My current release, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Marry was written as an ode to travel—my hero and heroine, Ewan, Duke of Crieff and Lady Greer Douglas, each embark upon a Grand Tour of the European Continent in search of erudition and enlightenment. Now, I have never made a Grand Tour, but love to travel—my social media posts are full of photos of me and mine wandering about fields, castles, cities and museums. But what I love even more than traveling with the Essex clan is traveling with other writers!
In the fall of 2014, I had the very good fortune to be invited to travel to Scotland as part of a group of seven exceptional women—Deborah Barnhart, Lorraine Heath, Liz LeCoy, Cathy Maxwell, Kerrelyn Sparks, Bonnie Tucker and myself—romance writers all, in a variety of sub-genres and at various stages of our careers, but all with the burning desire to fire our imaginations with every sight and sound we could conjure out of the Scottish Highlands.
We had no fixed itinerary, but decided where we would go and what we would do and see each day depending upon the weather, and upon whatever piqued our imagination at that moment. We toured cities and countryside. We climbed up castle towers and motor sailed up Loch Ness. And then we wrote.
We drove across vast, unfenced moorland dodging sheep, visited distilleries and learned about whisky. We learned to shoot clay pigeons on a grouse moor, visited the Queen’s favorite Scottish church, or kirk. We tasted whisky. And then we wrote.
We searched for crusader graves and the memorial stone dedicated to the memory Queen Victoria’s favorite, John Brown. We danced in stone circles. We learned about plaid. We ate mouthwatering local seafood and produce. We visited friends. We learned some more about whisky. We tasted some more whisky. And then we wrote some more.
We learned about the storied and often bloody history of Scotland and the Scots. And we listened to the voices around us, raised in passionate debate over the Scottish referendum on whether to remain a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or to go independent. Scotland stayed with the Queen and her kingdom, and so did my imagination, spinning out an entire series—the Highland Brides.
I have spent at least part of every day since my return trying to conjure up a special sense of place. Trying to inhabit a particular time and place in Scotland—the period in the 18th and early 19th century known as the the Scottish Enlightenment, characterized by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments, when learning and travel were prized. I let Ewan and Greer do and see and read all the things I would have wanted to do and see and read had I been there. So in a way, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Marry, is the best trip I’ve ever taken, with traveling companions I deeply admire.
What about you?
I’m giving away three copies of MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS TO MARRY to commentators, so tell me your favorite trip you’ve ever taken, or the special trip you’re still waiting to take.
Wishing you all happy reading! EEx