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ENTRY FORM BELOW! READ POST FIRST!
Kimberly “Aquamarine” Cates
Sometimes the magic is real. That was the case for me in October 1993 when my writer friends Eileen Dreyer, Elizabeth Grayson and I set off for the trip of a lifetime. Fuschia hedges were a riot of color as we drove along the coast and there were so many rainbows strung across the sky during our stay that we dubbed our trip “The Fairy Tour.”
Irish Fairies are capricious beings, but they loved us, gifting us with perfect weather, incredible coincidences and two intriguing ghosts.
I was stunned by the rugged beauty of a land I’d written about, but had never seen. In Donegal, the setting of Black Falcon’s Lady, we wandered through the Glencolmcille Folk Village. With cottages set up as they would have been in the 1700s and 1800s, it was like stepping into my hero’s world. As I was writing the sequel, The Black Falcon’s Christmas, I could picture Tade Kilcannon in these very cottages.
Our stay at Castle Matrix in Rathkeale seemed especially fairy-kissed. This haunted castle once hosted Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spencer. The mistress of Matrix gave us a gigantic iron key to let ourselves in after a night in the company of an Irish seanachie. This traditional storyteller regaled us of legends and took us on a candlelit walk to a chapel where Sir Isaac Newton once conducted experiments. I clutched the castle key and followed that soft light through the Irish night to a place where history whispered secrets.
But the Ireland of my heart coalesced in a place called Castle Rathinaine in Ventry, a ruin connected in spirit to my first Irish historical, Crown of Mist, set during the time of Cromwell’s devastating invasion. The front of the once-mighty stone wall was torn away in a siege as if by a giant’s hand, and when I climbed the stairway to a ledge high above, and dreamed there, with a stone fairy ring spreading out around me, I knew I had found the place where stories dwell. There are nights this castle seems to float above the green Irish landscape in a cloud of mist. How could I resist using it as a setting in Stealing Heaven and Her Magic Touch?
I’ve returned to Ireland four times, each a coming home and a new beginning. I’ve wandered the Hill of Tara, touched the Stone of Fal that is said to “scream” when the true king touches it. Where a hero like Niall in Lily Fair might have pledged fealty to the High King. In this land of bards and storytellers I belong. To the green hills and the stories that swirl in the mist like my beloved castle Rathinaine.
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