FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ‘COUSIN’ FLORA …

THE SCOTTISH HEBRIDES are steeped in the history of Jacobite Risings and the legendary Flora MacDonald – a beautiful, spirited young woman from the Outer Isles who dared to put her life at risk to help the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie. And she may just be a cousin of mine!

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Flora – her life, loves and adventures – is the subject of my forthcoming historical novel, THE JACOBITE LASS. Available for pre-order on Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1w5dtcl

and Kindle.com: http://amzn.to/1n63KZX

Scotland, 1722: on a remote and windswept Scottish island an enigmatic poetess foretells tragedy for the proud Macdonalds of Clanranald and the birth of an extraordinary child. That child is the passionate and free-spirited Flora. 

She is in love with childhood sweetheart, elusive Jacobite, Neil, yet increasingly drawn to passionate and handsome Allan.

Before affairs of the heart can be resolved, the exiled Prince Charles Stuart lands on the Outer Isles in his bid to win back the crown and his arrival ignites the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Scotland is plunged into bloody civil war; families and clans are torn apart in their loyalties and Flora’s fate is changed forever. The fate of a fugitive prince is in her hands. Will she risk everything for the sake of those she loves?

Deeply emotional and uplifting, THE JACOBITE LASS is set in the turbulent times of 18th century Scotland and is based on the true story of Scottish heroine, Flora MacDonald.

I have been following in her footsteps to get a feel of where she came from and the places where she lived – I feel like I know her!

Visiting Milton in South Uist where Flora partly spent her childhood.

Visiting Milton in South Uist where Flora spent part of her childhood.

Although I’m a proud MacLeod – a clan genealogist has worked out that Flora and I are distant cousins – five steps of kinship removed and several generations!

The next post will tell you more about my search for Flora’s past …

A typical Outer Isles beach and the Atlantic stretching away to America - a view unchanged since Flora's time.

A typical Outer Isles beach and the Atlantic stretching away to America – a view unchanged since Flora’s time.

Tea, tigers and tennis! The true story that inspired THE PLANTER’S BRIDE novel

Invitation to the paperback launch of my new novel THE PLANTER’S BRIDE

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If anyone is in Morpeth, Northumberland on SATURDAY 7th JUNE then come along to The Chantry Museum at 3pm for a trip back in time to 1920’s India!

 

Unique cine footage that my forester grandfather filmed in the foothills of the Himalayas and never before shown in public will provide the backdrop to readings from the novel. Take a look at the taster clip showing my mum and uncle being transported in a basket on top of a mule along narrow mountain tracks!

 

 

Tales of tigers, tennis and tea parties …. I’ll be talking about the real life experience of my grandparents in India who trekked into remote parts of the Himalayas – and how this inspired the latest novel in my India Tea Series.

 

The event is free but to book a place please email: morpeth.tic@northumberland.gov.uk

or telephone: 01670 623455

http://bit.ly/1gxfs1Q

 

 

HERE COMES THE BRIDE! – *New Novel out now*

THE PLANTER’S BRIDE – sequel to THE TEA PLANTER’S DAUGHTER – is now available as an ebook.

9781908359360

The story is partly inspired by my maternal grandparents, having discovered diaries and letters written by them, giving rich detail of their lives in India in the 1920s and 30s. Granddad Bob worked for the India Forest Service and my intrepid Granny Sydney followed him out from Scotland to marry and live the itinerant life of a forester’s wife.

My granny in her wedding dress in a garden in Lahore is featured on the cover!

They trekked through remote parts of the Himalayan foothills – and when they became parents, the kids went too! My mum Sheila, as a baby, was hoist in a pram on poles and carried through the jungles and along mountainous pathways along with the tents and supplies! Mum being carried through foothills of Himalayas

 

 

The new novel follows the fortunes of two cousins, Sophie and Tilly, who leave post 1st World War Britain behind and head for adventure in India – Sophie determined to find out the truth behind her parents sudden death in the tea planting area of Assam 15 years previously …

 

Available now on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and other Amazon sites, as well as Kobo, Nook, Apple and other tablets and ereaders.

STEP BACK IN TIME TO LAHORE IN THE DAYS OF THE RAJ …

Researching my latest novel, THE PLANTERS’ BRIDES (a sequel to THE TEA PLANTER’S DAUGHTER ) I came across this great collection of old photos of Lahore.

http://nativepakistan.com/photos-of-lahore/

Great inspiration for my novel which is partly set in 1920s Lahore in the Punjab!

