Thursday, July 15, 2010

Contest & Interview: Author Amanda Scott!

Interview: Hi, Amanda! Welcome to Rex Robot Reviews- I am thrilled to have you here today. I would like to say thank you for taking the time to give our readers a little insight into your thoughts :)
Tell us about your book! What inspired Tempted by a Warrior?
I based TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR, as I did its two predecessors in the trilogy, on an unpublished sixteenth century Scottish manuscript written by a Lady Maxwell about fourteenth-century events in her husband’s family. That manuscript tells us in detail how Lady Mairi Dunwythie, the heroine of SEDUCED BY A ROGUE, met and married her husband, Robert Maxwell, but it tells us only the barest facts about her younger sister, Lady Fiona. We know that Fiona met and eloped with one of the enemy Jardines, that her father died as he was gathering men to go after them, and that she did not attend her father’s burial a short time afterward although her family informed her of it. Research revealed that the Jardines were a rough and tumble tribe at the time, that they changed their politics at the drop of a hat, and that the Dunwythies’ land in Annandale lay right between the Jardines and a clan with whom the Jardines had long carried on a violent feud.
Having decided from the outset that Fiona was unlikely to have been happy with the disreputable man who had seduced her and taken her away from everyone and everything that was familiar to her, I began TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR with Fiona’s husband, Will, missing, his dying father believing that Fiona probably killed him, and Fiona herself unsure that she had not killed him. Her father-in-law has named his nephew Sir Richard Seyton of Kirkhill as her trustee at least until her husband or his body is found, and Kirkhill is a man who understands family duty and means to follow through with it when Old Jardine dies. However, in Fiona’s opinion, Kirkhill is just another controlling male, kinder than her brutal, womanizing husband or his dictatorial father but nonetheless interfering and determined to call every tune...

Was there any character that particularity challenged you?
The most challenging characters in any book are the protagonists, the hero and the heroine, and that was certainly true in TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR, just as it was in its two predecessors. Lady Fiona was particularly difficult, because a heroine who suffers a memory loss of any sort is always a hard sell. The loss must seem plausible to the reader, and most people (even victims themselves) find it hard to believe that a person can forget something so completely that it is as if it never happened. So most victims are fully conscious of other people’s skepticism. Add a possible murder, and…
In TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR, I wanted a hero who could help explain what happened to Fiona. So I gave her Kirkhill, with whom she has many conflicts but to whom she is attracted (albeit with the fact of her marriage and her husband’s uncertain fate always in mind). But Kirkhill can understand that one thing about her that she herself finds so puzzling and terrifying…her loss of memory. Kirkhill, a great warrior, has seen such things happen on the battlefield. Of course, despite his attraction to Fiona from the outset, he knows that she is out of bounds. Nevertheless, he wants to help her and finds himself constantly at odds with her over things that he believes are merely his duty but that she resents as intrusions into her life, her privacy, and her future.

What kind of research went into Tempted by a Warrior?
Tons. The entire trilogy took me into a new area of Scotland and required much research. Fourteenth century Galloway and Dumfries (the southwest corner of Scotland) was as yet untamed. No one paid much heed to the King of Scots, although people did pay their taxes. The big question came down to who was in charge. The Lord of Galloway, Archie the Grim, controlled Galloway (the western half). But Dumfriesshire contained three dales, over which the Sheriff of Dumfries tried to exert his power. If you think in terms of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, you’ll have a general idea of the tension that existed in two of those dales. Annandale folks ignored the sheriff. They had paid their taxes to Fiona’s father, who was the steward for that area, and had paid them through a steward for at least a century. They did not recognize the sheriff at all at a time when sheriffs generally exerted great power.
I got a lot of help from the same scholar who discovered the manuscript. Not only did he translate the details of the tale for me but he also wandered through the areas concerned, tracking down many of the settings. I also enlisted the aid of folks on the Internet and got information from people living right in the area, who could describe the landscape and help with information about sea caves, tides, and so forth.

What is your favorite aspect of writing in the Romance genre?
The fact that Romance can develop from anything and everything. There really are very few restrictions for a romance author. Although certain publishers or editors do frequently try to impose such things, the plain fact is that authors can almost always find ways around them simply by writing a good, fast-paced story that entertains readers. There have been many times, at conferences, when I have heard an editor say, “I never want to see another book about…(fill in the space). That very statement would stir me to think of a way to write such a book that would be new and different. At one point, the editor in question was my own editor. I was writing Regencies at the time, and while participating in a workshop, my editor said that she didn’t want to see any more books with smugglers in them. I had just sent in an outline for one, so I went up and asked her about it. She laughed and said, “I love the outline. Don’t change a thing!”

