"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
I spent twenty years helping my grandfather, a retired British Historian, sort, restore and rewrite the history of our family in Scotland and England. That is where I came across the basis for my historical novel set in the year before the rising of William Wallace. I was working on pages for the history of my family in the late 1200s, and thought it a perfect story for a marvelous Historical Romance. I currently reside one-half of the year in Britain, the rest in Kentucky – a pattern of my whole life.
I have two series of Romances―A Contemporary Paranormal series, first two The Invasion of Falgannon Isle (November 2006) and Riding the Thunder (October 2007) published by Dorchester Love Spell. The second series is Scottish Medieval Historicals. A Restless Knight (July 2006) with the sequel In Her Bed (August 2007), published by Kensington Zebra Historical Romances. I also do short stories and novellas for Highland Press―No Law Against Love, Blue Moon Magic, Blue Moon Enchantment, Christmas Wishes, Holiday in the Heart and Recipe for Love.
An Interview with Deborah MacGillivray
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Deborah M.: It came in spurts. It was something I always knew I wanted to do, but every time I would make a good start, life kept intruding. Then I just decided the time was now or forget it.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Tell us about your writing schedule.
Deborah M.: I write fulltime. I generally write 13-19 hours a day, though I take it in breaks. I cannot sit at a desktop computer for more than a day or I experience neck problems, so I designed a really comfortable set up. I use a laptop and it sits on a special desk tray. Then there is a special knee pillow and a special chair pillow. So I sit in the bed and rock and roll! This cuts down on leg swelling that often plagues fulltime writers. I’m not sure how anyone sitting at a desk could write fulltime!
As for when I write― all the time―though I’m a night owl, so I do a lot of writing then. My mind is more creative during that period. I am fortunate to have good family support that lets me concentrate on writing. I’m not sure how people work fulltime and still writing part-time manage to juggle it all.
PNR: Being a new author, who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? On your work?
Deborah M.: Lynsay Sands and Maggie Davis have been guiding forces. Both are best-selling authors; both are very caring women who helped me face what it took to make it as a Romance author. I owe them both for taking the time to guide me.
I cannot say anyone influences my writing, though. I enjoy a variety of writers, beside Lynsay and Maggie. I love Anne Stuart, Jayne Ann Krentz, Tori Carrington and Nina Bangs, amongst others. However, I don’t let any of them affect how I write. A writer needs to reach within themselves and find their own voice.
Burroughs, my critique partner, has been a driving force in
Dawn Thompson is an inspiration. She is an author with Dorchester Publishing and Kensington Aphrodisia. She is a good friend, but often provides the focus I need to keep going when I am ready to pull out my hair!
PNR: Congratulations! You were a five time finalist in the 2006 PEARL Award including Best New Author, and Double, Double, Toil & Trouble (in the No Law Against Love Anthology from Highland Press) Tied for Winner for Best Novella/Short Story. You have received numerous honors, awards and a great deal of reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Deborah M.: The biggest win is people loving your stories. Oh, all the finalist and wins in contests are very gratifying, but the ability to tell your stories and keep telling them is the biggest win of them all. When people take time out of their busy lives to write and say they loved your books, then you know you are doing ‘well’.
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Deborah M.: Health, time and stress. The stress of being an author is unimaginable. It’s not the writing. It’s all the PR, the stats on sales, chats, interviews, book signings…they all eat away at the time you have for writing. While they are great fun, you have to watch to make sure you keep writing on a schedule.
There is NEVER enough time. People say when is the next book in a series and I tell them eleven months and they go, “so long?” To an author eleven months is just barely enough time to get everything done. I have never had the chance to promote as I really would like. Time, time, time…isn’t on my side, to paraphrase The Stones.
Health is something that can easily get out of whack. You have to eat, sleep and exercise or you could find yourself in a mess. My immune system crashed from the long hours and the stress. It was really rough patch getting it back to normal.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Deborah M.: The Hero! The heroine is big, too, but that hero is what gives the story the vitality. He is what gives the conflict, causes all the problems, the reason for the happy ending! That hero is a must.
PNR: Your print debut, A Restless Knight, released from Kensington Zebra in July 2006, and features a spirited Scot heroine, Lady Tamlyn and an English warrior, Julian Challon. Can you tell us about what inspired their story and your plans for The Dragons of Challon Series?
Deborah M.: Originally, I was working on historical records of my family. Many of them were moved during WWII, from lower England, out of the way of Hitler’s bombings. However, my great-grandfather―not a history lover, didn’t store them safely and many were lost or damaged. My grandfather retired early and has spent the remainder of his life trying to restore these, or more importantly filling in the gaps of what was lost.
