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.”
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The gloaming. Twilight. The sun is currently setting early here in Scotland. People are saying: “Aye, the nights are fairly drawing in…”
There’s been no frost yet, so brightness still exists within the gloom, or the gloaming.
How it feels when I stagger out into the forest after several hours of writing in front of a screen:
But, for now, this morning, I’m off back into the manuscript of the moment. I’m working on the first title in the next book series, Castle Dancers. It begins ten years after TENDU – each book has a different main character – and the story starts like this:
It’s the night before I’m due to start at the most prestigious dance school in Scotland, so, of course, my mother tries to kill me.
TENDU: Dancing in the Castle
Dance, danger and desire collide in TENDU, a seductive tale set in the mystical landscape of Scotland. Will love conquer all?
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I wandered through the woods to the 18th century Duff House Mausoleum.
It’s about a mile away from the majestic Duff House, now an art gallery, and about two miles from the Bridge of Alvah. When I was a child the house was in quite a rough state but still open to the public. A lot of the furniture was covered in sheets, paint peeled off the walls and spooky music floated up from the lower levels.
I loved it.
I still do.
The front of Duff House Mausoleum:
And round the back…
To an effigy of a knight. Sadly it is not Robert the Bruce as once purported by the Earl who built the mausoleum. The skulls, crossbones and wheat are quite common on older graves in Aberdeenshire.
Below: the interior of the mausoleum taken through the metal door.
During autumn in Scotland the days seem to be either golden or grey, sunny or dreich. It didn’t get properly light at all on this day, but autumn added its gold regardless.
The River Deveron:
I came upon an old dog grave in the lower parts of Wrack Wood. The dogs had lovely Dickensian sounding names.
Grey and golden, the colours of the day:
Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance
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.
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It’s three weeks until TENDU releases (update: out now). It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of my heart is in that book. I need to go into the woods.
So, here we go, through different times and places, for the lush calm of the trees and the quiet stillness of the loch.
The hill behind the loch:
I need ancient stones too. Trees surround Berrybrae stone circle:
Berrybrae features in one of my sillier nocturnal TikTok/YouTubes (medication still preventing sleep):
On to a different woodland and another stone circle. The remains of Dunnideer:
And finally, Huntly Castle appears at the end of a tree-lined drive, just like the castle in the book does, though the fictional one is not a ruin.
Quote from TENDU:
Two majestic stone pillars, one topped with a mermaid and the other with a fearsome-looking bear, loomed large for a second and then were gone. It was properly dark between the densely packed trees that lined both sides of the single-track road. Everyone was quiet, looking ahead, awaiting the first view of the castle.
It burst into sight, all pink and floodlit at the end of the forest tunnel.
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, steamy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.
Just like everyone else at the moment (originally posted 2020 during lockdown), I am not able to gallivant around filling my phone with pictures of interesting places. However, during my daily scroll to find #goodthings to post on Instagram and Twitter, I found photos of Lenabo Woods taken in 2017. I had meant to blog about the site back then, but didn’t get round to it.
So, take my hand, virtually, and we’ll walk through what was once the setting of Britain’s most northerly airship base.
The Lost City
RNAS Longside was active from 1916 to 1920. 1500 personnel were based at the station and the site boasted a swimming pool, a theatre, shops, a church and gas works. All of those buildings are long gone, but some things remain.
The above wall is thought to have been part of the officers’ mess.
Memorial plaque below:
The fireplace within:
Throughout the woods, remnants of various structures are to be seen, such as these airship moorings:
Buildings swept away:
The site was known locally as RNAS Lenabo and the ships referred to as ‘Lenabo Soo’, soo being the local name for female pigs!
It’s fun to imagine the bustling community that lived at Lenabo for those four years, swimming in the pool, attending the theatre, and, of course, maintaining and operating the airships.
Well, this has been a pleasant virtual walk today (I’ll let your hand go now) and Lenabo will be a good place to explore in person again once things have calmed down.
Thanks to Reading is my Yoga for this beautiful #bookstagram picture and review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR: “While the first part put an almost constant smile on my face, the second part made me cry ugly tears.”
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 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.
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
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.
Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.
Clouds of mist swirl over the surface of the loch.
The picture above was taken after an unexpectedly hot day led to unexpectedly beautiful conditions. Well, not completely unexpected. It’s always beautiful, always different.
Summer brings lush green foliage and colour to the loch*. It’s not very deep so swimming can be warm, though muddy.
That glassy ‘stand and stare’ stillness can happen at any time of year, but it most commonly occurs in Autumn. Sunsets are pink, silver or even purple. Whatever the sky is doing is intensified in reflection.
The Loch in Winter
Scottish winters are fierce. One year layer upon layer of ice and snow built up so thick that people and dogs ran about on top of the loch. I watched a fox run right across from one side to the other. It was at once surreal and yet so very real, unconnected from civilisation as it feels up there in the woods. No TV, no computers, just life and joy and fun on a natural huge flat screen among the trees.
I hope I will be well enough to walk up there soon. And what will await? A liquid mirror? Slow moving ripples? The slightest change in airflow is made visible by water. If there’s blue in the sky, there will be blue in the loch. Maybe there’ll be whooping swans with their yellow beaks, or an otter leaping about on the banks. I love the sound of otters giggling in the evening… I miss it.
* I freely admit to having overused the word ‘loch’ in this post. The word ‘lake’ is not a suitable substitute. If you don’t come from Scotland you can have no idea how very wrong that notion is. And while we’re at it, let’s make sure you’re saying/thinking the word right. The ‘ch’ sound is like a Scottish wildcat (something I once saw up by the large expanse of water, but no one believes me) hissing in the back of your throat. There you are, got it.
Loudon Wood Stone Circle is so deep in the woods that it is almost impossible to find. There are many little paths that look like they might lead into it from the main track, but the one that actually does? Virtually hidden. I succeeded in finding it again in 2020. And it was wonderful.
Within the circle glade, it was peaceful. It was warm. It was calm.
There was a brief rain shower while I was there, and even that felt gentle and soft, in direct contrast to the horizontal in-the-face precipitation we often get here.
I didn’t want to leave. Surrounded by dense trees, the circle felt separate from the somewhat crazed world outside. It made me think of the person who commented on a recent Instagram post, saying that the image freed them from ‘all the bullshit’ for a moment. This was that picture:
Loudon Wood Stone Circle is like that too. Free of things that can maybe be symbolised by this beer made by a local brewery:
And there’s a nice review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR over on Goodreads here. “The ending is gorgeous and deeply moving. I had a hard time putting the book down. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, love stories, tragedies, and the resilience of love, kindness, and faith.”
Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, features an often overlooked event in history, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, and a love story.
Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.
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.
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!