by Molly MacRae
Janet Marsh here, calling hello across the Atlantic from Inversgail, a to-die-for picturesque village on the west coast of Scotland. “To-die-for,” hmm, probably not the most apt description. But if you’re reading this blog, then you probably read mysteries, so you can’t be too surprised to find out that murder comes stalking my charming new hometown.
Long story short, I’m a transplanted American, a retired librarian, and one of four new owners of Yon Bonny Books in Inversgail. I’ll tell you more about the town and how it got its name in another post. For now I’d like to tell you how I came to pack up my life and move here – along with my daughter Tallie, her old college roommate, Summer, and my longtime friend Christine. Choosing Inversgail isn’t as outlandish as it might sound. Christine grew up here, and my husband and I bought a house here thirty years ago, after a sabbatical year in Edinburgh.
But this whole venture of owning a business together started as a game during a stretch of high mortgage bills, tuition payments, and budgetary stress at the library. I’d heard that a restaurant I knew from childhood visits to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was closed and for sale. The restaurant’s “death” made me feel as though one more piece of my life was changing without my input and without my okay. My husband and I were at an age and a point in our lives where we dreamed of getting away from it all – careers, colleagues, and the rut of living in the featureless landscape of central Illinois (so featureless it doesn’t even have a deep rut). The game wasn’t serious, but it filled a need. Why not buy the restaurant – I said – so we can live at the beach? Forever?
It started out simple – I pretended that Curtis and I, along with Christine and her husband Tony, would buy the restaurant. Christine, an excellent cook, would be the chef. Curtis, a professor of economics, would keep the books. Tony, an astrophysicist, would offer “Tours of the Stars” on the roof deck. I would be the hostess and chief bottle washer. Our children would be the waitstaff to earn college tuition.
Christine loved the game and played along, planning menus and asking, why not add a gift shop where she could sell her knitting? When Tallie was a law student, she asked why not add a bookshop, and she would run it and practice law from there. She told Summer, and Summer asked why not add a bakery – and she could be the baker, if she ever learned to bake a cake instead of burn it.
We kept up the game off and on over the years, adding refinements and touches as our lives changed. When Summer became a reporter, she turned the restaurant into an independent paper, and moved it to Alaska as a last bastion of the free press. Then Christine morphed the newspaper into an inn/nursing home for aged relatives, the location mobile to accommodate seasons and personal tastes. When Curtis and I divorced, and stopped making our yearly visits to Inversgail, I moved the enterprise to Scotland because I missed it.
Tallie is the one who found the real estate listing for Yon Bonny Books in Inversgail. It fit perfectly into the Why Not game – an established shop with space for a tearoom next door and a B&B above. And Tallie brought our fantasy into the realm of possibilities when she asked, Why not buy the bookshop?
You might ask what could possibly go wrong with a dream come true like this. We own a bookshop! In Scotland! The Highlands! Oh dear. How about finding the body of Una Graham, the local advice columnist, in my garden shed? And that’s just the beginning.
Plaid and Plagiarism, first book in the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, comes out December 6, 2016, and is available for pre-order now.
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.