in these too!

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • 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.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

All novels are available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read all about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

Chosen Sisters: Friendship and Dance

Chosen sisters in front of Windsor Castle. Ailish Sinclair and friends.
Windsor Castle

Chosen Sisters

Two weeks after my sixteenth birthday, I travelled from Scotland to London to start dance college. I’d worked very hard to get there. It was daunting. It was difficult. But it was made easier by friendship. In particular, my friendship with Suzette, my chosen sister in the pink above. I’m in the stripes there, looking a bit hyper. We were on a day trip to Windsor Castle, and I may have been experiencing some early castle-love!

The two of us met at the youth hostel where we lived and quickly became friends. This woman was my emotional support that first year of college. I recall her standing between me and an aggressive man who kept asking me out, and giving him a thorough telling off for his belligerent behaviour. He left me alone after that. And Suzette was unusual for a non-dancer, in that she fully recognised the gruelling nature of the course I was on. My days started at 8 AM with morning ballet and went on till 6 PM. They were filled with high-impact dance classes of various types. There was one hour a week of ‘history of ballet’ and another hour of ‘anatomy’, but those were the only sitting-down style lessons.

Name-dropping Louie Spence

This video shows the sort of leaping about I was doing all day (it should start in at about 25 minutes, the audition). Louie (of TV’s Pineapple Dance, Dancing on Ice, and Benidorm) was in the year above me. I knew him a little bit, because the school was relatively small and everyone knew everyone a little bit. I can’t claim to have been actual friends with him, but I can attest to the personality you see on television being the real thing. That’s Louie. No fake TV persona for him.

So Suzette encouraged me to eat, and to rest, and to generally look after myself. Despite the fact that I advocate self-care to others in this article, I have never found it easy to do for myself.

And Suzette and I are still friends to this day. We even speak on the phone (well, Facebook Messenger call) sometimes, and I am not a person who is fond of the phone. I don’t use it much. It rings and summons me and then delivers news about deranged blood, and while that is actually just really responsible healthcare, and I’m so lucky in that, it doesn’t feel good at the time.

So, we two friends talk about the past, and Suzette recently commented that we were like sisters back then. It’s true. We were there for each other when things got hard. And we still are. We talk about our lives. I send her videos of snow in Scotland. She sends me pictures of her having lunch on the beach in a bikini. Suzette is from Mauritius. And, in honour of her, I have made a favourite character from the Dancer’s Journey series Mauritian, or half-Mauritian, as suits the story. He’s the main character’s best friend, Justin, and certainly provides her with plentiful emotional support (she really needs it, given all that I put her through). Though, he is not like Suzette in any other way. His character is not based on her at all.

An (Old) Dancer’s Journey Writing Update

As the latest flare-up of illness recedes, work on the series picks up. The first book, TENDU, is actually complete now. Book two, CABRIOLE, is about to start its third edit, and FOUETTÉ is into its second. It’s all very intense. I get up excited to work on it all each day, loving finessing the darker plot threads that run through all three books. There’s a lot of crying going on. And laughter too. The whole series will be out later this year, with no long waits between titles.

I’m really going to miss working on these when they’re finished. I so enjoy being in that world. The energy of it is immersive and possibly somewhat addictive. It’s just as well there’s another three-book series set there too. It’s waiting quietly in the wings for now…

A Dancer’s Journey Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Page with blurbs and quotes

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Earth and stone and air and water…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, a novel about chosen sisters, of course, continues to sell well and attract thoughtful and expressive reviews. Elizabeth Felt, a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin, had this to say about it recently: “The tone of this book is amazing. At the beginning, the narrator is mute, and the book feels so quiet, so in touch with the earth and stone and air and water… Amazing writing. Excellent story. Highly recommend.”

See the whole review here.

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair. "Ethereal and spellbinding..." says The Historical Novel Society

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…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article New Novel Highlights Roman History in North East from Grampian Online.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR

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. There’s 6 chapters of medieval Christmas too.

