Sunday, 5 May 2013

Shadows in Scotland

Canadian author Melanie Robertson-King


draws on more than her imagination for her paranormal novel, the Victorian romance,
A Shadow in the Past.

Melanie draws on her strong family connection with this beautiful land.
  Welcome Melanie, I'm delighted to have you visit here today.  You have a novel is set in Scotland. Why were you drawn to Scotland, rather than Canada where you live?

 My father was born in Scotland and came to Canada as a Home Child and for as long as I can remember he always talked about his native country and how one day he would take my mum and me there. Sadly, it never happened. He passed away in 1969 when I was twelve.  
 While I never got there with my father, I did go to Scotland for the first time in 1993. Until that trip, I had never travelled that far – alone! I’d never flown before. And I rented a car for part of the time I was there.  I’m surprised I didn’t come home with a bruised chin from my jaw constantly hitting the ground. I swear my mouth gaped open almost the entire trip, I was in such awe of the beauty of the country and its history.

 What a wonderful adventure that must have been for you. What did you love the most?

It’s so hard to say what I love the most about the country. On that first trip, I visited and stayed in the orphanage where my father was raised and in the village where he was born.
Broadfield Home – the cottage where my father was raised

Since that first trip, I’ve been back in 1997; 1999 (I met Princess Anne on this trip); 2000 – my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by renewing our vows in the church at the orphanage where my father was raised;

Mt Zion Church, Quarriers Village
2001 (for the opening of a museum exhibit in Glasgow on Home Children) and lastly in 2005 when we visited primarily England and Wales, although I did get my feet on Scottish soil once. We stayed in a B&B with a Scotland mailing address which was just south of the border – so we walked to Scotland, and we drove up to Dumfries for a bit of shopping.

Sarah’s Stone Circle in A Shadow in the Past.
I love the history, the castles (especially the ruined ones), the standing stones and stone circles and the rugged beauty and broodiness of the land. The people are warm and friendly. What isn’t there to love about it?


You've had some wonderful experiences in your father's homeland, well worth the visits, but your novel is set in 19th century Scotland. That must have required some research.
I chose the 19th century because of my interest in genealogy. I hadn’t been able to get further back than that but had obtained a wealth of information on my father’s family (mostly on his father’s side). As my information accumulated and I was able to visit the places where my ancestors lived, the creative juices started to flow.  
Wardhouse – aka Weetshill in A Shadow in the Past.

 fell in love with this “old heap” when I saw it for the first time in 1993. Isn’t it just begging to have a story spun around it?
           Yes, definitely!


As the author who created the paranormal aspect in the historical romance, ‘A Shadow in the Past’, which character would you least like to confront?
I wouldn’t want to confront Hamish MacMillan – Weetshill’s groom. He fancies his chances with the ladies and can be mean and abusive when he doesn’t get his way. Maybe he wouldn’t be angry with me for writing his character that way although he might since I didn’t let him have his chance with a certain lady. 

You invite yourself, the author, to a fictional Ball you create in a lovely old mansion. Would the characters in your novel greet you warmly?

 I’d like to think that my characters would greet me warmly but it’s difficult to say. I think Sarah would since we’re from the same time. The others would be wary (downright frightened) of my appearance... and heaven help me when I spoke and didn’t have a Scottish accent. I would be a Sassenach for sure.

Would you stun the other guests by wearing a gown designed by a 21st century designer or would you blend in, in Victorian costume?


I would try to blend in. I’d love to wear a burgundy, velvet gown that has cap sleeves just off the shoulders and a plunging (but not too) neckline, fitted bodice and huge skirt with or without a bustle. It would be heavy because of the weight of velvet and the amount of fabric in it, but I see that as the quintessential ball gown.

Something like this one with shorter sleeves?
Yes, like that.
If given the chance, are there any characters you would apologize to for placing them in certain situations and/or for giving them certain character traits.

I’d apologize to Sarah. I put her through some terrible situations in the present and after she ended up in the past. I think she’d admire the character traits (well some) that I gave her – headstrong (okay, it gets her into trouble but it also gets her out).

Do you have a talent or two relating to Scottish culture and did these talents find their way into this novel or any of you fiction?

Talent? Surely you jest... I know, don’t call you Shirley. Let’s see, I used to take Highland Dancing lessons and competed. I learned to play the bagpipes and have my own set. I love haggis. The only thing that made it into this novel is the bagpipes. Angus Cameron, the ghillie, plays the pipes and he does so in a couple of scenes in the book.

Having lived inside your novel for so long, what advice can you give the reader who finds herself captured by this book?

Sarah does stand up for herself and her outspokenness causes her problems, so I  hope the reader will root for her, but get angry with her, too, and think 'why on earth did you do that?' And while they think she and Robert will make a lovely couple, in the back of their mind they should be saying 'don't do it, Robert! It will only end in tears'. And possibly most importantly, I'd tell the reader to 'enjoy the stone circle but beware of the magic it holds because you, too, might become A Shadow in the Past.'

