Visit Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle

Scotland, Travel, United Kingdom, Visit Scotland

When one thinks of Edinburgh, the first thing that comes to mind is the castle.

It’s estimated that there was life on the rock as early as the Iron Age, and evidence the royal castle existed from the 12th century. Possibly, the most notable inhabitant of Edinburgh Castle would have been Mary, Queen of Scots, who gave birth to her son in the castle walls, James, who would later become King of both Scotland and England.

Another fun fact about Edinburgh castle is that it exists on top of an old volcano!

It was a snowy day when I arrived. The photo above is taken from a window in The a Elephant Cafe – more on that in a later post!

As you can see, the castle stands above the Old Town, a staple of history, and an impressive sight.

March prices for Edinburgh castle tickets are £18.50 on site, but online you can buy them for £17.00 in advance. Not much of a saving, but worth noting! April prices increase to £19.50 on site, and £17.50 online advance. Don’t let the price put you off, however. No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a trip to the historic fortress.

On a clear day, the free vantage points in the courtyard show you just how high you are. You would be able to see far and wide, over the rooftops of buildings and apartments. Only on our day, we could only see so far, but the snow added that wonderful charm.

The castle is accessed by the royal mile, where you will find many pubs and tartan shops. It’s a tourist hotspot, naturally, but you can absorb the architecture of Edinburgh, and see why it’s known as ‘the old town’.

So, what’s inside the castle?

Well, naturally, there are tales of family life throughout the castle’s existence. You can read about the royal’s that inhabited the castle, and visit rooms such as the great hall, and even a room that was revamped for only one royal visit.

Inside the castle is also The Stone of Destiny. This was returned to Scotland, and is a stone that has been used for centuries in the coronation of monarchs of Scotland. The Stone of Destiny sits alongside the Scottish Crown Jewels, in a room where photos are not allowed.

Another selling point of Edinburgh Castle is the ability to visit the actual room where Mary, Queen of Scots son was born, James VI. The room is quite small, but holds an impactful tale. It’s also a fun fact to read about rumours that James was gay – something scandalous back in those times!

A dog cemetery is at the castle. These are dogs that belonged to soldiers, who have been given a royal burial. For fans of Pet Sematary, it may be a little eerie!

Wherever you go in Old Town Edinburgh, the castle towers above you. It really does give a sense of what times may have been like back then, where royalty could look down and see life below them, and where they could be aware of any impending siege.

A must visit!

The Arrival of the Paperbacks

Book News, J.S. Strange

It’s always exciting as an author to hold an actual, physical copy of the book you’ve been pouring your heart in to for the past year or so.

It’s an incredible feeling. It’s one that can’t really be explained or described, other than an overwhelming sense of pride, a massive smile you can’t control – your words as you intended them to appear.

My publisher, Panther Publishing, received their paperback copies today of Murder on the Rocks and they look so pretty!

The plan is to eventually have paperback copies available to buy directly from Panther. If you want to support independent publishers and small time authors, that’s the best way to do it – buying directly from the person who took a chance on you.

I also know some paperbacks are being sent to some stores, and a few Instagrammers! How exciting!

My new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now!

Abergavenny Writing Festival

Book News, J.S. Strange

I’m really happy to say that I’ll be a panellist at this years Writing Festival in Abergavenny.

I’ll be on a panel titled ‘Do we all have a novel in us‘? You can get your tickets by clicking the link.

I’ll be appearing with some great authors, and it will be fun, yet nerve wracking, to talk about this in front of people. I may also be taking some copies of Murder on the Rocks, too!

I attended the festival last year and really enjoyed it. I attended a talk on journalism, and learned some really interesting insights. It’s a great festival in an area you might not expect, but where support is.

And have you ever visited Abergavenny?! You should! It’s a beautiful place. I’ll write a post on it soon!

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now?

Preparing to Travel: Edinburgh

Travel

It won’t be long, and I’ll be travelling to Edinburgh. It’s the first time I’m visiting, so I’m really excited. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go for a while!

Part of the preparation for travel is finding out what to do once you get there. Sure, flights are important, but a big decision for me is working out why I’d want to go somewhere.

Finding things to do:

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and knowing that J.K. Rowling lived and wrote the series in Edinburgh is a big selling point for someone like me. In Edinburgh, there is no absence of Potter. You can visit a street that supposedly inspired Diagon Alley. You can visit The Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the novels. You can visit a graveyard where one of the graves reads Thomas Riddel. And there’s even a Harry Potter Escape Room! Am I doing all of this?! YES.

