Discover the Scottish Highlands with Emily Royal

Oooh, my favourite landscape is featured on My Place today: the Scottish Highlands! I love the sweeping valleys and steep hills, the open lochs, the absolute silence and those four-seasons-in-one days. I've not been back since I moved to France nearly three years ago, so having guests on my blog who write about them helps a little...

In my view, you can never have enough of the Highlands, and therefore I'm thrilled to welcome historical romance author Emily Royal to My Place. I have downloaded her debut novel, Sins of the Sire, and I can't wait to get reading. 

Over to Emily...

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Living in Scotland I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by stunning landscapes. Even more fortunately, I live in the shadow of a prominent hill. It’s not a mountain, but you can see it from the aeroplane window on the flight into Edinburgh Airport. My debut novel The Sins of the Sireis set in the Highlands; a little further north from where I live, but a lot of the landscape around me is very similar. I love hillwalking and this photo was taken when I climbed one of my first “Munros” (Scottish mountains over 3000ft) called Sgiath Chuil. The mountain has been described as “unspectacular” but I found the view from the top pretty awesome!

The landscape features so much in my novel, it’s almost a character. I love to paint landscapes, too, and have painted quite a few Scottish mountains. My husband is indulgent enough to not protest about having some on our walls at home! Forests, hillsides and mountaintops all make an appearance in my books and the heroine of The Sins of the Sire, an Englishwoman who finds herself in the Highlands, falls in love with her surroundings as much as she falls in love with the hero.
So when it comes to writing about the setting I have it readily to hand. To get some ideas for one scene in The Sins of the SireI took my daughter for a walk up our local hill and we spent some of our time describing the landscape. We didn’t try to list what we saw, (twelve fir trees to the right, the one on the end shorter than the rest – the top of the hill straight ahead with a man running up the side, a flock of about sixty geese up above, a car park behind us with a Red Mercedes in it, and a black cloud in the sky) because if you put that in a novel you’d bore your readers to tears! Instead, we described the colours, senses and how it made us feel.
The hill is surrounded by a forest, only visible once you reach the edge of the trees and walk out into the open. So when my characters venture out onto the hills, I only have to remember my local walks to picture it. On the way home from a walk with my daughter we happened to catch the sunset. It was one of those hot days with a few clouds on the horizon, but mostly a clear sky. When the sun dropped down, for a few minutes it was as if the clouds had burst into flame which lit up the fir trees so they glowed pink. We had great fun describing it to each other, coming up with more and more outlandish similes and metaphors then we wrote it all down when we got home.
I put our descriptions in the first draft of The Sins of the Sire. An extract from the final version of the scene is below:
A sharp cry made her sit up. An eagle soared overhead. Vivid rays of pink and orange bled across the sky, lighting up the clouds as if a fire burned within them. The sun began to dip below the horizon, bathing the land in a soft pink glow. Even the tips of the fir trees on the hillside below her glowed, as if lit by a flame.
The raw, natural earth – how she loved it! What right did her kinsmen have to assert their authority over the people here? The Highlanders living on the earth did not own the land – they belonged to it. As she did. The land spoke to her at a visceral level, her body reacting to the sights and sounds of the Highlands. A home was not defined by birth, but by life. Here, with a child growing inside her, with the respect of the people she toiled with, this could be her home… were it not for one thing. She was de Montford’s daughter.
“If only I were anything but English!” she cried into the wind. “This land is beyond beautiful! I wish it were my home!”
“You are more beautiful than the land, Elyssia.” A deep voice made her skin tighten with recognition.
Tavish stood behind her.
We were so enthralled by the sunset we both forgot to take photos! But being a fan of sunsets and sunrises I’m always photographing them and managed to capture a very pretty sunrise at my local train station which I turned into a painting.

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Author bio
Emily Royal is a mathematics geek who grew up in Sussex, UK and has always had a passion for romance and strong alpha heroes. After graduating from Oxford and enjoying a brief dream of becoming an airline pilot, she started a career in financial services in order to indulge her love of mathematics.

She now lives in rural Scotland with her husband, two daughters, and a menagerie of pets including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor. She reignited her passion for romance when she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association under their New Writers’ Scheme.

When not working on algebra or writing, Emily enjoys cooking, painting, target sports, and playing the piano. She can often be found wandering about the hills of Scotland looking for inspiration.

Find Emily on:
Twitter: @eroyalauthor

Book Links

Blurb for the Sins of the Sire: 

Two years ago, English noblewoman, Elyssia De Montford, risked her life to free the Highlander held prisoner by her sadistic fiancé. She cannot forget the man who first stirred her heart–a memory that burns anew when she finds herself once more on the road to Scotland.

Tavish MacLean has sworn vengeance. It’s been six years since his beloved sister was raped and murdered by an English lord, a tragedy which almost destroyed his family. On his deathbed, his father demanded retribution and Tavish pledged before his clan to enslave the lord’s daughter then send her back to her father, pregnant with a Scottish bastard. When he learns that she is travelling north, he seizes his opportunity and orders her abduction.

But when his men fling the prisoner before him, Tavish recognises Elyssia, the woman who once saved his life. Loyalty to his clan trumps the debt he owes her and he claims Elyssia as his captive. Though she’s one of the hated English, her willing body ignites passion in him at night, though she fights him at every turn during the day. As time passes, he questions his loyalty, finding himself increasingly enthralled by his fiery captive.

Treachery surrounds Clan MacLean. When long-buried secrets come to light, Tavish must risk his life and his clan, or all that he holds dear will be destroyed.

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Thank you for sharing your impressions of the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I wish you much success with Sins of the Sire.


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