Posted On February 26, 2016 by Print This Post

The Celtic Allure by Kate George

I’ve been drooling over Kate George‘s posts about her upcoming trip to Scotland and Ireland, which got me thinking about all the books I love that were set in those regions. This is Kate’s debut visit to Romance University – please give her a big welcome. To make this post even more apropos, imagine it being read with an Irish lilt or a Scottish brogue. 🙂

What is it about Ireland and Scotland that make them such popular locations for novels? Is the rugged landscape or the rugged men and women? For some of us, there is the allure of ancient ancestry, but you don’t have to have a long lost relative in the British Isles to be drawn to stories set in the craggy Celtic countryside.
I am about to embark on my second trip to Scotland to research details for a new series, not because Scotland is popular among readers, but because I’m drawn to go. I want to see the places I’m writing about at least one more time. To experience the atmosphere, wander the cobblestone alleys, stride across the rocky highlands.
Is that what we want as readers, to feel we are there?


And if that’s the case, we want to “be” there when we read, then why not a warm beach on a tropical island rather than the harsh Celtic environments? Have you looked outside lately? Here in Vermont, it’s soggy and muddy all covered with a spotty layer of mush that used to be snow. Not pretty. But instead of heading to the Bahamas or some other warm place, I’m heading out on a trip that’s likely to be raw, windy and probably a little wet. I’m thrilled about it.

It was a book that drew me to Ireland, the first time I went to the British Isles on my own. A Disclaimer here, I’m luckier than most, I’ve been to England several times. My mother’s second marriage was to an Englishman, and his parents treated me as their own grandchild. I tramped across the Moors in Yorkshire and stood before the gates of Buckingham Palace. I’m rather fond of London, in a country girl kind of way.

The reason I went to Ireland was because of a book. I had to go alone – my VERY British grandparents were not comfortable traveling to Ireland. They felt they would not be welcome. They happily took me to Scotland and arranged for me to stay in a Kinfauns Castle. But to Ireland, they would not go – but that didn’t stop me from wanting, no needing, to visit Ireland because I read about the Cliffs of Moher in a novel.
Such is the strength of story.

I arrived at the Cliffs of Moher on the Western Coast of Ireland, promptly slipped on the wet grass and got covered in mud and embarrassment. So I didn’t stay and see everything I wished to. I did not explore the difference between fiction and reality.
I would not make that mistake now.

A little mud (read covered from head to foot) would not stop me from seeing everything I wanted to see. You never know when you’ll make it back again. For me it will 30+ years when I make it back to Ireland in the Summer of 2017, if I had known that when I fell in the mud the first time I was at the Cliffs, I would have brushed myself off and stayed a while longer. And enjoyed myself more while I was there.

I think there is something about being a stranger in a beautiful place. Surrounded by people whose accents are lilting and who don’t have any idea what your flaws might be. As a writer, it’s very freeing. Who am I kidding, as a person it’s freeing, as a writer it gives you a doorway into a different way of life. And when you use your imagination to enhance those lives, the reality you know doesn’t get in your way. It adds an element of fun. And besides that, how many murders can you write in your hometown? I think I’m getting to the limit in mine.

moonlighting kate george
If romance is your genre… well, there is no end to the number of romances you can have in any location, but the mystery and magic of Ireland and Scotland add so much. Talk about location being a character. There is so much potential here. The soft and misty land, a gentle place where strange customs enchant strangers and hearts captive. The Hard and craggy highlands, a bleak and unyielding environment where eking out a living takes every last ounce of energy and little is left for the pursuit of love. The ocean that yields the harvest, is home to Selkies and sea ghosts, and also takes unwary human lives.

There is an abundance of raw material in these islands. I am tempted to say even more so for not being overly familiar, but I’m a writer if I want to imagine a time door, or a gateway to hell, or even a stairway to the stars in my own backyard… well, I’ll just do it. The research would certainly be a lot less expensive than a trip overseas. But I can’t help myself. I have traveling stories in my head, and so I must travel. Because it is when I push myself out of my comfort zone, out of the familiar and day to day, that the stories begin to live. It’s when I’m out of my element they begin to breathe and grow – becoming so much more than when they come from imagination alone.


What are your favorite locations to explore in fiction? Have you had the opportunity to visit those places in real life?

Join us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for tips on writing craft and posts about the world of fiction and publishing.



