9th November 2012
I came back to the United Sates with a heightened sense of place. Scottish place. If there is to be a sequel to "Veil of Time," it's going to have to take place in the grounds of what is now Scone (SKOON) Palace in Perthshire. There was once a village called Scone here, but the overlords didn't like having plebs alongside their Cedars of Lebanons and peacocks, so when they built the palace in the early 1800's, they dismantled the village and reinvented it into the "New Scone" village of today, about two miles to the east. Of course, not a word was mentioned about plebs and their unsavoury lives; it was all couched in terms of progress (isn't it always?) and good will to common man. All that's left of the village is the Mercat Cross (Market Cross) where the plebians would gather and hold court.
But I wandered around the place where the village once stood, around the graveyard where they buried their dead (even "progress" recognises certain limits.) I took in Moot Hill where, once the center of the Celtic World had moved here from Dunadd, the Scottish kings were crowned (most notably Robert the Bruce, if you'll remember your Braveheart.) So, this area is replete with voices, and I want to go even further back than The Bruce and discover it in its heyday as a Pictish centre, and, for my purposes, the religious (read Druid) capital of old Alba.
I'm doing this in case a sequel is forthcoming, and so far I don't know if it is. But the first step was to get a sense of the place, and that's what I got, peacocks notwithstanding. I can't bring to mind an author I admire who doesn't start here: Bronte in Yorkshire, Lawrence in Nottinghamshire, Steinbeck in Monterey, Galvin in Wyoming, Lewis Grassic Gibbon in north east Scotland.
While I was in Scotland, I drove past a house where my family had once lived in a nice park area of Glasgow. When you're a child, you don't just live in a place, you absorb it and it takes up residence in you alongside other influencing features such as parents, syblings and friends. It beomes forged in the smithy of your soul (James Joyce in Dublin, let us not forget) into the armiture that your sensiblity will rest upon. Streets, signs, landscapes, a people.
Of course, Scone in Perthshire doesn't sing in my soul like Dunadd in Argyll, just because I came to it late. But it is humming. Just like the much-photographed Stones of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, which I've only visited once. For a writer, if you get a humming place, the rest should be history. I'm waiting to see if this one is.