I’m happy to have Elaine Coffman as my guest today. Elaine is a third generation Texan, claims she is a cross between champagne and apple pie, and feels taking risks is good for you.
She is a woman who has worn many hats in her life and says about herself: “...I worked as a lifeguard. Later on I raised Quarter Horses and Brahman cattle. That was when I owned ranches. And I've drilled oil wells, taught elementary school, and during all this, I miraculously managed to raise three well-adjusted children.”
Elaine has chosen various settings for her books but she keeps coming back to Scotland. She explains what it is about Scotland that draws her so strongly.
I am often asked why I choose Scotland for the setting of most of my books, and I find myself wondering, how I can cram the myriad of reasons flying around in my head, into a few words. I LOVE SCOTLAND—it has a rich, tumultuous history and calls to me in a way that I don’t know how to fully describe. Sometimes, I go so far as to ask, how much time do you have? For it would take more than a wee bit o’ time to tell ye why Scotland always lingers in my mind as a setting.
But the true answer goes much deeper than that, for my reasons are as varied as the land itself, for even the coldest of hearts cannot be moved by Scotland’s tragic past, so full of forlorn causes, thwarted ambitions, heart-wrenching failures, and the ultimate humiliation by England. Yet, in spite of it all, something about Scotland is eternal, for she is Niobe, turned to stone by grief, yet weeping still, the symbol of eternal mourning. Tempered by never ending sorrow, Scotland calls out to me, like echoes from the past . . . secret, mysterious, evocative, and eerily stirring, waiting for me to give them a voice. The call is strong— and I wonder if it is the voices of my own Scots ancestors, or mayhap it goes back even further, to the earliest inhabitants themselves: Pict, Celt, Norse, Dane, Scot, and yes, even the English.
The only thing small about Scotland is the size of the country, for it is a land long on history, with a strong heart, and wrenching sorrow. No other country can match it in sadness, conflict, haunting beauty, poignancy, or the enigmatic loneliness of the land itself. Simple and yet complex, beautiful and dramatic, Scotland rises out of the cold depths of the North Sea like a clenched fist.
Sadness and regret still run strong, and you’ve only to listen to the mournful tunes of a bagpipe to feel it, even now. And when the last notes have faded away, a great silence falls over your soul, while the images are still running around in your head, and you are reminded of all they endured, what they lost, and how much the rest of us were spared. When it comes to woe, Scotland wins, hands down.
In a land ignited by the flame of pageantry that smolders even now, one cannot help but think of Scotland in terms of obelisks and Celtic crosses, the bones of saints, the relics of Vikings, a stone for beheading, the bravery of the Black Douglas, and the heart of Robert the Bruce. You sense that since the first inhabitants arrived they have been haunted by conflict—and you begin to understand how a people could become as hard as Grampian stone; as flinty as the sound of a Highlander’s Gaelic.
Scotland is a haunting song that continues to play on my heartstrings; a tale that should be written with a generous spirit in sparse prose. One cannot help but admire the steadfast strength of a people who have taken the destruction of their clan system, the taking of their land, the eviction and emigration of their families, and the loss of their independence, who can stand upon the wreckage of their lives and build a stronger one where it stood. Yet, through it all, something as fragile and threatened as the genes for red hair and freckles has managed to survive.
And the stones of Callanish still stand near the sea as they have for 6,000 years, eerily reverent…
- What draws you to stories set in Scotland?
THE RETURN OF BLACK DOUGLAS – IN STORES APRIL 2011
He’ll Help a Woman in Need No Matter Where She Came From…
Alysandir Mackinnon rules his clan with a fair but iron fist. He has not time for softness or, as he sees it, weakness. But when he encounters a bewitching young beauty who may or may not be a dangerous spy, but surely is in mortal danger, he’s compelled to help…
She’s Always Wondered if She Was Born in the Wrong Time…
Thrown back in time to the tumultuous, dangerous Scottish Highlands of the sixteenth century, Isobella Douglas has a lot to learn about her ancestors, herself, and her place in the world. Especially when she encounters a Highland laird who puts modern men to shame…
Each one has secrets to keep, until they begin to strike a chord in each other’s hearts that’s never been touched before… You can read an excerpt of the first chapter on Amazon
.NEXT WEEK: Monday Musings, Wednesday, Lisa Dale with SLOW DANCING ON PRICE’S PIER Friday, Steve O'Brien with Bullet Work