Eilean Donan Castle by DRW Photography

Monday, August 11, 2014

Special Interview with Kiera Montclair & Interview with Laura Strickland

August 9, 2014

Hi Kimi, 

Thanks for inviting me to your blog!

Me: Tell us about yourself. 

Kiera: I didn't start writing until about 6 years ago. I have spent most of my adult life as a teacher (math and nursing) and as a registered nurse.

 Me: Tell us about your new book? 

Kiera: My newest book is Love Letters from Largs which is the 3rd in my Highlander Clan Grant Series. The story is about Brodie Grant and Celestina Lunde and is set around the Battle of Largs which set the stage for the Scots to take the Western Isles back from Norway. Here's the blurb:

After enduring years of her nobleman father’s cruelty and abuse, Celestina Lunde is ready to take her own life rather than enter into an arranged marriage with an equally brutal man. But just when she is about to leap through the window of her tower bedroom, a brawny Highland warrior arrives at her home and changes everything…

Summoned to the royal castle by the King of the Scots, who is preparing for war with the Norse, Brodie Grant’s mind is on battle when he first spies the breathtaking Celestina perched on a window ledge. The sadness in her eyes makes him turn his horse around against his laird’s orders. He intends only to save the lovely lass, but after touching her once, he can think of nothing and no one else. There’s one problem: Celestina’s intended is an important man, and the king has just as much at stake in her arranged marriage as her father does. Will Brodie be able to do as he’s ordered and stay away?

A testament to love’s ability to transcend the most harrowing of obstacles, Love Letters from Largs is the emotional story of two soul mates who are determined to be together when everyone around them seems intent on pulling them apart.

Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning? 

Kiera:I actually put quite a bit of thought into the names of my characters. For example: My latest heroine is known as the angel of Ayr. Thus the name Celestina. Some names are just because I like them, and my villains have to have names I don't like.

Me: What made you want to write and also what made you want to write the genre you are writing?

Kiera: I write historical romance because it is my favorite genre to read, and I do read ALL THE TIME!  I love to try new authors and I am always looking for novels that are fast-paced and compelling which is what I try to write.

Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Kiera: If I had to choose an author as a mentor, it would probably be Eliza Knight. I started corresponding with her five years ago, and no matter when I contact her, she always responds and is extremely helpful. We both self-publish, so I am always watching what she does. She is a trend-setter so it is important to see what is happening in the business. I had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time last month, and she is wonderful.

Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing? 

Kiera: My tips for writing? Believe in yourself! I have multiple rejection letters, yet all my novels have been on the Amazon best-seller lists. Join RWA and a few small chapters and take as many workshops you can about writing romance. Romance readers are very fussy about what they like, and you have to know your genre.

A big thank you to all my readers! I am finally living my dream and writing full-time. Hopefully, you will see even more books from me!

Chapter One
Lightning Strikes

July 1263, Ayrshire, Scotland

Celestina Lunde held a death grip on the irregular stone of the tower window. She bit her lower lip as she struggled to hoist herself onto the cold edge. She would do this. Throwing herself over would be a far better fate than being forced to marry her betrothed, reputed to be one of the cruelest men in town. Her father had arranged for her to meet her betrothed tonight, so she had to act soon. They were to wed within a sennight.
After all the mistreatments by her father, she could not fathom going from one cruel man to another. If she couldn’t have the knight of her dreams, she would have no one. Curse her father; she hated him. Always staring down his pointed nose at her, he incessantly lectured her about her shortcomings, and he managed to think of at least one new one daily. How could she possibly be as bad as he claimed, especially since she was only allowed out of their home for worship? Not a home, a prison, she corrected her thinking. This was not the home her beloved mother had fashioned. This was a cold, unfriendly place, the perfect spot for her to practice the repentance her father required of her upon their return from worship with the Blackfriars. Her only real friend her age was her maid.
She thought of her last conversation with her mother. Baroness Lunde had made her promise to always believe she was a strong, beautiful, and intelligent person of value, and she had much to share with the world. Celestina would never forget their talk, though the image of her beautiful mother had faded over the years.
Her mother had disappeared over twelve years ago now, just after her seventh birthday. The only explanation her father had offered her was that her mother had passed away from a fever and a failing heart. He had then spent years blaming Celestina for her death, but she had never believed herself responsible. If she had thought there was an ounce of truth in her father’s cruel words, she would have thrown herself from this window long ago.
She clung to the stone and attempted to balance herself on the edge, fighting her undergowns and her kirtle. Perhaps she should remove several of her layers of garments, but that would not be proper. Even in death, she would do as her father instructed, though from experience she knew there was no pleasing her father. Swallowing several times, she gained strength from the memories of her mother. She peered down the long hard surface to the grassy knoll in the front of her small castle, convinced a fall from this height would surely kill her.
Unfortunately, her tangled skirts were too large to make it out the narrow opening. Blast it, why must she wear a shift, kirtle and surcoat at all times? Had she not been in such a hurry, she could have at least removed her surcoat. The tears she had fought so hard to control spilled down her cheeks as she struggled to straighten her gown so she could complete her wretched deed. She would not be stopped by something as unimportant as clothing.
A loud rumbling sounded down the path, and she lifted her head in time to catch the group of about a dozen riders cantering down the lane. More Highlanders. Many had been riding into Ayr over the past fortnight as summoned by the king.
As she glanced at the group, she easily picked out the chieftain by his attire and his badge, but her gaze settled on the man next to him. He looked similar except for one difference; he was staring directly at her.
A chill shot down her spine as his gaze caught hers. He shouted something, but she couldn’t hear him. She dropped her skirts, deciding that jumping in front of a group of men was probably not the best timing. He never took his eyes from her as she clamored back inside her room, his gaze causing her entire body to respond with a heat she had never before experienced.
Who was he? He galloped past her, then turned back heading straight for her. For a moment, she froze, awash in a mental image of the strong Highlander as her protector. Long dark hair and a massive muscular body filled her vision, along with a beautiful red plaid he wore over his shoulder. Instinct won out, however, and she fled the window. Without a doubt, her father would beat her if he saw her so much as look at anyone but her betrothed, and she wanted the last moments of her life to be as painless as possible..

