I’ve enjoyed writing my Highland Vampires series for a number of reasons—I love the characters, for one thing, and I love writing historicals. I love to research the way people lived, what they ate and wore.
And because I’m writing about supernatural creatures I’m able to incorporate a great deal of Scottish lore and legend into my work.
Banshees, kelpies, red caps and other fae creatures populate mythic Scotland. It is said that the banshee wails at the riverside before a death. Other interpretations have the baobhan-sith as blood-sucking female fae. Kelpies, or water-horses, are ponies which appear to the unwary by the side of a stream or loch. Appearing to be an unclaimed, wandering animal, the kelpie entices the innocent to mount. When ridden, the kelpie plunges into the water, drowning its victim.
Red caps are small fiendish creatures who kill travelers and use their blood to anoint their hats–hence the name. It is said that if the hat dries, the red cap dies. Thus, the red cap is forced to murder often to ensure survival.
Perhaps the many mysterious places in Scotland inspire such fanciful dreams. Fingal’s Cave is located on Staffa, an island of the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It’s a sea cave entirely composed of hexagonal basalt pillars, the product of a long-ago igneous upthrust. Matched by the Giant’s Causeway in northern Ireland, Fingal’s Cave is famed for its natural beauty as well as the melodic sounds made by the sea inside the cave. It inspired music by Felix Mendelssohn as well as a set of myths, mostly involving a Bunyanesque giant called Finn MacCool.
And, of course, there’s the most famous mystery of them all:
The Loch Ness Monster
Sightings of the world’s favorite fake monster started in the sixth century, when the Irish saint Columba scolded the monster and sent it scurrying back to the water. Almost certainly a hoax, its most famous sighting was captured in a bad photo in 1934, which was revealed as a hoax in 1999 by one of the plotters.
The believers think that Nessie is a lost pleiosaur. The rational among us believe that Nessie is, depending upon the nature of the sighting, a large otter, a seal, or even an oddly shaped tree trunk.
Even so, few places on earth can compare to Scotland. Its wealth of magical places and mythical creatures has enticed generations of travelers…and enchanted thousands of romance fans.
Here’s a selection from Desire in Tartan about an encounter with the evil baobhan-sith. The set-up is that the heroine, Alice, is traveling with the hero, Dugald Kilburn, through the Highlands. She has just awakened.
A chill raced up her spine, lifting the tiny hairs at Alice’s nape. Something wasn’t right. The odd, greenish light wasn’t right. Their excessive sleepiness wasn’t right.
“Dugald?” She looked around again and saw him.
He was standing at the opposite side of the clearing amidst the strange lights, which wavered, coalesced, then broke apart into writhing figures that surrounded him.
“Dugald!” she screamed.
He didn’t turn, didn’t make any gesture that showed that he heard her.
She ran across the dell, stumbling over tree roots and once falling over a body—Archie’s. She rolled him over then saw that his mouth was partially open. He was mumbling incoherently, “Baobhan-sith, baobhan-sith.” A long tendril of drool escaped from the side of his mouth.
Bava what? She didn’t know, and babble wouldn’t help their predicament, for she had become certain that something terrible and dangerous was taking place.
She stood and, gripping her long skirts in a shaking hand, advanced upon Dugald and the mysterious green glows. The shifting lights resolved into women, white-faced women with red-rimmed mouths. Alice was reminded horribly of Malcolm and Blain with the street whore, and of Dugald’s manner of killing the Beans. Their mouths had been red-rimmed, also, rimmed with red blood.
The women surrounded Dugald. One seized his head and dragged it to one side, exposing the big artery; Alice was now close enough to see his pulse.
The creature bared its teeth, its shiny, white, sharp teeth. Two were pointed like fangs.
She…it…sank them into Dugald’s neck.
“Not my husband, you…you monster!” Alice sprang at the creature, grabbed it by its glowing green hair and hauled it off him. Dugald fell to the ground and rolled over, panting, black blood dripping from his neck.
The creature turned and laughed, the eerie cry unforgettable. It extended clawed fingertips toward Alice, reaching for her hair. She clenched her fist and socked the creature’s midsection.
Already surprised by her own ferocity, Alice was doubly stunned when her punch seemed to shatter the creature’s icy body. She gasped and shook her hand, which felt as though it had been plunged into a frozen stream.
The creature screamed, bent over like a broken twig. Alice gave it a firm shove toward the pool. It tumbled in, shrieking. As she watched, it seemed to dissipate as though the water had dissolved its icy core. A green stain spread over the pond’s clear water.
“Who’s next?” Alice advanced toward the rest of the strange creatures, which seemed to melt into the forest.
If you like what you read, get the book here:
About Suz: Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
Find Suzie’s books here:
http://www.tinyurl.com/SuzDeMello (publisher’s site)