Kate head shot

Kate George is a native Californian, a flatlander in the vernacular of locals, living in the hills of Vermont. She writes mystery with a side of laughter and a romance chaser when she’s not wrangling kids, dogs or various employers. Her next book should be out in Spring of 2016 – provided the beta readers find anything at all to like! Join her on her next trip to Ireland and Scotland in Summer of 2017 –, or find her at


crazy little thing kate george

Bree MacGowan is back…and in just as much trouble as ever!

It takes a lot to shock Bella Bree MacGowan these days, but that’s what happens when she goes to Planet Hair and discovers a dead guy with diapers covering the bullet wound that killed him, and not a drop of blood anywhere. She’d be happy to let the cops handle this one – after all, finding three dead bodies in the space of a year is enough for any girl – but when the South Royalton Weekly starts to topple, Bree knows how to save it (and her job): Get the scoop on the investigation. But there’s no scoop if you wait around for the police to drop stale information, so Bree takes matters into her own hands – while bumping heads with sexy, stubborn federal agent Richard Hambecker.

Can she get the goods and get out without getting in over her head? Well, crazier things have happened…and they usually happen to Bree.

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15 Responses to “The Celtic Allure by Kate George”

  1. Thanks so much for joining us today, Kate! This topic intrigues me because I, like so many readers, am hooked by the Celtic mystique.

    Tell us more about the trip you have planned – how many people are you hoping to bring along with you?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | February 26, 2016, 8:48 am
    • Thanks so much for having me, Becke! I’m thrilled to be here.

      I’d love to have the entire trip filled with readers and writers, but luckily I can travel with as few as 6 people. I imagine I’ll have at least 15. At least, I hope so.

      The summer of 2017 trip starts in Edinburgh, spends a little time in the Highlands and Glasgow before heading over to Ireland. I will be bringing a few goodies for the folks on the tour and I’m expecting a fun filled trip with lots of laughter!

      Posted by Kate George | February 26, 2016, 12:03 pm
  2. I’ve been to Ireland and it was wonderful. I set my books in my hometown of Chicago which has a heavy Irish influence.

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 26, 2016, 9:48 am
  3. Hi Kate,

    Almost everything I know about Scotland and Ireland is from reading books. A visit to Edinburgh is on my bucket list.

    My favorite settings are big cities and small towns. I grew up in a rural area and couldn’t wait to leave, but small towns (and characters) make for a great story.

    Thanks for joining us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 26, 2016, 5:07 pm
    • Hi Jennifer,

      Small towns do make for good stories! Mine are often set in small town Vermont.

      Scotland and Ireland are lovely – I’m leading a trip in summer of 2017. There is still plenty of time to save the money to go… I’d love to have you with us!

      Posted by Kate George | February 26, 2016, 7:24 pm
      • My brother introduced me to Archer Mayor’s mystery novels set in Vermont. I always thought of Vermont as quiet and idyllic until I read those! I think cozies are more my speed these days.

        What are your favorite books set in Scotland and Ireland? I have so many I don’t even know where to start!

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | February 26, 2016, 8:59 pm
  4. Kate – Thanks so much for joining us today! I hope to hear more about your adventures abroad!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | February 26, 2016, 10:29 pm
  5. Hi Kate, I have wanted to get to Europe since I was about 5 when my Uncles new wife showed the family slides of her trip to Europe when she was a teen. I am going to be 65 this summer! My long wait will be over come September when I travel with my one sister and 2 other women I grew up with from a small town in Wisconsin. We are leaving our husbands home! We are spending 16 days traveling Scotland and Ireland. I am beyond excited. I have never read any of your books, but need to read your Celtic Allure!

    Posted by Joanne Medsker | February 28, 2016, 7:08 am
  6. “Have you looked outside lately?”

    Yes! It has been 38 degrees (over 100 Fahrenheit) here in Canberra the past week! 🙂

    The first place I ever lived overseas was Dublin. And then years in London.

    I am not going to deny that these places have a magical appeal, but I think the reason they’re so popular in fiction is also to do with the connection the English-speaking world feels to them.

    I was raised in the Ukrainian community, but even I feel that pull to Britain (as well as Ukraine). Especially so in Australia, where we are still so connected to the UK that we have the Queen on our money, and things like that.

    Posted by Sonya Heaney | February 28, 2016, 9:29 am
    • Hi Sonya,

      I hate when it gets hot so I’m just as sorry for you as I am for me!

      I’m curious. What places have that magical appeal to the Ukranian community? Are they only places in the Ukraine, or are there other places as well?

      ~ Kate

      Posted by Kate George | February 28, 2016, 10:55 am

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