Imagine living in a world where you must deny who you are just to draw your next breath; and, only when you stare into the face of death, do you begin to truly live. In 17th century Scotland, Tamsyn Lees, a young servant at Dunbar manor, hides a dangerous secret. She is intersex, identifying as a female. Her first mistake is falling in love with Elspeth, the laird’s daughter. With King James on the throne, witches are hunted down, tortured, and strapped to flaming pyres. Tamsyn struggles not only with her hidden sexuality, but also with her gift of prophesy. Both threaten to destroy her. She remains undaunted in her quest is to rewrite the ancient myth of Hermaphroditus which will free all who identify as she does.
At every turn, Elspeth’s spiteful Aunt Ena sets out to crush those who threaten her coveted family position. She shrewdly discovers Tamsyn’s dual nature and becomes outraged by the forbidden relationship developing between Tamsyn and Elspeth. Within the manor walls, a climate of suspense and intrigue abounds, with betrayals, jealousies, blood oaths, and murder. Tamsyn’s life spirals out of control when she learns that Lady Ena has arranged a suitor for Elspeth. Out of desperation, Tamsyn resorts to black magic to put an end to him. She then learns that Elspeth carries their love child. Betrayed by the clan priest, Tamsyn is jailed and sentenced to be buried alive. Elspeth steps in to prove that even death cannot defeat the power of their love.
My book, Twinflower, is a work of fiction based upon an actual historic event in the 1600’s in which a Scottish hermaphrodite posing as a female was buried alive after impregnating her master’s daughter. It is a coming-of-age tale of forbidden love filled with fantastical realism and colorful mythic characters drawn from Scottish folklore. The issue of gender identity confusion proves timeless and relevant today, and our protagonist’s misdeeds are driven by the deep universal human need to belong. My novel’s subject matter holds appeal for those who navigate the underserved world of intersex identification and for those who love them, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community, history buffs, teachers, human rights advocates, and lovers of dreams, magic, and mysticism.