21 March 2011

Nicole North

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...

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What is Laird of Darkness about and what inspired this story?

Laird of Darkness is a paranormal erotic romance novella just released from Carina Press.

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!

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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.

29 comments:

  1. Loved Laird of Darkness, Nicole! Very well done!

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  3. I love me a man in a kilt ;) I love dialect as well, don't understand some people's aversion to it.

    midnite dot fantasy at gmail dot com

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  4. I was fortunate enough to have read Nicole's book prior to its release, so I don't need to win a copy. I just wanted to say how much fun it was to read, and I hope Duncan and Alana show up in a sequel. Wouldn't it be cool if we could really heal mortal wounds with a magical brew that sprouts to a foot tall before your eyes?

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  5. Hi everyone! thanks for dropping in. I just love the cover for Laird of Darkness. Talk about a hunk (does hunk date me? what's the new term? hottie? spunkrat? so '80s)

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  6. Cindy, thanks so much!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

    Camille, I agree. There's not much that's sexier than a hot man in a kilt with a Scottish accent. ;)

    Barbara, I'm glad you thought it was a fun story. Yes, I wish the healing magic Alana performs truly was real.

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  7. Thanks for interviewing me, Jenny!! Carina was so kind to give me such an awesome cover.

    What is a spunkrat? LOL!

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  8. Great interview! Nicole, I loved hearing about your book and I usually don't like paranormals! I'm so jealous about you visiting Dunnottar! It's on my list though.

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  9. I loved Scotland! Half the time I had no idea what anyone was saying, but they generally said it with a smile.

    And Clan MacLeod...there can be only ONE!

    Laird of Darkness sounds way cool!

    Best wishes, Nicole.

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  10. Hi Nicole! What a wonderful interview!!! Laird of Darkness sounds like a Fabulous read! I can't wait to get my hands on it! Love that sexy cover!!!

    Wishing you all the best!

    Andrea
    atsnider@verizon.net

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  11. Nicole, love the cover. Carina does the best covers, so evocative of the story. I'm a sucker for anyting Scottish, especially good highland stories. Interesting to put a new spin on an old fairy tale. Congratulations on the sale to Carina.

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  12. Alexa, thanks! I hope you will give paranormals a try.:) Dunnottar is amazing! You simply must go!

    Taryn, thanks! Yes, I've found that Scottish people are incredibly friendly. Clan MacLeod has a fascinating and inspiring history.

    Andrea, thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad you like the cover!

    Kathy, thanks! I agree, the Carina artists are so talented with those covers. I haven't seen a bad one yet. I'm like you, I'm a nut over those highland stories. :)

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  13. Maybe "spunkrat" was an Aussie thing back in the 1980s? Dirty, dangerous and sexy would be my best definition.

    Weird the words rattling around my skull. Sometimes I think I speak three languages -- Pommie, Yank and 'Strine -- or (translated) British, American and Australian.

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  14. Hi Nicole and Jenny. I enjoyed learning about both you and your book. It's easy to understand how you found the inspiration in Scotland for your story. I've been lucky enough to visit a couple of times and loved it. Of course, the Scottish surname might have something to do with that.

    I have to agree about dialects. I find them a bit distracting in stories but the odd word here and there gives the necessary flavor. I use wee in my daily conversation. LOL It must be a New Zealand thing.

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  15. Hi Nicole
    Great blog. Your books sounds really good and I love books set in Scotland.... love the cover
    Barbara

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  16. Sounds like a terrific story! Lots of Scottish ancestors in my family.

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  17. Hi Nicole!

    Your book sounds wonderful. And it has my two favorite elements--paranormal and erotic. :grin:

    I was glad to see that you go easy on the dialect. I hate having to stop every few minutes to see if I understood the narrative.

    Jenny: Thanks for introducing me to someone new.

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  18. Jenny, so that's what a spunkrat is. Thanks for educating me on that. Slang of different countries fascinates me. I'm sure you do speak three languages. LOL I've learned some British/ Scots but not much 'Strine.

    Shelley, thanks! Yes, how cool that you have a Scottish surname! I would love to add wee to my everyday vocabulary. It's such a cute word.

    Barb, thanks for stopping by! I agree, Carina's artists did a wonderful job on the cover.

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  19. Patricia, thanks! That's neat! I'm pretty sure I have some Scottish ancestors way far back, probably 1600s or earlier.

    Maria, thanks! Paranormal and erotic is a really fun combination. I agree with you on the dialect. Sometimes I don't mind it, other times I'm constantly aware I'm reading if the dialect is too heavy. A case of less is more. :)

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  20. Hi Nicole,

    Great interview and a fun way to get to know you and your latest story. I love erotic stories with a paranormal twist, and have always had a soft spot for highland heroes.

    Really enjoyed the excerpt as well, with that first peek of Alana and Duncan. Now you definitely have me wanting to read more about these two.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

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  21. Love, passion, sex, and magic. What can I say? This book sounds like it has it all. Good Luck!

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  22. Hi Nicole!

    Please don't enter me into your contest, I just bought my copy of Laird of Darkness and downloaded it to my Nook this morning.

    Congratulations on your release! I can't wait to get home so I can start reading.

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  23. Freakin' awesome!! Congrats on your release!

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  24. Dunnottar Castle would be a perfect place for you to place one of your great stories, Nicole. It's a magical and most beautiful place. I want that book, too, so get writing...please! You know how to bring the beauty of Scotland to life.

    Best of luck with lots and lots of sales on Laird of Darkness.

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  25. Thanks, Cathy M! I'm so glad you liked the excerpt! Thanks for taking the time to read it!

    Nancy, thanks! Those are my favorite romance ingredients. LOL

    Casey, Wow, thanks for purchasing my book!! I'm hoping you enjoy it mucho!

    Michelle, LOL thanks!! I'm glad you stopped by!

    Paisley, Dunnottar is spectacular, isn't it? It's almost surreal in its rugged beauty. I'll have to concoct a story around it. LOL Thanks so much for the wishes!

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  26. Maria -- happy to intro you to Nicole and a hot book! Thanks for visiting :) Thank you, everyone, for visiting!

    Nicole, you're an awesome guest.

    Happy reading, all!

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  27. Congratulations on your Carina release, Nicole. Gorgeous cover, too *fans herself vigorously*

    I would love to visit Scotland one day, especially as both DH and I have Scottish ancestors. Such a beautiful country! Oh well, in the meantime I'll have to console myself with your gorgeous Scottish heroes. Gee, won't that be a chore ;-)

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  28. Jenny, thanks for allowing me to visit your beautiful blog!!

    Maree, thanks!! I so look forward to our upcoming stories being in the same Secrets anthology! I huge honor for me! I hope you do get to visit Scotland one day.

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  29. Hi the winner is Kathy Ivan! Please email me at nicole (at) nicolenorth.com
    Thanks so much everyone!!

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