Thursday Thirteen -- 294 -- 13 Questions for Kate Robbins, Author of Bound to the Highlander
It's a great pleasure to have debut Scottish historicals author Kate Robbins here at The Popculturedivas for the third in this year's Spooky Stories Author series, running all month on Thursdays (for next week's interview, join me at A Piece of My Mind.)
1 – So Kate -- can you tell us about the debut release of Bound to the Highlander? What was Release Day like?
Release day was madness—in the best of ways I mean. I was really nervous, but I have so many wonderful friends and an incredibly supportive family who helped me get through the day. Writing is such a singular activity and putting your work out there for the masses, while exhilarating, can be very daunting at the same time. Lucky for me, no one threw any tomatoes or rotten cabbages at me. Not yet anyway.
2 – Although your book is a Scottish historical romance and not a spooky story per se, do you find the medieval historical genre shares a similar atmosphere to spooky tales?
Absolutely! I’ve dabbled with ghosts in this series. Witch lore is very big in Scotland and so it wouldn’t be difficult at all to set a paranormal there. When we visited Stirling castle this past summer, upon entering a guard’s room, my whole body went on high alert. Something was very off in that room and I have never had a stronger ‘get out’ sensation. Creepy stuff.
Add to that the mist which hangs over the mountains as though it could watch those passing by. So the location itself is creepy, but back in the middle ages there was so much fear mongering created by the church and out of ignorance. Paranormal explanations were quite common.
3 – Do you suppose your heroine in Bound to the Highlander believes in ghosts?
I know she does. Can’t tell you why cause it would spoil the story. My heroine in the second books does too.
4 –You grew up in Newfoundland where you live now, known to Canadians as The Rock. It goes without saying that your province is rich in storytelling traditions as well as incredible sea-swept rocky coastlines. How much of this atmosphere leans toward spooky tale-telling?
The setting here with the rain/drizzle/fog (RDF) very much lends itself to spooky storytelling. We’ve always been oral storytellers as a means of entertainment but also to pass along family histories over the generations.
Here in St. John’s we have a haunted hike which meanders through the haunted streets of downtown. Signal Hill is also said to be very haunted as it was once the gallows. You don’t have to go too far to see a ghost—I’m pretty sure my house is haunted.
5 – RDF -- LOL! Did you watch spooky TV shows or films when you were growing up? What were your favorites from those?
Always! LOVE horror movies and tv shows. My favourite movies include The Exorcist, The Ring, Prince of Darkness, The Others, and Sleepy Hollow—“Once you cross that bridge, my friend…” Love getting spooked.
TV shows don’t tend to be spooky enough, though I’ve watched loads of Angel, Buffy, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. If you have a spooky tv suggestion, I’m all ears. I enjoy historical documentaries on witches, vamps, and ghosts as well. If I’m really bored, I’ll look up ghost encounters on YouTube. :D
6 – If you had to name your top three supernatural creatures, what would they be?
Ghost, witch, demon.
7 – Have you explored these character types in your fiction so far?
Ghosts yes. Witches to come—more on that later.
8 – Have you ever gone as far as writing spooky material? Have you ever written a scene that gave you the shivers?
Here in St. John’s we have several walking trails. My favourite is Kent’s Pond and up in the trees there’s a weird kind of growth called witch’s broom. The branches gnarl together and it’s really creepy.
I wrote a story imagining the gnarled branches are the hair from an ancient creature called a Hedren. These creatures come out at night and are tasked with providing balance to the world. Lacking emotion, they will eliminate any creature attempting to tip the balance of good and evil in the world. Anyway, it creeped me out and still does.
9 –Are there some earthbound, everyday aspects of life that you find scary?
Yeah, witches broom as I said above does. Large bodies of water and boats scare me. Ever see Death Ship? Shudder. I guess old run down houses have the same effect.
10 – Where is the spookiest place you’ve ever been? What made it so scary?
That guard’s room at Stirling Castle creeped the stuffing out me. I couldn’t get out fast enough and the prickling on the back of my neck lasted for quite a while.
11 – Are you a Halloween fan? Do you love dressing up in costumes or baking ghoulish cookies?
YES! I am a Halloween freak. We usually have the most decorated house on our street and I’m always jumping out and scaring the pants off someone. It’s my favourite time of year. (eagerly rubs hands together)
12--Why do you think people like to be scared?
Wow, that’s a good question. I guess it get’s their blood pumping and adrenalin flowing. It’s such a rush when you get a big fright. I love it. XD
13 –Here'a an excerpt from Kate's new release Bound to the Highlander. Enjoy!
The sunset cast a red hue inside the small cottage. The light danced on the
walls while she settled down to rest up some more. He was right, she could collect
fruit tomorrow. Perhaps she would give him more than a pie for dessert. An odd
unease crept over her at the thought. She shook it away.
As she drew the quilts around her, all noise passed out of her consciousness
except for the babbling stream running behind the cottage. She focused on it and fell
into a deep sleep.
Aileana strolled through a meadow coloured by splashes of heather and
bluebells. The warm air enveloped her, spreading happiness through her. She heard
peals of laughter behind her and turned to see a beautiful little girl running from a
handsome man. They were like nothing she had seen before—so perfect.
They ran toward her, laughing, and calling her name. The wee lass’s giggle
sounded like perfect ringing bells. Her golden hair fell to her waist and danced all
around like imaginary playmates.
When they reached Aileana, the little girl jumped into her arms and they
swung round and round. She put the little beauty down just as the man pulled her
against his hard chest and gave her the most passionate kiss. They joined hands
with the little girl and walked together down a stone path toward a beautiful castle
surrounded by the loveliest flowers.
The three walked and laughed together as the sky grew gloomy and thunder
rumbled in the distance. They ran hard toward the castle, but couldn’t get closer.
Before long, a downpour caused her grip to loosen on the little girl’s hand. Aileana
blinked away heavy raindrops, but lost sight of the man and the girl and ran alone.
She searched through the driving rain, but couldn’t find them anywhere.
After an eternity, Aileana reached the castle and entered the dark, cheerless
keep to find many men and women standing in a circle, mourning. Unable to see for
whom they wept, she pushed her way past those gathered to see a kindly faced man
laid out on a stone slab.
He opened his eyes and spoke to her. “I’m your uncle Aileana. I’m your uncle
and I love you, lass.”
Aileana screamed and bolted. She exited the castle and ran until she fell to
the ground from exhaustion. The rain fell in sheets. She looked up from the cold,
muddy earth to see a man approach her on a large white horse. He bent down,
picked her up off the ground and tossed her onto the back of his horse. He didn’t
speak to her and she had to hold on tight so she wouldn’t fall off.
They came to a small dark inn where he dragged her from the horse and
shoved her inside. The cloaked man paid for a room and pulled her with him up the
stairs toward it. He opened the door and pushed her inside as she turned to face
him. When he pulled down his hood, she discovered it was the man from the
meadow. He didn’t look happy and relaxed anymore—he looked dangerous.
“Aileana, where are you? You must help me find you!”
His emphasis on the last two words was so loud he almost shouted it. She
was afraid of him and tried to get around him, but he would not let her leave and
instead, took a key from his pocket as he left the room. The man locked the door
from the outside leaving her there in the cold and dark, all alone and terrified. Sheyelled at the top of her lungs, but no one would come to help her.
-- © Kate Robbins, 2013