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.
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!
GWL Publishing have accepted my next historical novel, FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, for publication Spring 2021. I am lucky to have a publisher who is so understanding about my current health issues; all the deadlines for various edits are flexible.
The book was inspired by the 600 children who were kidnapped in Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American colonies. You will meet the Manteith family again, and see the castle and the stone circle, though the story doesn’t stay there long.
There’s some real historical figures again. There’s a love story again, though it’s quite different from the one in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. And, this time, there’s chocolate, in the form of hot chocolate 😀
Researching and writing those times have led me to another.
Over the cobbles I go, glancing up at the modern city above.
Over the Cobbles to the Green
Through the beam of light and into the, also rather modern seeming, Green.
The kidnapped children of Aberdeen were held here in the 1740s. In a barn.
Passers by sometimes heard music coming from the place, as the kidnappers tried to keep the children entertained.
The Green is mentioned in Fireflies and Chocolate (out today!):
“Another barn,” notes Peter, when we are ushered into a large ramshackle wooden building. Again we find a space to sit together, among the others. Again, we are on the floor, this time an earthen one. No chairs are provided for the likes of us anywhere now it seems. “I was kept in a barn in Aberdeen,” he tells me. “Down at The Green.”
I ken The Green. I used to think it was a nice place to walk through, a space between buildings, like a city version of a forest glade.
The children were also kept in the Tolbooth at times. There are tales of desperate parents trying to break down the door to get to them. Peter Williamson, who appears in the above quote, would be held there again in later life as punishment for his book, in which he accused the town magistrates of involvement in the kidnappings. You can read a large print version in the Tolbooth museum today beside a life size cut out of Peter!
He’s not the main character in Fireflies and Chocolate though. That’s Elizabeth Manteith, who is entirely fictional. But I love her. In their press release about the book the publisher describes her like this:
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.
Those dark cobbles do take me places!
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, 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, is out now. 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!
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:
Here we are on the loch-side walk now, sunshine to our left.
Wait! What’s that? Something’s moving in the woods, running and leaping through the trees…
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…
And yes – finally we come to it – the cover reveal for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, out April 1st 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…
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
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!
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.
The huge Cumberland Stone sits in woodland very close to Culloden Moor. It is said that the Duke of Cumberland (the king’s son and leader of the government troops) ate his lunch, or in some accounts his breakfast, sitting atop the stone on the day of battle in 1746. It’s also said that he watched the fight from there.
There are steps hammered into the side of the rock, so we can all climb up on it. For fun. Not for battle-watching. And it’s probably not the comfiest place to sit and eat lunch either!
I can attest to it being quite fun.
The stone is a remnant of the ice age, having been carried by the great ice sheet that covered most of Scotland, and then deposited when the ice melted 16,000 years ago.
The nearby memorial bench, inscription in Gaelic and English:
When researching for Fireflies and Chocolate, it interested me that the kidnappers’ ship, The Planter, sailed just three years before the battle of Culloden. Some local people must have been impacted by both events, surely? So, I gave the main character, Elizabeth, a Jacobite for a father, and she is deeply invested in the rebellion as is shown in this quote from the book:
“I’m buying special treats at the market for us to have at Christmas when I hear it being said and exclaimed about by two wifies: The Jacobites have marched South. I rush to Mr Franklin’s shop, and not just to get chocolate this time. Surely he will know more details. He does, but not many. The Young Pretender, as they’re calling Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed in Scotland in the summer. The Jacobite army has taken Edinburgh and defeated the British troops in a battle at Prestonpans.
They’re winning! They’re actually winning! We could have a new king next year.”
We all know what happened in the end, on that moor. I posted more about it here: Culloden and Clava
Beautiful and Historic Glasses
But let’s finish with a happier image. Some beautiful Jacobean glassware from the visitor centre at Culloden. The white rose was one of their secret symbols.
Keep up to date with all my news, from visits to Scottish castles and stone circles, to books and my writing and life, by signing up to the mailing list. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE
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 derring-dos on the high seas… and there’s chocolate!
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!
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.
Elizabeth, the main character, uses a slightly simpler method, back in the 18th century, in this quote from the book:
“I shave slivers of chocolate from the block and stir them into hot water over the fire. I add sugar and mix until it is all well blended. Then I pour it all into the pot with the warm milk and whisk and whisk until it’s frothy and perfect.”
Whatever century you’re in… yum!
The first 75 words of the novel were up on Paragraph Planet in 2021. I took a wee screen shot:
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is choc full of historical hot chocolate!
Not to be forgotten, my debut novel THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.
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