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

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper 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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Snowdrops in the Garden

snowdrops

The snowdrops have arrived, and with them the knowledge that spring is on the horizon.

snowdrops by a tree

They can be found nestling by old trees.

snowdrops in January

Small clumps of beauty abound in the garden. There are carpets of them in the woods, but I don’t have a recent picture. I will endeavour to take one before their short season is done.

snowdrops from above

I love the blue-grey of their stems and their perfect white blooms. Snowdrops rule the land at the moment, being the only flower, the only brightness, on the ground.

snowdrops in the woods

SO MANY FEELINGS

Cabriole received a beautiful review from Molly on Amazon and Goodreads. She does warn of spoilers at the start, so I’ll just quote a couple of her more general comments here:

I couldn’t put this book down. It was so good I didn’t even stop reading while brushing my teeth… I laughed out loud many times! I cackled twice. I cursed at characters in my head a few times. It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read and made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair

Read the series that’s been shocking people! It’s available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

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…

On the flat stone of Aikey Brae Stone Circle

About Page

Ailish among the stones

See the Page here

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

Woodland Pictures from the Time of Lockdown

misty woodland pictures

These woodland pictures were originally posted in 2020 during lockdown.

Lost in Writing

I am lost in writing. I am in the Iron Age. Second draft. Rough edges. Rough middle. Super-rough ending. Full of raw emotion. The manuscript is ragged with it, as am I.

2022 edit: the book is out now

Misty Woodland Pictures

I revel in timeless pictures and misty woods. And lockdown has not kept those from me. I know I am lucky in this, and hope you are all finding some beauty too.

woodland pictures

There’s been tree felling here, so soon after Aikey. The wider world is strange and changed, and the immediate world mimics it in metaphor.

Whoops.

This post seems to be approaching a pretentious overuse of literary devices, especially alliteration… Things may be odd, but there’s no excuse for that!

Scots pines in lockdown: woodland pictures

Scots Pines. Sturdy and strong. Oops.

hazel trees on the skyline: woodland pictures

I love the gnarly nature of the hazel trees. It could have been worse. I could have added the word ‘nutty’. But just for a moment, I am going to give in to this curious compulsion…

mists over trees: misty woodland pictures

There have been many misty mornings. And with that one terrible sentence, it is gone…

Wild Scottish cherry blossom.

The gean trees (wild Scottish cherry) are blossoming.

sunset sky during lockdown

Sunsets are wonderful. And the moon is too.

A woodland quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR:

Sisters at the Edge of the World (mentioned above)

The Romans called it the edge of the world

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

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

Newsletter

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

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a tree...

Read all about little old me here

Writer’s Tip Jar

The 18th Century Letter Seals of Lord Pitsligo

Eighteenth Century Letter Seals

Those are the beautiful letter seals of Lord Pitsligo, a man I have written about before:

letter seals

His forward thinking ways inspired aspects of the Laird in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and a similar set of letter seals feature in FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE.

Letter Seals Quote from FIREFLIES:

Excerpt from FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE featuring letter seals.

Research

The seals were shown to me by a direct descendant of Lord Pitsligo while I was researching FIREFLIES. I got to hold them and turn them on their hinges, which was wonderfully informative and exciting. It was great to connect to the time of the book like that too.

Label on Lord Pitsligo's letter seals

The Book

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

Jacobite wine glasses at Culloden visitor centre
More research: Jacobite symbolism on wine glasses at Culloden

Newsletter

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Snow Day in Scotland

snow days in scotland

Snow day! Up the track we trudge…

snow day: gnarly tree

Past the gnarly tree…

snow day: into the woods

Let’s follow the deer tracks into the forest.

path in woods

The sun is just over the hill.

blue skies on a snow day

It casts its light onto the track as we head home to hot chocolate and the fire.

sun on a snow day
Snow day!

Sisters at the Edge of the World

I went in to Sisters recently to update the back matter. It made me cry again

New review from Molly on Goodreads: A beautiful tale of sisterhood, family, motherhood, love, war, romance and ancient traditions. I was completely lost (in a good way!) in the world Ailish Sinclair created. Her skills with historical fiction are astounding. The story moved in a way that was reminiscent of music. There was a rhythm to it that makes sense when you learn the author was/is a dancer.

Book on Amazon

About Page

feet

See the Page here

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

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?

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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…

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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

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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

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Review from the Historical Novel Society

Ailish Sinclair romps in the loch

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