Fateful meeting proves more than a Highland fling

Life is
imitating art in Phyllis Cast’s world, and the award-winning fantasy and
romance novelist couldn’t be happier. Better known to her legion of fans as PC
Cast, the number one New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night,
the Partholon series, and the Goddess Summoning Books, the writer for Mills
& Boon, Harlequin, Berkley and St. Martin’s Press has found love and
adventure in her personal life to rival anything found in the pages of her
books.

Currently
dividing her time between homes in Grand Cayman, Oklahoma and Scotland, the
author shares her passion for life and lore with her life partner and creative
collaborator, Seoras Wallace.

After years
teaching in the public schools system, Cast struck a rich vein that has seen
her feted for her compelling plots and finely wrought novels, but the success,
shared with daughter Kristin, co-author of the House of Night books, was tempered
by her less than eventful love life.

Fate steps in

A decade spent
as a single mother and learning her craft had left little time for a
relationship, the writer admits, but fate changed that when she met Wallace,
Scottish Clan Chieftain and direct descendent of the family of William Wallace,
immortalised in Celtic culture and film as Braveheart. Seoras Wallace, an old
soul whose lineage and chieftain status is a proud legacy, is every bit as
dynamic and intuitive as the characters in her plots.

In a series of
flashbacks, Cast relates how destiny brought her together with the rugged
highlander, a fight director and actor in such blockbusters as Braveheart
Highlander and Gladiator.

“A year ago, I
decided that the seventh House of Night book was to take place in the Highlands
of Scotland, a place I’d visited several times and continually seem to be drawn
back to,” she says.

Little Brown,
her UK publisher, in arranging the working trip, suggested she take a mini tour
of the area. “I was interested in Scottish mythology and wanted to set a key
part of Burned in the Highlands and draw on local lore.”

When her
publisher realised Cast was going to bring a large part of the plot of her
number one bestselling series to the UK, they instantly offered to add an expert
in Scottish lore to the tour.  “Other
than appreciating my publisher’s enthusiasm and generosity, I really didn’t
think much more about this man who was going to be my Highland guide,” says
Cast, reminiscing from her North Side home, where she’s working on yet another
novel and several film projects.  “I’d
been single for a decade and thought I was perfectly content that way. And then
Seoras happened.”

Cast’s latest
House of Night book had debuted at number one in the UK and the US, and the
rural splendour and sweeping vistas of the untamed Highlands was seen as the
perfect counterbalance to the frenzy and press calls that would follow in the
five-city UK tour, ending in London. So that particular morning last summer,
Cast was looking forward to the relaxation the day would bring as she set out
to research one of her favourite parts of the world.

“My publisher
put my daughter and teen editor, Kristin, and me up in the wonderfully
appointed Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. My publicist let me know the driver and
Scottish expert would pick us up at 7.30am the next day.”  Their 7am wake-up call while jet-lagged and
slightly blissed out by the dram of whisky the hotel puts into its bowls of
Scots porridge, left Cast feeling far from “sparkly”.

Dressed for a
day spent “schlepping through the Highlands”, she had on sweat pants and
sneakers and wasn’t wearing makeup, in hindsight a less than stellar look for
meeting the man who would come to play a leading role in her life.

“To be
perfectly honest with you, I was expecting a donnish, potbellied historian, a
bespectacled expert, steeped in Celtic history: the type who has a pipe
permanently clamped to his mouth,” she recalls, throwing Wallace a playful
look. What she got was a lot more than she’d bargained for: a lithe and brawny
Glaswegian with a firm handshake, mischief in his eyes, dressed in full
Highland regalia, no less. His opening line was: “So you’re my blind date, are
yie?”

“That sentence
broke the ice,” says Cast. “The first thing that I liked about him was his
rough, broad, calloused hands,” she says of the man more used to wielding a
heavy sword than a pen.

The attraction
was instant,” she confides with endearing candour. The sword master, folk historian
and fight director nodded in agreement, his body language unconsciously
mirroring hers. “He was very down to earth, witty, totally irreverent and yet,
without ever having read my books, Seoras had an intrinsic grasp of how the
history of the Highlands, so much a part of his life as chieftain of the Clan Wallace,
could inform and enrich my next novel.

“He introduced
me to friends of his with a similar pride in their history,” Cast says.

“The
experience added to the book in a way that would not have been possible if we’d
not met.”

The might of myth

Here Wallace
picks up the narrative thread: “Phyllis is the kind of person whose interest is
infectious, she’s got real respect for the culture. Aye we hit it off from the
get-go, it was obvious that we had a great affinity there but it was enhanced
by her personality”. Warming to the theme, he adds: “What I liked about [her]
is that she tries to tell history through her myths, which is easier to grasp
than dates and strategies.

“She allows
the imagination to lead you there rather than you being put off by the often
myopic approach of academic study… She creates new myths and can concertina
history in a way I’d felt when told by my grandmother about the capture and
death of William Wallace in 1305: an oral recounting of history passed down
through generations in my family.”

Swept up in a
meeting of minds and a deepening attraction, the pair later discovered that
they shared a lot more in common than being a long time single and the parents
to twenty something-year-old girls. Both have strong and engaging personalities,
are quick to tease each other and are proud of each other’s work. And with
enough years behind them to know when they were “on to a good thing”, they knew
that this was going to be more than a spring fling.

