"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Award-winning author Sandy Blair has slept in castles, dined with peerage, floated down Venetian canals, explored the great pyramids, lost her husband in an Egyptian ruin (she still denies being the one lost,) and fallen (gracefully) off a cruise ship.
Winner of Romance Writers of America’s © Golden Heart and the National Readers Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance, the Write Touch Readers Award for Best Historical, the Golden Quill and Barclay Awards for Best Anthology, nominated for a 2005 RITA and recipient of Romantic Times BOOKReview’s 4 ½ star Top Pick and K.I.S.S. ratings, Sandy loves writing about Scotland’s past.
Her third novel, THIEF IN A KILT was released November 1, 2006. Publishers Weekly wrote about A THIEF IN A KILT~Blair’s attention to historical and regional detail supports a fine balance of action and romance, making this political potboiler a winning read.
Sandy resides in Dallas, Texas with her tall Scot husband and neurotic cock-a-poo, Coco.
An Interview with Sandy Blair
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Sandy B.: Books have always been a big part of my life, but I never gave serious thought to writing one until I was putting together our family history and realized I knew precious little about how my grandparents thought and nothing about my great grandparents. Deciding I wanted to leave something tangible behind (beyond my mitochondrial DNA) for my grand and great grandchildren--so they might know how my mind works, know my values—I started my first story. Along the way I somehow morphed into the Energizer Bunny. I had so much fun writing, I just kept on going and going...
PNR: What do you enjoy most about writing? What is the most frustrating?
Sandy B.: I love bringing a new world and new people to life, am addicted to the creation process.
The most frustrating part of being a writer is reading something brilliant written by another author and wishing I’d written it.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, what is your favorite genre to read?
Sandy B.: I read all genres, but my first love will always be Romance because I’m guaranteed an emotionally satisfying ending.
PNR: Where do you get your story ideas?
Sandy B.: Usually a quirky or interesting set up will come to mind first. Then a lead character will come to life. Once I’ve discover his or her goals, motivations and what he/she fears most, the rest follows naturally.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Sandy B.: Characters you can believe in. The reader must be able to relate to them on a primal level if they’re to laugh and cry with them as the story unfolds.
PNR: November 2006 saw the release of A Thief in a Kilt from Zebra. Could you tell us a little about your latest in the Castle Blackstone series?
Sandy B.: Thanks for asking. A THIEF IN A KILT: His regent’s eyes and ears about Scotland, Ian MacKay is intent on returning his rightful king to the throne when he discovers an English spy within the Stuart court. When the woman bolts, he gives chase only to discover he’s not the only one with secrets that can rock a nation and bring down a king.
PNR: Historical-paranormal 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?
Sandy B.: As I was sitting on a headland on the outskirts of Appin, Scotland studying my husband’s clan’s ancestral home, the island bound Castle Stalker, I wondered what it might be like to inherit such a place. And what if it came with a ghost??…and that thought became A MAN IN A KILT. The rest of the series grew from there. I’ve continued to incorporate paranormal elements because I believe they expand the imagination and give me a lot more latitude for humor.
PNR: You have written elements of ghosts, magic, and fantasy in the Castle Blackstone series; what challenges do you face when using paranormal elements in a historic setting? How much research was involved?
Sandy B.: Historical data/facts can take weeks, sometimes months, to research, but it’s generally my imagination that generates the ghosts, witches and fey that populate my imaginary world. Once created, I then have to rely on the kindness of strangers. In the case of A ROGUE IN A KILT and my pagan healer heroine Birdi, I contacted a pagan healer in Scotland. In A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS I had need of a witch and contacted High Priestess Sandra Mariah Power of Salem, Massachusetts. If I have a question about a particular ceremony I contact a believer in that faith whatever it might be. Most have been wonderfully forthcoming.
PNR: You have been complimented on your engaging characters; could you tell us a little about their development? Which character was your favorite to write? Most challenging?
Sandy B.: Thank you. My favorite character to date is probably Birdi of A ROGUE IN A KILT. She’s naive, which in turn makes her funny, she’s compassion itself, which makes her vulnerable, and she’s a moral compass when it would have served her better not to be, which in the end breaks your heart. She’s a Medieval Lady Justice…and just as blind.
