A huge thank you to Karin for inviting me here today to tell you all about my latest release HIGHLAND WARRIOR, which hit stores last Tuesday.
HIGHLAND WARRIOR is the first book in my second back-to-back trilogy for Ballantine, featuring the “bad boys” of the Highlands, Clan Campbell. Back-to-back means you won’t have to wait long for the rest of the trilogy: HIGHLAND OUTLAW will be out at the end of this month and HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL at the end of March.
HIGHLAND WARRIOR is the story of Jamie Campbell the ruthless enforcer of Scotland’s most powerful clan who vows to use any means necessary to vanquish lawlessness and unrest in the Highlands. Driven by a fierce sense of law and order, Jamie never questions the righteousness of his cause until he meets Caitrina Lamont, the doted upon daughter of a rival chief who challenges him—and arouses him—like no other woman.
Like my first trilogy featuring the Clan MacLeod, you’ll find plenty of “ripped from the headlines” history, bringing to life actual people and events with a sensual fictional twist. Basically I employ the Law and Order concept of taking actual “headline” events and spinning them into a fictional story. My headlines just happen to be from a few hundred years ago!
I didn’t start out to write about real people, but while researching my first novel (what would become HIGHLANDER UNTAMED), I came across this amazing story about a war started by a one-eyed woman. The one-eyed woman was the sister of one of the most revered chiefs of Clan MacLeod of all time—Rory Mor (the great). The more I learned about him, the more I knew I had to write about him—he didn’t simply have the makings of a great hero he was a great hero. And low and behold he just happened to have a brother who also had quite a few intriguing “headlines” written about him. Then I pulled out the genealogy chart and discovered he had a half-sister who was also the half-sister of a rival chief. Talk about built in conflict. I swear I will never be at a loss for a story as long as I have a genealogy chart and a few clan history books.
But writing about actual historical figures can be a challenge—and even more of one when you want to have them all in the same family. With the MacLeods I was lucky because I was able to find stories to spin off of in one family. For the Campbells it wasn’t quite so pat. The Campbells are a huge clan, with plenty of rich fodder to mine for great stories—but I wasn’t able to get them all in one family. So in this series the lead characters are mostly compilations of actual historical figures. For example, Jamie is based on the Earl of Argyll’s “real” enforcer, Donald Campbell, on James Campbell of Lawyers, known as a ruthless hunter of MacGregors, and Sir Dugald Campbell of Auchinbreck.
Because much of what I write about is “real,” it’s enabled me to do some fun stuff on my website to enhance the reading experience. I have “picture books” with photos of some of the places in the stories along with references to the text in the novel. One of the fringe benefits is that it’s a great excuse to travel! Last September, after finishing HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL, I traveled with another Scottish Romance author, Veronica Wolff, around Argyll, visiting many of the places I’ve written about in the Campbell trilogy. You’ll be able to see many of these pictures (and even slideshows) on my website and flickr gallery in the coming months. One day (preferably when the dollar improves against the pound!) I hope to be able to visit them all.
I keep telling Karin she needs to cross the “pond” to England. It’s a truly moving experience to see places that you’ve written about.
If you could go any place and write about it, where would you go? Me, I’d love to visit Iceland and Norway. Maybe someday I’ll do a Viking story just so I can justify it, LOL.