Selkie Lovers & Other Scottish Myths

Part of the fun of writing historical romance is the research. Not only do I study the art, music, architecture, politics, manners, religions and fashions of the time period in which I set my stories, I also research the way people thought about themselves and their world. Which usually brings me to their legends and lore. Scotland teems with tales of mythical creatures.


Here’s a scene from Plaid to the Bone in which Cait Grant explains selkies to Adam Cameron:

“A selkie is a magical creature, ye ken. Sometimes he’s a seal and sometimes a man. When he walks on two legs he’s said to be verra fine to look upon,” Cait said. “And a selkie husband is much to be desired because he’s always kind to his human wife.”

Adam wondered if her churlishness toward him was due to fear. A woman couldn’t count on kindness from a husband. Well, he could dispel that notion for her. Theirs might not be a love match, but he’d never mistreat her. “And did ye ever meet a selkie in that special bay of yours?”

“No. The old tales say all a maid has to do is weep seven tears into the sea and it will call one, but it didna work.” Cait shook her head slowly. “For all the times the brine made my eyes water, I ought to have had a dozen selkie men tripping over their flippers to find me.”

Plaid to the BoneHe laughed at the image her words conjured up. “’Tis my good fortune they didna,” he said gallantly. He noticed then that her lips were tinged with blue. “Here. Let me warm your bath for ye.”

Adam crossed to the fireplace and retrieved the kettle that was filled with boiling water. Then he returned to the bath. The bubbles parted in some places and her pale flesh wavered beneath the surface, but she’d strategically wrapped an arm across her breasts and the other hand shielded her sex.

“Dinna move,” he said. “I dinna wish to scald ye.”

He tipped the kettle and poured a stream of steaming water into the bath, near, but not too near, the dimpled knee that broke the surface of the water like a small island rising from a foamy sea.

She sighed as the water temperature rose. “Thank ye. That’s kindly done.”

“Weel, I canna be outdone by a seal for kindness now, can I?”

“Ye’d do well not to aspire to the life of a selkie husband,” she said. “The tales always end badly. His wife has to hide his sealskin, ye see, so he willna return to the sea, but invariably, he always finds it and has to leave. They canna bide together long.”

Would you like to read more?
Find Plaid to the Bone at: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo
And for my international friends: AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonDE

Carolyn Brown

My blog guest today is the always engaging, New York Times bestselling Carolyn Brown. She writes hot cowboys, in both historical and contemporary settings and has recently branched out into Women’s Fiction with her delightful The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee! No matter what she turns her writing hand to, you can count on Texas-sized heart in her stories. Thanks for helping me celebrate my 20th book, Carolyn!

You Are Cordially Invited…Come early, eat until your buttons pop, and dance until you drop!

Miss Clawdy’s Café has won the Jubilee blue ribbon every year since the dawn of time. This year, town matron Violet Prescott is going after that ribbon with an iron-clad determination only thinly disguised by her perfect coiffure and flawless manners, bless her heart.

It’s time for café owners Cathy and Marty and their best friend Trixie to pull out their secret weapon. And this is where a lifetime of friendship, combined with just the right recipe at just the right time, might carry the day—or blow everything to smithereens.

Welcome to Cadillac, Texas, where the jalapeños are hot, the gossip is hotter, and at the end of the day, it’s the priceless friendships that are left standing…

You might win a copy. Carolyn will send one to a random commenter, but why trust to luck?

Get it here: Amazon | B&N


ErinsongFor this story, I had to research both Irish and Norse traditions since the Vikings had invaded a corner of the Emerald Isle in the world of Erinsong. It was great fun putting an Irish princess and a Viking warrior together and watching the sparks fly.

Erinsong is Book 2 in the Songs of the North trilogy. You can read an excerpt here.

The long awaited third book, Dragonsong will be out in November. Watch for the cover to appear on my Coming Next page very soon!

The Prize

Your comment today may win a download of Plaid To the Bone from Kensington Publishing, a copy of Carolyn Brown’s The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee (Doesn’t that title just make you smile?) or my Erinsong.  And as always your comment is an entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite. Winners will be announced on September 16th!

Here’s the discussion question for today: What legend, tradition or fantastic jalapeno recipe do you wish an author would tuck into one of her stories?

49 thoughts on “Selkie Lovers & Other Scottish Myths

  1. Christine A. says:

    Jalapenos- ick. I am not a fan of hot and spicy things, except my men! I would love to see any other recipe.

  2. Theresa Fischer says:

    I would like to see books featuring fairies.

  3. Kimberly Perry says:

    Oooohhhh I love spicy! We have 12 jalapeno plants in our garden and I use them in canning of salsas, pickled peppers, dill pickles, chili base as well as making awesome jalapeno poppers! They do have a bit of kick. LOL

    I really enjoy reading legends come alive in books and look forward to those we’ll be reading about soon!!

  4. Aly P says:

    I have only eaten jalapeños with potato chips and I can’t explain how much watter I drank :))

    I love mythology and I’ve always appreciated it in my books. I’m not picky so anything goes.

