Today, I am excited to have my turn hosting the blog hop, and I am honored to be paired with the marvelous Margaret Skea. Not only has Margaret written a fabulous novel about Katharina Luther (!), but she has also written a series on the feud between the Scottish Cunninghame and Montgomerie clans.
Munro is the main character in the series, beginning with the novel Turn of the Tide. I enjoyed both reading this novel and having the chance to interview the thoughtful and devoted Munro. I know you will want to read Turn of the Tide too, and you can find an excerpt here or purchase the novel on Amazon. Caution: you WILL be hooked on Skea's writing. Alright, you've been warned. On with the interview! Welcome, Munro!
How do you believe the feud began between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries?
The feud? Some folk say one thing and some another, but to be truthful the origins go back so far that no one can truly be sure. My opinion, though maybe not the wisest to voice, is that much of the blame lies with the monarchy. Not our current king of course, but his great-grandfather, James IV, who gave control of the bailiiewick of Cunninghame to a Montgomerie. Memories last long in our county, as do old grievances, and that was an affront that couldn’t be easily forgotten. Money’s at the centre of it, of course, as it usually is, for control of the bailliewick means the right to collect customs. Worth a tidy sum, I can tell you.
Did your father also follow Cunninghame leaders in violence against the Montgomeries?
Of course, and my grandfather before him. What choice do we have? Our tower is built on Cunninghame land, and to refuse to do Glencairn’s bidding would be to risk our home and our livelihood, forbye our safety. Lives have been forfeit for less.
Why did you feel compelled to follow Glencairn, even despite Kate’s anger?
I did it for her and for the children, to keep them safe, though she couldn’t be brought to see it that way. And though Kate is a fine woman in many ways, she makes judgements based on moral grounds, while I was more practical. At the beginning at least.
Why do you think William hates you and your brother so much?
William thinks a lot of himself and his status as the heir to the earldom of Glencairn, and it has always irked him that my father died when I was young enough to enjoy my lairdship and a home of my own, while his father shows no likelihood of dying any time soon. Master of Glencairn sounds impressive, but in reality he is his father’s pawn and his lack of power is a constant aggravation to him. Maybe that’s why he tries to throw his weight around. As for Archie, he had the misfortune to be my brother and that was enough to irritate William. Of course there was the issue of Sybilla, but I’d best not speak of that.
Do you think Archie was naïve?
He was young and ambitious and thought the Renfrew ‘pond’ rather restricting. The lure of living in an earl’s household proved too tempting for him and by the time he had the true measure of William, it was a mite late to change his mind. More’s the pity, for I truly believe he would have grown up into a decent man had circumstances been different.
|Edinburgh Castle as seen today (author's photo)
That was all mother’s doing. I’m not a great one for ceremony, nor for kow-towing to royalty, but mother thought it would do Kate good to be away, especially in the light of our recent tragedy, and I was ready to do anything to make up for what had happened, for it was my fault. It was fortunate mother had money and to spare, for the expense of the thing was considerable. I should perhaps have anticipated how much it would cost to rent a house in Edinburgh at such a time, but it was my first time in the capital, and I don’t much care if I never return. I didn’t buy new clothes, for I thought there was plenty of life in my old ones, despite Kate’s protests to the contrary, but mother saw that Kate had a new gown and I was proud of how she looked in it.
Could James have done something more to bring peace between warring factions?
You must understand that James became king as an infant, as his mother and grandfather had before him. The nobles were used to having their own way and had done so for far too long. As soon as James could he set out to subdue them, handing out cautions and fines, making them sign letters of affirmation and demanding the public foreswearing of enmity. Raising up minor lairds, such as Hugh Montgomerie was a clever strategy and a way of ensuring loyalty that he could depend on. I don’t think he could have done much more.
Were you surprised to find that you enjoyed the company of those who were supposed to be your enemies?
That was a surprise, yes, for I’d been brought up to believe the only good Montgomerie was a dead one. When I met Patrick and then Hugh and Elizabeth, it was a revelation, and I don’t mind admitting an uncomfortable one, for I well knew the dangers of friendship in the enemy camp. The irony was that Kate, who believes ill of nobody unless she has evidence of it, was more reluctant than me to make their acquaintance.
I may not always have been greatly interested in royalty, but I have always been loyal to my country - I don’t know why you would suggest otherwise. However, I must admit, that now that I’ve had some dealings with him, I think more highly of King James than perhaps I once did. I understand the pressures on him a little better and recognise the fine line he is treading to try and leave a country at peace when he comes into his own and takes the English crown.
As for faith, though I cannot claim to have found a strong faith for myself yet, I have seen the evidence of it in others, my mother included, and I would like to experience their certainty. I will say this, I have thought more on God in these last years, and that’s likely a good thing.
What can you tell us of the aftermath?
Violence begets violence, a cycle that James is determined to break, and he has the right of it. We will all sleep safer in our beds if he can succeed in outlawing the old enmities and the world will be a better place. The aftermath of Annock has taught me that, and I may never be able to completely forgive myself for my part in the massacre that sparked it. Kate would say that God forgives anyone who repents of their evil deeds. I hope she’s right.
Thank you, Munro! This special insight into Turn of the Tide makes me eager to carry on with the next book, A House Divided. If you are interested in learning more about Margaret Skea and her novels, you can find her website here.
Don't miss the rest of the blog hop! You can find the interview with one of my characters, Countess Margaret Pole, here.