"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Sara has always had an interest in history, and to survive a series of mind-numbing jobs, she turned to writing romance. She lives in an old house with her husband and two children in the state of Victoria, Australia, where she tries to keep the house and garden tidy, but rarely succeeds—she'd rather be writing or reading. Sara has written eight books for Avon under the name Sara Bennett, her most recent being Mistress of Scandal. She writes paranormal under the name Sara Mackenzie.
An Interview with Sara Mackenzie
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Sara M.: Yes, I always wanted to write. I’m one of those people who started writing as a child and just kept at it. When I was eighteen I won a short story contest and had some other stories published in a magazine, and after that there was no stopping me.
PNR: What do you enjoy most about writing? What is the most frustrating?
Sara M.: I enjoy creating a world and people out of my own imagination. There’s a moment during the writing process when the story becomes so real it no longer seems like my own creation. The characters begin to decide their own actions. I know then I’ve done a good job. And frustrating? Probably the sense that I never have enough quiet time, there’s always something happening in my house and it usually requires me to get up from my computer and sort it out.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, what is your favorite genre to read?
Sara M.: I love crime fiction, but I prefer it not too dark and there has to be a romance going on. Other than that I spend most of my time reading research books. I’ve just finished one on the Queens of Scotland, and although I may not need the information now it will probably come in handy one day.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Sara M.: A great story is a story you can lose yourself in. There mustn’t be anything that jolts you out of it. You have to believe in it, and especially in the characters. I think most important to me are the characters, they have to be “real” and you have to care about them.
PNR: Congratulations on the RITA nomination for Secrets of the Highwayman, the second book in the Immortal Warriors series. This series has been very popular with readers and reviewers, how does it feel to have such positive recognition for work?
Sara M.: I was so thrilled when I got that phone call! I didn’t expect to feel like that, I’m a down to earth sort of person, but I was so excited I rang everyone I knew to tell them the news. I don’t know how well the series has done—the final figures aren’t in—but I have had so many readers telling me they loved the books and asking for more. In the end that feedback is probably more important than any awards, nice though they are.
PNR: You have been very successful writing historical romance as Sara Bennett. What influenced your decision to branch out into the paranormal romance genre with your Immortal Warriors series?
Sara M.: I wonder that myself sometimes, when I have a deadline looming! No, the truth is I am fascinated by the paranormal and always have been. In my early days as a writer I published several ghost stories and I’ve always wanted to do more. When the chance came to write a paranormal series I decided on the areas of the genre that interested me the most, that is folklore and myths and legends. I also liked the idea of a world where the souls of those who had not fulfilled their earthly promise waited to be set free, which I called the Between-worlds. The series grew from there.
PNR: What inspired the Immortal Warriors series? How do you develop your story ideas?
Sara M.: I started off with the basic premise of a flawed hero. The Immortal Warriors are heroes who, because of a mistake or a quirk of character, failed to live up to expectations. Take Maclean in Return of the Highlander. He is a great man and a great leader, but he was brought up by a father who loathed women and so he cannot trust them, he doesn’t really understand them, and he ignores his mother’s advice and makes a decision that destroys himself and his people. When he is allowed to return to the mortal world, he comes to the present and meets Bella, and she teaches him to trust women and he falls in love with her. He is then able to fulfill his destiny and change history.
PNR: December 2006 saw the release of Passions of the Ghost from Avon, the third book in the Immortal Warriors series. Could you tell us a little about Lord Reynald de Mortimer and Amy Fairweather’s story? What are your plans for the Immortal Warriors series?
Sara M.: Reynald is a powerful lord ruling a kingdom on the border between England and Wales in the late 1200s. He doesn’t trust his own judgment, and because of this he failed his people. The story has a dragon in it—a Welsh dragon, of course—and a ghostly figure with a lantern, both part of the folklore I use throughout the series. Amy is a modern young woman from a troubled background. She wants to break free of her brother, who is a con artist, but he persuades her to do one more job for him. They are staying at a Medieval resort—which used to be Reynald’s castle—and targeting a wealthy but nasty Russian prince. When Reynald turns up he gets very confused, but he has a job to do. The dragon that killed him centuries ago is sleeping, waiting, and soon it will awake. He and Amy are attracted to each other right away, and she helps him to believe in himself and slay the dragon, while he helps her to realize her dreams.
