Message From The Author
Historically, the Scottish Borders, setting for my new book, BORDER FIRE, are best known for the reivers who infested them. For almost 400 years, the bleak hills and bog-ridden forests that straddled the frequently disputed line between Scotland and England echoed with the thunder of hooves and the clash of steel on steel. As famous Border author Sir Walter Scott once wrote, Every valley has its battle
and every stream its song.
So, what and who were the reivers? Basically, they were thieves whose chief occupation was raiding their English neighbors and lifting anything that came to hand. Their victims were never slow to retaliate, so the whole system developed into one of plunder and reprisal, and everyone from the chief of a clan to its lowliest member was involved.
For a large portion of those 400 years, the acknowledged leaders of the Scottish reivers were the Scotts of Buccleuch (pronounced Buck-loo), and since they include a host of
my Scott ancestors, Border Fire became a labor of love. Nearly everyone delights in finding a horse thief perched in the family tree. I found whole branches of them, and the most famous, most daring, and most fascinating one was Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch. He was also chief of
the Scotts in 1596, when BORDER FIRE begins, so I chose him as the pivotal character for three books.
During the late 16th century, Buccleuch was the most powerful leader in the Scottish Borders, and Scottish Border lords were far more powerful than their English counterparts, because Queen Elizabeth strenuously resisted giving power to her nobility. Closely connected to King James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England, Buccleuch was named in 1594 keeper of the royal castle of Hermitage, the greatest stronghold in the Scottish Borders.The more I learned about Buccleuch, the more fascinated I became, but I ruled him out as the hero, because I doubt that todays reader would view certain of his activities as heroic. Ultimately however, he was also the man most responsible for bringing peace to the Borders in the end, so he makes a good character to unite a trilogy.
Both James VI and Elizabeth claimed to want peace in the Borders, but neither did much to bring it about until Elizabeth neared the end of her reign. James was her most likely heir, but she could have named anyone. Since he worried about whether he would actually secede heror not, when she demanded peace, he took care not
to anger her, but he had little control over his powerful Border lords.
Not until Buccleuch decided to take a hand did anyone impose peace on the region. Even then, it took time, because rebel groups opposed him, but his power was such that few dared to defy him openly, and in the end he prevailed. That process forms the background for
the Border trilogy.
For BORDER FIRE, I decided to use The Ballad of Kinmont Willie as the foundation for my plot. Willie, (not a character in the book), was a notorious reiver captured by the English despite a truce and imprisoned in Carlisle Castle, a stronghold the English believed was impregnable. Buccleuch first tried every legal remedy, but when those failed, he took the castle with less than 100 men and rescued Willie.
Willie was likewise no hero, so I created Sir Quinton Scott (also known as daring, impudent outlaw Rabbie Redcloak) and the impetuous beauty Janet Graham,
and invested them each with elements of Willie. When the formidable Sir Hugh Graham captures Rabbie/Quinton, Sir Hughs sister Janet risks her honor and her life to help Quin escape. Fearing for her life if he leaves her behind,
he has no choice but to take her with him, risking the wrath of Buccleuch and his own heart.
The historical background is as accurate as I can make it, but Quin and Janets story is pure fiction. My goal was to bring the 16th-century Borders to life and to write a rousing, action-packed tale, filled with humor and romance.
I hope you enjoy it.
BORDER STORM (January 2001) will be the second book in the series and Border Moon the third. E-mail me at email@example.com or write to
me c/o Zebra Books, 850 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Border fans check out my website http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/8078/scott.html.
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