It got lots of favourable comments – I particularly appreciated Allan Massie recommending it to Canongate and Carol Manderson at Century Hutchinson who took the trouble to write “A powerful novel – good luck” on the official typed rejection card - but no takers. So it turned into a sequel called The Beaufort Weekend, which had a bittersweet ending (slight improvement on gloom) but which I ended up destroying (unlike Paperweight, which, being my first baby, I could not quite bear to destroy).
A long time later, I started Garlands and Shadows with two completely new principal characters, Maura and Jaime, and a happy ending. It is not a sequel to the first two versions, since its past is not their present. But I loved the Highlands, working in several hotels up there as a student, and I think I wanted to write about some of the characters again, since they never quite left me, and give them happiness this time.
Karen’s MacLeod ancestors lived on the west coast of Lewis – the westernmost edge of Europe, three miles from the Bronze Age standing stones of Callanish. One of her great-grandfathers worked on Lord Lovat’s estate at Beauly, Invernessshire. A great grandmother left Ireland as a child for Glasgow during the potato famine and the family of her MacIntosh great-grandmother was displaced from Strathnaver in Sutherland during the Clearances. There’s a lot of material there – which may yet be mined.
Garlands and Shadows is available for Kindle at Amazon.co.uk; Amazon.com; Amazon.de; and in all ereader formats at Smashwords.com
It will soon also be available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Apple Bookstore.