My Hideaway

Following on from Lady Tess's lovely post with pics of her home office, and her query for a shot of our cats on my office window sill, I simply had to oblige and reveal my hidey hole.

Well, you could almost literally call it a hole - it's our small spare (single) bedroom. After years of use for visitors or drying the washing only, DH recently re-painted the walls a warm yellow (ideal to brighten up the room on a gloomy Scottish day such as today). We also bought a new desk, a bookshelf to fit above it (still awaiting its turn), and number of nice photo frames and picked some decent pics for the walls. Oh, and a sheepskin to keep my feet cosy.

So let the tour begin:
The usual view. A Scottish autumn day - the stable yard drenched, and the Pentland Hills hidden by low cloud, with the odd ray of sunshine just about to squeeze through. For five seconds.

My desk, with an array of medieval history books, currently about my favourite family - the Angevins, a Thesaurus and The Oxford Library of Words and Phrases (3 nicely bound books). I have boxes filled with pens, notes, and photographs. A magnetic pin board with printed editing tips, and pics of my boys past and present (Gizmo and Mouse are sadly long gone).

I have to have a notepad for scribbling down ideas and points of further research. And of course my beloved Macbook. Wonder when I can allow myself a Pro...

Looking up, there are photos of Tantallon Castle and Dunottar Castle. Behind me, above the printer, are shots of Etive Mor and a squidy soft Hielan' Coo's nose.

PS Please ignore my dying plants. I'm

My bookcases - need more space to add another soon. Wonder if the guest sofabed should go!

Oh, and Bob relaxing while I write. The cats love the peace and quiet. They can watch what's going on in the stables.

I hope to keep our electric fire in here, too, as the storage heater is not enough to keep me warm most of the time. Still a few things to add, but it's getting there.

Add a cuppa tea, and an Ylang Ylang joss stick, and I'm happy. :-)

Sooo... what does your writing corner look like?

Scottish Dialects in Novels

"Och aye." "Nae bother." "Ye dinna ken."

Readers of Scottish historical novels can't avoid coming across Scottish accents - whether they like them or not.

A well-balanced accent gives readers the experience of 'hearing' the characters, their speech a sign of heritage, upbringing and culture. Sometimes, different accents are used to denote regional differences. This is more in line with the reality of the day, I believe, but quite difficult to achieve. Modern Scots still have different dialects, east from west and north from south. What's 'ye' for some, is 'yoo' for others, and even the odd 'ya' appears in places.

So how does a writer get a right balance? It's a tricky one.

As a (non-Scottish) resident in Scotland I have an issue with the over-use of dialects in fiction. Hints of a lilt are fine, but the continuous use of dialects - especially in characters from different corners of the country using the same speech - keep throwing me out of a story. However riveting the plot, I keep stopping to take a deep breath. Shame!

Language has changed over the centuries. Medieval languages used here no longer exist. Gaelic has become the language of a minority; Doric even more so. Scots has changed. Cities have their own, distinctive dialects. Shifts in population from the countryside to cities have merged dialects. You visit various corners of Scotland and get different lilts. It's fascinating. And quite complicated.

How does a writer of historical fiction get the right balance? If your readers like it, you must be on the right track. Correct? Maybe. Guess it depends where your readers live.

Perhaps it's just me. Maybe I've become a snob, living here, used to the different regional accents. I prefer a fine line.

So how much Scottish dialect should a novel contain? All characters? Some characters? Or none at all?

What do you think? :-)