Cathy Lamb shares a scene from her new romance, My Very Best Friend.
Cathy sets the scene for us …
Cathy: My new novel, My Very Best Friend, is about two best friends. One, Charlotte Mackintosh, is a bestselling time travel romance writer living like a hermit on an island off the coast of Washington. She has no romance in her life. She gets the irony of that. The other best friend, Bridget Ramsay, is missing. A few more cryptic hints about the story? It’s set in Scotland. There’s a special garden with a flowing purple clematis. A run-down stone cottage. A man in a kilt with an unforgettable smile and a priest who mysteriously disappeared decades ago. There are crazy activities with a new group of daring friends, including lingerie bike-riding at night and Highland dancing on top of bars, excellent Scottish desserts and a tumble into love. But where is Bridget?
My name is Charlotte Mackintosh. I am thirty-five. I love science. I have degrees in physics and biology. One would think I would work in a lab or teach at a university. I don’t. I write time travel romance novels. My ninth book was released four months ago.
My pen name is Georgia Chandler. My mother was from Georgia, a southern belle, and Chandler was her maiden name.
For me to be a romance writer is a perplexing joke. What romance? I don’t have any in my life, haven’t for years, since The Unfortunate Marriage. I have named my vibrator Dan The Vibrator. That should tell you about the sexual action I get. Which is, so we’re all clear, none.
My late father, Quinn, was Scottish, hence my last name, and his mother had the Scottish Second Sight. She saw the future, all mottled up, but she saw it. Sometimes she didn’t understand it herself. I remember her predictions, one in particular when I was seven and we were making an apple butterscotch pie with a dash of cinnamon.
“You will travel through many time periods, Charlotte,” my grandma said, rolling out the pie dough with a heavy rolling pin, her gray curls escaping her bun like springs. “All over the world.”
“What do you mean?” I rolled out my dough, too. We were bringing the pies to the Scottish games up in the highlands the next day, where my father was competing in the athletic contests and playing his bagpipes.
“I don’t know, luv. Damn this seeing into the future business. Cockamamie. It will drive me to an early grave.”
“I want to travel to other planets and inspect them for aliens.”
She placed her pie crust into the buttered glass baking dish. “You will live different lives, child. You will love deeply. And yet…” She paused, her brow furrowed. “It’s not you.”
“I don’t think so, Grandma. I love science. Specifically our cells. Mutations. Sick cells, healthy cells. Toran and I pricked our fingers yesterday so we could study our blood under my microscope.”
She eyed me through her glasses. “You are an odd child.”
“Yes,” I told her, gravely, “I am.”
My grandma was right about time travel. She simply dove into the fictional realm of my life without realizing it. McKenzie Rae Dean, my heroine, travels through time, lives different lives, and loves deeply. But McKenzie Rae is not me. See how my grandma got things jumbled up and yet dead right, too?
Many of her other second sight predictions have come true, too. A few haven’t yet. I’m a little worried about the few that haven’t. Several in particular, as they’re decidedly alarming.
I live on a quiet island, called Whale Island, off the coast of Washington. I have a long white house on five acres. I rarely ever have to leave my view of the ocean and various whales, my books, garden, and cats. I have had enough of the world and of people. Some people call me a recluse. I call them annoying.
My publisher wants me to travel to promote my books. I went on book tours with the first book, hated it, and have refused to go again. They whine. I ignore them. What do they know? I stay home.
I walk my four cats in a specially designed pink cat stroller twice every day. They each have their own compartment with their name on a label in front.
I read gardening books for entertainment, but they are only second to my love of all things physics and biology. I have a pile of exciting books and articles in my house on both subjects, including astrophysics, string theory, the human genome project, and cellular and molecular biology. Seeing them waiting for me, like friends filled with enthralling knowledge, flutters my heart.
I might drink a tad too much alcohol. Wine is my vice. I drink only the finest wine, but that is a poor excuse for the nights the wine makes me skinny-dip in a calm bay by my house and belt out the Scottish drinking songs my father taught me while cart wheeling
I am going to Scotland because I must. My mother asked me to go and check on my father’s house, fix it up, and sell it. “I can finally close the door to the past,” she told me. “Without cracking down the middle, but I need you to go and do this, because if I go, I’ll crack.”
I told her, “That doesn’t make sense, Ms. Feminist.”
She waved a hand, “I know. Go anyhow. My burning bra and I can’t do it.”
I have not been back to Scotland in twenty years, partly because I am petrified of flying and partly because it’s too painful, which is why my mother, usually a ball breaker, refuses to go.
I’m nervous to leave my cats, Teddy J, Daffodil, Dr. Jekyll, and Princess Marie. Teddy J, in particular, suffers from anxiety, and Dr. Jekyll has a mood disorder, I’m sure of it. Princess Marie is snippy.
But it must be done.
My best friend, Bridget Ramsay, is still living there. Or, she was living there. We write letters all the time to each other; we have for twenty years.
Until last year, that is. I haven’t heard from her in months.
I don’t know what’s going on.
I have an idea, but I don’t like the idea.
It scares me to death.
Truth often does that to us.
Find out more about Cathy and her books at cathylamb.org.