The backstory below provides a glimpse, from the author, into how she conceived and nurtured her story of Fiona Gilman, in My Courage Rises, a historical work of fiction. She writes:
“I was in a boat on Loch Lomond, listening to the tour guide explain the ownership history of the Loch and many, many miles of the surrounding land. I was astonished to hear that, for many years, one family owned all of this territory, loch, stock and barrel, so to speak.
As I looked along the shores of the Loch from the boat, I imagined a young woman running. Her body language, in my imagination, gave her the appearance of racing, of being terrified, in fact, of being chased.
At first, I thought the worst thing possible for her would be that her pursuer might catch her. That would be bad enough. But, what if the person who catches her is also in a position to exploit her? What if the powerful, wealthy landowner or, someone like him is chasing her, intending to do her harm and get away with it? From this experience, I began to create Fiona Gilman’s story.
On a subsequent research trip to Scotland, I verified and expanded on site details in my story. I stood in places that my heroine might have stood in 1918. I felt the loneliness of a gloomy day on the Loch where there are no people for miles around. It was easy to imagine the fictional attack of a young woman taking place, in such a lovely, yet sparsely populated area, where nobody could hear her cries.
In Glasgow, I sat on a bench in the exact location that Fiona Gilman sits when she realizes she is being stalked. I saw all that’s left of the fabulous Willow Tea Rooms of the early 1920s, the place where my heroine’s heart is broken, her expectations for a future in Scotland shattered, when a gossiping woman reveals an insurmountable barrier to Fiona’s happiness.
Edinburgh is the location of the courtroom trial that Fiona Gilman must endure, after her attack. I walked across the North Bridge, close to the hotel where my heroine stays, as she awaits her day in court.
In Victoria, I explored Canada’s oldest Chinatown, imagining Fiona in her tiny, attic room off Fan Tan Alley, or walking through Dragon, or Waddington Alley, as she headed toward her shop on Government Street, or to the Empress Hotel, to meet someone. The Empress is an important location in my story. News of the attempted murder of a friend, a marriage proposal, and a fabulous, bon voyage party in the Palm Court are examples of events that take place at this grand hotel in My Courage Rises.
Finally, I travelled to New York City to see firsthand some of the locations that Fiona Gilman sees as she passes through on her way back and forth to Scotland, and as she prepares for her move to the United States.”
Bonnie Herron, Author