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Friday, January 24, 2014

Taking Tea with... Vonda Sinclair (and a bunch of hunky highlanders)

My front hall is full of large highlanders (all clamouring for whisky) who appear to be accompanying this Friday's tea guest, best selling and award winning writer of Scottish romantic historicals, Vonda Sinclair.

If you can just push through them, Vonda; George has brought through the tea trolley. What is your preference (or would you prefer a bit of the whisky and haggis to share with those delightful men you have brought with you)?

Hi, Alison! Thank you so much for inviting me (and my Highlanders) to your lovely home. Hello, George, so nice to meet you. I'm not much of a pure whisky drinker. I'd love to have some Bruadar if you have it. It's a liqueur made in Scotland with whisky, honey and sloe berries. Far more tasty (to me) than whisky. If you don't have that, I'll take some green tea. As for the haggis, it will be gone in two minutes in the presence of these hungry Highlanders.

I have a confession to make, Vonda, the romantic skirl of bagpipes just makes my ears hurt… so despite my Scottish antecedents (and Stuart, while my pen name, is also a family name), I am probably a disgrace to my clan… what is it about Scotland that draws you?

Oh wow, there are so many wonderful things about Scotland that I love. The friendly people, the beautiful, breathtaking landscapes (usually featuring a castle by a loch) of the Highlands, the food. I love visiting all the historic and prehistoric sites. Walking through the towns, on a pebble beach, or hiking in Glencoe is an adventure (AS:  I have to agree with you there - I have wonderful memories of the King's House Hotel with the mist wreathing the valley)

Aye, if you're too close to the bagpiper, your ears can hurt, for the pipes are loud and shrill (AS:  Formal mess dinners in the Army killed the bagpipes for me, Vonda!). But at a distance, with the chill Highland wind whipping, there is naught lovelier than the skirl of bagpipes. I love to bring the romance of Scotland and the bravery of the Highlanders to life in my books.
(AS:  I was in a little town hidden in the high country of Victoria last year and we woke to a lone piper high above the town. It was chilling and haunting at the same time so I retract what I said about bagpipes...they have their moment!)

When you are not lost in your beloved highlands, are you writing full time or do you have a “day job” that keeps you grounded in reality?

I'm fortunate and thankful to write full time. I have the best job on earth and the perfect job for me. Since I was a child, getting lost in my own imagination was what I enjoyed most. I tried many jobs over the years before I was published, but I was miserable in most of them. Writing is definitely the thing for me. :)

Would you agree that the love affair with men in kilts began with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or does it go further back? Is it here to stay and do you think “Scottish Historical Romance” is now an established  sub genre of historical romance in the same way as “Regency Historical”?

Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series got me hooked on hot Highlanders. :) And I read several Highland historical romances before her books came out. I'm a huge fan of romance. Yes, I think Scottish historical romance is here to stay and it's a reader favorite. It's easy to see why. Scotland has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. And who can resist a fierce Highland warrior in a kilt who is so loving and protective of his lady?

You’ve written 5 books in your award winning and Amazon best selling series of “Highlander” books. What is the link between the series and are there any others to come?

Yes, there are more books to come in the Highland Adventure series. I'm writing the next one now (My Rebel Highlander) about Rebbie, a sexy, entertaining Scottish earl who has been in the last four books as a secondary character and friend of the heroes of those books. Rebbie loves to tease and needle his friends, but he also helps them. 

The books are connected by family and friend relationships. The heroes of My Fierce Highlander and My Wild Highlander are brothers (Alasdair and Lachlan). The hero (Dirk) of My Brave Highlander is the friend of Lachlan. The hero of My Daring Highlander (Keegan) is the cousin of Dirk. The heroine of My Notorious Highlander (Jessie) is the sister of Dirk. Rebbie is best friends with Lachlan and Dirk. That was probably as clear as mud. LOL Each book stands alone and they can be read in any order, but it's probably best to read them in order to appreciate the relationships between all the secondary characters. Readers tell me they enjoy seeing what's going on with the heroes and heroines of the earlier books as I revisit them as secondary characters in later books. Books 3, 4 and 5 are more closely connected because some of the villains are the same. I also have plans to write about Isobel's brothers. She is the heroine in My Brave Highlander and she has five gorgeous brothers who all need to find wives. :)

Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?

The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.
Castle Stalker

    And some more about today's delightful guest, VONDA SINCLAIR 

Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. Her books have won an EPIC Award and a National Readers' Choice Award. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.

AND VONDA IS OFFERING A GIVEAWAY OF MY NOTORIOUS HIGHLANDER... drop by and tell us what kind of Highland hero is your favourite?  

(AS:  ooh... Connor Macleod from the Higlander movie is my fave...and no, I am not a fan of Jamie from Outlander/Cross Stitch - I loved the first book but never got into the subsequent stories)

Congratulations to Ashley York, winner of My Notorious Highlander by Vonda Sinclair.