Friday, August 2, 2019

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Fire of Winter by D.K. Marley

Please join me in welcoming D.K. Marley to Let Them Read Books! D.K. is touring the blogosphere with her new historical novel, The Fire of Winter, and she's here today with a guest post about her fascination with Scotland. Read on and enter to win a copy of The Fire of Winter and a surprise gift!

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.

“…a woman’s story at a winter’s fire…”
(Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)


My Fascination With Scotland
by D.K. Marley

The first thing I learned about Medieval Scotland is there is not much historical record there before the 13th-century. Much of the data I collected was based on the Book of Kells or from the Book of Deer, and whatever Google link and book I could devour in my research.

I found one amazing research site for the history of Scotland and I highly recommend it ( where there is s wealth of information for anyone wanting to know more about this amazing and beautiful country.

I visited Scotland almost twenty years ago and the impression has never left me. There is a kinship there, however remote it may be in my ancestry, but it is there nonetheless, so to write about a Queen of Scotland felt very natural to me. My own ancestry lies closer to Carlisle near the borderlands of the Lake District of Cumbria, and I have thought oftentimes of delving into my own history to write a story of my ancestor, Robert deWauchope of Lammerside Castle, but, for now, Lady Macbeth suits me well.

In doing the research for this novel, The Fire of Winter, I was fascinated with the ins and outs of how the Thanages were arranged, about the people who lived during the Medieval period, the ancient customs of the Picts, the herbology of the land used in medicines and folklore, the foods they ate, the clothing they wore...well, just everything.

Here is just a taste of some of the things I learned:

1. Seaweeds were an essential resource to the Scottish people, living as they all did, close to the sea. They were used to provide dyes for wool as well as green manure for the land and as a nutritious food. In the Hebrides on Maundy Thursday a huge cauldron of porridge was poured into the sea from a cliff top, accompanied by prayers and chanting to encourage the sea gods to provide a rich seaweed harvest.

2. Probably the most revered tree in Scotland through the ages has been the Rowan (Sorbus acuparia), clan badge of the MacLauglins. It was planted in graveyards and farmyards to keep evil spirits away and branches were placed over doors and lintels for the same purpose. Protective amulets made from threaded berries were worn by women and children and making love under a Rowan tree was considered a certain cure for infertility. A sharp, tangy berry and a fermented alcoholic drink were made from the berries, and the bark was used as a poultice for snakebite.

3. I learned about the caves at Wemyss, which is now on my "bucket list’" of places I want to visit, and the site played a critical role in my novel since it is here where Lady MacDubh lives.

4. I learned about the dangers of henbane and, honestly, I never knew that a plant that I have in my own area (the Angel Trumpet) is the source for this deadly poison. I always knew there was a precaution to handling an Angel Trumpet plant, but I never really knew the reason until now. If you have never looked it up, do so!!

5. The scrofula, or the “King’s Evil” is a practice that I had never heard about until doing research about Edward the Confessor. He is the first King of England to claim the ability to heal people of the scrofula with just the touch of his hands, but he was not the last. Well into the 18th-century, the God-given gift was claimed by the regents of England, a fact which I thought incredible.

6. For more of my research links and things I learned about Scotland, visit my website at and visit the research link under “The Fire of Winter.”

There is no doubting the enchantment of Scotland, from the breathtaking Highlands to the shimmering lochs, and the rich history of men fighting over her throne, and the secretive practices within her stone circles dotted throughout the countryside. People feel a drawing to her when they sit and listen to the bagpipes or a tin whistle breathing out a haunting melody, or imagine a mighty strong-calved man in a plaid kilt gazing out over Schiehallion with pride. This entails my fascination with Scotland, or I should say, it skims the surface of my fascination. There is so much to love about her, but this blog post would be entirely too long. Perhaps my novel The Fire of Winter will spark a few hearts to delve into her rich history – perhaps you, too, will long to visit Dunsinane Hill or Birnam Wood or Inverness or the Wemyss Caves. That is my hope, for in historical fiction we live a thousand lives, we walk into the past like a time traveler crossing a portal, and we stay a while and return with hopes of visiting the real places of the stories we read – to connect somehow to the people of the past. I have done this so often in my travels. I read Shadow of the Wind and I long to visit Barcelona to walk in the footsteps of the fictional Julian Carax. So this is my wish for you. Take a journey to Scotland with me in The Fire of Winter – step into the portal, stay a while...see where it takes you.

About the Author:

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

For more information, please visit D.K. Marley's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

The Fire of Winter is on a blog tour!
View the tour schedule  ~  Add to your shelves on Goodreads


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away copies of The Fire of Winter + a surprise gift to three lucky winners! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Fire of Winter


  1. Thanks so much for hosting DK Marley's blog tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Thanks you soo much for sharing this. I like it.


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