 Log Line.
When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…


At the narrow stone bridge, Sarah stopped and rested. As she stood there trying to catch her breath, the bridge began to vibrate and black smoke filled the air. A shrill whistle pierced the silence, drowning out the ringing in her ears. Sarah wheeled around and gasped. Off in the distance she saw the tiny speck of a headlight. It grew larger and brighter as the train drew closer and thundered beneath the bridge. Sarah watched the disappearing train and tried to understand what she had seen. There was no railway line near her house, only a flat dirt trail leading to the village.

Soon the smell of freshly cut hay, manure, and farm animals replaced the lingering aroma of the train’s oily coal smoke. If the barn was this close, she was almost home. Drawing closer, she heard the sounds of hooves pawing at stall floors and horses snorting. Her parents did not own horses. Beef cattle, sheep, and a few barn cats were the only livestock on their farm.

Confused, Sarah stumbled away from the barn and turned to face a sprawling three-storey building. It looked like Weetshill but it couldn’t be. The Weetshill mansion Sarah knew had no roof, and trees grew within the confines of its crumbling walls. The slate roof of this building shone in the moonlight as if it had been installed yesterday, and glass sparkled in enormous windows that should have been gaping, dark holes.

Sarah touched the heavy oak door and jerked her hand back as though she’d burnt it. She reached for a thick cord hanging from a bell by the door...

Sarah has her own blog here

A Shadow in the Past book trailer.

Learn more about Melanie and read her bio on her blog at
 Celtic Connexions

'Like' Melanie's Facebook Author page

Melanie's Twitter handle is @RobertsoKing
A Shadow in the Past is available in paperback from:

I've really enjoyed our time together, Melanie. Thank you for sharing your special connection with Scotland.




LJ Roberts said...

What a fascinating interview and a great book trailer. I am intrigued. Well done!

Wendy said...

Hi LJ. Lovely to see you here. I'm glad you liked the interview with Melanie. There's something magical about Scotland that draws people from all over the world.

Melanie said...

Thanks for having me here today, Wenday. I hope everyone enjoys our interview.

Thanks for dropping by LJ. I'm glad you liked my book trailer.

Edith Parzefall said...

Great interview. I've never been to Scottland, and now I can hardly wait. Until that happens, I might just pass the time by reading A Shadow in the Past.


snoopsspots2 said...

I've yet to visit Scotland, Melanie (and I live in the UK!). It's top priority on my to do list, especially after reading your wonderful post. Thanks for sharing!

Melanie said...

Thanks for dropping by, Edith. You will absolutely love Scotland, and I can't think of a better way to pass the time until then, than reading A Shadow in the Past.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Lovely interview, Wendy and Melanie. Living in the west coast of Scotland, I know exactly where that church is at Quarriers!

Melanie said...

Dare I say, shame on you Sheryl? Snoops would love it north of the border.

Melanie said...

Sadly Rosemary, the church in Quarriers Village has been converted to flats. As far as I know, the steeple and clock are still maintained by Quarriers but that could have changed.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview, Scotland sounds like a magical place, with standing stones and ancient ruins. What a terrific setting for your novel Melanie.

Wendy said...

Edith, Sheryl and Rosemary,
Thanks for coming. I want to go to Scotland too. My Grandmother was from Glasgow, my dad named after the Clyde river and my grandfather's mother was a Bruce, so we claim to be descendants of Robert the Bruce. Doubt I'll get there though.
Melanie you brought my yearning to the fore :)

Wendy said...

Hi Rosalie, our posts crossed. Thanks for coming. I agree with you. It would be great to stand near those sacred stones and be inspired.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post and the pictures. Thanks ladies!

Mary Raimes Curtis said...

Loved this post and the photos. Your book sounds intriguing.

Unknown said...

What lovely pictures you have shared with us. So many of us are enchanted with the stories of Scottland, but alas, I have never been there.
Someday.....I hope to travel there.
This one is definitely on my wish list. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Unknown said...

Very intriguing! :) Good work!

Erin Albert

Wendy said...

Stephanie, Mary and Erin,
Thank you for supporting Melanie. I'm so pleased you enjoyed our interview.

Melanie said...

I'm playing catch-up here... the joy of the time difference and the day job. Anyway...

Thanks for dropping by Rosalie. I love that area in Scotland. Mystical, magical and a lot of heritage there.

Melanie said...

Thanks for dropping by, Steph! Good to see you here. Glad you enjoyed the post and pics.

Melanie said...

Thanks for stopping in Mary & Erin and even more thrilled that you liked what you read here and find my book intriguing.

Wendy's questions were fab it brought out the personality of my book and how important my heritage is to me.

Wendy said...

Hi Lorrie, Thank you for visiting. Again I found your comment in spam. I wonder why. It's such a lovely comment.

Melanie said...

Thanks for dropping by, Lorrie. You will love Scotland. I hope you enjoy A Shadow in the Past, too.