Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Please give a warm welcome to New York Times, USA Today and RWA RITA Finalist Susanna Kearsley! Susanna’s latest North American release, The Shadowy Horses, has just hit stores this month.

Hi, everyone! It’s so great to be back here with all of you to celebrate the re-issue of my book The Shadowy Horses, with a Scottish hero who’ll feel right at home with a few of the Highlanders here, although being from the Borders he speaks Scots, not Gaelic, and is more at home wielding a trowel than a broadsword.

Archaeologist David Fortune is one of my favorite creations, and because he comes from the small east-coast fishing village of Eyemouth, where the Scots language is still spoken, my efforts to learn a few phrases and words for myself led to several fun scenes between Davy and heroine Verity Grey, who comes north to take part in a dig for a lost Roman legion, and finds a lot more than she bargained for.

Here’s an excerpt from one of those scenes, in which Verity learns that some phrases have more than one meaning:

Encouraged by his openness, and the growing ease of our companionship, I chanced another question. “Your dad was a fisherman, wasn’t he?”

“Aye, so they tell me. I can’t really mind him. I have this memory of a big man in a gansey—a guernsey, you call it in England—that always smelt of fish, but that might not have been my dad. Everyone smelt of fish, in our house. My grandad was a cadger.”

“Oh.” I nodded sagely.  “Sort of a traveling fish-salesman, you mean.”

We’d come to the end of the middle pier. A sharp right turn would have taken us over the Eye Water by a small metal drawbridge, then on around the lifeboat station to the looming bulk of Gunsgreen House. But David chose instead to lean his elbows on the bright red railing at the pier’s end, and study my innocent face.

“Been sleeping with that dictionary, have you?” he asked, in a tone laced thick with amusement. “How d’ye ken what a cadger is?”

“Well, I had to look up ‘ca’ canny’ the other day, and ‘cadger’ is right on the same page, so I thought I might as well memorize it, too.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “‘Ca’ canny’?”

“Yes. It means to take care, or be cautious.”

“Aye, I ken fine what it means. Why’d you need to look it up?”

I shrugged, and leaned in my turn on the railing. “Wally said it last week. When Jeannie went out in the car. I don’t know where she was going, but Wally told her to ‘ca’ canny along that road.’ And I just wondered what it meant.”

“You could have asked.”

“I don’t like asking all the time. Besides,” I pointed out, “my dictionary works just fine. I did know what a cadger was.”

“Aye, so you did.” He smiled a little and turned his face forward again, looking across to the harbor’s shielded entrance. Every now and then a stiff gust of wind caught the swirl of the sea and tossed a mist of white spray over the barrier wall. I could faintly taste the salt from where I stood, and smell the cleanly biting scent of the North Sea. The smell of fish was fainter still, but for David, at least, it stirred memories. “He had a small business, my grandad did, selling fish up north, around Edinburgh. Mostly miners up there, in those days, with large families. Two pieces of fish to the pound was no use to them—they wanted ten pieces, to feed all those mouths. And that meant whiting. Ever clean a whiting?” he asked me.


“Bloody awful things. My grandad used to come to auction every day, to get his boxes of whiting, and every day when I got home from school I’d have to help to filet them. Christ,” he shuddered at the memory, “I hated working at the fish. We’d all get so cheesed off that we’d stop talking, after the first hour or so. Nothing to do but count the fish. Used to be two hundred and thirty-seven whiting,” he informed me, “in a six-stone box. They’ve changed the weights now, but that’s what it used to be.”
I propped one foot on the red-painted railing and followed his gaze out to sea. “Is that what put you off being a fisherman?”

“Not really. You’re either born to the sea or you’re not, and I’m not. My mother kent that, early on. She always tells the story of how Peter caught me digging up the garden, and said I was born to be an archaeologist.”

“And he was right.”

“He usually is.”

It was a simple statement of fact, and I stayed silent a moment, thinking about the excavation at Rosehill. About the disappearance of the Ninth Legion, all those years ago, and about a ghostly presence that last night might have said nona

A white shape glided silently beneath us, and I looked down, startled. No ghost, I reassured myself, but something just as strange. “David, look!”

“Oh, aye, the swan. I wondered where he’d got to.”

“Do you mean he actually lives here? Here, in the harbor?”

The bird cocked its head at the sound of my voice, and having surveyed me with one round uncertain eye, turned smoothly and floated back underneath the little red drawbridge, seeking the relative security of the channel.

“He’s magnificent,” I said.

“Aye.” David watched the bird’s sleek figure disappearing underneath the bridge.

“Does he have a mate?”

“Not yet. There was a female here, a few years back, but she only stayed a fortnight. She couldn’t seem to settle down to life inside the harbor.” He turned his head and met my gaze unhurriedly. ‘And he’s well stuck here now, that lad. Too old to change his ways.”

He’d only moved his head, I thought, and yet I felt as though the space between us had grown smaller. I felt suddenly aware of just how near he was, of how little effort it would take to move toward him, feel his warmth…to raise my hand and touch the hard unshaven contours of his face.

His eyes flicked down toward my lips, and back again, a smile in their depths. “Ca’ canny along that road,” he told me gently.

But he wasn’t warning me off. No, I decided with growing amazement, watching the smile spread slowly from his blue eyes to his mouth; he wasn’t giving me a warning. He was issuing a challenge.

I’ll admit I grew fond of that phrase, after writing that scene. It’s right up there with “sleekit”, my favorite Scots word. What’s the best Scottish word or phrase you’ve come across, in your reading or writing?

A big thank you to Susanna for joining us today! To be entered to win one of two copies of The Shadowy Horses, please leave a comment, answering Susanna question at the end of her post. US and Canada only, and please leave an email address so we can reach you easily. We’ll choose a winner on Friday, 10/12!


Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.

Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.

Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.

"Like something out of the pages of Daphne du Maurier."— Daily Express

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author SUSANNA KEARSLEY’s writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. Her award-winning books have been translated into several languages, selected for the Mystery Guild, condensed for Reader's Digest, and optioned for film. She lives in Canada near the shores of Lake Ontario. For more information, please visit, Like her on Facebook:, and follow her on Twitter:


  1. Susanna, when are you leading a romance writer's tour of Scotland, because count me in! Wonderful snippet from a book I'm hearing wonderful things about.

    My best Scottish moment was when a venerable (he wasn't old) taxi driver from Aberdeen took me up to the Highlands, and spoke some of the Doric his wife's people favored. He said he couldn't understand it himself unless he'd had a wee dram or two, and he was a local boy... Didn't know Scots was still spoken anywhere.

  2. I love it when Scottish men talk about what is under their kilts! The term "sporan" for some reason always brings a smile to my face.

  3. I love your work Susanna, I think I have read everything that has been released in the US so far.

    What’s the best Scottish word or phrase you’ve come across, in your reading or writing?

    Mo Chride. I first encountered it reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and it means my heart. I just think it's such a beautiful term and says so much in just two small words.

  4. I love the word "bairn" for a child. Sounds warm and sweet.

  5. A misst ye sae muckle!
    I love your work Susanna!

  6. Susanna, I love your books and tell all I know to find and read your work. You are such a unique writer to me and I am SO happy to have Shadowy Horses released in the US.

    I'm a Celtic mutt and haven't grasped Scot Gaelic as much as Irish but I LOVE to learn from David Fortune.

  7. I love her books, I just started reading "Rose Garden" and now I want them all!!

    What’s the best Scottish word or phrase you’ve come across, in your reading or writing? I like "Bloody awful" gets me every time!

  8. I'm afraid I'm in the dark with the Scottish language but I do like the "wee bairn" and if "bloody" is a Scot word then I love it. It sounds so, so horrible especially when a half Scot/half Texan says "damn bloody". A trip to Ireland (since I have Irish ancestors) and to Scotland has always been near the top of my bucket list so maybe someday I'll hear some more of it.

  9. I love your work and am eagerly awaiting The Shadowy Horses. I will probably have to listen to it on audio as well since a Scottish accent will just make it 100% more enjoyable.

    I have always loved how Jamie Fraser calls his beloved Clare, "sassenach" in The Outlander series. It makes me smile everytime.

    Thanks for the giveaway, I am keeping my fingers crossed.
    Poppy Fields

  10. Janet DeWitt HublerOctober 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    I love anything about Scotland, my home in my past life. I hear bagpipes and start crying.

    Janet DeWitt Hubler

  11. That is a beautiful excerpt and I loved it.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  12. Love it! I'm sharing this around the web. Congrats on all of your success.

  13. When I visited Scotland, I learned that they really do say, "Och" (or however you spell it). I couldn't understand much else for the first day or so.

  14. I think my favorite Scottish word is mo cridge (my heart). It's mentioned a lot in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series but the most recent time I heard it spoken was at our local Highland Games...I heard an elderly gentleman refer to his wife as gaol mo cridhe (love of my heart). I melted.

  15. Susanna, congrats on your re-issue of Shadowy Horses! I love the word lass. Such a gentle word for a burly Scot. :)

  16. I am a huge fan of Susanna's work....I read the Winter Sea earlier this year and LOVED IT! I am really hoping I win a copy of this book, I've had it on my TBR list for a while now :).

    Best Scottish term I've come across in my a toss up. I love bonny lassie and sassenach.

  17. I am really looking forward to reading this book! It sounds like a story that will keep me up all night.

    I like Scottish accent. One of my favorite Scottish word is "lass". It's a sweet endearment.


  18. I became a -huge- fan of yours after reading 'The Winter Sea'. I have recommended it so many people and they have all loved it as well!!

    My fav Scots words is 'clashmclaver' and 'skelloch' .. funs words to say. They fit the Scots so perfectly. :-)

  19. These are all great words, everyone -- keep them coming!

    And Grace, I'm not sure Scotland's ready for the both of us on tour :-) But I do love the idea of a romance writer's tour of Scotland. Hmmmm....

  20. All the "Scottish" words I remember were in English, but coming from my Scottish grandfather with his gentle "brr", sounded cozy and exotic. Beautiful passage above - the book sounds wonderful.
    Dana McNeely

  21. Oh, I've heard great things about this book. I like when they use the "bonnie" lass. And I just love listening to Craig Ferguson :)


  22. Susanna,

    I loved The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden and look forward to
    reading The Shadowy Horses.
    I like the word bairn.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  23. I havent read a lot of stories set in Scotland so all I can think of are bairn and sporan.

    Congrats on the new release!! Sounds really good.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  24. Congrats on the book! I'd say lass.


  25. "Things that gang bump i' the nicht"

    I had a mother that read to me...and I remember the excitement of such a phrase.

    Thank you for your marvelous books. In my youth I loved Daphne Du Maurier's books. In my old age I feel that I have found Du Maurier again in your writings.

  26. "Things that gang bump i' the nicht"

    I had a mother that read to me...and I remember the excitement of such a phrase.

    Thank you for your marvelous books. In my youth I loved Daphne Du Maurier's books. In my old age I feel that I have found Du Maurier again in your writings.

  27. Spreath: highlanders' raid on lowlands cattle

    What a great conversational excerpt. Congratulations on your lovely books!

  28. "Bairn" is one of my favorites from The Outlander series, too.

  29. Apologies for the delay! Our winners are

    Nancy Cusey

    I'll be emailing you both shortly!