The tour had
come at the end of the Casts’ rest period and the next day saw them heading off
on the first leg of what was a hectic tour schedule to promote the books and
meet fans.

“Seoras and I
kept in constant contact, emailing and calling each other as often as we
could,” she says.

“A night
snatched together in Edinburgh, then back to Tulsa for six weeks and back into
Inverness… and in through the Highlands and up to Skye (where Burned is
set)”.

Within months
of first meeting the couple knew that a long-term Transatlantic relationship
was out of the question.

“Our
relationship has the blessing of our daughters Uliann and Kristin and is shored
up by a lot of affection, respect and plain old fashioned animal magnetism,”
Cast admits.

Finding the
perfect place for them to live when not in Scotland or in Oklahoma was easy.
“I’d been coming over to Cayman since 1996. Actually, I turned in the last two
books in my House of Night series from here, so it wasn’t hard to decide that
this would be a great place to work from… away from all the usual
distractions,” says Cast.

Goddess of the Rose

This dynamic
partnership, fuelled by a chance meeting, has spawned a romance that, while passionate,
has also ignited a practical working partnership. The couple is currently
working on a script for Cast’s Goddess of the Rose book.

Goddess Films,
Cast’s newly formed production company, is currently in pre-production with the
nucleus of the creative team here in Grand Cayman for endless rounds of
rewriting, storyboarding and logistics. The US-registered company certainly has
plenty of back material to work with and are pooling talent from the US,
Ireland, Lithuania and Grand Cayman.

Ideally, the
couple would like to see part of the film shot on location here and are in
discussions with the Cayman Islands Film Commission. “The film could
potentially bring employment and revenue to Grand Cayman,” says Wallace. Cast
agrees, admitting that she’s already got her location scout hat on for certain
scenes, including an area of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

“We love the
Cayman Islands. We like the tranquility of working here, I’ll probably finish
my next House of Night novel here, too, at the rate I’m working right now,”
says Cast.

The plan is
for them to collaborate and work on solo projects, where their interests and
inclinations permit.

“I’m working
on the script of another film, which could potentially be shot here about a
seafaring ancestor of mine. It involves epic fight scenes, the African Diaspora
in the Caribbean and though based on historical fact, would be a story that had
never been filmed before,” says Wallace.

Another Cayman connection

The
Wallace/Cast partnership has given birth to additional Cayman opportunities.  Wallace recounts how Cayman has sparked
ideas.

“When I first
came to the Island, we stayed at the Cotton Tree at West Bay, and every day I
would ride West Bay on horses from Pampered Ponies stable there.

I was struck
by the amazing panorama of that part of the Island, reflecting on the mountains
and highlands of Scotland.  It brought to
mind an eco-project I had planned that demonstrated and shared for the general
public a Highlander-style of life.

“Using my
experience as a film fight director over 20 years, I could see a great
opportunity to propose a similar type project for Cayman, as the warmth and
friendship shown to us by the folk of West Bay was so like the folk back home,
and later the same attitude was reinforced by our travels throughout the
Island.  It confirmed to us that we would
like to give back something positive in return” he says.

“Braveheart
was an international success based on my ancestor William Wallace, and as a
clan Chieftain of the Wallace, I felt that to offer something positive to the
community here and to tell the story of another of my ancestors, a buccaneer
called Peter Wallace, would be an exciting possibility,” says Wallace.

“He is most
known for attacking the Portuguese and Dutch slaving ships and freeing the
African people who were bound for slavery,” Wallace says. “Many fought with him
and his crews, many were set on land that eventually became known as Belize,
Creole for Wallace, with many of the African people taking their names from
Scots who had given their lives for African Freedom.”

The project
principle, would be to build a buccaneer-style village of the period, not
essentially historic, leaning more toward the romance, adventure and legend of
the Spanish Main privateers, who came from many different nationalities, and
races,” says Wallace.

“The
educational value of the project would be centred on the leading personalities
of all races, creed, and colour who fought for freedom with Peter Wallace,
demonstrating that throughout history the battle between good and evil was not
racial, but united many, against the despots and power brokers of tyranny.”

Wallace
continues, “What I would like to do is get involvement from schools and theatre
groups, as it would be a project that would spread the wealth of success
throughout the community. And far from us being more folk who come to the
Island and keep ourselves hidden away, we would love to contribute where it was
wanted, for the benefit of all”.

An adventurous
idea, and with assistance and support, the couple think that the project could
be of immense value, as a unique international tourist attraction, film
location, arts and crafts and educational venue of quality.

Local script
writer Philip Pekstein is co-writing the screen adaptation of Peter Wallace as
a future Hollywood production by Goddess Films, and the team would like to film
the main scenes on the Grand Cayman.

“What we need
is permission for this project in West Bay, or a sympathetic landowner who
could see the value of an international interest project such as this,” says
Wallace.

Leave taking

I leave the
couple as other team members arrive, the talk is of casting for Goddess of the
Rose; Dwayne ‘The Rock’ is mentioned, as well as some up-and- coming actors
keen to make their first real break. With the Islands’ proximity and amity with
the US, why not The Rock on the rock? He is after all a huge Braveheart fan. If
anyone can make fantasy come to life in glorious technicolour its couple, who
rarely see anything in black and white.

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