The Immortal Warriors series will go on. I have a story planned for later this year and hopefully you will be able to download it from my website. I am also about to start another series which is a spin-off from the Warriors. These are darker, more alpha heroes who come from the World of the Dead, in other words “hell”, so they will need a lot of rehabilitation from their modern-day partners!
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?
Sara M.: My characters usually begin as fairly flat and uninteresting, but they develop through rewriting, where I get to know them and understand what makes them tick. Sometimes I get lucky and a character arrives fully developed on the page, but that is a special moment. I don’t think I have a favorite character, they’re all favorites. Strangely enough I find the villains easiest to write, I don’t know what that says about me <G>.
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?
Sara M.: When I’m writing historical I love it, but when I’m writing paranormal I feel the same way, so I’m in a perfect position at the moment, doing them both. I did try to write crime once but I found it much harder than I thought it would be. I think crime requires a lot of plotting and pre-planning and I am a “fly into the mist” sort of writer. Maybe one day I’ll give it another go.
PNR: Beyond the obvious, what is it about men in kilts that captures your imagination? That of the readers?
Sara M.: I’ve thought about this and the only thing I can come up with is the romance associated with the Highlands—Bonnie Prince Charlie hiding from the English, and brave clansmen in battle, and the breathtaking beauty of the scenery. I think men in kilts had to be very tough to survive in such rugged, difficult conditions. The Scots were always fighting among them themselves, and life was tough in those picturesque glens, they’d have to be very alpha. And if an alpha man like that fell in love then it would be really something.
PNR: What can readers look forward to in the coming months? Do you have any projects in the works?
Sara M.: I have just finished a Sara Bennett and I’m about to start another Sara Mackenzie, and I’m contracted for two more each. I had such a busy year last year that I needed a bit of a break, but now it’s back to work. The Greentree series will continue for my historical readers, and as I said there will be a new series for my paranormal readers.
PNR: Thank you, Sara, for taking time out to talk to us, where can readers find out more about your upcoming projects, and how can they contact you?
Sara M.: I have two websites,
and I try to keep them up-to-date so that my readers know what’s going on. I always answer any emails or letters sent to me, although these days I seem to be getting further behind. The address to reach me is on my website. And I run contests most months and send out a Heads-up newsletter to my subscribers.
Thank you to PNR for having me, I’ve enjoyed it!
Featured in this issue:
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Immortal Warriors: Book 3
He is Lord Reynald de Mortimer, a powerful warrior of the thirteenth century who defended his castle against his fiercest enemies. Now Reynald has awakened from a seven-hundred-year sleep to find that his beloved home has been turned into a modern hotel. Worse, it is host to a medieval festival! Before Reynald can begin to contemplate his fate, a stunning beauty comes to his rescue . . .
Amy Fairweather is not your typical damsel. Nor is she in distress. As a former con artist, it'll take more than a breathtaking giant in armor to convince her that he's the Lord Reynald . . . even if he does set Amy's nights ablaze with passion and magic. But then strange, inexplicable things start to happen at the hotel, and she has no choice but to believe that the Ghost has emerged from the shadows of time. And now he must seek redemption by facing his greatest threat . . . with the unquestioning love of one extraordinary woman by his side.
Immortal Warriors: Book 2
Melanie Jones thought she was imagining things. Surely there's not a breathtaking man astride a magnificent black horse racing her sports car on a country road. And he has the nerve to wink at her, just before he vanishes into the night! When he appears to her in solid, sinewy muscle, Melanie realizes he's real . . . and irresistible.
Nearly two centuries ago, Nathaniel Raven was betrayed and murdered by a trusted friend. He now has one opportunity to uncover the secrets of that night, and Melanie is the only woman who can help him. She may be the most infuriating and independent woman he's ever known, but there is no denying the burning passion between them . . . or the lethal danger that has followed him from the past . .
Immortal Warriors: Book 1
Morven Maclean has been sleeping in the between-worlds for two hundred and fifty years and now he's going home.
But his home is destroyed, his clan all gone, and an annoying woman called Bella is renting a cottage on his land.
And as if that isn't bad enough, he's invisible . . .
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