Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Blog Castles in Scotland: Blood's Shadow by Cecilia Dominic

Thank you so much for hosting me and for allowing me to post on your blog today!

Last week I wrote about the trip to Scotland and the course I took on Scottish towns and villages that inspired much of the setting for Blood’s Shadow including squares and market crosses. I’ll admit I saved my favorite part, castles, for last.

I’ve always wanted to live in a castle. Growing up in the Southeastern United States, I didn’t really see many, but my mother is Belgian, so I got to visit some in Europe. The rest of the time, I substituted grand old antebellum homes in my imagination. I was thrilled that my husband and I were able to visit several during our trip to Scotland, and these inspired the design of three of Blood’s Shadow’s settings:  the Institute of Lycanthropic Reversal, Laird Hall, and Lycan Castle.

I imagined the Institute as being a gray stone building rising above the trees, much like this picture of Holyrood Palace:

Holyrood is in good shape, as it’s the residence of the monarchs in Scotland, and Queen Elizabeth spends a week there each summer. When she’s not there, parts of it are open to the public.

Cawdor Castle, which you may remember from MacBeth, also inspired the Institute, and the mix of older and newer-looking architecture also made its way into Laird Hall, secondary character David Lachlan’s home. 

Here’s an excerpt:

In spite of our long association, this was the first time I’d seen Laird Hall. The castle had been built back in the Victorian era once history had afforded enough distance from the Battle of Culloden for the families who’d been on the wrong side of the war to come out of hiding and reestablish themselves. However, the family constructed it on the original site of their medieval fortress, and some of the old stone had been incorporated into the new castle. It gave the place a patchwork old and new atmosphere, and David had continued the tradition, sometimes to a ludicrous degree, as I saw in the den, where a suit of armor stood by a large flat-screen television.

“Is it standing guard?” I asked, pointing to the armor.

“Old Gareth there provided a great reception boost when we were still dependent on aerials. Drink?” He held up a crystal decanter and a glass.

Apparently they were having some summer theater around the time we were at Cawdor Castle. At first I thought the signs saying, “MacBeth Sold Out” were advertisements, but apparently no, the play was actually sold out.

For Lycan Castle, the seat of the Lycanthrope Council, I envisioned something older-looking and darker, something along the lines of Doune Castle or Edinburgh Castle:

Sadly I don’t have pictures of the insides of the castles. Our 2006 visit was in our pre-smart phone days, and I can’t remember whether we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside or if we didn’t for other reasons. However, I did remember some of the anatomy, which I applied to Lycan Castle. As Gabriel notes,

“Straight” is a relative term in the hills of Scotland. Of course leaving the castle was never direct since my offices were in a turret, and I had to negotiate a set of winding stairs. Then I had to cross a minor hall, then the major welcome one, and another minor one to the side door to the Council and employee parking. Visitors valeted so they couldn’t leave quickly. That was mostly in place for the rare wizard who showed up.

Even though I never got to live in a castle and at this point don’t because wow, imagine the cleaning challenges, I enjoyed building them in my mind and in my book. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to visit Scotland – there’s a castle for everyone’s taste and imagination.

Blood's Shadow
Lycanthropy Files
Book 3
Cecilia Dominic

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date of Publication:  11/25/2014

ISBN: 9781619223776

Number of pages: 214
Word Count:  84,000

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Book Description:

Encountering werewolves can be deadly. Trying to cure them? Murder.

As the Investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, Gabriel McCord encountered his share of sticky situations in order to keep werewolf kind under the radar of discovery. Now, as the Council’s liaison to the Institute for Lycanthropic Reversal, he advocates for those who were turned werewolf against their will.

Everyone seems to be on board with the Institute’s controversial experimental process—until one of its geneticists is found lying on his desk in a pool of blood.

Gabriel races to single out a killer from a long list of suspects. Purists, who believe lycanthropy is a gift that shouldn’t be returned. Young Bloods, who want the cure for born lycanthropes as well as made. The Institute’s own very attractive psychologist, whose most precious possession has fallen into the hands of an ancient secret society bent on the destruction of werewolves.

Failure means he’ll lose his place on the Council and endanger the tenuous truce between wizard and lycanthrope. Even if he wins, he could lose his heart to a woman with deadly secrets of her own.