The most challenging character to date has been Ian MacKay of A THIEF IN A KILT. Readers had met him in A ROGUE and if their letters were any indicator, they had high expectations for the intelligent and randy spy. So not knowing what else to do, I pretty much gave the man the reins and let him write the book…which was a lesson learned. (Don’t send a man to do a woman’s job. They’ll spend all day in bed---or in a hammock—making love if you let them.)
PNR: Beyond the obvious, what is it about men in kilts that captures your imagination? That of the readers?
Sandy B.: I don’t know about the rest of you but all I have to do is hear a Scottish brogue and my knees turn to mush and I’m looking for a bed. (Did I mention I’m married to a 6’ 5” Scot?)
PNR: What is your favorite genre to write? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try writing in the future?
Sandy B.: I love writing my light hearted Scottish tales but would love to write a pure, scary Gothic.
PNR: What can readers look forward to in the coming months? Do you have any projects in the works?
Sandy B.: A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS, a light-hearted romp, is scheduled for release October 2, 2007. On the eve of his clan joining the Jacobite rebellion, Highlander Cameron MacLeod finds himself thrown forward in time and into our world of planes, computers and Victoria’s Secret. He’s armed and dangerous if you happen to be the lovely antique dealer who holds the key to his returning to his own time and place.
Currently, I’m working on A WARRIOR IN A KILT, book 4 of the Castle Blackstone series. And when I need a break from that, I’m trying to work out the kinks in a Scottish based Vamp trilogy.
PNR: Thank you, Sandy, for taking time out to talk to us, where can readers find out more about your upcoming projects, and how can they contact you?
Sandy B.: Thank you! Readers can find loads of interesting material on writing, see photos of the many castles that I’ve stayed in, access a Gael/Auld Scot glossary and discover “what’s under the kilt” by visiting my web site www.Sandyblair.net
Featured in this issue:
Website Articles What's Under the Kilt?
Castle Blackstone series: Book 3
A Rogue By Any Other Name
Scoundrel. Seducer. Sir Ian MacKay deserves to be called the Thief of Hearts. Yet he is a man with a mission: to return Scotland’s rightful king to his ancestral throne. But first he must find out the true identify of the mysterious woman whose beauty and wit have dazzled the court...and why she is avoiding him. Can it be possible that Kate Templeton is an English spy?
Though Ian insists that no woman has ever refused him, Kate vows to resist his scandalous charm. Leading him on a merry chase all over Scotland is the best way to safeguard her heart. Yet a passionate confrontation brings them together at last and the only word on her lips is yes...
Castle Blackstone series: Book 2
The Bravest Heart
To win a wager-and the keys to a castle from his leige lord-Sir Angus McDougall must find a bride in three months' time. What woman would refuse so bold a knight. His slightly tarnished armor and battle scars should not matter-and yet they all say no. Then an inadvertent handfasting binds him to Birdalane, a shy beauty and gifted healer whom some consider a witch. And Angus cannot help but to fall under her spell...
The Fairest Bride
Though he is a stranger to her, Birdalane leaves her woodland home to follow her new husband over the hills and dales of Scotland. Their journey is difficult and she has neither kith nor kin to help her. But her mystical gift allows her to read his innermost heart...and foretell the incredible path they will travel together...
Castle Blackstone series: Book 1
A Lonely Laird
Duncan MacDougal, the laird of Blackstone, was cursed centuries ago to wander as a ghost within the echoing walls of his island castle--and only one woman can free him. Can it be the new mistress of Blackstone, just arrived from over the sea? Duncan has heard that pretty Miss Elizabeth Pudding is no more than a cook--and she hails from a barbarous land called the Bronx. But she must learn the ways of a lady all the same--and she must stay at Blackstone for six long months to inherit. 'Tis time enough to teach her--and time enough to woo her...
An Enchanting Lady
Beth has seen the handsome specter from the day she crossed the threshold of Blackstone. Duncan MacDougal is a tall, translucent figure with black hair and piercing blue eyes. Yet a mist separates him form the land of the living ...a mist as strong as cold steel. It is said that only love can dissolve it--and bring the man of her dreams to warm, breathing life.
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