I was helping on this one segment, back during the time of William Wallace’s period. We had a document about an English warrior coming to claim the lady in our family. Sadly, so much of this was destroyed, we had no idea whether this was factual or a story loosely based on fact. I grew so fascinated with it that I kept working to prove details for nearly two years. Once day it hit me, it had the ingredients for a perfect Historical Romance. Challon was such a strong character that he kept invading my dreams. I had to write the story. His story.
PNR: Historical fantasy romance seems to be experiencing a revival, what do you feel is responsible for its return to popularity? What made you choose to write in this genre?
Deborah M.: I’m not sure, in either of my series, that I set out to write a particular genre or write what was the current fad. I am a storyteller. In ages past, they told stories around fireside to entertain family and friends. Now we put it in book form.
I write what is in my heart, the stories waiting to get out. I am just lucky they are finding the place where people are interested in books with cross-genre themes.
As for the inclusion of paranormal elements in books that could stand alone without them…well, Scotland has always believed in magic. These things just seem to belong in my stories.
PNR: Tell us about the challenges you faced when using paranormal elements in a historic setting. How much research was involved?
Deborah M.: There is a big resistance from historical readers accepting paranormal elements. To a Scot who sees many things such as second sight as ‘normal’, that this really surprised me. When I entered A Restless Knight in contests, it was disqualified under Historical with the comment “This should be in paranormal”. When I entered it into Paranormal, I was disqualified with the comment, “This should be in Historical”. AARHG!! I know fellow writers that face this same resistance.
I am not sure why readers expect Historicals to be historical and contain nothing else. People were riddled with superstitions and beliefs in things that cannot be seen such as Fae and special ‘gifts’, and such were part of the ancient man and woman’s life. To ignore these beliefs, their way, is wrong.
Research for people not familiar with it would take a lot, I should assume. For me, I already had a background in ancient Scottish lore, pocket lore and Medieval history. So this was merely a matter of drawn upon what was already within my knowledge.
PNR: November 2006 saw the release of The Invasion of Falgannon Isle, an exceptional contemporary paranormal romance. Your quirky cast of secondary characters featuring 213 men in kilts is rivaled only by the emotionally intense relationship between your hero and heroine, Desmond and B.A. Could you tell us about the development of their story and your plans for The Seven Sisters of Colford Hall Series?
Deborah M.: This is very loosely based upon my own sisters. We were in our 30’s. We were dealing with being women who were in more control of who we are, where our lives were going, and each facing a new romance. It caused me to set out to do a series about sisters who find love better the second time around. I wanted women who were in full-bloom of their power in life, more content with who they are. The only area of their lives not settled was romance. One way or another, through bad romances, death etc., they were not settled in a relationship, maybe were even a bit resistant, not sure they wanted to open themselves to the pain of loving and losing again.
I picked out settings off-the-beaten path, where people are quirky, revel in their oddities, that truly enjoy a slower way of life and had very quaint priorities.
PNR: Your writing is infused with witty humor and clever dialogue, The Invasion of Falgannon Isle had many laugh out loud moments. Do you feel humor is an essential element in your writing?
Deborah M.: I didn’t at first. I set out to do heavy Historicals, full of drama, tears, heartaches and then triumphs. Lynsay Sands, who does funny Historicals and Vampires, encouraged me to write lighter. She said my voice and humor would work for them. She asked to see what I had on the drawing board and I showed her The Invasion of Falgannon Isle. She loved it, said run with it. Since she is one of the best writers in this style of Romance, I listened. I really found my voice for this type of story. It feels comfortable.
PNR: Please tell us about The Cat Dudley, he is awesome! What influenced you to feature a cat as a prominent character in your story?
Deborah M.: The Cat Dudley is a blend of three orange tabbies with white ‘bibs’ ― The Cat Cyril, The Cat Nigel and The Cat Basil. My grandfather’s cats. They run around his office and ‘manage’ things. My grandfather in his very proper Brit accent would always call them “THE CAT” before their names, so it was a joke in the family.
I think cats are a good draw for readers. They also provide clues to characters without having to tell readers specific things. In the instance of The Cat Dudley, he lets the reader know Desmond is a wonderful man. Des arrives on the island full of vengeance and pain. These destructive emotions are driving him to be hard, determined. The reader sees this darkness early on within Des. However, from the very start The Cat Dudley adores him. Since animals are good judges of character, his immediate acceptance lets the reader see Des isn’t as hard as he believes himself to be.
