Posted by authorcamilson
About the Author
Kathleen Shaputis lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats and three pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude: Brugh, Bouncer and Miss Jazzy. If not writing, she’s busy reading and watching romantic comedies, her ultimate paradise.
Her latest book is Their Witch Wears Plaid.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
About the Book:
Title: THEIR WITCH WEARS PLAID
Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing
Genre: Magical Realism / Paranormal Romance / Romantic Comedy
A giant-sized Druid, annoying trances and frightening nightmares mess up Nell’s festive end of summer plans. Living in Scotland, a palm reader for Baillie Castle, Nell loses her heart to a professional jouster. But is her shining knight in cahoots with the sinister Druid?
Will the recipe of a magic coin, diva queens and witches be enough to save Nell from death? Or will evil triumph over love?
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A page-turning delight with twists and turns for the fabulous Lady Nell. It’s 2018, what woman wouldn’t want to be chased by a knight in shining armor? —J. Verstraeten
While sitting behind her covered card table, Lady Nell dabbed at a trickle of sweat on the back of her bare neck with a long, white handkerchief. The summer heat, though mild in temperature for many, had dampened her coiffed hair and Elizabethan costume. Well-worn tarot cards splayed across the sapphire paisley tablecloth in a colorful, symmetric array. “May I answer any other questions for thee this sweltering afternoon, my lady?”
The flustered middle-aged woman across from her, wearing a thrown-together costume of a black wench’s vest and ankle-length skirt, shook her head. “Goodness, no. You’ve been quite helpful as one who seeks the future, thank you, Lady Nell.” And she took a last look at the cards before disappearing from the palm reader’s tent.
Scooping the displayed cards into a pile, Nell smiled at how the first day of the Scottish Faire at Baillie Castle was proving a great success. Excited crowds from surrounding areas were showing up in droves. Nell practically pinched her damp double chin in the delight of having moved to Scotland and using her psychic powers for employment within the castle. She sent a spiritual blessing to her friends, Baillie and Rogue, the proprietors of the castle, for encouraging her to establish a new life across the Atlantic. Her last home address had been Olympia, Washington, though her talents had let her travel throughout the United States.
Nell’s flamboyant pavilion was placed under a shade tree, offering some relief of the mid-summer heat, but barely a breeze had stirred the sauna-like air for the last hour. The steady stream of customers had kept her emotions animated despite the stifling heat. Nell respected and enjoyed her talent for reaching into another’s aura, their soul, and sharing information. She stretched her arms over her head and twisted her neck to one side hearing the familiar crick.
Suddenly a dank, frigid cold penetrated her chest, the icy bolt more like a speeding car crashing unheeded into a block wall. She couldn’t breathe. Yet she was not a complete stranger to the deathly artic slam, as the wintery pain felt similar to her first meeting with the ghost of Baillie Castle, Lord Kai, years ago in Olympia, Washington, where the poltergeist had been desperate to penetrate the real world.
Gripping the edges of the table, Nell tried centering herself, closing her eyes, grounding her being to the Earth’s core by visualizing a thick steel chain locking her in place. A moment later, it was gone. Gulping in heated air, Nell kept her eyes closed, alarmed at the unexpected glacial intensity. What in the not-of-this-world had caused such an explosion of cold?
Chastising herself for possibly overdoing the herbal recipe she’d created for her morning smoothie, Nell shook her head. She stared around her, expanding her mystic aura, rippling it out beyond the tent, searching for unearthly energy, anything possibly related to the polar blast. Knowing the hours she’d be working today, the potion recipe she concocted was meant as an enhancement to her psychic abilities, a mere boost. She blinked her eyes, the tent vacant and nothing out of the ordinary showed itself. By and large things were as they should be inside and outside the normal excitement of festive crowds and the music of Celtic pipes music filling her ears.
Knowing her foretelling talents would be in constant demand for palm readings and tarot cards once the Faire opened this morning, Nell asked petite T-Cup, a spicy diva queen from Seattle and dear friend of the castle owners, to act as an assistant for her. T not only acted as the money keeper but provided part-time entertainment for the crowds passing by. She kept Nell’s sanity and the flow of customers continuous in and out of the tent. T-Cup’s delightful voice squealed and twittered outside the tent’s dangling strands of pastel beads as Nell tried discerning any mystic turbulence from the cold blast. T’s saucy remarks on various costumes and people throughout the day hadn’t changed in tone or manner as Nell cleared her table with shaking hands.
