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.


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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 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 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

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The Dark of the Castle

the dark of the castle
The dark of the castle: photo taken in Corgarff Castle

The dark of the castle. That’s where we begin. In Cabriole. Which is out today.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair
Black coffee and dark chocolate

It’s the second title in the series, and also the notorious one.

The main character, autistic dancer Amalphia, won’t tell you that things are a bit dark in her world. She’s rather an unreliable narrator at the start of the book. But the story soon moves. In fact, it travels around quite a bit.

the dark of the castle: out the door we go!
Out the door we go! Photo taken at Fyvie Castle

From the blurb

After a traumatic year at the castle, Amalphia Treadwell travels back to London to start her professional life, putting dark and difficult things firmly behind her. Or so she believes… See full blurb here


I took the next photo the last time I walked through Chinatown in London. Cakes like this don’t actually feature in the novel, but I think they express lightness and fun. There is plenty of that in the tale too.

cakes in  a shop window Chinatown, London.
Cakes in Chinatown


Justin and Amalphia meet in Chinatown at one point. Quote slightly edited to avoid a spoiler:

“Phi, keep going,” urged Justin. “You can’t say something like that and go quiet.”

Between large mouthfuls of food, I detailed the time in New York, the following week… and the present: the horrible, sticky, itchy present.

“I’m a bit shocked,” he admitted. “It’s a lot to take in.”

There’s a few places like this in the book:

London Coliseum
The London Coliseum

And this question is explored:

Cabriole by Ailish Sincalir, starting in the dark of the castle

So, there we are. A Dancer’s Journey. It’s in paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited. Two outOne to go (December 22nd)

Series on Amazon

Series on Goodreads

From emmalolly13 on TikTok: “This series has a special place in my heart… I feel so blessed to continue reading Amalphia’s story… Her journey with love has been rough… this is such a soul-touching series.

See the Wee Writing Lassie’s new blog series about my favourite dancers here

A Dancer's Jpurney by Ailish Sinclair

There’s more about these stories in the posts below:

Diabolical reading

About Page

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

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London, Baby! Ballet, Food, Quirky Streets

Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Lion, London

My daughter and I took a little trip to London, baby! (originally posted 2014). It was a heady mix of excitement, fun, sore feet, poignant memories, ballet and food. This post is a veritable photo bomb, so continue reading only if you possess extreme picture viewing fortitude.

Covent Garden in London, baby!

Above is the bridge that joins the Royal Ballet School to the Opera House. Below is bronze of a little dancer opposite the Opera House.

the bridge between the royal ballet school and opera house.
little dancer beside the Opera House in Covent Garden, London, England

We stayed in Covent Garden. We saw Bill Nighy in the street in Covent Garden. He frowned at us. We like Covent Garden.

Cake in the apple market, and the statue above, feature in my novel, TENDU:

excerpt from Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Neal’s Yard

Neal's Yard, London

The Tube

Covent Garden tube station, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

The Moomin Shop

the moomin shop, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Quirky Streets

Brydges Place is the narrowest alleyway in London, measuring just 15 inches across where it comes out beside The Coliseum theatre.

Brydges Place, the narrowest street in London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

This one had fun shops:

Cucumber Alley, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Self-indulgent memory alert

The Freed shop was one of the last places I visited before leaving London many years ago. It was to buy a pair of shoes to teach in rather than to dance in, after my body had crumbled… A much happier, sunnier day is shown below, for us if not the staff; there was an angry man in there trying to buy many pairs of shoes in sizes they didn’t have. It was all very dramatic.

Freed of London, dancewear shop. UK. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Ballet Shoes

Many, many Bloch ballet shoes in a window. London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Trafalgar Square

I don’t get the blue cock (that is what it’s called) in Trafalgar Square. I’ve read the various excuses explanations for it and they don’t make sense. It’s like a blue joke in an otherwise dignified play… but it is photogenic, so my dislike is not total:

blue cockrel in Trafalgar Square, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

But I prefer the mermaids:

mermaids in the fountain, Trafalgar Square. Ailish Sinclair | Author


We saw the Kings of the Dance at The Coliseum. They were phenomenal, but of course, no photos, other than this pre-show one:

The Coliseum theatre, London

The bar sold chocolate. Just thought I would mention because that impressed me. Right, high heeled boots are abandoned in favour of Bloch dance trainers (an emergency purchase) and on we go.

Shakespeare in Leicester Square. Prime London, Baby!

Shakespeare in Leicester Square, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

 M&M store

M&M store, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Piccadilly Circus

Big red bus in Piccadilly Circus, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author


Chinatown, London

Year of the Horse

Year of the horse statue, Chinatown, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

The Rudest Restaurant in London (and one of the best and cheapest)

Wong Kei, formerly the ‘rudest restaurant in London’ (still quite curt and bossy to be honest), and a haunt of my youth due to the excellent and cheap food:

Wong Kei, London

The jasmine tea is free and unlimited, just leave the lid of your pot open and it will be replaced.

jasmine tea at Wong Kei. Ailish Sinclair | Author

British Museum

British Museum ceiling, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

This iron age helmet was found in the River Thames beside Waterloo Bridge. I want one.

horned helmet, British museum, London. baby! Ailish Sinclair | Author

Naked statues in Soho Square

Naked statues in Soho Square. Ailish Sinclair | Author

And finally (I promise)…

The London Eye

My camera really doesn’t do night.

The London Eye. Ailish Sinclair | Author
London Eye at night. UK. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Well done. One and all.

Series: A Dancer’s Journey

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Tendu romps on the tube in London, Baby!

Enjoy a kiss on the London tube in TENDU. 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…

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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.

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