Who are the Grey Ravens?
For want of a better word they’re vampires although any comparison between the Children of the Raven and mainstream vampires is venturing onto shaky ground. Yes they do need a regular supply of blood to maintain their strength, they find too much sun dehydrates them, and they are vulnerable to sharp silver objects. But apart from that they look like us, work alongside us in their day to day lives and even marry mortals, usually for the purposes of maintaining their current identity. You could be married to one and never know it. The doctor you find so helpful could be a Child of the Raven. The detective who investigates a burglary at your house could also be a Child of the Raven and you will be none the wiser unless they deem it in their interests to reveal their true nature to you. The Children of the Raven are divided into ten clans, which take their names from various colours, blue, black, white etc. Clan Grey Raven is the tenth clan and the only clan founded by a woman. All the Firstborn clan heads are dead although there is some doubt as to Amalthea, the head of the Grey Ravens as no body was ever found. I’ve used the term Clan Grey Raven instead of Grey Raven Clan as the former is the correct order of words in Scotland. The Scots put ‘clan’ before the clan name as in Clan MacGregor or Clan MacDonald although you can use either form.
Why call your vampires the Children of the Raven and not vampires?
Basically I wanted to separate myself from traditional vampire literature and create something entirely new and hopefully fresh. The raven was chosen as their totem because the raven was associated with battle. The Norsemen venerated the raven and the Black Morrigan of Celtic mythology is visualised as a raven. The Norse sagas refer to the two ravens that sit on Odin’s shoulders and gives them names, Thought and Memory, which I thought was a very apt description of my vampires because they are deep thinkers and have long memories. However the concept of the Black Morrigan also intrigued me because my vampires are warriors in the classic sense of the word.
So what’s your book about anyway?
Angel of Mercy is actually two journals. The first is Samantha’s story where she relates how she met Dr. Catriona MacGregor in 1990. Cat married her father not long afterwards and they moved from Germany to America. When Cat’s plane goes down over the Gulf of Mexico eight years later, Samantha and her father, John Sullivan are relocated to Chicago by one of Cat’s new ‘friends’ Elizabeth McIvor where they are introduced to more of Cat’s friends. These people all belong to Clan Grey Raven and over the next few years Samantha begins to suspect that the accident is mere window dressing for a much deeper mystery. Cat had made too many preparations for Sam’s future for someone who intended living a long life.
When she is finally reunited with Cat in Scotland in 2013, Samantha learns the truth of the people of the Raven and Cat tells her story, beginning with her birth in 1285, her introduction to Clan Grey Raven, their part in the First War of Independence and ending with her turning in 1314. Along the way she scotches some of the traditional mythology about life in medieval Scotland, recounts life under English rule and leaves us with a more balanced point of view. William Wallace makes a cameo appearance towards the end as well.
What was your inspiration behind Angel of Mercy?
Angel of Mercy started life as a longish short story after a day out with the local archaeological group in Stirling. I remember standing in front of the Wallace Monument looking out over the old battlefield, which is now the suburban sprawl of Cornton and Causewayhead and imagining Catriona MacGregor standing beside me and peeling back the layers of history to 1297. That night I penned the short story and left it like that while I went back to work on the next version of my vampire novel. However I always suspected that there was more to this short story than meets the eye and this was confirmed when my supervisor at work, Alan McIntyre read it and suggested it could become a novel. Time moved on, I went back and wrote this book and somewhere along the line, this book grabbed the title of the next book, which is now called Nosferatu. It’s a good example of how books evolve over a period of time.
Angel of Mercy is a fantasy, we know vampires don’t exist but if vampires existed in the real world, what would they look like? How would they behave? Along the way I discarded much of the traditional baggage attributed to vampirism but kept the basics, teeth, blood, immortality and great strength. I added the concept of the Twelve Steps of Recovery and slipped my clans into real history as living witnesses to the history we find in books. Their takes on history don’t always mirror what we imagine. We have a tendency to over romanticise the past to the point of outright mediocrity, or treat history as somehow unimportant to real life.
The events of the late thirteenth century actually happened. The Wallace of Braveheart is a rather badly constructed version of the real William Wallace and I’ve tried to the best of my ability to give a sense of what the world must have looked like back then. There may be errors in the book and if so then they are solely mine. Having said that there really was a place called Westertoun about where Tillicoultry is now found although I’ve yet to narrow it down to the thirteenth century, but we know there was a great swamp that extended along the sides of the Ochil Hills. I know there was an old Pictish fort at the old quarry because its existence was recorded, now nothing remains. My portrayal of women as being a little more outspoken than is usually thought is turning out to be a little more accurate thanks to revised interpretations.
Is your book an accurate retelling of the late thirteenth century?
It’s about as accurate as I can make it! There are of course certain things I had to create from scratch along with my vampires. The mansion, Wolfcraig and the village of Pictavia are entirely fictional. Wolfcraig was inspired byAbernethy Ardeonaig Lodge, which does overlook Loch Tay. Due to the fact I’ve set scenes in Wolfcraig and it will feature significantly in the sequel, I elected to create my own enormous hotel and set it in the Tay Forest Park on the other side of the loch. Pictavia is also a figment of my imagination but is inspired by the Scottish Crannog Centre on the eastern end of Loch Tay, not far from Kenmore. Morganna’s dealings with William Wallace are also fictional as is the meeting with Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Why are your lead characters are all women?
I find the traditional alpha male character rather tedious and extremely limited. I fully admit that I’m a feminist writer and make no apologies for my beliefs. Part of the inspiration behind Angel of Mercy was due to my fascination with what we call in Europe, the Old Religion, which had at its core, a respect for the Divine Mother and a more egalitarian view of male and female roles. The Old Religion was borrowed by the New Religion of Christianity and butchered, bastardised or completely corrupted in an attempt to spread Christianity all over Europe. I suppose in my own way I’ve sought to remind people that before the coming of the church, there was a civilised world that may not have been perfect but it had an internal rhythm. We have lost touch with our relationship to the land and the seasons but in Angel of Mercy I’ve recalled the old ceremonies and festivals.
With that being said I’ve felt it necessary in the face of a concerted assault against women’s rights movements by the neocons in the West and in countries where Sharia law has been implemented, to create strong female characters who don’t seem to need men for survival. These women won’t be hanging out for a phone call from some guy, it might very well be the other way round! Likewise when it comes to tasks like changing a light globe, changing the oil on their car or fixing a computer, they’re probably more inclined to learn how to do themselves rather than relying on a man to do it. It’s something I’ve passed on to women over the years, despite their protestations that it was a man’s job. Bluntly speaking it’s anybody’s job, male and female jobs don’t exist for me, apart from the jobs of giving birth and breastfeeding. In a very real sense, all women on this planet were born equal to men, it’s just that in many societies the powers that be carry on with this paternalistic and misogynistic view of women’s roles.
Where can I meet some of your Grey Ravens?
You can meet them right here on this website! The interview, article and short story pages are all found in the sidebar on the left. They are continually updated as and when I get time to update. I’m hoping to put up all of the content over a period of time.
So when will Angel of Mercy be released?
Angel of Mercy will be released on July 1st on Smashwords.com and Amazon.
Can I get a reviewer’s copy?
Certainly! Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘request for review copy in the subject box, your preferred format in the body of the email and I’ll email you a copy.
When my stepmom’s plane went down a part of me died, Cat was my world. In her place she left us to her friends, the Grey Ravens. Over the years I slowly came to realise her death was a mere facade. When we were reunited I learned the truth about Clan Grey Raven and her remarkable history. Some people will always love. Some people never lose hope. Some people never die…Smashwords Amazon.com Amazon UK