  5. Janie McGaugh says:

    While I have read one book with the Loch Ness Monster, I’d like to see more of them.

  6. Quilt Lady says:

    I don’t do jalapeno’s at all my stomac can’t handle them. I love any kind of old legends writen in a book. I think they are fasanating.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Me too, Quilt Lady. On both counts.

  7. catslady says:

    My first thought was The Loch Ness Monster. I have no recipes but I like a bit of spice and enjoy a bite to my food – jalapeno poppers are good!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      After visiting Loch Ness, I can certainly see how the legend sprang up. The loch is so deep, the water is nearly black. The day we were there the clouds were lowering and were trapped between the mountains framing the narrow waterway.

  8. Marcy Shuler says:

    I seem to be in the minority but I love jalapeno peppers. The title of Carolyn’s book sounds so fun. I’d love Jalapeno Poppers done on the grill or in a smoker. I bought my hubby a stand that holds them upright so after you core them you can stuff them with cheddar or cream cheese. But the silly man hasn’t used it yet. *shakes head*

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Just be sure to wear gloves while you stuff them. ;-)

  9. bn100 says:

    legend of sleepy hollow

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I can’t wait for the new TV series!

  10. Azucena Rodriguez says:

    I can’t eat jalapeños, they are TOO spicy for me and I’m MEXICAN!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t do spicy AT ALL.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I don’t do them any more either, Azucena.

  11. Glittergirl says:

    Wow that guy is HOT, no wonder the legend of selkies developed if the gentlemen looked like that rising out of the water ;-)

    I’m also not a spicy fan so no recipes from me…But legends, hum.
    I’m a sucker for anything with fae, leprechauns and gargoyles in them. That’s one of the reasons I am drawn to Scottish romance, all the magic of the fae intertwined. As to gargoyles, I read a series onetime by Vickie Taylor about protective gargoyle/shifters. It was great. Jennifer Ashley used them in her Nvengaria Series. I’m love finding magic in my series.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      My heroine in Plaid Tidings explains to the hero that “there’s more magic in one square foot of Scottish earth than in all the land south of Hadrian’s Wall.”

  12. Vicky CK says:

    Since I’m allergic to peppers, I don’t think I would be too interested in any recipes (though my hubby loves a good stuffed pepper (most any kind even) and has his best friend’s wife make them when everyone gets together, lol).

    As for myths/legends, I like it when an author takes a well known one and adds a local twist to it. I really like it if the myth is one that is known over a wide area, like “The Wilde Hunt” (or even the Great Flood from the Bible shows up in many other cultures as well). But even many Halloween traditions good back hundreds of years over many cultures and can vary for many regions. Like the pumpkin/jack-o-lantern used to scare off spirits/devils…or an author could use them another way??

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      It’s always good to take a tale and give it a twist.

  13. may says:

    I love the selkie myth! :) I am also a big fan of Greek myths like Orpheus, So tragic but romantic!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      When I was a kid, my dad gave me a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology. I still have it and it never fails to captivate my imagination.

  14. Armenia says:

    Oh. My. Gosh! That is one beautiful face. I’ve always loved the Legend of the selkie, and with a visual like that how can one resist that tale.

    As far as jalapeno recipes I have recently tasted something wonderful called “Cowboy Candy.” Its sweetened jalapeno peppers which can be poured over cream cheese and enjoyed with tortilla chips. Living here in Texas these peppers are quite versatile.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      When I started looking for a model for a selkie, this guy jumped off the screen. Love his eyes. ;-)

  15. CrystalGB says:

    Spicy salsa recipes would be my choice.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I bet there are some great ones in Carolyn’s book!

  16. Amy Hart says:

    Well, I am bot a big jalapeno eater. So none….

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I used to love them on pizzas–a hot blast of spiciness cushioned with plenty of cheese.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    The think I love about folklore and ghost stories is there are so many variations of them passed down from generation to generation.

    I’m from Charleston, SC and when I was little my grandma told me the story of the Grey Man that would warn coastal families of bad storm about to come off the ocean (usually a hurricane, but anything kind of bad storm works). The story originated on Pawley’s Island and it was about a man who just go back to town and was eager to see his fiancee so he mounted up and took a short cut off the main road and end up falling into quicksand and dying. Later the girl learned of what happened and was walking along the beach crying when she saw a grey figure who looked like her fiancee approach her and told her to get her family off the island because a bad storm was coming. She took his advice and they left. Returning a few days later their house was the only one not destroyed.

    I like the idea of spirits warning people about something bad coming in stories. Not sure if a ghost story counts as folklore, but I wanted to share something local. :)

    As for jalapenos… lol, when my friend and I were young and uniformed we were cutting a lot of jalapenos for a salsa we wanted to take to a party. I don’t know how many we did, but it was enough that we burned our hands from it. At the time we didn’t know that is what happen, so my friend was freaking out, thinking she was having an allergic reaction and wanted to go to the ER. The doctor told us we got burns from cutting them with no protection and we should wear gloves next time. I felt so stupid and embarrassed, lol.