T’s own outrageously bawdy dress of lace and silk caught many the eye of people walking by and made for a great marketing asset. A singer and entertainer by trade usually in company with her best friend and fellow diva, Rafael, T’s persona of hysterical delight brightened any room or situation, a petite dynamo of glitter and glamour. T stuck her beribboned head of curls inside and said, “This will be your last reading for today, Lady Nell. Looks like the universe saved the best for last. Mr. Gigantic, Dark and Mysterious will be right in.”
The cash box clinked shut before a hooded giant blocked the beaded doorway. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, the Druid-dressed customer moved with no haste. She looked at the floor-length, burlap garment wrapped well to his body, tied with a leather strap, and a deep hood concealing his face in shadows. Flowing sleeves draped at his sides as he sat in front of her with fluid motion. The realistic garment fascinated her, the material seemed threadbare and ancient. He’d paid a pretty penny for the outfit at an estate sale or movie studio auction, she wanted to bet. Nell couldn’t find a way of dipping her head toward the floor without looking odd to see what he wore on his feet, something authentic or Nike sneakers.
“What would you like to hear this day, good sir? What your future holds in store or may I answer a specific question ye need answering? I can read your palm or maybe you’d like to see what the cards have to say for you. My talent but waits your answer.”
He sat silent. No movement, nothing.
Nell blinked before picking up her tarot cards and started shuffling. This wasn’t the first time someone shy or conservative wasn’t sure what they wanted, but instead of her calm natural patience, she felt a bit defensive, a molten nervousness moving through her. The choking silence between them bothered her. First a blast of frigid, intense air sent chaos into her chest and now an enormous mannequin sucked the very oxygen she needed. The man raised his hand palm out, the fingers lengthy, and she stopped mid-motion. The heat inside the tent dropped in temperature until it crackled like thin ice on a raging river. Rivulets of perspiration trickled down her ample body, despite the sudden disappearance of the infuriating heat.
His silence weighed solid like a glacial wall and her intuition created an instant need to surround herself in a protective spell. Her lips moved silently as she stared at the deep hood that cloaked his face from view. The darkness nagged her in a disquieting, almost dangerous way. Who is this Mr. Chill? What is going on?
“I am quite well acquainted with who you are, Lady Nell.” His smooth, deep voice poured out like the syrup of a public radio station announcer. “If I may explain, I have been approached by your parents…”
“You’re quite mad, sir,” Nell snapped, her face flushed with irritation despite the cold. How dare this cloaked idiot have the audacity to spout ancestral nonsense? “My parents are gone and have been for many years. I don’t understand your trickery this day but you have paid for my services, sir, not the opportunity to make mockery of me or my profession.”
Moments ticked by in silence and the temperature inside the tent dropped further. His game with the air conditioning will not deter me. Goosebumps rippled up her bare arms. She forced herself not to give in to shivering. Nell had hoped her anger would fight the frost, but its invasion seeped through. She slowly lifted her chin in defiance. Her work and talent was not a game, and she didn’t appreciate his rude announcement saying he’d been in contact with her deceased parents, parents she’d hardly known herself growing up.
“I understand more about you than you could possibly know. You are young and naïve still in your powers. You will believe in me soon enough, stubborn one, I have no doubt of this. Your parents’ spirits and elders before them have given me a quest to find you and I am here.” His eyes glistened, practically glowing. Specks of amber light shone deep inside the murkiness of the hood. “They told me of your talents to see the past and feel the energy yet to be in images—an inherited ability. Your powers are much similar to mine in some basic ways. But over recent years, you’ve strayed on a different course and the elders have asked me to warn you to take heed. Their request of me is to shield you from your own foolishness.”
Nell felt the warmth of her face drain into the empty chill. “They know of my work on the dark side?” she whispered. What does he mean about keeping me safe? From what? Who is this person?
Over the recent years she had discovered magical talents and energy flowing through her soul, untapped reservoirs of abilities she didn’t know existed beyond seeing the past and future. An understanding of crystals and herbs filled her mind at odd times, pushing details and recipes from an unknown source into her reality. She’d kept them close to her in private, rarely using the dark magic in front of people, except for last year here at the Baillie Castle when she felt compelled to assist the Baillie family in a dire emergency with unmitigated success. The process had drained her sorely for days but she still felt it was one of her finest accomplishments.
“Your parents know you’ve taken your innate skills beyond the familiar white magic and they worry for your safety.” He placed his pale, wrinkled hands on top of the table.
Nell found her mouth still open. She shifted in her wooden folding chair, the stuffed cushion beneath her lumpy, stiff, uncomfortable. She took in a deep breath and exhaled to a long count, while gathering her strength and thoughts. “Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know who you are. And could you turn the temperature in here up a tad? Seriously, I am not some slab of beef.” She could see the white vapor from her words swirling in front of her and wondered if icicles would form along the edges of the tent. A scene from an old I Love Lucy episode flashed in her mind, when Lucy was locked in a freezer vault and her face covered in frost.
He swiped away her words like irritating flies with his elongated hands. “Silence, woman. I will tell your fortune and you must listen well. Obedience is imperative.”
Squinting her eyes at the hooded Druid, she snorted. “I will be obedient to no one. You have no power here, you robed cretin, slithering in here with tricks of threatening me with lies of my parents, chilling the air, and fallacies of wanting to tell my fortune?” Like a kitten with an arched back, thick fur standing on end, Nell refused to cow down to this stranger. Not a muscle twitched as she waited for his next move.
“Belay your wail of pitiful skepticism. Listen to my words and listen well. A young man you’ve met before will come to you with information you most desire. Believe him, as the bond between you is powerful. You must then travel across the water to your former homeland, back to the beginning of this Scottish journey at the bookstore and obtain your spiritual guide. This will help you understand the foretold answers waiting ahead. Ignore these words and direness awaits you.”
He stood nearly caressing the ceiling with his hood. “Good morrow to you, Lady Nell.” Ducking his body in half, he left the tent before she could shove her chair back or voice any questions. And she had a million of them on the tip of her tongue. What man was he talking about who she had met before? Go back to the beginning? Did he mean Baillie’s Pen and Pages bookstore in Olympia, Washington? Well, that would be across “water” certainly.
Placing her hands on top of the card table, she pushed herself up with trembling legs. The slam of claustrophobic heat filled the tent nearly knocking her backward. Sounds began filtering into her conscience: the strum of a mandolin, conversations and laughter, a sweet Celtic tune on a pipe, as if her hearing was restored from a deep, lengthy silence.
T-Cup popped herself inside, swishing the silk of her Elizabethan dress. “Hey, I didn’t see long-limbed, dark and spooky leave. Do you have a back door in this tent I don’t know about?” She twirled in a circle creating a rustling murmur from her petticoats. “C’mon, let’s go see what deliciousness Putney the cook has for us in the kitchen. It’s got to be tea time, right? I’m starving for something fresh and chilled.” T stopped in mid-motion. “Wha… Lady Nell, are you doing okay?” She touched Nell’s arm and squealed, “Dang, you’re like ice,” before bouncing through the beads yelling, “Gillian, Gillian, come Lord Gorgeous, our lady looks dazed and feels like a fresh blended margarita.” The last words slid out before she sucked in another breath. “Ándele, pronto, get your tight butt over here now, I said.” Her voice screeched an octave higher.
Through the parted strands of plastic beads, a polished, well-built blond dressed in a traditional blue and green Baillie kilt and sporting silk finery sauntered across the dry grass as if on a fashion cat walk. Gillian Nation was used to the attention and lingering looks from anyone nearby. Tanned, taut thigh muscles showed bare under the hem of the kilt as he walked. “How wither you call, my Seattle-based jester-ess?” He slid into the tent with noble smoothness but seeing Nell’s distress rushed to her side. “Have you overdone yourself, my lady?” He put his strong right arm around her waist and his eyebrows rose dramatically as he caught Nell’s gaze. “You’re like a pale Popsicle. T, make way, you fluffy fairy. Let’s get her outside.”
The faire had emptied of tourists and most of the performers. A few groundskeepers had begun clearing the trash, making little noise as they emptied smaller waste containers into a large rolling bin. Reality snapped her into a safety hold like a seat belt in a speeding Porsche. Patting her damp face with the already wet handkerchief, she imitated, clung desperately to Gillian’s calm, graceful moves as he sat next to her.
“Anything you want to talk about, Lady Nell that precipitated this dearth of possible frostbite?” His well-pampered face showed no emotions, unlike T-Cup’s pasty, frightened look nearby.
“Did, did you see my last customer, the giant-in-robes man come in or out of the tent?”
T-Cup raised her perfectly manicured hand. “Ooh, ooh, I did, I did. Well, I saw a Druid-looking guy go into the tent after he paid me. I don’t remember seeing him come out though, you know, but I wasn’t paying attention. Tapping my fingers along with the music, I guess. It’s the end of a long hot day. I’m tired. Sue me already.”
Gillian closed his dark, cappuccino-colored eyes at T’s dramatics, shaking his head, sliding his low ponytail over his shoulder. “I’m afraid my attentions were also elsewhere.”
“Did, did you see his face, T?” Nell’s voice cracked.
“That sounds rather ominous.” Gillian tilted his head catching T-Cup’s nervous glance and the tiny shrug of her bare shoulders.
“No, I don’t think so.” She waved her arms wildly over her head. “He had this enormous hood up covering everything, everything. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up, if that’s what you mean. He paid for his session, Lady Nell, and went inside. Easy peasy. Did he steal something from you other than the heat inside your body? Pretty fancy trick, I might add.” She inhaled sharply. “Did he touch you inappropriately? Is that why you’re upset?” T puffed up like a frazzled hen, flapping invisible feathers everywhere. “Should I sound an alarm and have someone search the castle grounds for the criminal?”
“No, no, he didn’t take or touch anything except my sanity.” The last word came out in a whisper as she rubbed her forehead.
“T, bounce yourself somewhere and get the good lady a cold drink. She’s probably dehydrated.” Gillian kept a still face as the flouncing skirt disappeared. “Now that the dear elf is gone, what happened inside the tent, Nell?”
She inhaled a deep, shaky, breath through her nose and slowly blew out the air. “This oversized giant came in dressed head to toe in brown sack cloth, Druid looking, well-worn material. My first thought was he had on either a pricey costume or had somehow stepped through time. I swear, my very first thoughts.” Gillian rolled his eyes with a faint smile. “No, now hear me out. The hood draped over his head so deep his face was completely in shadow, just like T said. On purpose, I’m sure, yet I caught a single glimpse of his eyes while he sat there and they glowed, almost a maize color, spooky and bizarre.”
She bowed her head, fussing with her skirt. “Gillian, he said he came by a request of my parents and my elders to tell my future and when I challenged him, he lowered the thermostat to some teeth-chattering zero degrees in the tent.”
“Now this is getting interesting! What does a scam fortune teller tell a real fortune teller?” He tapped his fingertips together. “So we have an overdressed druid who paid for your services, but instead told you your fortune with some stage-effect trickery like dry ice. Did he at least report anything sizzling in your future? Some delightfully male encounters by any chance?”
A heated flush rushed from her neck to her cheeks. Why did Gillian never take anything seriously, twisting most conversations into sexual twitters? “No, well, yes, I am supposed to meet a young man I’ve met before who will answer my questions. What questions, for heaven’s sake? What kind of questions could he possibly mean? And I’m supposed to go back to Pen and Pages like the beginning of a puzzle and find my spirit guide. What hokey nonsense is a spirit guide, whatever that may be, going to do for me?”
“What delightful man you will meet is the more important detail of the story, my dear.” Gillian sniffed as T skipped toward them, clutching a dripping bottle of cold water. “We’ll continue this discussion later, out of prying curious ears, you realize. Say nothing of this during our tea,” he focused on T, “or you’ll have the whole castle staff up in arms.” He stretched his arm out, wiggling his fingers at the colorful nymph. “You are a jewel and an enchanted servant.” T squeaked from Gillian’s words. “Exactly what our dear friend needs.”
“Putney asked me to report tea is ready and her old foot’s a tapping. C’mon, you two, you’re the only ones out here.”
“Goodness, Cook will have our heads if we keep the sweet ancient thing waiting.” Gillian turned his arm to Nell. “Allow me to escort you back to the castle.”
Nell clutching the now half-empty water bottle, gave a grateful smile to T-Cup. “Thank you. That was just what I needed.” She tucked the ominous meeting away for now and slipped her arm in Gillian’s. “Let’s go.”
Kathleen, tell us about you. As the youngest of teenaged siblings, I was also an “oops” baby, a total surprise. With my head continually buried in a book, I didn’t notice or remember much of anyone else. Books were my life, the smell, the feel of the crinkle paper on the covers from the library and the sounds of flipping the pages, nourished me. My library card was the ticket away from reality. I dreamed of living in a forest, being a hermit and writing books for a living. I’ve succeeded in two of those goals, I live in a two-acre woods and have eight books under my belt.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why? My idol Katharine Hepburn. I can imagine sitting over tea for hours soaking up the independent strength and tenacity of this woman. A social therapy session of learning to maintain confidence and self-endurance as I grow older. The woman was and is a legend and I admire her dedication to life and her talents.
What’s the story behind your latest book? Being the third book in the Baillie Castle trilogy, it came with an entourage of familiar characters. But Their Witch Wears Plaid reads as a stand-alone, centered around Nell, a palm reader now working at the castle in Scotland. I wasn’t ready to let go of a world I’d created, there were more twists and foibles yet to uncover among the group. A group which includes a gorgeous 17th century ghost, drag queens and a variety of supporting players.
What is your writing process? Though my books play out in my head as movies, complete with soundtracks, I must work in silence for the most part. I am at the keyword in the early morning hours before the rest of the house is awake putting in my hours. I will listen to the proposed movie scores for inspiration while doing other things, such as Their Witch Wears Plaid is a Celtic cornucopia of pipes and drums, but the bleeding on paper is done in quiet.
Tell us about your main character: Though inspired by a talented psychic in my hometown, I see a lot of myself in Nell. She enjoys her own company, is content and a master in doing what she loves. Unconnected and full of pluck, she savors relaxing at home at the end of the day in her bare feet. Having traveled for years following the Renaissance Fair circuit, settling in one place has its rewards when the location is the beauty of the Highlands among friends.
If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why. I see Melissa McCarthy playing the role of Lady Nell. Ms. McCarthy’s feistiness and exuberance would be perfect for an independent woman suddenly faced with threats and a brewing storm of danger and demands. She’d bring a fun, kick-your-heels passion to the story when Nell meets a man, a knight and her heart opens a bit wider.
What are you working on next? I’m currently working on a commercial fiction tome of a single working mother in the 70’s, living in a disco-dancing, sexual revolution world who is nearly destroyed by sexual harassment and discrimination.
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book? Though most authors are more introspective, diving into social media is a must in marketing a new title. The noise of new books is loud and full of static, so you need a willingness to be creatively persistent, dogged in letting people know of your work.
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now? A first edition of The Boxcar Children my husband gave me as a gift. The joy the book brought me reading it over and over is never forgotten. Nothing tasted better for lunch, sitting outside in the front yard than plaid white bread and cuts of cheddar cheese similar to the meals in the book.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents? Hmm, I don’t juggle, my skills are rather mediocre in cooking and singing. I have drawn sketches and painted once in a while where I’m rather proud of a portrait of Alan Alda I did in oils during a college class. My main talent I’ve recognized in myself is patience, keeping my head during stress or extremes. Life has thrown a myriad of challenges, sometimes more than one at a time, over the years and I find myself being the calm in the middle of the chaos.
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why? Invisibility! I’d use the ghostlike powers to comfort, soothe and protect the underdog, being able to infiltrate into any situation without suspect would be incredible. But as a writer, curiosity is a natural fault. Imagine what I could discover if no one knew I was in the room. The lies uncovered, the truth brought to light.
List 5 things on your bucket list:
I’ve accomplished much in my life and find I have few regrets and needs. I haven’t given much thought to a bucket list and if I died tomorrow, I feel content with my life and times. However, you’ve asked, so here goes.
- Visiting Scotland, land of my ancestors. (I made it to a castle in England for a week.)
- Write a national best seller. (I’ve sold thousands of copies of my books, have done a country-wide book tour and dozens of radio interviews.)
- See a woman in the White House.
- Fit into my wedding dress.
- Luxuriate for a week at Disneyland, watching the twinkle and delight of the children.
Any final thoughts? What a delight it’s been discovering the answers in your interview. I write for entertainment, and hope I’ve succeeded in bringing a lightness and merriment to my readers. I think of my books as a cotton-candy treat among the pages. Thank you for letting me share with your audience.
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