Posted in Reader Offers, Travel, Writing

Why My Heart is in the Highlands

This post was  originally written for my publisher, Boldwood Books, to use on the launch of my eighth Sophie Sayers Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Highlands, in March 2023.

When I first visited the Highlands in 2000 with my new Scottish boyfriend, I couldn’t understand how at the age of 19 he had torn himself away from such a beautiful country to live in England. Although he came from Bannockburn, the site of the famous 1312 battle in Central Scotland at which the Scots thrashed the English, Gordon’s heart was in the Highlands, as the Robert Burns poem goes.

Specifically, Gordon was an aspiring Munro bagger. He had embarked on the very Scottish quest of climbing all 282 Scottish mountains over 3000 feet high, named after Sir Hugh Munro who’d first listed them all in 1891.

Sir Hugh Munro, after whom I named Hector Munro
The namesake of Hector Munro in the Sophie Sayers series – pioneering climber and hillwalker Sir Hugh Munro

Every summer holiday for the next twenty years, touring in various camper vans, we headed north of the border so that he could gradually tick them off his list. I was the designated driver of this support vehicle, dropping him off at the starting point for each mountain and picking him up many hours later at his designated finishing point.

Our camper van outside Linlithgow Palace, Scotland
Our camper van, precariously parked outside Linlithgow Palace, near Edinburgh

Meanwhile I’d take myself off for the day to explore. After a couple of years, our baby daughter came too. Over the years, we enjoyed many local attractions, including museums of Highland life (one of which inspired the museum featured in Murder in the Highlands), spectacular beaches, steam train rides (think Harry Potter) and loch cruises (one of these is in the new book too).

Photo of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness
I send Sophie and Hector to some of my favourite places in the Highlands, including Loch Ness

Although I’m no climber, I have seen more of the Highlands than many Scots. I’ve grown to love their rugged, raw scenery; the pure, bracing air; the soft colours and hard rocks of the mountains and rolling moors.

In the Highlands, I feel closer to nature, to history and to prehistory than anywhere else I’ve ever been. There’s a primeval quality to much of the scenery, and in some places the landscape is lunar.

picture of Debbie on Glencoe in rainhat
In Glencoe, one of my favourite parts of the Highlands (with essential waterproof Scottish hat!)

The space and isolation in this sparsely populated territory provide peace and tranquility, but also a sense of danger and excitement.

green mountains and blue sky
Near Ben Cruachan

The relative isolation as you travel brings you closer to your travelling companions, so where better to send Sophie and Hector to take their relationship to the next stage, especially as her parents live in Inverness?

To be honest, I planted them there at the start of the series, thinking it could be a great setting for a later installment.

As to my Scotsman – reader, I married him, in full Highland regalia.

Debbie and Gordon in their wedding outfits including tartan kilt

What was the outcome of Sophie and Hector’s romantic trip north of the border? You’ll have to read Murder in the Highlands to find out!


Since it was published in March, Murder in the Highlands has gained over 200 reviews from around the world on Amazon, with a 4.4* average. Huge thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed it so far.

If you haven’t yet read it, here are two special offers currently running on the book:

Offer 1) 99p ebook (8th June only)

For a very short time, on Thursday 8th June, readers in the UK, Canada and Australia will have the chance to nab the ebook at a bargain price of 99p  or 99c(With apologies to readers in other regions – those are the only territories BookBub chose for the promotion!) 

Offer 2) Free in Amazon Prime (for three months)

Alternatively, if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, wherever you are in the world, you can read the ebook for free, as the book has been picked for Amazon’s Prime Reading promotion for the next three months.

The book is also available in paperback, hardback and audio.



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English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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