Please welcome back to the Tavern the lovely and talented Virginia Crow! We're celebrating her new book release and tour, Caledon. This book sounds intriguing! Grab a cup of mead and let's hear what Virginia has to say about the inspiration behind her new story...
A Message from Virginia Crow
Caledon began onsite.
On 10th August 2013, when most people in the Highlands – and several from further afield too – were heading to RunRig’s Party on the Moor, I was heading for a walk along The Big Burn in Golspie. And I wasn’t happy about it! In fact, I was feeling particularly annoyed. I really wanted to be at the concert.
So, here I was kicking along the soft mud of the path along the gorge. The Big Burn walk basically follows the edge of a gorge, at one end it flows into the sea close to Dunrobin Castle, and at the other end there’s a waterfall. It’s not a particularly big waterfall, not like some of the other falls in the Highlands, but there’s a little viewing station so that you can look across at it from the level. There I was, a lovely sunny day, surrounded by leafy trees and blue skies – feeling totally sorry for myself. Given the morose way I was kicking my feet, it’s not too surprising I got a little bit separated from the rest of my family, so I reached the viewing station as they were wandering off. This is what I saw:
I’ve looked at it since then many, many times and wondered what it was that made it come to life. It doesn’t look on the picture exactly how I remember seeing it, but to me – as someone who still believes in a little bit of magic in the world – it really was an entity. I was totally captivated!
As soon as I got home, I began writing Caledon. It was my summer novel, and each summer I wrote one of the books. There are six books, and four of them are written. But I only ever write them in the summer. I’ve found that season suits them.
A little later, I was persuaded to do a Masters degree, and so I opted for History of the Highlands and Islands. This gave me lots of access to archives and books which I would never have managed to find without, making research much easier!!! But research was not always pleasant. So many of the people who were involved in the 45 had very sad endings, either in battle or execution in this country, or in a desolate exile overseas. There are scores of horrific stories of what happened after Culloden. From an author’s point of view, it was the perfect place to start.
But I knew I didn’t want the book to be good Jacobites and bad Hanoverians. That wasn’t how the rebellion had run and it certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to paint it. There were good and bad individuals on both sides. So the Clan of Caledon divides into three Jacobites, two Hanoverians, and one individual who had no side – yes, they existed too!
It wasn’t all doom and gloom in the research, though. One of the most fun things to explore was the role of loch monsters in Scottish mythology. Yes, you did read that right! Most people have heard of Nessie, but she is certainly not the only serpentine creature to have been recorded in Scottish waters. I collected and collated the times when these creatures had shared interactions with humanity. These provided me with the backstory to dip into. Since I began writing Caledon, I’ve created the six earlier incarnations based around both the appearance of the loch monsters and unexplained pivotal points in Scottish history.
Along the way of writing the Caledon series, I’ve managed to visit most of the locations I’ve written about, as well as revisiting The Big Burn at least once each year. I’ve shared the magic I found there by taking part in the Spirit:Stories project and spread the love a little further when I was invited to write a novella as one of the Spirit:360 creative commissions. The only location which is featured in Caledon where I have never managed to get is Arkaig, where the gold was hidden for safekeeping. For this, I relied on the pictures and maps of hardier adventurers than myself. But I keep promising myself that I’ll get there one day!
There are some books which are a toil to research, or seem to take forever to write. Caledon was not one of those! It was as much of a discovery and adventure for me as a writer as I hope it is for you as the reader.
"Go out and tell all those you meet, Caledon has risen. Caledon will be protected and defended. And to you who would cause her harm, be prepared. A new fight has come."
After the destruction of the Jacobite forces at Culloden, Scotland is divided, vulnerable and leaderless, with survivors from both sides seeking to make sense of the battles they have fought against their fellow Scots.
James Og flees Drumossie, seeking the protection of his uncle's house in Sutherland. It is here that James learns that the Northern Highlands hold a secret power only he can wield: Caledon. When Ensign John Mackay begins hunting Og's family, James realises he must harness this power to defeat the enemies of Scotland.
But, as the ageless Caledon awakes, so too does an ancient evil. When it allies with Mackay, the small Clan of Caledon faces enemies at every turn, discovering that even those closest to them may seek to destroy them.
Available from these online retailers:
Meet the Author
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!
When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o' Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 4th year.
She now lives in the far-flung corner of Scotland. A doting spaniel-owner to Orlando and Jess, Virginia soaks up in inspiration from the landscape as she ventures out with her canine companions.
She loves cheese, music, and films, but hates mushrooms.
Connect with Virginia here: