See my other news at the end of this post.
My guest this week is Cassandra Longmore (nee Graham) who is the protagonist of two archaeological romances, The Calgary Chessman and The Book of Lismore, set in the Inner Hebridean islands of Scotland. The third book in the sequence will be The Ashentilly Letters, in which Cas has to return to her home in New Zealand. This letter, from Cas in New Zealand to her best friend Bernie, on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, refers to some of the events in the upcoming book.
Many thanks to Yvonne Marjot for letting Cas out for a while.
It was wonderful to get your letter. I’m reading it now in the kitchen, surrounded by the best silverware, because at about three o’clock this morning Nanna decided she needed to start polishing. I’ve finally managed to get her back to sleep, but now the birds are waking up and I think my day has begun.
It seems odd to be thinking about spring on Mull – daffodils coming out and the days getting longer – just as we are beginning to deal with the cold, windy weather of autumn. I hardly noticed the summer – I feel as though I’ve been working from dawn to dusk, while the world has gone on turning without me.
Enough complaining. We’re doing all right, and while things are worse than I feared I’m not alone. We have a wonderful lady called Tina who has had experience with dementia. She’s the best thing that has happened to Nanna for a long time, really brings her out of herself. Granddad is starting to get the help he needs – we’re waiting for the test results, and I think all of us fear the worst, but at least he’s not struggling to care for Nanna and look after the farm as well.
And we have good neighbours. One of them in particular. I’m not sure what to tell you about him.
I was so glad to hear about your mum getting the all-clear. She managed incredibly well through the chemo-therapy, I always thought she’d be all right, but it’s a relief when you hear it confirmed, isn’t it? Give her my love. I hope things work out that well for Granddad.
Yes, I can hear you tutting about me changing the subject. All right, here it is…
Did I ever tell you about my life on the farm here, growing up? I met a boy when I was fifteen, a couple of years before Andrew. He came and worked here for a summer, learning the ropes. We had a kind of love-hate relationship. Well, that’s probably too strong a term for it. I was fascinated by him and he ignored me. Until I forced the issue! Then it became clear that he had a man’s interest in me. You know what I mean.
Who knows what would have happened if Granddad hadn’t realised what was going on and sent him away. I never saw him again, and two years later I met Andrew and made the stupidest decision of my life, and you know all about that.
Well, it turns out that Cam, my teenage obsession, is now my grandparents’ neighbour. I know – you should have seen the look on my face!
He’s lovely. Apparently he’s been helping out around the place for years, gradually doing more on the farm, and now he’s running it practically single-handed in tandem with his own. I’m worried he’s going to wear himself out if he doesn’t get help, but he’s been a godsend. I’m trying not to rely on him too much. I don’t want him to think all us Grahams are needy and demanding. But I can’t help thinking about some of the things I’d like to demand from him.
You know how when some people grow up they’re not as good looking as they were when they were children? Cam’s the opposite. He was interesting looking when I first met him. And fit – I love a man who does physical work for a living, with real muscles that are used for real work. But he’s matured into someone very attractive indeed, and he’s smart with it. I hope I’ve hidden my feelings from him. But I have a feeling he’s intelligent enough to see through me.
I shouldn’t have any energy for such thoughts. Life is so busy. But when I step outside for a minute, for a breath of fresh air or to watch the sunset, and he’s there to share a piece of news or stop for a chat, it just makes all the rest of it that much easier to bear.
I miss you. Write soon, and tell me everything those kids of yours are getting up to. Is Emma Jane walking yet? Is Tom looking forward to his first day of school? Has Tilly found a new interest, or is she still horse-obsessed? Do you see much of Sam and Niall? Sam writes every now and then, but his letters are all about Uni. I can’t get over the fact I haven’t seen him since Christmas. It seems such a long time ago, now. I’m so glad he has Niall. I can’t believe it was only two years ago he told me he was gay and I thought it was the end of the world. It just goes to show – life goes on, regardless, and things we think are problems turn out to be solutions. You were right all along.
Enough rambling. I’m going to get this in the post today. Tomorrow we’re off to the hospital to find out the results of Granddad’s tests. I’ll keep you posted.
Lots of love and hugs.
About The Calgary Chessman Trilogy
The Calgary Chessman
Discovery is Only the Beginning
On a windswept beach on the Isle of Mull, Cas Longmore is walking away from loneliness when she unearths a mystery in the sand. To Cas, torn between Scotland and her New Zealand home, the object seems as odd and out-of-place as herself.
Intrigued, she begins to search for its origins, thinking it will bring a brief respite from isolation. Instead, the Calgary chess piece opens the door to friendships and new hope. Her son, meanwhile, brings home his own revelation to shake her world.
The Book of Lismore
The Past is a Lost Book
While visiting the beautiful Hebridean island of Lismore, Cas and Sam stumble upon a new chapter of the island’s past. Once again, they are confronted by the ghosts of the distant past, and ancient tragedy combines with present danger as each is faced with a fresh challenge.
Archaeology provides a strong bond between Cas and her favourite men, but the mystery they uncover proves easier to solve than the ongoing conflicts in her personal life, and love seems as fragile and elusive as ever.
About Yvonne Marjot
Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
Her archaeological romances The Calgary Chessman and The Book of Lismore are published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
She has worked in schools, libraries and university labs, has been a pre-school crèche worker and a farm labourer, cleaned penthouse apartments and worked as amanuensis to an eminent Botanist. She currently has a day job (in the local school) and teenage children, and would continue to write even if no-one read her work, because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. In her spare time she climbs hills, looks for rare moths and promises herself to do more in the garden.
You can follow her work via the Facebook page and group The Calgary Chessman, @Alayanabeth on Twitter, or on the WordPress blog The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet.
In Other News
- I’m still on target with NaNoWriMo and looking forward to reaching 50,000 words by the end of Monday. There have been some wonderful write-ins this year. I’ll tell you about them in December.
- Today, Black Friday, Crooked Cat Publishing is selling all its wonderful novels for under a pound/dollar on Amazon UK and Amazon US.