Elaine’s new book, a time-travel paranormal romance called The Return of Black Douglas, was released by Sourcebooks Casablanca on April 1there are a ton of new books out this week in our favorite genres (for the uninitiated, that’s urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA paranormal, sci fi and fantasy). I have lots to get up on the blog this week so I’m going to try something different—and it is a really great read (because I, like, want my own 16th-century Scottish hunk). The nice folks at Sourcebooks will be giving away two copies so read through to the contest info at the end!
First, about The Return of Black Douglas: He’ll Help a Woman in Need No Matter Where She Came From… Alysandir Mackinnon rules his clan with a fair but iron fist. He has no time for softness or, as he sees it, weakness. But when he encounters a bewitching young beauty who may or may not be a dangerous spy, but surely is in mortal danger, he’s compelled to help… She’s Always Wondered if She Was Born in the Wrong Time…Thrown back in time to the tumultuous, dangerous Scottish Highlands of the 16th century, Isobella Douglas has a lot to learn about her ancestors, herself, and her place in the world. Especially when she encounters a Highland laird who puts modern men to shame…Each one has secrets to keep, until they begin to strike a chord in each other’s hearts that’s never been touched before…
Welcome, Elaine! What drew you to writing historicals, and to Scotland specifically?
My love of research is what drove me to write Historical Romance over other genres, simply because I love history. I truly find great joy in it and take great pride in my research. As for what drew me to Scotland, I have Scottish ancestors that I’ve researched, so I had a strong bond with the country before I started writing. Of course, the logical reason might be because readers love books set there, but the true answer goes much deeper than that, for my reasons are a varied as the land itself. Even the coldest of hearts cannot help but be moved by Scotland’s tragic past, so full of forlorn causes, thwarted ambitions, heart-wrenching failures, and the ultimate humiliation by England. I have only to hear the mournful tune of a bagpipe to feel it even now, for theirs is one of the most widely known narratives in the world, for it is the nature of us all to retain the sad fragments of another’s past.
I’ve read you’re a stickler for research, and you’ve used fascinating details about 16th-century archaeology and medicine in The Return of Black Douglas. What’s your research method? Do you have favorite sources?
I do a couple of months of research before I start writing. My number-one source is the Internet, but I also have many books. I spent over a week researching medicine in the early 16th century in Scotland before I learned there was actually a medieval hospital built in the Lowlands.
Which came first: the Douglas sisters’ occupations (archaeologist and physician) or the plot that called for someone in those occupations—which I guess is a roundabout way to ask whether you come up with the characters first, or the situation/plot?
I knew the twins’ occupations as soon as I decided to take the twins back in time. Knowing their occupations was a driving force for plotting when I outlined the book.
One of the most fun scenes to read in The Return of Black Douglas is Alysandir, a 16th-century Scottish warrior, fiddling with an iPhone. What was the most fun scene to write?
Truthfully, there were so many fun scenes in this book that I found myself laughing out loud frequently. From the first moment they met, the hero and heroine seemed to take over and define their relationship. I think it helped that the heroine was an educated woman, as was the hero, and that they were equally matched in the stubborn department—the perfect fodder for humor. I loved the wit born of their first meeting, her adventure with the thorns, and yes, the iPhone scene, because I had so much fun with Alysandir’s childlike awe, especially when he picked up her backpack and, handing it to her, asked if she had more.
More than ten years passed between The Bride of Black Douglas and The Return of Black Douglas—numbers one and two in the Mackinnon-Douglas series, but you also have a long-running Mackinnon Brothers series. Can you talk about how all these are interrelated?
The Mackinnon books came first and were supposed to be only three books, but when I finished them and put a note in the back that it was sad to see the series end, the readers flooded my mailbox (and Dell’s) with letters asking for books on the rest of the brothers, so I wrote five more books. At the end, I put another goodbye letter, and once again there was a flood of mail wanting the sister’s story. So, I gave them her story in If You Love Me, and they gave me my first New York Times bestseller.
Then I began to get mail wanting me to write about the Scottish ancestors of the Mackinnons. But other books were scheduled for me to write, until in 2000 I wrote The Bride of Black Douglas. Immediately, I received mail to write more Douglas books, but I was writing another series. After taking several years away from writing to see to the big weddings of two daughters and the arrival of four grandbabies, I was ready to write again. Wanting to give both the Mackinnon book lovers and the Black Douglas book lovers what they wanted, I decided to give them both an entirely new series on the ancestors of the 19th-century Mackinnons who will eventually learn how to put up with the mischief of the Black Douglas.
What’s your favorite time period/place about which to write?
I really enjoyed writing this book, for I always wanted to write about a knight. I am, by no means, ready to be a one-knight writer! I also love Scotland as a setting, partly because I have several lines of Scots ancestors and because their history calls out to me to give it a voice.
What’s next for the Mackinnon-Douglas series? Will we learn what happens to Elisabeth Douglas?
Would I dare leave all of you in limbo, wondering what happened to Elisabeth? I am busy writing her book now, Lord of Black Isle, which is a Summer 2012 release and, yes, the Black Douglas will be pestering Elisabeth this time.
Thanks, Elaine! Want to win a copy of The Return of Black Douglas? (Don’t worry about the series order because this works great as a standalone.) Leave a comment, and you know the rest of the drill. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Be sure to include your email. Now...Go forth and comment!