Blog posts with the tag: "research"





I’m really excited because my debut novel Dark is the Sea finally has a launch date. It will be released on 12th November and will available to buy here.


The process of researching, writing, editing and publishing this novel has taken far longer than I ever anticipated, but it was important for me to get it right, and not to rush anything.


The setting; a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, and the protagonist; a young woman named Rowan, have both been in my imagination for years, and I tried to write about them in various different stories, none of which worked. I was so happy when everything clicked. I certainly have more characters, places and stories in my imagination, and I can’t wait to write more and share them with you.


Let the count down begin. 41 days until the release date! Put it in your calendars!

Edinburgh from the castle

Edinburgh from the castle


Last week I was lucky enough to visit Edinburgh with my mum for a wee research trip for my novel, as well as doing some sightseeing. I have been plenty of times before but on this occasion I felt like there was a lot more on offer to see and do.


After checking in to our hotel, we visited The Scottish National Gallery to see Rodin’s The Kiss before climbing up the many steps towards the Royal Mile. En route we stopped off at the Whiski Rooms because I needed to eat some haggis, neeps and tatties. Yes, needed to. I don’t know if it’s because Scotland is in my blood, but I absolutely love Scottish cuisine. It is one of my favourites, especially in colder weather. So I ate some pretty amazing vegetarian haggis (I’m excited because I went into my local Waitrose and they sell it there) and neeps and tatties all washed down with a lovely red wine. So far so good.


The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile


Walking up the Royal Mile (slowly, because I had a food baby) we stopped to peruse some of the (many) Scottish-themed shops along the high street. I’m sure to the people who live in Edinburgh, they might be tiresome with their incessant bagpipe music and tartan everywhere the eye can see, but I find them pretty charming and I always end up stocking up on some Heather flavoured tea and having a quick glance over the tartan and info cards about my maternal family name Munro. Plus all the plush toys of Scottish Terriers and Nessies and Highland Cows are pretty cute (although the Scottie dogs did tug at my heartstrings as I lost my beloved Scottish Terrier Sweep last year to cancer). I also ended up buying the Horrible Histories Scotland book. I don’t care if they are aimed at kids – they are entertaining and I enjoyed reading the Ireland edition during my recent holiday in the Emerald Isle.


Just before you arrive at Edinburgh Castle (which up close is fascinating but never as breathtaking as when you first see it, majestically looming over the city from Castle Rock as viewed from Prince’s Street), you come to the hotel and restaurant The Witchery. I keep intending to dine there as I’m a bit of a foodie and from what I have seen from the website, the interiors are wonderfully gothic. Just opposite and quite tucked away, so I’m not sure how many people notice it, is the Witches’ Well. It is a cast iron wall fountain, which is quite small, but is there to commemorate the place where over three hundred people were burned at the stake for accusations of witchcraft. The Witchcraft Act was in force between 1563 and 1736 with well over 3,000 people throughout Scotland accused. In the 16th Century more witch were burnt at the stake at Castlehill than anywhere else in Scotland, with the victims often suffering brutal torture before being put to death.


Witches' Well

Witches’ Well



It is difficult to imagine the fear, superstition and hysteria that were experienced in those times, but if you are interested in the history of witchcraft and witch-hunts, it is well worth seeking out this small memorial of those who perished. For more information on the Scottish witch trials see here


We were lucky as two of the days we were in Edinburgh we were blessed with crisp, sunny weather, so climbing up to Edinburgh Castle was well worth it for the panoramic views of the city alone, stretching out to Arthur’s Seat and the Firth of Forth.


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle


We explored the Castle, taking in the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, as well as the chapel and the prisons. My mum and I searched fruitlessly for the dungeons and tunnels that legend tells weave beneath the castle. I felt sure that as I child I visited them – but perhaps I am muddling this part up with another castle. If there are any deep tunnels below the castle then they are kept secret – which is no surprise really since the Castle is a military garrison and I’m sure they don’t want people sneaking in!


Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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