Friday, December 11, 2015

Highland Games: a Research Opportunity

After writing several novellas that wove a tale around Scottish dragons,I wanted to use my love of modern Scottish Highland Games to weave tales using time travel and Highlanders. Since my family volunteers annually at the New Hampshire Highland Games, I filled notebook after notebook with my interpretation of the sights, smells, sounds, and history of the games. 

Research added to my list of possible story ideas. I have since completed six books set in both the fictional present-day New England Highland Games and 16th century Scotland. What do modern games have to do with a story of ancient Highlanders? Plenty, especially since I match heroines and heroes from different times.

Besides the costumes and weaponry people wear to these festivals, there are sports, food, craft displays, music, and vendors beneath tents selling everything under the sun. The aroma of meat pies mingles with the tang of fresh-squeezed lemonade. Sheep, herded by a border collie, run near tent-covered platforms where pretty girls dance a Highland fling. Bagpipers march while craftspeople spin wool or tell tales to kids, giving me dozens of ideas, which I carefully noted. 

The modern games are so much more than an athletic competition yet watching burly, kilt-wearing men tossing a tree called a ‘caber’ end-over-end is a favorite sight. 

Historically, the games were a way to hone skills. Coming together once or twice a year gave a community a sense of camaraderie during a time of upheaval in Scotland. Skill, stamina, and determination easily kept young Highlanders ready for war or any threat to their livestock…and women. Foot races kept messengers ready should they need to spread the word of a battle.  Even the simple tug-o-war kept a warrior’s body ready to answer the call to war. 

When my fascination with pirates entered my head, I created a female pirate plying the North Sea in a ship I named The Black Thistle. That story, released this year, is titled My Hunted Highlander. 

Book Blurb

Niall Sinclair wakes bound to the mast of a pirate ship. Hiding his identity, his reaction to their female captain makes him nearly forget his need to escape. Kidnapped from modern day New Hampshire, and now at the helm of a pirate ship in 1603 Scotland, Blair MacIan sees Niall as a chance to escape to her world. 

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