Jessie Cahalin’s Blog: Books in my Handbag

I am honoured to introduce today’s mention of Malcolm Craig Lowrie by Jessie Cahalin on her wonderful book blog, Books in my Handbag. On Jessie’s gorgeous blog there are all sorts of good things. Check them out!

The Man with Azure Eyes

As I sat on the train, destined for Paris, I was drawn to a man with ‘azure eyes’.

A man, with ‘azure eyes’, interrupted me during my journey to Paris. He assisted me with my tartan suitcases then handed me a letter from Elizabeth Gates.  I broke the wax seal on the envelope. The gentleman disappeared while I admired the script on the letter.  I pondered whether I should return to Scotland.

Dear Readers,

I am delighted to present The Wolf of Dalriada, introducing with this extract, the series’ hero, Malcolm Craig Lowrie and his ‘azure eyes’. This historical adventure novel – run through with sparkling and unashamed romance – draws its characters from the Scottish Isles and the Palace of Versailles and Robespierre’s Paris – with all the bloodshed and glamour that implies. A blend of mysticism and intrigue with humorous social commentary, it’s the ideal read for popping in your handbag for that long train ride.

I hope you enjoy reading The Wolf of Dalriada as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Lizzie Gates

I searched for Elizabeth Gates on Facebook and beseeched her to tell me more about the novel.  Mysteriously, she hopped on the train at the next stop, in Ashford.  She opened her novel and read to me.


Chapter 1

Watching from castle battlements, eyes – azure, intelligent – pick out the moon-cast shadows as the rider moves away in dusky night.

Dalriada, Argyll, Scotland 1st January 1793

GAELIC CALLS spin a web through the mist in arcs of soft sound. Fear unsteadies the unseen flocks on the scrub heather hillside as men and dogs weave a trap around them in the darkling night. Once the flocks are penned, then the lanterns are turned towards the south. The watchers wait in silence.

Meanwhile, down below, at Crinan Loch-side, a horse’s muffled hooves slither on the cobbled apron before the Castle Craig Lowrie gate. The slope is steep and wet with winter but the horse keeps moving forward. Then, at the forest’s secret edge, the muffles are removed, swiftly, deftly. The rider – dressed in groom’s clothes and wrapped in a stolen plaid – climbs into the saddle. Which way? They take the track north from Dalriada towards Oban.

Watching from castle battlements, eyes – azure, intelligent – pick out the moon-cast shadows as the rider moves away in dusky night. ‘Safer out there than here, at present,’ Malcolm Craig Lowrie thinks. ‘I will know where to find her – when I need.’

He pauses for the tiniest shard of a split moment. He wonders how it would feel to love and be so loved – as that young girl is. Then he turns back to his task in hand. A laird with five hundred armed men at his call, he is waiting – as always – for yet another attack.

Elizabeth Gates The Wolf of Dalriada

Jessie: The man with ‘azure eyes’ was not from our world. Tell me more about the historical context and the plot.

Elizabeth: It is 1793. Revolutionaries plan to execute the French Queen Marie Antoinette and, watching events unfold alongside the whole of Europe, King George III of Great Britain fears French-style rebellion in his Scottish lands.There, fractured truths, torn loyalties and bloody atrocities are rife and, in Argyll, the Craig Lowrie clan desperately need someone to keep them safe. Malcolm Craig Lowrie, the handsome, murderous ‘Wolf of Dalriada’, rises to the challenge. Then, with Adelaide de Fontenoy – a beautiful young Frenchwoman fleeing from debauched lawyer, Sir William Robinson – Craig Lowrie finds love and his dilemmas become as unforgiving as the land of Argyll itself…

Jessie:  What do the reviewers think about the novel?  I expect they were thoroughly seduced by the plot and characters.

Elizabeth:  I have been very pleased with the positive response.

‘Just stunning writing, historical turmoil and romance at its very best’ – Rhona Whiteford, novelist and independent publisher.

‘As Scottish as whisky’ – Deborah Jones, Novelist.

‘You won’t want to put this down’ – Carol Fenlon, Novelist.

Jessie:  How did you feel when you had finished writing the novel?

Elizabeth: I was quite bereft when I finished writing ‘The Wolf of  Dalriada’. As I couldn’t imagine life without the riveting character of Malcolm Craig Lowrie and the urbane and evil Robinson, I immediately started my second novel, due out this year. I’m now creating a series.

The Wolf of Dalriada sounds captivating.  The laird certainly sounds charming. I hope you are tempted to visit Craig Lowrie and his dilemmas.

Meet author Tim Walker this time next week!

So excited – here’s a foretaste of the Author’s Mind interview which will appear on my Guest Blogging page in a week’s time!

Can you briefly describe the story of Uther’s Destiny?

The story begins two years into Uther’s reign in the year 469 AD. He has succeeded his brother, Ambrosius Aurelianus, as high king of the Britons, and his main concern is to protect the boundaries of his kingdom – modern day England and Wales – from barbarian invaders. Uther’s destiny as a warrior-king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his desire to possess the beautiful wife of a noble, Ygerne, leads to conflict. Brittle alliances teeter on the brink of collapse as Uther doggedly pursues his quarry, oblivious to other pressing matters of state.


Court healer, and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfill the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who wish for a return to ancient ways and urge him on to protect the one destined to save the Britons from invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.


Uther is challenged to rise above his domestic problems and raise an army to oppose a gathering Saxon force. In a climactic moment, the two armies meet in a battle that will decide the fate of the island.

