I’ve been to Scotland before, as has Mel. That doesn’t stop us from being struck afresh by the beauty of the lochs and mountains.
The drive from Inverness up to Lairg is every bit as challenging as Sadie found it when she first arrived, except that it’s summer and there is no sheep auction due for some time.
I’ve accompanied Mel, (my partner in writing all things steampunkerish and my fellow BookBaybZ) to interview Sadie Munro, heroine and horse whisperer extraordinaire, the main character of my new bestselling release Epona.
We pull up to a large stone mansion. Scaffolding hugs its west wing. The beautifully manicured garden sports summer blooms and emerald green grass. The front door opens and out steps a woman I know almost as well as I know myself.
“You made it!” She smiles bringing together her hands beneath her chin as her fiery curls hug her cherry cheeked face. They emphasise eyes as green as the manicured lawn.
“Please to meet you.” Mel walks up and holds out her hand.
“Any friend on Mich’s…” She wraps a warm hug around Mel.
“Good to see you again.” I squeeze her shoulder before stepping inside the wide open entrance of Saorsa.
“How are Nan and Oupa?” I ask as she waves us toward her study.
“Oh very well. They are in town, meeting with the council, then they are going to play bridge with friends.” Sadie smiles and the enitre room lights up. “Come sit down, Giles will be in shortly with some tea and some of Mrs Perkins home-made short bread.”
“That’s nice.” Mel smiles when a greying gentleman in a suit walks in, tray in hand, and places it down on the table before us.
“Well don’t mind me,” I sit back with a steaming cup of Oolong, “Mel knows what she wants to ask.
Mel fires up her trusty iPad and nibbles on her lip, apparently unsure where to start.
“It’s been quite a journey for you, Sadie, and I’m not just referring to the hills. How have you been getting on?”
“It’s been interesting. Good, not easy but we’re happy… I’m happy, thanks.”
“You met your neighbour, Blane, under less than ideal circumstances. Do you think that’s why things were a bit tense between you?”
Sadie sits back in her chair hugging her cup of tea as she considers Mel’s question. The green of her eyes sharpen as a soft blush caresses the freckles on her face.
“Yes and no. It’s hard to see past the trauma when you sitting plum in the middle of it. I think the fact that his presence reminded me there was still good in the dark world I was lost in. It scared me, still does some days.”
I nod and bite into my biscuit. “Gosh these are good.”
“Leave one for me.” Mel looks at me over the rim of her glasses. I answer with a cheeky grin.
“Have you always had a connection to horses?”
“Since I can remember. Theirs were the first voices I heard as a child. They’re mighty and majestic, I often shudder to think I nearly pushed them away from my life.”
“Starting over in a new place seems like such a great thing to do. But that’s not your experience, is it?”
“I guess it helped that I arrived with no expectations. I was a hollow shell when I knocked on Munro Manor’s front door. It’s strange, like the soul of a horse who knows her kind, I knew I’d come home. I mean Africa was home, but she expelled me, and Scotland opened up her arms as though she knew I’d return to her someday.”
“Was there a moment when you turned a corner and saw a future, after all the grief of the past?”
Sadie swallows hard, leans forward and places her cup on the tray then places her elbows on her knees and looks Mel dead in the eye.
“The night Epona found me. But as humans, I guess we’re always turning corners aren’t we?”
“Thanks for your time and the great shortbread.” Mel smiles as she sits back and tucks in to her tea and biscuit.
“It’s such a pleasure. Please come back anytime.” Sadie replies.
Can Sadie overcome the trauma of her past and find redemption in the wild Scottish Highlands?
After a horrendous attack on her family farm in South Africa takes the lives of her loved ones and leaves her wounded, her only escape is to leave the country of her birth for the highlands of Scotland and her last living relatives. But Sadie’s life may still be in danger.
Blane Buchan is an Englishmen living in the small highland town of Lairg, seeking a life away from the emptiness of London society and a past he’d rather forget.
When Sadie finds a mysterious blue roan mare, she must use the gift given to her from Epona; Protector of horses. But the mare just might be the one who saves her.
From the mountains of South Africa to the wintry Highland Moors this is a story of redemption, love and the powerful connection between humans and horses.
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Other interviews with Michelle Dalton.