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Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Question and Answer Session with Amanda Scott

Romancing the Genres caught up with Amanda Scott who graciously answered a few questions about Scotland, writing, Scotland, history and Scotland!
What draws you to Scotland?
I've written books set in the English Regency and Victorian periods and books set in Wales, as well as the Scottish Historicals I’m writing now. My field is British history with an emphasis on England and Scotland, and my heritage is Scottish on both sides with the addition of Welsh on my father’s side. 
Most of my Scottish ancestors hail from the Borders (Scott, Douglas, Logan), and the rest are Jamisons from Clan Gunn and the Isles of Orkney. I tell people I have horse thieves (reivers) hanging from every branch of the family tree. 
Library Journal actually credited me with starting the Scottish Historical genre with my book BORDER BRIDE (which took seven years to find a publisher, at Dell! Then Diana Gabaldon sent Outlander to Dell just about the time the numbers for BORDER BRIDE began rolling in, and Outlander is what really set everything off. Kensington republished BORDER BRIDE in September 2001, and it hit the US Today best-seller list. It is now available only in its electronic version from the usual online outlets.
What do you love about writing Scottish historical romances? 
I love writing about Scotland, because historically Scottish women have always had strong influences and been legal entities under early Celtic and later institutionalized laws. In the Celtic regions, their influence was particularly strong, because they were allowed, even expected, to sit in on the doings of the chiefs, even of the Lords of the Isles. Legally, such meetings or courts had to be held outside or at least in a space large enough to accommodate all comers. 
In the Lowlands and Borders, men did tend to expect their women always to heed their commands, but they were not legally allowed to beat them severely or control them the way Englishmen could legally control wives and daughters (and were legally expected to). 
In England, a woman was not even an entity under the law unless she was a widow. Before that, she was merely her father’s daughter or her husband’s wife, and the man was supposed to control her. Englishmen who wanted to leave inheritances to their daughters or granddaughters had to go through legal hoops to make sure that her husband or father could not seize her inheritance. 
Those of you who read Regency romances will recognize Lady Sally Jersey as such a woman. Sally was the wealthiest woman in England, because her grandfather (Robert Child of Child’s Bank) left her his fortune, skipping his own daughter, Anne, who married a man he loathed Sally’s father, John Fane, the 10th Earl of Westmorland). He wasn't fond of the Earl of Jersey, either, so he arranged for Sally to inherit the works in her own right. In Scotland, a woman could even inherit a title. A Scotsman could certainly put his wife or daughter over his knee and smack her, but if a man was brutal to his wife or daughter, the rest of the clan or village would shame him for it.
What's the hardest aspect of writing your books?
Getting the ass in the chair (as Virginia Woolf so gracefully phrased it). I’m very disciplined, overall, and get everything in on time (albeit often at the very last minute). However, when Life intervenes, things can go way off course and getting back on course can be challenging. 
I also sometimes have trouble getting into my normal rhythm. I work better in the mornings and evenings than I do in the afternoon, but I also need exercise and fresh air, and in Sacramento, anytime other than winter or early spring (and yes, we do have winter when temps can drop into the teens and twenties) I need to walk in the morning, and I prefer to get the big walk out of the way then. I can hear some of you who live in the Midwest and East snickering at the temperatures I mentioned. My husband and I lived in Omaha for 7 years, and our son was born there, so I know what real cold is, too. In any event, things do usually come together, and by the second half of any first draft, I normally produce ten to twenty pages a day.

Where do you get the inspiration for your characters/storyline?
Ideas, especially the first germinations, come from everywhere you can possibly imagine. Since I write Historicals, the background ideas and characters usually come from the research, and I do a LOT of research for every book. 
But everything else, character traits, even characters, can pop up when I least expect them. For example, I sign books at Scottish games all over the west coast and inland as far as Colorado, and I met a woman who worked in the booth, who was so nice that she nearly drove the rest of us nuts. If I stood up, she would ask if I was going to the bathroom, and should she tell fans that I would be right back. At lunchtime, she would make a list of all the food vendors and offer to get sandwiches or drinks for any of us who were signing. She hovered but always very kindly and with our best interests at heart. 
I had just finished Border Fire, where the heroine’s brother was a bad guy, and I wanted him to be the hero of my next book, Border Storm. I knew he’d have some lessons to learn for readers to accept him in that role, and giving him a kindly aunt seemed just the ticket. By the way, any author who tells you that s/he never uses people s/he knows as characters is full of it. We all write what we know (or we certainly should). The thing is that we pick certain traits and use those examples to pattern our characters. We also give those characters flaws that the originals either do not have or would never admit to having. J

You have a new release, Devil's Moon, coming out next month. Tell us a little about this book.

