On today’s blog we are hosting an interview with Virginia Crow, author of the Caledon series.
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Caledon, By Virginia Crow, Published 2019, 180 pages
“Go out and tell all those you meet, Caledon has risen. Caledon will be protected and defended. And to you who would cause her harm, be prepared. A new fight has come.”
After the destruction of the Jacobite forces at Culloden, Scotland is divided, vulnerable and leaderless, with survivors from both sides seeking to make sense of the battles they have fought against their fellow Scots.
James Og flees Drumossie, seeking the protection of his uncle’s house in Sutherland. It is here that James learns that the Northern Highlands hold a secret power only he can wield: Caledon. When Ensign John Mackay begins hunting Og’s family, James realises he must harness this power to defeat the enemies of Scotland.
But, as the ageless Caledon awakes, so too does an ancient evil. When it allies with Mackay, the small Clan of Caledon faces enemies at every turn, discovering that even those closest to them may seek to destroy them.
Where to buy Caledon:
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!
When she’s not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o’ Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 4th year.
She now lives in the far-flung corner of Scotland. A doting spaniel-owner to Orlando and Jess, Virginia soaks up in inspiration from the landscape as she ventures out with her canine companions.
She loves cheese, music, and films, but hates mushrooms.
Here’s my interview with Virginia:
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
- How did you become an author?
It just sort of happened! I’ve always made up stories and been influenced by those I’ve heard. The oral tradition of storytelling was a big thing in my family and also at my primary school in Stenness. We had songs of stories, too, which furthered my love of storytelling, and immersed me in a love of myths, legends, and folklore – all of which made an appearance in Caledon!
2. Tell us about your writing process.
It’s chaotic! I don’t really have a set process! Caledon was written in a very visual way, unlike most of my books which tend to use the language to drive the plot. In this book, the plot gallops forward and the language only carries it on its rapid course. The reason for this is that Caledon was my attempt at writing for television. The book is divided into parts which, in my head, were going to be episodes. This gave it a certain structure which was difficult to stick to, but it means that each part is around 10,000 words and – if anyone ever attempted it – would last for approximately an hour of screentime.
3. How would you persuade readers to buy your book(s)?
Oh no! This is the part I am absolutely useless at! In the first instance, Caledon is a book for those who have Scotland in their hearts. It’s not as clearcut as Jacobites versus Hanoverians, it’s about a battle to preserve the heart of Scotland. But it’s also a shameless adventure, moving apace through a realm between the tangible and the supernatural, for those who believe there really is something which lives in Loch Ness, or that the Lughnsadh beacon actually worked. It’s for those who look at today’s world and wonder what we’ve lost and overlooked in our hunt for evidence. After all, who’s to say these things didn’t exist?
4. What is your all-time favourite book? What makes it special?
I absolutely love The Three Musketeers, and I think Caledon certainly owes a great deal to that book. Dumas wrote an incredible adventure which encapsulated all the human emotions of love, jealousy, courage, recklessness, and – which is the clinching factor for me – sorrow. I love how you never feel cheated in it. There are miraculous and outrageous escapes, but there are also heartrending losses to counteract those. Plus, I fell in love with Athos on the first reading. What’s not to love about him?!
5. What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment, I’m reading Heartstone, which is a middle grade book by my sister, Clemency Crow – yes we’re a family of writers! It’s a fantasy novel based in Cumbria which has only just been released, and is like a treasure hunt to gather the mystical Heart Stones. I’m in awe of people who can write for children. I’ve attempted it, but somehow there’s always something which goes wrong! Anyway, have a read of Heartstone, because it is a fantastic adventure!
6. Which author(s) (past or present) would you invite to dinner?
I would love to have a dinner party with the Romantic poets. Byron holds a special place in my heart, but I’m under no illusions about what a scornful sod he could be. He had a deep admiration for Walter Scott, though, so I’d seat the pair together. I’d have to have William Blake there, because my love of metaphysics and mysticism verges on obsession. The Visionary Heads portraits are just incredible, and those are conversations I would love to have been present for. I draw the line at Shelley though – he always struck me as a party-pooper!
7. What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or passions?
Writing does not pay the bills! So, thankfully, I have the perfect job as a music teacher. I love music, and there is always music playing or being made in this house! I also love cheese. Cheese is a real passion of mine!!
8. (For historical fiction.) How important is it to have your historical facts right and are there any instances when you would bend history to fit your story?
I’m a stickler for accuracy! Even though Caledon is historical fantasy, the details of the documented events are absolutely in place. That, to me, is the joy of writing historical fiction. I love finding the gaps into which my story can seep, but I never want to obscure the truth of the time and the events. The one major character in the story who was a real person is Ensign John Mackay. The Book of Mackay details his involvement in the 45 but he disappears entirely afterwards. This made him an ideal person to pick up for the story, since I don’t believe anyone who had a role in the skirmish at Littleferry managed to just go back to a normal life.
9. Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
My single biggest piece of advice is to write what you want to write. I have attempted to write stories according to people’s plans or structures, but I have never been pleased with any of them. My writing which has been best received has all been entirely what I wanted to write. I was blown away by the success of The Year We Lived because it was all built on a dream I had which I woke up from and thought how much I wanted to read that story – checked to see if it had been written, saw it hadn’t, and just wrote it as a present for my sister. I never really expected it to go anywhere! So be true to yourself, and don’t become bogged-down with writing manuals. Your voice is unique, so make it count!
10. What are your future plans as an author?
Well, Caledon is book one in a series of six, so I hope its sequels are on the horizon! Book Two, The Stealth of Caledon, is already out there – the others will join it soon!
Social Media Links:
Website: http://stompermcewan.com/ – Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaysDyingGlory – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaysDyingGlory – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stompermcewan/ – Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/virginia-crow – Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Virginia-Crow/e/B078QBNYFB/ – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16049964.Virginia_Crow