Highland Hero is your latest release. Give us a little teaser for what's in store for Hawk and Marsi.
In Highland Hero, Sir Ivor Mackintosh of Clan Chattan is the finest archer in Scotland and a member of the (fictional) secret brotherhood of St. Andrews. He was known during his school days there only as “Hawk.” The King of Scots asks him to transport his 7-year-old son, in secrecy, across Scotland to the safety of St. Andrews and the guardianship of its powerful bishop. The King wants to keep Jamie out of the clutches of his wicked uncle, the ambitious and ruthless Duke of Albany. Jamie is second in line for the throne (and later James I of Scotland). But little does the King know that in the course of trying to fulfill his mission, Ivor will also have to deal with another member of the royal family, who will use her feminine wiles and her gift for telling a tall tale to throw obstacles in his path. Not that she means to…such things just happen.
Sir Ivor’s heroine is Lady Marsaili “Marsi” Drummond Cargill, a niece of the late Queen Annabella’s and therefore Jamie’s cousin, who decides to use Ivor (unbeknownst to him) to help her avoid an undesirable marriage. Marsi therefore decides to accompany the willing Jamie as a nursery maid, thereby deceiving Ivor (EE-ver), who has a legendary temper and loathes deception (or thinks he does until…but that would be telling). The inspiration for this plot came from a Scottish bard’s tale, which also resulted in Ivor’s being named Ivor (meaning archer) and his having become the finest archer in Scotland. Imagine my astonishment when my research into Mackintosh history revealed that Ivor was a name quite common in that clan at the time! The first chapter of Highland Hero is posted on my website at www.amandascottauthor.com.
What is it about Scotland and its history that appeals to you?
Scotland has fascinated me for as long as I’ve known it existed. My ancestors on both sides came from Scotland, the first ones in the mid-to late 18th century. They settled in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, then Arkansas, the Northwest Territory, and Missouri, and later moved west to California. One great-great-great grandfather, Judge Andrew Scott, was the first “Supreme” Court justice in Arkansas. His brother was the first senator from Missouri and named the state of Arkansas…oh, and in a fit of nepotism, appointed his younger brother the first judge for the “Post of Arkansas,” which is pretty much all there was then. Judge Andrew served a number of terms, fought and won at least two duels (one of them against another judge over a card game), and lived a wonderfully colorful life. I have a copy of a letter that he wrote to his wife then to open in the event of his death. My mother was a Douglas, my father a Scott, and we also have Logans, Jamisons, Fergusons, and a host of other clans in the various lines. My paternal grandfather loved family history and told me stories culled from ours from the time I was small, so writing about Scotland came naturally to me. I began with the 16th century but moved back to the medieval period and am now moving forward again. I’ve written books set in the English Regency and Victorian periods and in Wales, as well as the Scottish Historicals I’m writing now – 57 books to date, plus the just-finished manuscript for The Laird’s Choice, Book 1 in my next trilogy (Forever, Winter 2012). I have a Master’s Degree in History, and my field is Britain with an emphasis on England and Scotland. Most of my Scottish ancestors hail from the Borders (Scott, Douglas, Logan), and the rest are Jamisons from Clan Gunn and Orkney. I tell people I have horse thieves (reivers) hanging from every branch of the family tree.
What are five things you can't live without?
Books, family ties, the mountains, a cat, and open spaces that are safe to walk
Do you have a writing process? Do you have to listen to music, have complete silence, write only on a full moon?
I definitely don’t wait for a full moon. I write every day, often all day, and at the end of a book usually into the wee hours. In summers, I write in a cabin in the High Sierras with no land-line, no Web, no road, no sewer, and no electricity. The most efficient way to reach it is by water. I do have a solar panel there for the computer and a good deal of company from jays, squirrels, and the occasional neighbor who drops in for a sip of something (or I drop in on one of them). I love it there. I do have a family, and the rest of the year, I have an office in my home, and yes, it has music available when I want it. However, I do best when I can concentrate, and then I turn into a hermit and evict even the cat (or especially the cat, since he likes to edit what I write whenever I turn my back for a moment or two). Also, I’m very organized in the way I approach a book. I do detailed outlines before I begin to write, although I usually know what the first chapter will be before I finish the outline, and I’ll write that, so they can use it as a teaser chapter in whatever book I’ve just finished.