A Guest Blog

24 February 2018

Guest Blogging about The Wolf of Dalriada for Faye Rogers


Today I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth Gates on to the blog with a quick interview! She’s come up with some wonderful answers!

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Escapism. No matter what is going on elsewhere in my complicated life, writing is my bolthole. I feel safe and empowered.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I thought about this for some time and concluded that it is too difficult to choose just one. I like the urbanity of the villain Sir William Robinson and respond in the same way as everyone else to Adelaide de Fontenoy’s beauty. Malcolm Craig Lowrie is a force of nature and hard to resist. But – as someone courageously trying to make sense of the world – I find the teenager, Lady Emma Bamburgh, the character I empathise with most easily. Probably because even though I am much older I haven’t managed to make sense of my own world yet.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Boringly – sparkling water!

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Twisting myself round my chair. Not listening to what others are saying to me and pretending I’ve heard it all. It’s embarrassing to have to ask people to repeat what they’ve said.

How do you research your books?
Reading the internet, books and journals, primary sources. Also, travel and visiting museums and art galleries. Further education courses. Talking to experts and to ordinary folk who have a story to tell.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Writing the first draft, I don’t plot. I have a general sense of setting the scene – with problems, conflicts etc.– then the action takes off from there. When I do the main edit, working through chapter by chapter, I write the synopsis at the same time and this helps me identify inconsistencies and plot holes and establish pace. Subsequent edits are ‘tidyings up’. So the short answer is: both!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
1920s Paris, 18th Century Edinburgh, and so long as you weren’t too poor, 19th Century Cornwall would be exciting. Most worlds – fictional or otherwise – would be interesting in some way but I would need to have a return ticket.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Precious Ramotswe has more of a handle on life than I do. I could learn a lot from her.

Award-winning guest Jane Davis tells the story of her new novel, Smash all the Windows!


It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.

It will take courage to learn how to live again.

For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.

Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.

If only it were that simple.

For the full interview and Jane’s links, see this website on Thursday February 22nd. 

‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ – questions for the hive mind of a book club!

A number of readers have kindly suggested The Wolf of Dalriada to their book clubs. I thought a list of possible questions to start the discussions off might be helpful. So here are thirty. Don’t feel you have to do more than say 10-15. Avoid overkill! There is no exam or qualification involved! And some of the questions are literary; others are more related to personal development (and bibliotherapy!)

  1. Which three words describe how you feel, having finished ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’?
  2. Who is your favourite character and why?
  3. Who is/are the hero(es)? Who are the villains? And why?
  4. Do the characters change? (Remembering this is Part 1 of ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ series.)
  5. Do you empathise with your favourite character or wish you were more like him/her?
  6. Which character would you most like to invite to dinner this evening and why? Who would you invite too? What would you hope to learn?
  7. If you were a casting director for a film/tv version, who would you cast?
  8. What moments in the novel do you like best?
  9. What moments do you like least?
  10. What is the most significant event for you in the story and why?
  11. What events puzzle you and why? What are other possible outcomes for these puzzling events?
  12. Could you lose yourself in the world of ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’?
  13. Is there an important theme (or themes) that this story illustrates?
  14. What is the role of superstition and tradition in this story?
  15. What did you learn about change and social classes in this book?
  16. What is the predominant moral issue? Which character understands what is right here or does no-one?
  17. Are there other moral issues? What are they? Who understands what is involved?
  18. What are the ‘unanswered questions’? (Again remembering this is Part 1 of a series.)
  19. How would you describe the genre of this book, if any?
  20. Description involves the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Is any one sense predominant in this book?
  21. Pretend you’re the author’s content editor. Have you noticed anything which is inaccurate or inconsistent?
  22. What does this tell you about the difference between fiction and non-fiction?
  23. What first drew you into the book? The blurb? The first sentence or paragraph? Why?
  24. Pretend you are writing a blurb for the cover of the book. What would you say?
    What would you tweet (in 140 characters) about this book?
  25. Does the book remind you of any other writers or novels you’ve read? What’s the same? What’s different?
  26. People say all fiction is autobiographical. If you were to guess at a formative experience in the author’s life based on what they’ve written in this book, what would you guess?
  27. What did ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ speak to in your own life?
  28. What did you learn?
  29. Do you want to read Part 2? (You could sign up for the Author’s newsletter on this website.)
  30. Any other questions?
I should love it, too, if you would like to let me know your joint/several experiences of reading and discussing ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’. If so, please contact me through Comments (attached to this blog).

A new event!

Elizabeth Gates: Taming the wolf within – from idea to publication (Wirral Libraries free Bookfest)
Tue 3rd Oct 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Heswall Library, Telegraph Rd, Birkenhead, Wirral CH60, UK map
Elizabeth Gates : ‘Taming the Wolf within…

– from idea to publication’

Tuesday 3rd October 2pm Heswall Library

How do you find an idea for a novel? How do you write 100,000 useable words? How do you share your finished product?

In this talk, ‘Taming the Wolf within . . . ‘, author of ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ Elizabeth Gates answers these and other questions. For further information visit :

There will be the opportunity to purchase signed copies of ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ after the talk.

Book at any of our Central Libraries: Bebington, Birkenhead, Wallasey or West Kirby)

Advance booking is essential to secure your place

Phone 0151 639 2334 OR 07785 502 018


Want a signed copy?