I am pleased today to welcome my colleague and friend, Sharron Gunn who writes as Sheila Currie.
Where were you born?
I was born in Moncton, N B—hub of the universe according to the locals.
What do you like most about where you live now?
I live on Vancouver Island because of the weather! So little snow falls in winter and what there is stays on the mountains where it belongs. There are lots of cultural activities, and lots of people here with whom I have common interests. Victoria is a book town, a university town.
Any school/high school/college memories you’d like to share?
I attended 12 different schools in 12 years. Every time my father was transferred, my mother insisted my brother and I be placed in the appropriate grade for our age. She said the principal could ‘put us back’ if we didn’t get good marks by Christmas. We always managed to get through.
My father was stationed with the RCAF in Europe for five years. After he bought us books on the Scottish Highlands, the land of our ancestors, we went to visit, a life-changing event. I later studied Scottish History and Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow.
Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?
My grandfather was the manager of the Maritime Coops for 35 years. He was one of those who broke the power of the company store which kept ordinary people in debt all their lives. We’re very proud of him.
Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?
I had a summer job selling books in Gaelic and books of Highland history from door-to-door in the Hebrides and west coast of Scotland. Bibles sold very well. Novels not so much. I had some books of Christmas carols and couldn’t sell them for days. Then one day I sold out. I had travelled from an area of the Highlands where a very austere form of Presbyterianism prevailed to a Catholic region. Mystery solved.
Great story! What is your feeling about social media?
Of all the forms of social media, I can’t do without email. Facebook is useful, but Twitter and Instagram and the rest are too time consuming for me. I’m learning to be efficient. I try.
What do you enjoy most/least about being a published author?
I wish I were better at writing. I’d like most to be published. I like least not being published.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I suffer more from procrastination than block. When I sit down, the words come, but planting my rear end in the chair in front of the computer is a day’s work in itself. Tòiseachdadh ‘s e obair là! as they say in Gaelic.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
From the ton of books I have on Scottish history, folklore and fairy tales. I also teach history part-time in Continuing Studies at the University of Victoria. Love books!
Tell us about your book.
The Banshee of Castle Muirn is about Shona Campbell, a Highland lass who faces a forced marriage with a ruthless soldier. He wants her dowry to finance rebellion against Charles I, and will do anything, anything to achieve it. The village wise woman wants her to develop her powers as a banshee to save her and her clan from the soldier’s cruelty. The only alternative is a MacDonald, member of a hated enemy clan who becomes a friend. But can she trust him or should she become a banshee, feared and shunned by all?
Is it part of a series? If so do you enjoy writing series?
Yes, it is the first book of a trilogy. I can carry on developing the lives of my characters and I think readers enjoy finding out more about them as well.
Nothing would happen. Alasdair drew a long breath to calm himself.
At mid-summer the sun, a disk of red crystal, hung low in the western sky, softening the hills to the curve of a woman’s back, and the marram grass waved like the fringe of her mantle. The festival was the best time for the MacDonalds to come among the Campbells when they would neither expect nor give injury. Twilight on the longest day of the year.
A file of women approached from the village and parted the crowd. The leader, her grey-streaked hair loose on her shoulders, processed to the sea, followed by slender young women. They wore what women wear: long linen shifts and the earasaid, a wool mantle of three loom-widths, but their belts and brooches glinted with precious stones while most of the crowd wore simple pins and plain belts over their plaids. Two young women carried cloth-wrapped bundles.
He half expected the Campbell men near him to shout “To arms!” as though they could recognize MacDonalds from their shape or scent. To his surprise, people nodded and praised the day. Of course. He passed for a Campbell gentleman because of the fine stuff of his plaid, his jewelled brooch and belt, and the sharp-edged dirk on his belt. He stood straight in his supple shoes, while many went barefoot on the warm sand. He looked like a gentleman although he didn’t have a title from the king like many of the Campbell gentry. Still he was a MacDonald, descended from the kings of Ireland while the Campbells were a people arrived yesterday from nowhere.
A woman wrapped her arms around her chest. “High time. What a dark thing it was for the banshee to cry the evening before the mid-summer festival.”
“However beautiful her singing, she brings sorrow.” She addressed Alasdair. “At least you know she didn’t lament for you. You’re not from this glen.”
“You’re welcome here, stranger. But a sad time when it should be happy.” She said that pleasantly then she glowered at her husband.
The Campbells looked like his own people in their plaids, and they sounded the same, most kindly, a few impatient. It was easy to pity them the loss to come.
When the crowd surged forward behind the celebrants, Alasdair and his tutor followed. The grey-haired leader raised her arm, and the crowd made room for her at the water’s edge. She stepped up onto a flat rock while six young women made a line at the water’s edge. One of them stooped, then held out a tall silver cup to their elder. Alasdair caught his breath. While the old one poured ale, the beautiful one stared in his direction, her face golden and her hair white-blond in the light of the red sun. She might notice him, a head above most men, as she surveyed the crowd. Unlikely. She’d be too busy with the ritual. The wind blew tendrils of hair across her face; she pushed them back and faced the water.
A Dhia. Dear God.
Who was this fairy queen at the mouth of the sea? A sìtheach must have used shape magic to transform her from a swan or a mermaid. She must be a Campbell woman so there was no question of befriending her … or anything more. That would not go down well with the Campbells or his own people. But he wanted to see her again. Surely seeing her wouldn’t hurt anyone.