 DEVIL’S MOON (Forever, late March 2015), the sequel to MOONLIGHT RAIDER (Forever, September 2014) is set in early 15th century Scotland and is an excellent example of how a plot can germinate. In the course of researching the Scotts of Buccleuch (my own most likely heritage), I came across the Gledstanes of Coklaw in a book written in the late 19th century about the Scotts. The Gledstanes are ancestors of the Gladstones, as in Prime Minister Gladstone of Great Britain
More to the point, for DEVIL’S MOON, during the late 19th century, a jar of silver coins was discovered a short distance outside Coklaw’s wall. The coins were very old, though, dating to the 14th century and before. The author made a good case for their provenance, and the seed for DEVIL’S MOON was planted and began to germinate.
The heroine is Lady Robina Gledstanes, whose twin brother died recently in a Border skirmish with the villainous English, and Robina can still hear Rab talking to her but has confided this fact to no one else. Her nine-year-old brother, Benjy is the new heir. 
The hero is Sir David “Devil” Ormiston of Ormiston, a knight and warrior with a legendary temper, whose best friend was Rab Gledstanes. Rab died defending Dev and made him promise to keep an eye on Robina and Benjy. Not being a relation, still grieving himself, and knowing that Robina has a mind of her own, Dev has not yet decided how to approach the matter when he sees someone riding Rab’s charger and leading a band of reivers, sets out in pursuit, and catches guess-who in her bedchamber ….
Tell us a little about yourself, your writing life.
Amanda Scott
I think I covered my writing life above. I’m a fourth-generation Californian with Scottish ancestry on both sides. My father’s Scott family included Jamisons, Logans, Fergusons, and other clans. My mother's Lowell family included Douglases. There are also a few Welsh Joneses in the Scott mix. I’m married, have one son, two grandchildren, and a Persian cat named Willy Magee, who was the model for the Wee Biter in SEDUCED BY A ROGUE. I spend a good part of my summers writing, hiking, kayaking, and just zoning out at our cabin in the High Sierras. No phone, no electricity, no sewers, no road, just peaceful bliss.

Also, I am always eager to learn more about readers’ thoughts and expectations. So, if you've yearned to read about something historically Scottish or a particular type of hero or heroine that you have yet to discover in my books or anyone else’s, just let me know. Likewise, if you have a pet peeve, just say so. I've received many excellent suggestions from readers in the past (such as the one who discovered the unpublished 16th century manuscript from which sprouted the seeds for the Galloway trilogy: TAMED BY A LAIRD, SEDUCED BY A ROGUE, and TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR).
You can reach me through my website or my Facebook page: and you can find most of my older eBooks with buy points in all formats on my page at Open Road Media


Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for Guesting here at Romancing the genres, Amanda.

Your interview is one of the most interesting I've read. I love the depth of your research. It shows in your stories. Learning about history is one of the things that makes reading historicals fun.

Terri Reed said...

Fabulous interview! I love Scottish Historicals. I'm pretty sure I've read your border books. I look forward to reading your newest book.
I went to college in Sacramento, married my husband there and my mom lives there now. I've always wanted to go to a Highland Games. That must be so fun to sign your books there and introduce people to the romance genre!.

Paty Jager said...

Fun and interesting interview. That's wonderful you write about the country of your roots. I'm a Heinz 57 which makes writing a book about my roots as eclectic as the genres I write. ;) Your extensive research is why your a sought after Scottish Romance Author. Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

Courtney Pierce said...

I so admire your thoroughness in researching your books. The Scottish culture is so rich in tradition. In many ways, it hasn't changed for hundreds of years. My husband and I were fortunate to have spent a vacation on the Isle of Skye. Have you ever thought of setting one of your books there? Thanks a million for your post!

Judith Ashley said...

Thank you for being our guest on Romancing The Genres, Amanda. And Thank You for sharing your passion for Scotland and Scottish culture. There is so much we can learn from well-researched books like yours.

Diana McCollum said...

I really enjoyed your blog post. Scotland is one place I'd like to visit. I have done that through your Border books. I met you once at a RWA meeting in Sacramento, before I moved to Oregon. Thanks for sharing your process with us. Good luck on sales!