My grandparents lived there in the 1920s and 1930s, and many of the places are mentioned in their diaries and letters: they arrived at the magnificent station, were married in the Anglican cathedral off the Mall, stayed at Nedous Hotel, had a friend who was curator at Lahore Museum ….

My mother and uncles at their home in Lahore - my forester grandfather calls them, "Our Forest Nursery"!

My mother and uncles at their home in Lahore – my forester grandfather calls them, “Our Forest Nursery”!

Granddad was working for the Indian Forest Service. After Independence he stayed on to work for the new country of Pakistan and was based in Lahore.

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In 1976, on an overland bus trip to India, we stopped in Lahore and camped for a couple of nights. I wish I had known then the rich details of my grandparents’ life there which I now know from their recently discovered diaries and letters ….! (Above is a game of cricket going on near the Mall in 1976)

NORTHUMBERLAND SUNRISE INSPIRES …!

I recently spent a week on a self-imposed writing retreat to get on with my novel-in-progress, THE PLANTERS’ BRIDES (a sequel to THE TEA PLANTER’S DAUGHTER)

As going to India wasn’t a practical option (!) I chose a beautiful spot on the Northumbrian coast – Alnmouth. (Through Northumbria Coast and Country Cottages, I booked a self-catered flat a stone’s throw from the beach – but handy for the hostelries too – Thursday night is curry night …!)

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What better way to start the day than with a walk along the stunning beach at sunrise, with the moon still high, the sound of the waves crackling on frosty sand and a light burning in the friary chapel overlooking the sea …?

It worked – I got 17,000 words written and it’s almost complete …

ANYONE FOR TIGERS AND TENNIS? – forgotten diaries of India in the 1920s

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Recently, I have come across old diaries and letters written in India by my maternal grandparents in the 1920s and 1930s, where my granddad was a forester with the Indian Forest Service. Bob Gorrie had been a gunner in the First World War and survivor of trench warfare (one of the ‘mortar-mongers’ as he nicknamed them).  He kept diaries of that ‘adventure’ too, but that’s a whole other story!DSCF1002 - Copy

 

On his return to Scotland, he trained in Edinburgh at the University – there’s seems to have been a lot of rowing, tea dances and theatre trips in between lectures on tree species and Hindustani – Bob was relishing life post Flanders. There was a whirlwind romance with sophisticated Sydney Easterbrook (a wow on the dance floor) and then he was off to the Punjab, leaving his fiancee to follow a year later …

 

As a writer and researcher, I am absolutely hooked on my grandparents story – their life in India leaps off the page – and I’m drinking tea, marking trees, auctioning timber, riding under moonlight and playing ‘topping’ games of tennis alongside them!

Oh, yes – and I’m wearing a brooch made out of a tiger’s claw from a man-eating tiger that my grandfather shot and named Gwendoline …

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My next novel – a sequel to the Tea Planter’s Daughter – is taking form and taking my characters back to India in the ’20s. Over the next few months I’ll share slices of that long gone era on this blog – with the help of Bob and Sydney.

 

 

IMAGINE BEING A SUFFRAGETTE – AND WINNING A WRITING COMPETITION!

Signing at Rutherford's, Morpeth of No Greater Love (with 'grumpy man' anti-suffragist behind!) Photo by Jan Rowley

Signing at Rutherford’s, Morpeth of No Greater Love (with ‘grumpy man’ anti-suffragist behind!) Photo by Jan Rowley

Imagine being a suffragette? Then write your feelings and win a national writing competition! Take a look at this Emily Inspires competition:
http://www.listenupnorth.com/writer-profiles/writing-competition

Just one of the exciting events in the 2013 centenary celebrations of suffragette heroine, Emily Wilding Davison.

My own novel, No Greater Love, was inspired by Northumbrian Davison, and follows the turbulent life of Tynesider, Maggie Beaton in her fight for the vote and personal freedom. http://amzn.to/ZmIOb8

It was recently launched at Rutherford’s department store in Morpeth – the town where Emily’s family used to live – on International Women’s Day.

Husband Graeme got into role as the grumpy man in the bowler hat who argues with Maggie over a suffragette newspaper – but she gets the last laugh!

Jessica of Morpeth was the most stylish of hat-wearers on International Women's Day!

Jessica of Morpeth was the most stylish of hat-wearers on International Women’s Day!

So go on – have a go at the competition – and good luck!