When I was a child, my family had the tendency to move. One of the places we called home was a stretch of land in an agrarian community named Caledonia. At the time, I had no idea that “Caledonia” is Latin for “Scotland.” Nor was I aware that this region had been settled by U.K. immigrants. Unknowingly steeped in that sovereign nation’s culture, I learned every lyric of “Drunken Sailor,” "Nut Brown Maiden" and “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” in school. Our neighbors spoke of banshees in the gloaming and selkies in the sea. The library stacked Brontë, Burns, and Dahl beneath highland landscapes trapped in ornate frames. Heck, I thought every American parade featured old men wearing wild skirts and blurting bagpipes.
We moved. The deep snows of northern Wisconsin froze out those lush childhood memories. The turbulent echoes of the Vietnam War eroded such bucolic images from my heart.
It’s said that we spend our lives trying to find our way back home. As an adult, I fell in love with the classical broadcasts of BBC Radio 3 and English-made films. I had a crush on both Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett when they wrapped me in their Sherlockian mysteries. My daughter soon picked up my passion for stories penned by Shakespeare, Doyle, Shelley, and Christie. We both fell in love with Inspector Lynley, Hercule Poirot, and the Morse-Lewis-Endeavor holy trinity. We explored back roads, abbey ruins, castles, and megalithic burial sites in our travels across the British Isles.
Not surprisingly, my mysteries swirl around the Anglo-Scottish border. Writing those novels led me to Scotland where I finally found home. Childhood images came flooding back as I walked beside Loch Lomond. My heartbeat quickened when someone piped a familiar melody. My eyes brightened over tartan and—where the highlands fell into the ocean—I searched for a selkie.
I have gone full circle from a rural Caledonia community to the country of Scotland. I am replete. My contentment is topped off with the news that my daughter has just purchased a home beside the Caledonian community where I once ran through corn fields, pretending to play the pipes.
It’s true: we spend our lives trying to find our way back home.
I hope you find your familiar path. It is a marvelous journey.
This blog is where I post my inspirations for each book in the Barrington Bay series as well as behind-the-scenes tips, pics, and other tidbits. Feel free to click 'Read More' for in-depth posts.