Available at Amazon  BN  Google Books

Also Available

Happy Howloween Sale
Oct 25 - Nov 25
The Mountain's Shadow on sale for .99
Long Shadows on sale for $1.99

Excerpt from Chapter Three:

When I returned to my offices at Lycan Castle, the seat of the Lycanthrope Council, I found a stack of files on my desk and a blessedly welcome pot of coffee. Less welcome was the message slip my assistant Laura handed to me.

“Lady Morena wants you to phone her as soon as you get settled.”

“I’m going to have to delay getting settled, then, aren’t I?”

“She didn’t seem in the mood to be pushed,” she told me and looked sternly over her thick rectangular glasses.

“Yes, mum.”

“Cheeky,” she said as I walked into the inner office.

“It’s a good thing you make such good coffee. You can be replaced, you know.”

Now she took off her glasses and squinted at me. “You’ve met someone. You haven’t threatened to replace me since you phoned to tell me you were close to finding Charles Landover’s secret laboratory in Arkansas and his granddaughter was delightful.”

“Yes, and we remember how well that turned out. Please fetch me the personnel files on the Institute staff.”

“Morena. Call her.”

I gave a noncommittal shrug and closed the door. Once I was safely out of Laura’s line of sight, I tossed the message slip into the unlit fireplace. Although nothing burned due to the warm early summer weather, the small act of rebellion gave me momentary satisfaction. I wanted to do something, not waste my time writing reports and waiting for the waffling of the Council. Frankly, I didn’t think the Council should be involved in the Institute, but it hadn’t been my decision, and even though one of their own was an integral part of it, the Wizard Tribunal hadn’t pushed back. Likely they waited to see how it all worked out so that if it failed, they wouldn’t have to take any responsibility for it. They’d just throw poor Max under the bus.

Coldhearted bastards.

Laura brought the personnel files in. The first one I looked at was Selene Rial’s. A health psychologist who’d been educated in the States and turned after a flu shot introduced the viral vector into her system, she had been invited to join the team when Iain had been impressed with her. He observed that she took everything in stride and while she appreciated the challenges of being a lycanthrope, she could step back and look at the situation objectively, or at least more so than any of the other candidates he’d interviewed—both human and werewolf. He’d written that she had a “unique and sympathetic perspective” on the difficulties CLS sufferers faced, even beyond her own experience.

Meanwhile, Otis LeConte, a geneticist, had worked in the same lab as Joanie Fisher, now Joanie Bowman, prior to her being fired and turned. When I closed my eyes, I still saw Joanie standing on the balcony off her bedroom at Wolfsbane Manor, watching me change, her eyes burning with curiosity and—

“Lady Morena has arrived.” Laura’s voice startled me from the memory.

“Right,” I said. “I didn’t call her.”

“She said she couldn’t wait, and she expects to be seen immediately or she will fire me and every other staff member you depend on so that your lazy ass will have to learn to do things for itself.”

A headache started in my right temple, and I massaged it, hoping it wouldn’t flare up into a full-blown migraine. Although modern science had given a name to my “sick headaches,” the medicines didn’t work for me. Losing my staff wouldn’t help it, so I said,

“Send her in.”

Morena glided in without picking her feet very far off the floor. She wore her customary navy blue pantsuit and flats. She’d adapted well to this new era in which women could dress like men. When she and I had worked together in the fifties, the skirts and heels of the time had always looked like they enjoyed being worn by her as much as she enjoyed wearing them. Her yellow eyes took in the details of the office, specifically the message slip in the fireplace, but she didn’t say anything about it.

I bowed. “What a pleasant surprise, Chairwoman.”

As always, she got directly to the point. It was one of the few things I liked about her. “I understand there’s been some unpleasantness at the Institute.”

About the Author:

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction.

The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style.

She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.

Twitter: @RandomOenophile


Cecilia Dominic said...

Thank you so much for allowing me to guest post at your blog today! There's nothing like a castle to brighten up a Monday morning. :)


Debbie Herbert said...

I would never have made a connection between castles and cleaning challenges! :) When I think castles, I think ROMANCE.

Looking forward to the third book in your series! Love your books.