As well as Harry Potter, I’ll be looking into the history of Edinburgh, so I’ve found some locations, such as Edinburgh castle, to visit.

Finding flights:

Always browse incognito or on private browsing when looking for flights. Many people check out prices a few times before actually booking anything, by which points those tracking cookies have upped the price, and you’re paying more than you should be paying.

I wanted to fly from Cardiff airport – support the local airport and all that – but flights were £100 more expensive. I instead went with EasyJet, knowing they would be reliable and budget friendly.

Because I’m going for only a few days, I’ve booked an early arrival and a late departure. Absorb as much of Edinburgh as I can!

Now, the importance is knowing our flight time, booking airport parking, and day dreaming about the airport food.

Fashion

ASOS is my friend. And new holiday destinations means new clothes. But I’m only taking a carry on, so I have to be sensible. But hey, new clothes. Even if not for Edinburgh, why not just for general life?

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now? Get your copy now!

What My Next Novel Means to Me

Book News, J.S. Strange

Tomorrow, my new novel, Murder on the Rocks is published with Panther Publishing. It’s a murder mystery novel, featuring a gay male private investigator, as he solves the murder of a writer. Based in Cardiff, it has Welsh roots and LGBT themes.

It’s my first novel since I last released Winter Smith: The Secrets of France, a sequel to my zombie apocalypse novel. Murder on the Rocks is a lot different. I hit a wall with the Winter Smith series, and truthfully I don’t know if I’ll ever complete it. A combination of one bad review and poor sales didn’t help my motivation for a third instalment, even though it’s needed to complete the story.

With this wall, I needed to find something else. I wanted to push myself and try something new, and to do that I completely changed my genre. Writing in horror YA was great, but this time I wanted to write a crime novel.

Here enters Murder on the Rocks. A murder mystery novel, with Jordan Jenner the private investigator as the lead protagonist.

I set out to write a gripping crime thriller, with a female lead detective. Half way through, I decided to change from a female lead to a gay male lead. Jordan Jenner had been there all along, but this was his story and his time.

My decision for this was representation. I’ve read plenty of crime genre novels, and I’ve loved a lot of them. But a lot of them are exceptionally male and exceptionally straight. We’re used to the macho man detective, solving crimes and romancing women. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted it to be the case that I was writing a novel where the character was gay, solving a crime, and romancing men along the way.

It was extremely important to me to write representation into a genre I love. I 100% know there are gay leads out there, but there needs to be more, and Jordan Jenner has been added to the mix – I just hope he stands out. To stand out, people have to know about him and read his story.

Murder on the Rocks is the first in a planned series, known as the ‘Jordan Jenner Mysteries’. This is my first book with a publisher, and I’ve noticed the differences. Panther are independent, new, learning and Welsh. I’m their first author, and I’m Welsh, with a book set in Wales, with Welsh characters. It was a perfect fit. Since being with Panther, I’ve had more pre-orders, more media opportunities, and Murder on the Rocks has been in the top 15 list of Amazon’s Hot New Releases in gay fiction. Let’s hope it stays there after release date!

Murder on the Rocks means a lot to me for many reasons. It brings an original setting of Cardiff into literature. I’m proud to be writing about Welsh characters, and I’m proud to have a Welsh setting. I hope people pick it up and experience Wales in the novels. It’s not just Cardiff that appears – we see surrounding towns and counties, too.

It means a lot to me because of the representation. Jordan is gay, but so are the people he knows. There is no tragic coming out story, and no internal sexuality struggle. His sexuality is not a plot device – it is his character. It is him.

As it is with Vanessa, and Mark.

Murder on the Rocks means a lot to me because I feel as though it’s a novel with true potential. Seven publishers requested it in total, and it shortlisted me for Penguin Random House’s Write Now Live Scheme in 2018. It’s a novel that I know has good story potential, good character potential, and Murder on the Rocks is just the beginning.

Murder on the Rocks publishes March 1st 2019 in ebook and paperback format. I will also be selling signed copies, through Panther’s website.

Murder on the Rocks is the first novel to get me a book signing in a high street store – WHSmith. I’ll be signing in Cardiff and Cwmbran.

But for now, join me tomorrow for the publication of Murder on the Rocks, and we can celebrate together. Celebrate inclusivity, diversity, Welsh roots and murder in literature.

Get your copy here: mybook.to/MOTR