from Summer Jacobs of the Highland Bookshop Mysteries by Molly MacRae
Hi, Summer Jacobs, here. Newspaper reporter turned baker, Midwesterner turned . . . well, I can’t call myself a Scot, but I’m living in Inversgail, Scotland, and isn’t there a saying about a thistle by any other name? I first came to Scotland, for an undergraduate year abroad, eighteen years ago. I fell in love with the people, the landscape, the hairy cows, and scones were love at first bite. The day I flew back home to Illinois, I promised myself I’d get back here somehow, someday. It took a while.
First I did everything that was expected of me – got my degree (in journalism), landed a job (feature writer, for a medium-size city newspaper, covering community events, arts and entertainment), and fell in love a few times with guys (instead of baked goods). Have you heard about the plight of newspapers these days, though? I managed to hang onto my job by the skin of my teeth and by reinventing my “expertise” as often as I needed to. For instance, five years ago I started writing a food column. I couldn’t cook worth a flip, but that didn’t stop me. In fact, there was no stopping me at all. I actually took a cooking class.
And then I took another. And then I worked out a deal for trading services with a local bakery. I remade the bakery’s website and launched a blog for them, and the baker first let me watch, and then he let me work alongside him. Bread? We mixed, proofed, kneaded, and let it rise. Cookies? Baked and decorated. Cakes and pies? Yup. And scones – oh my – I fell in love with scones all over again. I thought I loved the baker, too, but then one day, between the yeast and the icing, we lost the magic. That’s when another kind of magic happened – a bookshop.
My old friend Tallie Marsh, and her mother Janet, and Janet’s friend Christine dreamed up a somewhat fantastic change-of-scenery / change-of-career / reinvention / retirement scheme that involved the four of us going into business together to run a bookshop / tearoom / bed-and-breakfast. Janet had it all worked out. She claimed it was doable. It was also in Scotland.
With my profession disappearing and my love life dead and gone, I felt as though I’d been cast adrift. For years I’d read every gritty Scottish crime novel, romance, and time travel book I could get my hands on. I’d also read Burns, Scott, Stevenson, and multiple volumes of Scottish folktales. So I did the crazy thing, which was also the only thing it made sense to do. I ran away to the Scottish Highlands to lose myself in books, tea, and scones, and ultimately find myself.
Yon Bonnie Books, the bookshop third of our business, was up and running when we bought it (and had been for almost ninety-nine years). We’ll open Bedtime Tales, the B&B above the shop, in another couple of months. Today, I’m excited to let you know our tearoom, Cakes and Tales, is opening its doors. It’s fledgling, and so is the Pinterest page I made for it, but here’s a question I’m so happy to ask you – what kind of scone would you like with your tea?
Molly MacRae is also the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae, or find her the first Monday of each month at Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts.