One of the most rewarding interviews I’ve written as an author is with Winterthorne Castle. We often hear such sayings as “if only these walls could talk…” well, in this case they can.
This castle has a heart, and within that heart beats the heart of each family member—across many generations—as they loved, laughed, cried and died within the sanctuary of the castle’s walls.
Winterthorne Castle, Ireland
This castle features in the book, Christmas Spirits, by Gemma Juliana
If These Walls Could Talk…
Have you ever walked around an ancient site – a castle, ruins or graveyard – and wondered what the walls and stones would say if they could speak to you?
I’ve been in such places many times, and this thought has often crossed my mind.
Today is such a day. I’ve been invited to afternoon tea by Anna O’Cleary, the Irish beauty who fell in love with Sheikh Khazan of Zahiria long ago. Theirs was a union of soul mates, and a rare case of love at first sight. She became his queen, and brought Winterthorne Castle into the marriage as part of her dowry.
When I started to write Christmas Spirits, it was meant to take place in the imaginary kingdom of Zahiria I created for the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series.
Instead, I was constantly pulled to place the story in Ireland at Winterthorne Castle. It wanted to be acknowledged as a character in Christmas Spirits, so today we will open the double entrance doors and step inside.
Winterthorne Castle estate is alive. It stands strong on hundreds of acres of enchanted land. Lush rolling hills, babbling brooks and streams, a primal oak forest and an ancient stone circle are just some of its natural features. Above and beyond the peninsulas of southwestern Ireland, it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Centuries of history are embedded within its walls.
As I view the castle from its gatehouse, my journey up the winding avenue begins. I sense the proud spirit of the tall structure. Its granite façade glows white in the snow, crystal chips sparkle in the weak winter sunlight. Beveled glass in Gothic style windows glitters in the late afternoon sunlight.
A housekeeper ushers me into the library, where afternoon tea is served. To my surprise, a note indicates that Queen Anna will not attend my interview today. Instead, Winterthorne Castle is my host. I’m to sip tea, sit back and relax. I’ll connect with the house by resting my hand on a granite stone that has been provided. I close my eyes and envision the questions I wish to ask…
Who named you Winterthorne, and why?
I was built on an ancient place of power, by Sorcha, a warrior woman who ruled this land. People think I’m masculine, all solid granite and turrets, but my spirit is feminine. A sacred well in the depths of my dungeon hides secrets, as well as healing waters.
My name is in honor of the blackthorn bush and its very sharp thorns. It still blooms here, although not as abundantly as it used to. Sorcha moved in on the first day of winter, so she bestowed upon me the name Winterthorne.
Is it true the walls of old buildings harbor memories?
Yes, we absorb energies. I’m made of vibrant, living stone. The crystals in my walls record memories, good and bad. I recall the many highs and lows over the years vividly. For me, there is no memory loss with age.
Interviewer’s Note: Winterthorne has a sense of humor.
Will you share your happiest memory?
There were many... probably when young Anna O’Cleary met her father’s guest, the exotic foreign ruler Sheikh Khazan of Zahiria. She was such a beauty, all the warriors and princes on this island wanted her as their own. She had no interest in romance, or in them. The moment Khazan walked into the dining room for the state dinner in his honor, and their eyes met, will be forever emblazoned into my walls. Magic crackled in the air. Amazement, wonder, excitement, passion, and love were ignited that night, and the imprint sizzled and sparkled as it permeated my walls. That’s when the love story began.
Can you tell us your saddest memory?
There are two memories that compete for that title. I’ve never decided which is sadder, Anna knowing she would die at the hands of the gypsy witch who pretended to try to save her life, or Khazan wandering the halls for years after her death, nursing his broken heart. He waited all year for the few hours they shared on Christmas Eve. That was a depressing time in my history.
Why did the healer kill Anna?
It was not personal. She actually liked Anna. It was a revenge killing, carried out by the gypsy witch to punish Khazan for deeds his ancestors committed.
How do you feel about ghosts living within your walls?
It depends on the ghost. I like happy energy. Whether a person is in the flesh or not makes little difference. Some ghosts are very negative, as are some people. I try to be rid of such beings as quickly as possible.
How do you accomplish that?
I enlist the help of the elemental spirits on the land. They are usually good for some mischief. The fairy tribe called the Lunantishees makes their home in the blackthorns and guards these powerful bushes. They are masters of blending life and death energies together. Blackthorn flowers bloom when the tree is bare of leaves, thanks to their magic. These fairies help me haunt negative and unwanted guests out of here, whether they’re alive or dead.
Have you ever feared destruction?
A century ago, my kitchen went on fire. Sorcha, my original mistress, gathered the elemental beings and a sudden snow storm extinguished the flames before they could engulf me. My fear that night is recorded in my walls. That night, I struggled for survival, and won.
Do you have any secrets you’d like to share with us?
No, because if I did, I’d have no secrets. I’ll say this much. I have a deeper link with the destiny of the kingdom of Zahiria than anyone alive can imagine. The key is yet to be discovered.
Do you have a favorite phrase?
My favorite phrase is one you humans say, the heart of the home. There truly is a heart in every home. It is up to those who live inside those walls to ignite the heart fire. Then the home will protect its people and exude love and harmony.
If you could make a wish, what would it be?
I want the laughter of children within my walls again, the sound of their little feet running down my halls. With the right family, I can rise to my true potential as a home.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I get excited about family gatherings. I love the scents of fresh cut flowers, bread baking, the sound of harp music. I laugh and I weep. I love deeply and I feel the loss of those who leave me.
Do you know what the future holds for you?
This generation enjoys me for relaxation, but I am often alone. Change will come when the great discovery of my biggest secret is made. Then I shall have a family again, and a new life cycle.
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, brave teen son and a comical dog who is really a human in disguise. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. She writes romance, mystery and suspense with a splash of the paranormal. You’ll find alpha heroes in the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series and modern heroes in To Kiss A Leprechaun and Autumn Masquerade. More books coming soon.
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