A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook, and noticed this recently-published novella by my fellow-Fabrian Books writer Jo Bartlett. That cottage is almost exactly like the one friends used to have on The Isle Of Arran – I lived there every summer when I was a teenager and I loved it. And as two of my favourite things are stories with medical themes, and Scotland, I bought the book and was instantly hooked. (The opening scene is a car stuck on a level crossing…)
Today I’ve I invited Jo on the blog to tell us more about her Highland Practice, and her Scottish connections – here she is:
Often when I write, the setting comes before the story. I’ll visit a place that inspires me and then something sparks an idea that seems like the perfect fit for that setting. I’ve always loved the Scottish countryside. There’s something about the size of the sky up there – with so few houses about – that feels inspiring in itself.
I visited Loch Lomond a few years ago, it was January and I fully expected the weather might work against us. But when we went out on the loch on a beautifully crisp day, the mountains reflected in the perfectly still surface of the water looked like they went on forever. What could be a more idyllic setting for a romance novel than that?
Then there’s the accent, of course… On that same trip out to the loch, the captain of the boat told us stories about the surrounding area and some of the local legends that add to its mystique. It’s an overused phrase, but he had a voice like honey and I could have listened to it forever. When he served us hot toddies as well, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
The remoteness of some of the towns and villages in the Scottish Highlands makes them very different to other parts of the UK. Where else might a country GP have to deal with a potentially fatal accident that the air ambulance can’t reach, and have the chance to build relationships with the sort of close knit community that doesn’t exist in many places anymore? When I decided to write a story set in a rural GPs’ practice, nowhere else but Scotland stood a chance.
My brother lived in a croft in a remote part of Aberdeenshire for several years and, as soon as I see a picture of a house like his, I can almost smell the pine trees and feel the heat from the wood burning stove that I imagine warming the heart of the house.
Maybe it’s an overly romantic image of a place that I’ve only ever known as a holiday destination, but Scotland’s heather-clad hillsides, dense forests and mountains shrouded in mist, have the sort of wild beauty that I think readers will want to visit just as much as I want to write about them. So I’m sure A Highland Practice won’t be the last story I set there. After all, what better excuse do I need to visit again than a research trip for my next book?
Thank you, Jo – maybe we’ll meet in Scotland one day…
Jo Bartlett writes in a range of genres, but focuses mainly on romance and especially loves writing about colourful characters in small town settings, with ups and downs but always a guaranteed happy ending.
Jo’s books are set in Kent, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands. She has also been published by DC Thomson, Ulverscroft, Accent Press and So Vain Books, as well as writing short stories for women’s magazines.
Jo’s books currently available through Fabrian Books are the number 1 bestseller ‘A Holly Bay Christmas’, and ‘Give Me Your Answer Do’, also a top ten read in several Amazon charts. ‘A Highland Practice’ is Jo’s new release.