Ever wanted to know what a Scotsman wears beneath his kilts? Me neither *grin* But some men do have sexy knees and gorgeous muscled calves (cyclists, whoo baby) and ... um ... maybe I am curious about those kilts.
Nicole North is my guest author, today, and it's her paranormal novella, Laird of Darkness, that inspired my kilt curiosity. Laird of Darkness has also inspired some great reviews. I love Eva's summation, "This is a story of love, passion, sex and magic." How can anyone resist?
And talking of irresistible -- Nicole has generously donated a copy of Laird of Darkness to giveaway. Leave a comment to go in the draw to win a copy of this hot novella!
Anyway, enough with my havering (ha! I speak Scots). Here's Nicole...
Half-Fae Laird Duncan MacDougall is cursed. His nights are haunted by Otherworld creatures sent to kill him. The only way to stop them is to possess the magic bow currently in the hands of his enemy half-brother, Kinnon MacClaren. In desperation, Duncan plans to take MacClaren’s bride-to-be hostage and exchange her for the bow.
Lady Alana Forbes has never met her intended, but she hopes he is handsome—and a good lover, for Alana is no innocent virgin. On her way to Castle Claren, Alana and her escorts are intercepted, and she is kidnapped by a man with extraordinary abilities—and every attribute she longs for in a mate.
Duncan didn’t expect the woman he thought of as a mere pawn would be so beautiful, and so arousing. Alana is drawn to him as well—but Duncan still needs the bow, and Alana is betrothed to another. How far will Alana go to save the life of the man she’s come to love?
As for inspiration, an ancient Scottish legend or fairy tale, Combats that Never End, inspired me to write this story. I love fairy tale retellings and had always wanted to write one, but I wanted something unusual that hopefully hadn't been used before. Combats that Never End turned out to be the perfect subject and situation for me because it contains a lot of natural conflict, and an opportunity for some hot scenes (very important in erotic romance). ; ) But I also put a twist from the middle to the end, so my story doesn't end like the original fairy tale. And I made the original "bad guy" the hero and showed his motivation for doing what he did.
Okay, Nicole, time to trot out your best Scottish accent. Some people loathe dialect in a novel, I love it. So, what’s your favourite Scottish phrase?
It's difficult to say what my favorite Scottish phrase is, but I LOVE listening to a Scottish accent! I find that a lot of dialect in a written story is hard to use because it makes it difficult for the reader to escape into the story. I've noticed it myself when reading Scottish historicals. I keep focusing on those words that are spelled differently. In my earlier novellas I used more dialect. I've gradually gone to less and less. At one point I simply got sick of writing the word "ye" and said no more! LOL In Laird of Darkness I didn't use much dialect. I like to use things like "aye" "nay," "ken," "'tis," "daft," etc. I love the word "wee" but I try not to overuse it. Just simple things that don't cause the reader to slow down but still give a Scottish flavor. My favorite way to convey historical Scottish speech is through rhythm and syntax.
Who is your favourite side character in Laird of Darkness?
Aside from the hero and heroine, my favorite character would have to be the hero's enemy half brother Kinnon MacClaren. He is also half-Fae like the hero but he has different magical abilities such as controlling the weather to a certain extent and he has a magical bow. He is one of those characters that you can't figure out at first... is he good or bad? In the original legend, he was the good fairy king. But in my story from the hero Duncan's point of view, Kinnon is bad, even murderous because he attempts to kill Duncan and almost succeeds. But Kinnon will be the hero of his own book where he gets his comeuppance. : )
Setting is so important in a novel. I’ve been looking at your photos over at the Fierce Romance blog. They’re brilliant. I can’t resist asking, has any place you’ve visited been particularly inspirational?
Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures! Scotland is very inspiring in every way. On my recent visit I found Dunnottar Castle especially inspiring for the sheer majestic beauty of its setting, on a cliff that juts out in the North Sea, and for the atmosphere surrounding it. As I was exploring all the nooks and crannies of the near deserted ruin with my friends, I thought I HAVE to set a story here or a place like this. Another place I found inspiring was Dunvegan Castle on Isle of Skye. While there, we learned about the history of the MacLeod Clan and their belief in fairies and the supernatural. I write paranormal so of course I found ideas taking shape in my head and feeling the excitement that goes with that.
Do you have any writing rituals? Lucky pens? Comfy chairs? Music?
Although I'm not sure if it's a ritual, I love to have chocolate coffee as I'm sitting down to write. It's a delicious treat that perks up my brain cells and creative side. Since I have a back problem and have a difficult time sitting for long periods of time, I prefer to write sitting in a chair that reclines to take the pressure off my spine. Sometimes I write while walking on a treadmill too. That really gets the ideas flowing. Sometimes music is incredibly inspiring to me and other times not. It depends on my mood and what I'm writing. I have a large collection of Celtic new age music which is mostly instrumental so this is nice to set the mood when I'm writing historical or paranormal Scottish stories.
Finally, what do you hope readers enjoy/remember about Laird of Darkness?
I hope readers remember the characters most of all. To me, the characters are the life and magic of the story and I want them to be as real and likable as possible. I want the reader to fall in love with them and identify with them. This is especially important when writing a dark character like Duncan who is misunderstood and has a bad reputation. I like for the reader to experience what a troubled character has gone through and to fully understand why he would take extreme measures to acquire what he needs. It's almost like walking in their shoes for a day if you can make the reader feel the character's emotion and know what he wants and why. I also hope the readers enjoy the erotic and emotional connection between Duncan and Alana. Amazing and beautiful things can happen in the darkness. : )
Don't forget to leave a comment to go in the draw to win a copy of Laird of Darkness!
Nicole North's erotic romance novellas have been described by reviewers as “exciting, high octane, captivating, scintillating, sinfully delicious and pure romance.” Her stories contain “heart and heat, killer love scenes, magic and extraordinary characters.” She has sold four stories to Red Sage Publishing. Laird of Darkness is her first novella for Carina Press. Nicole’s stories usually focus on her favorite things: Scotland, Highlanders and hot men in kilts. She and her husband live in the Southeastern US, but she wishes she lived in the Scottish Highlands at least half the year. As she puts it, Scotland is a beautiful, magical and enchanting place where anything seems possible. She teaches online workshops about various aspects of writing, including sexual tension and how to write great love scenes. Though she has a degree in psychology, writing romance is her first love.