“Matthew crossed the river Avon, driving over the bridge’s high, arched spans. He found the familiar Lanarkshire landscape of craggy hills, dark sky, and stark contrasts soothing. Little about this part of Scotland was soft or inviting, and its forbidding beauty suited his present mood. He downshifted through the lime alley that had once led to a palace and now led nowhere, an odd remnant of a grand life no one wanted to live anymore.”

Over the next few days, Matthew is spending his time with his friend Hamish Osborne, while Diana is left to think about what has happened to upset her orderly life in Oxford. You’ll have plenty of time to think about it, too, since we read chapters 9 and 10 today, and don’t resume with chapter 11 until Friday.

Hamish Osborne was one of the great surprises of the series for me. I had no plans for Matthew to have friends other than Miriam. Then, one day, Matthew started driving. I came out of my office. “He’s in a car! He’s driving!” My colleague and friend who heard this announcement thought I had gone mad. She asked “Where is he driving?” “I have no idea,” I replied. Authors don’t always know where their characters will take them, and I’ve learned to enjoy the surprises they have up their sleeve, as I think they make the story more engaging and vital. And who now could imagine this story without Hamish?

As for Matthew’s destination, it took shape as I wrote. Scotland. The land of my ancestors. Forbidding. Beautiful. A bit like Matthew. Then a country house–a folly. Fancy. A bit silly. Architecturally perfect. Something perhaps done by Robert Adam? William Adam? And the man who owned it had to be a bit like the house itself, which is true for all the houses in the All Souls Trilogy.

I did some research and discovered the ruins of Chatelherault, now a place you can visit. The only thing that remains is the lodge or hunting folly, which became the model for Hamish’s estate. There are still pictures of the interior on line, but this quadcopter video captures Hamish’s house, and the surrounding landscape perfectly. Can’t you just imagine Matthew and Hamish walking out and hunting here? Can’t you just see Matthew driving over that majestic bridge?

I will pop up here and there over the next few days as the action in Chapters 9 and 10 elapses, and see you all back here on Friday for Chapter 11.