What are you reading right now?
I’m never reading just one book. At the moment I’m reading Full Black by Brad Thor, Only Yours by Susan Mallery, Photoshop Elements 10 for Dummies, and a history of Clan Colquhoun by an author whose name I don’t recall offhand.
Who is your favourite author and what is it about their work that resonates with you?
I don’t have a favorite author. I read constantly, voraciously, probably four or five books a week if you count research. I read everything, from political, legal, and medical thrillers to romance, mysteries, science fiction, and more literary books, even plays and poetry, as well as Scottish history. Some of my favorite authors are Jan Westcott, Lee Child, Brad Thor, Roberta Gellis, Janet Evanovich, Tess Gerritson, Emily Dickenson, Stephen J Cannell, Alex Kava, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, James Grippando, Jane Austen, Vince Flynn, John Sandford, Lisa Scottoline, Stuart Woods, Kate Wilhelm, Thomas Perry, Steve Berry, Dana Stabenow, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Daniel Silva, Elizabeth Peters, Greg Iles, Kay Hooper, Catherine Coulter, Deborah Crombie, John Nance…I could go on, but these are the first ones that come to mind, so you probably get the idea.
What's up next for Amanda Scott? What should readers be looking out for?
That would be the third and last book in my Scottish Knights trilogy, the aforementioned Highland Lover [Forever April 2012]. Its hero is Sir Jacob “Jake” Maxwell, who appeared as a boy in King of Storms, much of which takes place on a ship that the then eight-year-old Jake’s father captains until the hero “borrows” it with Jake and his father aboard. [Forever, August 2007]. Now grown, Jake is a knight of the realm and captain of his own galley, the Sea Wolf. To introduce a fictional secondary character from an earlier series as the hero of a new one is a first for me. But Jake’s background eminently qualified him to become a member of the St. Andrews brotherhood established (fictionally) by Bishop Walter Traill, which connects the 3 heroes in the trilogy.
My next trilogy, Lairds of the Loch, is in the works, too. The first book, The Laird’s Choice, is already finished, as I also mentioned above, and I’m currently working on Book 2. The three books in that trilogy will have heroes from clans on or near Loch Lomond, an area that connects the Highland with the Lowlands. Most clans there, but not all, are considered Highland clans.
The loch’s north and west banks are Highland, its south and southeastern areas generally Lowland. But clans in the latter areas often controlled lands on Highland shores too. The heroine of Book 1, Lady Andrena MacFarlan, is based on the Roman warrior-huntress Camilla who was close to Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt. Andrena also has a few extraordinary skills of her own. She can “read” people’s emotions and demeanors with extraordinary accuracy—people, that is, except for the hero, Magnus Mòr Galbraith (“Mag), who is a veritable giant and warrior with a mind of his own. Andrena’s father, Andrew Dubh MacFarlan, is trying to win back land stolen from him by a villainous cousin. Meantime, the lone estate that he still holds, Tùr Meiloach, (meaning “small tower guarded by giants”) does seem to be guarded by particularly fierce birds and beasts as well as aggressively treacherous landscape. The three sisters share an emotional bond so strong that each knows when one of the others is in trouble. To win back his lands, Andrew Dubh wants to marry his daughters to warriors from powerful clans, who will help him defeat his cousin. Meantime, the villains are plotting to bring down the King of Scots, who has recently returned from nineteen years of English captivity.
As book 1 opens, Andrena realizes that intruders have trespassed onto her family’s land and goes out into the woods beyond the tower walls to investigate, keeping herself well concealed. Meantime, the unarmed, nearly exhausted Mag is escaping from three of the villains, so…
Highland Lover will come out in April (which in publisher-speak means near the end of March), so look for its first chapter on my website in the next week or two.
The Laird’s Choice (Book 1 of Lairds of the Loch) will be out in the late fall, 2012, or early winter.
Can't wait! Thanks for chatting with us!