Ballindaloch Castle background

The books and their narrative

Spiritual insight and genealogy research are the heart of Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat and Bloodlines – Traces, a mystery series on cultural inheritance by Thomas McKerley and Ingrid Schippers.

The characters and their life stories in the Bloodlines series could be anyone’s story.
Anyone who can trace ancestry, anyone whose great-great-grandmother answered the call for women’s liberation, anyone whose predecessors fought for justice and fulfillment in their quest for survival.

Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat

Bloodlines - Touch Not The Cat, by Thomas McKerley and Ingrid SchippersIn 1895 the laird Gordon Macpherson disappears under mysterious circumstances the Scottish Highlands. This sets in motion a chain of events, affecting future generations on two sides of the Atlantic.
One hundred and sixteen years later, Homicide Detective Cathy Stewart, from North Carolina, finds herself at Ballindalloch, where she is reluctantly yet irreversibly drawn into a murky family history.
Victorian/Edwardian period flashbacks reveal the life and times of Alexander Stewart, born 1875 as son of the Ballindalloch gamekeeper, who emigrates to America and builds a career with The Boston Globe.
All bloodlines come back together at a clan gathering on August 6, 2011, where Cathy, in a dramatic climax, uncovers a family skeleton that has a story to tell.

The back cover of Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat, read by Thomas McKerley:

Read the first four chapters of Bloodlines – Touch not the cat

Download a pdf with the first four chapters of Bloodlines – Touch not the cat.

Bloodlines – Traces

Bloodlines - Traces, by Thomas McKerley and Ingrid SchippersFollowing the trail of Katherine Macpherson and Alexander Stewart to Edinburgh University in 1896, and the WWI battlefields of Gallipoli, Cathy Stewart finds curious twists and turns in her family tree.
Though willing to help his American cousin on her quest, the present day laird, Angus Macpherson, finds himself in troublesome consequences of Cathy’s actions, when the Royal Scotsman excursion brings New York descendant Diane Cox to Ballindalloch.
When Angus also finds himself confronted with a murder that has the interest of the Scottish whisky industry at stake, it all becomes too much to bear.

Read the first four chapters of Bloodlines – Traces

Download a pdf with the first four chapters of Bloodlines – Traces.

Fate and Dreams; The writing of Touch Not The Cat & Traces

One morning in 2009, Ingrid Schippers woke up from an intriguing dream in which she was assigned to right a wrong that had taken place in her family seven generations earlier. It felt very real. She shared her insight with Scottish friend,Thomas McKerley, whom she knew had traced his family tree back to 1800.
They both reached the same conclusion; it would make a great plot for a short-story.

It was Tom who constructed a possible synopsis, just for fun really, and on a hunch, went looking on the web for a location to set the scene. What he found, was the Ballindalloch Estate in the Scottish Highlands, the family home of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546.

Between the two of them Tom and Ingrid started creating a story that would not let them go. Before they knew it the ‘short-story’ turned into a book, Bloodlines -Touch Not the Cat, with even material left over for a sequel. Inspired by the setting it was easy to imagine the characters and envision their actions, while Tom added his genealogy research experience and cultural heritage to the mix. Soon McKerley & Schippers were writing about women’s suffrage, social issues and Scottish American immigration.

Bloodlines – Traces, picks up where Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat left off. Tom went back to his personal genealogy files and submerged himself in the historic detail of the World War I campaign in the Dardanelles, sourcing from the authentic diaries of War Correspondent Ashmead Bartlett and the heroic story of Keith Murdoch, (future) father of media mogul Rupert.
Ingrid meanwhile, expanded on the character development, with Tom again adding surrounding historic detail on the economics, politics and living conditions around the turn of the 19th century.

A one-liner in the first book, describing the thoughts of Laird Gordon Macpherson at the funeral of his wife, brought to life the character of Chicago-based whisky trader William Macpherson.

From Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat, Chapter 4:

For reasons his could not entirely understand himself, for they had quarreled almost all of their lives, Gordon wished his younger brother William could be here now.

Similar to experiences while creating their first genealogy novel, Tom and Ingrid felt ‘Traces’ was in a way designing itself, directing the authors towards questions and solutions surfacing in the process of writing.

Fate came into play again when Arts and Travel writer Vivien Devlin, visited Ballindalloch Castle on June 5th 2012, on an excursion that was part of the Royal Scotsman Journey on the exact same date, Tom and Ingrid were hosting a book signing for Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat.
The result of this inspirational encounter, was the creation of a ‘Murder on The Royal Scotsman’.