When I decided to set most of Fictional-ish in Scotland, I was hoping to pay tribute to the country that stole my heart many years ago and made me feel at home for the first time since leaving my own country.
Many of the places in the book are or were real at some point. Livie’s flat was modeled after my own. I did live in a very old, strangely configured flat over an ironmonger. My flat was right across from a hotel pub just like Livie’s and my bathroom was so tiny, I could literally touch both walls at the same time. Except it was not in the beautiful coastal town of Montrose, but in Brechin, a smaller town just a few miles west of there. I needed a slightly larger town for the story and Montrose fit the bill so I transplanted a lot of places from Brechin to there.
The small inn where Livie and Kyle spend a couple of nights while visiting Inverness was also a reflection of a lovely B & B I actually stayed in once. It had an amazing view of Loch Ness and served the best breakfasts in town.
Livie’s Scottish sidekick was named after a very good Scottish friend, Jenny, who lived across from me and was always there when I needed help. Her then husband loved confusing us Americans by speaking Doric all the time.
Like Livie, I fell in love with stovies, a dish that Jenny cooked once in a while and was also served at ceilidhs on the military base my husband was stationed at.
While researching the more modern Scotland, I was very surprised that one little store I used to shop at in Montrose was still there and looked exactly the same. So when Jenny mentions going to the Oxfam store to buy vintage items, she’s speaking of real place that has outlasted more than two decades.
The castle where they spend a crazy night in the Highlands is an amalgam of many castles I used to visit. My participation in a medieval reenactment group provided me with ample opportunities to get to know many of the castles, some ruined, others still lived in. And let me tell you, being in a ruined castle at night, by the light of the fire, can truly conjure haunting images in your mind.
Even Callum, the Scottish model-look-alike, had bits and pieces of a very handsome young man who used to come wash my windows once in a while.
I know the Scotland in Fictional-ish is not 100% accurate, but it was very rewarding to pay tribute to a country I haven’t visited in a long time, but one that I still carry dearly in my heart.
Alba gu bràth
Fictional-ish by Natalina Reis
Releasing April 27, 2019