I first fell in love with Scotland when I took a Scottish Lit course in college. Our professor, hands down, was the best prof I’ve ever had – I kid you not, when he taught History of the English Language, it was the first time in the university’s history that the course had a waiting list. His enthusiasm for whatever he was teaching was so infectious, it was hard not to get swept away. I took a course with him every single semester – whether it counted toward my degree or not.
In Scottish Lit, we learned all about William Wallace (and learned all the inaccuracies of the film Braveheart). We learned about Robert the Bruce. We learned about the poems of Henryson, Dunbar, and Douglas. I should also note that this prof is of Scottish descent and would share his own knowledge about the country and its history. He would share stories of his own adventures around Scotland, would wear his kilt on Scottish holidays, and break out the Scottish brogue whenever it was deemed necessary. (He could also speak old English and quote poetry in Latin.)
It was in this Scottish Lit course, though, that I learned about the magic that is Scotland, and I wanted to someday visit.
Cut to about five or six years later years later. I was working for a film company under my boss-turned-bestie. I was fresh out of grad school, and I missed talking about books, so we bonded over reading a couple series together and then coming to work and complaining in the morning about everything we disliked about them.
We also bonded over Scotland. Though my love of the country came through Literature, hers came through her ancestry. We joked for a bit that we should take a trip together someday, and about six years into our friendship, I finally asked – how serious are you? We started planning and saving.
We took the trip summer of 2018 – and I have to tell you, you cannot truly know the magic unless you’ve set foot on Scottish soil. I knew before we even left that I would be returning some day. (Was supposed to go this next summer, but obviously that is on hold.) I also knew I wanted to write something that involved Scotland.
Enter Lucy. My still untitled second novel. (Why are some titles so hard?? I’ve got a title and a backup for the new WIP – but Lucy? Nope.) Probably my first of many stories involving Scotland, Lucy visits places from my own 1200 mile road trip we took around the country (and a couple that are on my to do list for the next trip). The bulk of her trip centers around Isle of Skye. In the story, she describes a piece of scenery which I wrote side by side with this photograph. There was indeed a heart-shaped cloud that had formed in the sky above us.
And hard as I tried, as many as I took, I just could not take a photograph that captured Loch Ness – it is hands down the most incredible body of water I have ever seen in my life. As I write in the book, “It looked as though the loch were filled with black oil, a thin slick of water skimming along the surface.” The little doodle Lucy does is also something I took from the trip. (It was cloudy/foggy at the start of our cruise – the sky was bright blue and clear by the end of it.)
It was a lot of fun reliving the trip in this way, pulling up photographs to help me remember details. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to see these places with my own eyes first, and I can’t wait to do it again.