    1. Elizabeth says:

      woops, meant to say *”young and unINformed”

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        That’s ok, Elizabeth. Sometimes, my fingers get ahead of my brain too!

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      Oooo! Your Grey Man story gave me a tingle. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Laurie WG says:

    I’m not a fan of spicy food so no jalapeno pepper recipes from me.

    I like legends that feature the full moon.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I love spicy foods, but they don’t love me. I sort of avoid them too.

      However, I would totally eat up Carolyn’s Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee! Just the title sounds so full of joy.

  19. Sheryl N says:

    First, I don’t eat jalapenos…no way. I like the old Scottish and Irish legends; like the selkies, fairy mounds, and Loch Ness.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      We got the chance to cruise Loch Ness last June and while we didn’t see Nessie, it wasn’t hard to imagine some mysterious creature hiding in the dark depths of the loch.

  20. Mary Preston says:

    I’d like to read a story that includes the apparent tradition of the right of the first night for a new bride gong to the local Lord (jus primae noctis). I read a novel years ago that included this practice. Fascinating!!

    I’ve never eaten a jalapeno.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Interesting. Jus primae noctis is the underlying conflict in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. I had the chance to play a couple of roles in this opera in 2 different productions–Susanna (the saucy maid Figaro intends to marry whom the Count is after) and Cherubino (a pubescent boy who’s in puppy love with the neglected countess.) Interestingly, Cherubino is always played by a young woman, never a boy. It’s called a “pants role.”

    2. Mary: The right of the first night is a myth. It was never a real law or custom.

      According to historians I’ve come across—sorry I can’t cite sources at the moment—this notion comes from anti-establishment French scholars during the years leading up to the French Revolution. In an effort to make the hereditary nobility look as bad as possible, they claimed these corrupt lords could not only seize their peasants’ property and services, but also their virgin brides. And it was all sanctioned by law. But this was just a tall tale.

      Of course, there must have been plenty of cases of nobles who raped peasant women. But even though they must’ve gotten away with it, they didn’t have the law on their side.

  21. Ada says:

    Since I’m not a fan of spicy foods, I wouldn’t need any jalapenos recipes!

    I’ve always been a fan of Camelot and love the legend of King Arthur, Excalibur and the Knights of the Round Table. I think that’s why I enjoyed watching the BBC series Merlin because the show included all those elements,plus a little bit of magic and a love story too!

    If any story would include the legend of Camelot, I would think it would have to be a twist of the legend so that it would fit into a Regency romance and take it out of Medieval times.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      OH! I need to try to find that series. Is it on BBC America?

      1. Ada says:

        The series is over now but it did play on BBC in the UK and on the SyFy Network in the US. I’m sure it’s available on DVD or online somewhere. I think you’ll enjoy the series! :)

  22. Anita H. says:

    I’d love for a romance author to include the Legend of Ogopogo(Canada’s Loch Ness Monster)in her story! I’ve never read about it in any books yet, so maybe someday I’ll see it included in a story! :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      As I understand it, there is supposed to be a monster in the New York finger lakes too. Good for the tourist biz, I’m sure.

  23. Sarah Meral says:

    Like Linda, I´m an international reader and I only ate some pickeld jalapenos bought so far :)

    But I love it when legends about/from a land are part of novels. They are always fascinating to me :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      It gives you a taste of the people’s inner psyche I think.

  24. Linda Thum says:

    I’ve never had jalapeno before. I’m an international reader & it’s not common where I live; so drawing a blank on any recipes.

    Our local equivalent is called “bird’s eye chili”. It’s small, innocuous looking but packs quite a punch.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I still remember my grandfather eating jalapenos with sweat popping out on his high forehead. He loved them.

  25. Thank you for your post and giveaway, Mia and Carolyn. I don’t care for jalapenos; but if there’s a legend, myth, or tradition that I think should have a place in a work of fiction, I do it myself. Few of my writing projects don’t incorporate such a story into the text—or, especially in my fantasy and science fiction, were inspired by one.

    I’m a big mythology, legend, and folklore buff. There’s no way I can write about all my faves. And some I shouldn’t, for one reason or another.

    So to answer your discussion question, one legend I’d like to see a writer other than me turn into a work of fiction is the story of Lysistrata. Okay, strictly speaking it’s not a legend. I’m pretty sure Aristophanes made it up. But any tall tale that’s been around that long has the aura of myth.

    Why must I leave the job to another writer? Because this story is a farce, and I don’t do farce. I mean, how seriously can anyone take the idea of a sex strike?

    I doubt this sort of thing has ever happened in the real world. But in the right hands, it would make a hilarious absurdist comedy.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      OMGosh! You sent me scurrying off to google this old story. And you’re right. What fun it could be in the right hands to have a group of women withhold sex to stop a war and ignite a war of the sexes!

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