I have to be honest. I didn’t think I would go. I know, for a Scotia-phile on her first trip to Scotland that sounds like sacrilege. Madness. How could I not visit the site of the final battle that sent my Highlander ancestors from Scotland to North Carolina? How can an Outlander fan not go to Culloden? But the thing is, I’ve seen so many battlefields.
I grew up at the nexus of the Civil War. My childhood home was just a few miles from the Chancellorsville battlefield where my own three times great grandfather was killed. My first apartment was on Hanover Street in Fredericksburg just blocks away from Marye's Heights and the Sunken Road. My family's favorite vacation spot when I was young was within sight of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Even today, I can't go to town without driving past the Stonewall Jackson Shrine (not memorial, SHRINE). After about the hundredth time visiting flat empty fields marked by plaques declaring which general did what and how many senseless deaths happened right where you're standing, a person can become inured to that kind of thing.
A young boy discovers a time portal inside a hydroelectric dam. A car full of refugees drives into an impenetrable fog. A young woman wakes up to find herself the poster girl for a revolution. Another young woman walks away from the only life she’s ever known.
They all sound like great starts to stories, don’t they? There’s just one hitch. They’re all endings. I won’t spoil them all by identifying the books, but with the exception of the last one, they’re all well-known books by bestselling authors. The last one, of course, is mine (2 points if you know which), but it’s an ending too; an ending and a beginning. And that’s just how I like to end my stories.
My daughter (8) is a pro at stalling bedtime. She will wait until right before bedtime to say, "But I need to take a bath." She will think of a dozen things that she simply must do on the way to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She can never find her pajamas and has to tear up her room in search of them. She's a pretty sharp cookie and has figured out that her folks almost never say no to reading, so she'll ask if he can read for a little while. And heaven forbid she not be able to find her Stitch plushie. It's her favorite thing to cuddle with next to her cat and if she can't find it, all bets are off.
I think I've finally recovered from the madness of last weekend only to be plunged into a whole different brand of crazy. No, last weekend wasn't a whisky fueled bender (Really, I only had the one glass.) It was the Outlander Odyssey's gathering in Williamsburg, VA, and it was fantastic. For Scotia-phile history nerds like me, this was paradise, but what made it even better was getting to connect with so many readers both the ones who bought my book at the gathering and those who had read it before. There were even a couple of fans (I'm looking at you Wendy & Diane).
This Saturday, I will be speaking at the Outlander Odysseys Gathering in Williamsburg, Virginia about Puirt a beul. In advance of that I put together a public playlist on Spotify that is made up of Gaelic and English songs.
These songs show the most common types of Gaelic music and the Gaelic influence on Appalachian music. The latter of course is the topic of Sarah MacAlpin's dissertation in The River Maiden.
If you don't currently have Spotify, there is a free version with ads, but I am also listing these songs below. I'll group them according to type and provide links to the lyrics where possible.
I have been woefully neglecting the blog since mid December and I was trying think of the best way to jump start things. Over the last couple of day I have thought about writing.
A mawkishly sentimental post in memory of Coach Dean Smith. I'm not really a sports fan, but I am a Tarheel bred and I do support social justice. I have a lot of feelings on the death of this great man.
A scolding post about how outrageously SICK I am of the whole 50 Shades phenomenon.
A thoughtful and referenced post about how Outlander can teach us more about true BDSM than 50 Shades ever could.