Where is your favorite place to read and write?
I read constantly and anyplace. I’m usually in the book, not in the place. These days, I tend to do most of my pleasure reading in bed, simply because I spend most of my waking hours at the computer in my office, writing. I also write on a laptop connected to a solar panel at the cabin, and between the two, the cabin is my favorite place to write, because I enjoy much more serenity and few interruptions, unless one counts noisy jays or the odd chickaree or ground squirrel who pops around the corner if I’m on the porch or even strolls into the cabin if I’ve left the door open and don’t have my cat with me (He stays inside a wire fence on the porch but is otherwise a housecat who takes a dim view…or a welcoming one, since he views any chase as a game…of squirrels and other intruders).

I have read and LOVED Tempted by a Warrior, but how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you may receive?
Fortunately, I rarely see negative reviews, but I do read all of the ones that the reviewers themselves or my publicists send to me, because I greatly appreciate the time and trouble the reviewers have taken, and I try always to tell them so. I also read all of my fan mail and reply to it personally (although sometimes, when I’m out of town or near the end of a book, it does pile up, so I can be slow).
If someone writes that something in one of my books has upset or disappointed them, I always write to thank them for taking the time to pass that information along, because such input helps any writer grow, and I do take their comments to heart but only as a learning tool. As far as I am concerned, anyone who takes the time and trouble to pass along his or her feelings and opinions deserves respect and a reply. The only caveat to that statement is that I do not reply to obscenities. So far, I have refused to reply to only three letters. I do, however, know that I have accidentally and forever deleted at least three email fan letters without having replied to them, through my own idiocy in dealing with mail online instead of downloading it first. So, if anyone out there has written and has not received a reply, just write again and let me know.

Any books that stand out from your childhood that you absolutely loved?
I learned to read at three (Mom taught me, using San Francisco streetcar and cable care advertisements as we traveled around the city). I read voraciously throughout my childhood and still do. Nancy Drew stands out from early days, as do the Hardy Boys and Rick Brant. Jan Westcott’s Border Lord, The Hepburn, and others, Dorothy Dunnett. I liked fiction of every ilk. Read every Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, usually put a mystery somewhere in my own books, too. Also loved The Black Stallion, Black Beauty. My grandfather and I read nearly all of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. He used to recite Scott’s poetry to me while we walked up and down the long red walk in his garden while my grandmother was fixing dinner. That started when I was about three and was still going on when I was a teenager.

In Tempted by a Warrior, what scene do you like most and would never cut?
Three scenes stand out for me in TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR. The first is one where Jeb’s Wee Davy (age 9) becomes a hero for the first time when he rescues a baby from a large, angry dog. The second one is where Kirkhill teaches Fiona the difference between heroism and foolhardiness…after Fiona thinks that she has acted in the exact same heroic manner twice. Not only does that scene lead Kirkhill to realize how much he cares about Fiona, but it also teaches Fiona an important lesson about household management, about Kirkhill, and about herself. The third scene is the climax, which includes one of the unpredictable and unusual spring tides for which the Solway Firth is justifiably notorious. That one worked even better than I had hoped, which is to say that it went from feeling as if it would be impossible to make plausible (although I knew that such things had happened), to working even better than I had hoped.

So, what comes after Tempted by a Warrior? Any other releases or works in progress you're excited about?
Currently, I’m working on the The Scottish Knights Trilogy, HIGHLAND MASTER, HIGHLAND HERO, and HIGHLAND LOVER. These stories take place in very early fifteenth-century Scotland at a time when the duke who was third in line for the Scottish throne was determined to rule the country, the heir to the throne was a reckless, womanizing profligate, and the second in line was a seven-year-old boy. Three close friends, all knights who studied together under the Bishop of St. Andrews, will do all they can to aid the rightful heir in his battle against the murderous efforts of his wicked uncle to seize Scotland’s throne. HIGHLAND MASTER, will be out in February 2011. It is the story of Sir Finlagh “Fin” Cameron, the sole surviving Cameron from the Great Battle of Perth, and Lady Catriona Mackintosh, daughter of the war-leader of the opposing faction in that battle, Clan Chattan. Think Romeo and Juliet with a murderous Romeo who has sworn a sacred oath to kill Juliet’s father.

Any upcoming events where our readers could find you? And thanks, Amanda, for taking the time to speak with us today!
You’re very welcome! I’ll be signing books at the Seattle/Tacoma Scottish games at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, WA, the weekend of 24/25 July, all day, both days. I’ll also be signing at the Scottish games in Denver, CO, the weekend of August 14/15 and at the San Francisco Caledonian Club games in Pleasanton, CA, over Labor Day weekend. In all three cases, I’ll be signing for Celtic Nook (used to be Tea & Sympathy). Come and visit if you’re in the area, and try their shortbread!
I also recently did a radio interview for our local NPR station, Capital Radio, with Jeffrey Callison (a good Scottish gentleman) on their program “Insight.” The link is on my website, 
You can also email me from the website also, anytime, by using the email link.

This contest has been closed and the comments have been disabled.
Thank you to all that participated!
Win Amanda's Book!
"Tempted by a Warrior"
3 Winners
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-Contest Ends 08/01/2010
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