They are a fun element in a story, but they are also a very useful element.
PNR: Do you feel your stories are character driven or plot driven?
Deborah M.: Very
Character driven. I never plot anything out. I just create
these very vivid characters and then begin asking why. In
Falgannon, I saw the opening―where Desmond arrives and faces
B.A. for the first time. I asked who were they? What were they
doing there at the point in time? Why did they react? It all
evolves from them.
PNR: Which of your character(s) was your favorite to write? The most challenging?
Deborah M.: The challenge is making each character special. I fall in love with each hero. If I cannot love them, how can I hope the reader will? So while I am writing each hero and heroine are my favourite. Challon will always be special to me. He drove me, made me keep writing. Des is special in a different sort of way. He stole my heart.
PNR: Beyond the obvious, what is it about Men in Kilts that captures your imagination? That of the readers?
Deborah M.: I think MIKs are made up of Highland Magic. They are different than most men we meet. How many do you know you see everyday who would wear a kilt? So they are rare beasties, exotic, larger than life fables that capture the imagination, the heart.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Deborah M.: In August, In Her Bed comes out for Kensington Zebra Historicals. This is the sequel to A Restless Knight. This is the story of Damian St. Giles (Julian’s second cousin) and Aithinne Ogilvie (Tamlyn’s cousin). The story takes up when Damian vanished from the May Day ceremony, what happened to him!
Riding the Thunder comes out for Dorchester Love Spell.
PNR: Thank you, Deborah, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?Deborah's Award Winning Short Stories
Best New Author
The Seven Sisters of Colford Hall Series: Book 1
213 SINGLE SCOTSMEN
There was something about the Brigadoon-like Falgannon, something that kept most of its male inhabitants unwed. From Michael the Story to Callum the Bicycle—and we mustn’t forget The Cat Dudley, the slyest poker-playing moggie in the Outer Hebrides—every male of the Isle had happiness dependent upon that of its Lady. So things had been since Pictish times, and so they would be long after the present day.
Despite her machinations, to this point B.A. Montgomerie had been unable to make her men happy. Her first marriage had been against their advice; her husband had been an Irishman, true, but he had failed to meet other necessary requirements...and things had ended badly. Now, another Irishman had come—and was making the natives restless. Yes, the men of Falgannon could sense Desmond Mershan’s conquering Viking spirit and his desire for B.A.—which B.A. could sense herself. And while her men would never let anything happen that she didn’t want, this Irishman had come to pillage and loot, and nothing was going to stop him. Staring into his vibrant green eyes, B.A. anticipated the battles to come.
The Dragons of Challon Series: Book 1
A searching heart...
A Defiant Lady
In Scotland's darkest hour, an English warrior dressed all in black has come for her. Blessed with the kenning, Lady Tamlyn MacShane forsaw this day, when the ruthless Lord Julian Challon would conquer her land - and her heart. She is determined to resist him...but she is no match for his strength...or his sensuality...
A Resolute Lord
To Julian, the proud Scotswoman should be nothing more than a captive. Yet Tamlyn's fiery beauty ensnares him, body and soul. Now, the warrior known as the Black Dragon is in danger of falling under a spell that can't be broken - the spell of love...
August 1, 2007
The Dragons of Challon Series: Book 2
Damian St. Giles has woken up before with a sore head from imbibing too much mead, but finding himself naked and shackled to a bed is an entirely new experience. As if in a dream, a flame-haired enchantress appears and offers him a brew to ease his pain & and enflame his desire. He soon realizes this Highland beauty has given him a potent aphrodisiac and she is fully prepared to take all his body has to offer &
The Seven Sisters of Colford Hall Series: Book 2
A storm’s coming
It was all part of the plan. While his brother was in Scotland dethroning the Lady of Falgannon, Jago Mershan was headed to Kentucky. There he would do his share in avenging his father on the Montgomeries. Only, there was a monkey wrench in the works.
Just looking at his alleged enemy’s granddaughter made Jago think of his classic black ’67 Harley Electra Glide in black, a motorcycle with clean lines and sleek curves that promised the ride of a man’s life. Asha was all woman—and the only woman for him. He’d bet she could go from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye…and not even her claims of paranormal happenings in the diner she ran could put him off. He knew magic: He had a special name for the sights, the sounds, the tastes and smells of that perfect ride. There might be a storm coming, but it was one of passion, and together he and Asha be would…
RIDING THE THUNDER
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