A bolt of lightning shot out of the sky and struck him square in the chest, yet the sky was the clearest blue it had ever been with no rain in sight. Brodie Grant was following his brother, Laird Alexander Grant, along with several Grant warriors to the royal burgh after being summoned by King Alexander III. Dusty roads, heat, and the bites of multiple mosquitoes made him wish for nothing but a jump in the nearest loch, yet when he spotted the golden-haired lass in his peripheral vision all other thoughts fled, causing said thunderbolt to sear his insides.
Hellfire, it was the only way Brodie Grant could explain his reaction. One glance at the lass crouching in the window of the tower of a prestigious castle home, and his senses were completely incinerated.
“Brodie, saints above, what in hell are you looking at?” Laird Alex Grant yelled. “Make haste! Forget the bonny lass and move on.”
The parade of Highlanders on their warhorses continued down the road, clouds of dust and the rumbling of horse’s hooves filling the air, but Brodie followed his instincts against his brother’s advice. Willing to pay the price for ignoring the command of his laird, he reined in his horse and circled back toward the tower home. “Nay, she’s about to jump!” Brodie yelled over his shoulder to his departing brother. “Did you no’ see the look in her eye?”
He could have sworn there were tears flowing down her cheeks, but it was too far to be sure. Either way, he couldn’t leave her; he had to go back. True, her beauty had hit him with a heat that had saturated his entire body in an instant, her long blonde curls and her ripe curves forever ensconced in his brain. But it was the expression on her face, ripe with desperation, frustration, and defeat, that would haunt him if he didn’t take action. The lass needed help.
“Brodie!” Alex bellowed. “We are no’ waiting for you. If you have to be clay-brained, then follow later.”
Brodie ignored his brother and headed back to the tower only to find that the lass had disappeared. He hopped off his horse and threw the reins over a nearby bush. He glanced around and noticed a few peasants, but no one else had seen the lass but him. How could no one have noticed? Charging through a roughly hewn gate, he barreled up the long walkway leading to the stone building and glanced around the grounds to see if she was about. His gaze searched the area for any sign of the lass, but he didn’t notice anything unusual beyond the peasants heading to market.
It was clearly the home of a wealthy merchant or a nobleman, but Brodie didn’t consider altering his purpose for a moment, not with the lass’s stricken face burned into his brain. He marched up the steps and grabbed the brass knocker a bit too hard before bringing it down on the thick wooden door. The door cracked open just far enough for a servant to stick his nose out into the cool air.
The man glared down his nose at Brodie. “Go away now.”
Brodie didn’t have any patience for the fool. “Nay, I can no’. ‘Twas a young girl at the tower window no’ two minutes ago. She looked as if she was about to jump.” He paused, gathering his breath and his thoughts, awaiting a response from the man. After receiving none, his impatience won over his sense of manners. “Is she all right?”
The door flew open and a tall thin man stepped into the doorway from behind the servant, his hand in a death grip on the doorknob. Old enough to be the girl’s father, he was mostly bald with long spikes of dark hair sprouted from the perimeter of his head. He had dark beady eyes and a pointed nose “That is quite impossible,” he said. “No young girl resides in this household. You are mistaken. Take your leave from my doorstep now.”
Brodie stared into the man’s cruel eyes. “Sir, I am no’ blind. ‘Twas a lass in your tower in tears. Her expression was one of despair.”
Clearly skilled at the art of intimidation, the man’s thin lips pursed as he stared at Brodie. “I will repeat myself out of benevolence for your ignorance. I said there is no young lady in this house, and what’s more, it is not your concern.” He pivoted to the servant before stalking away. “Alfred, close the door and ignore the ruffian.”
The door was promptly slammed in Brodie’s face. His nails dug into his palms as he fought the urge to plunge his fist through the thick wood surface a short distance from his nose. They were lying. Quite simply, there could be no other explanation. He stepped back and stared with frustration at the fur coverings of the tower’s upper window.
He had seen the lass.
And he knew, without a doubt, he would never forget her.
Celestina plopped on to her bed in her chamber, her skirts in a tussle and her hair mussed. She attempted to calm her breathing by forcing deep steady breaths. Why had that Highlander interfered with her life, or her death, as it happened? If he hadn’t come along at just the wrong time, all her troubles would be over now. If she had tried jumping in front of him, he would have attempted to catch her before she hit the ground. After all, everyone always spoke of the honor of the Highlanders. “Hmmph!”
Staring at the drab color of her ceiling, she smoothed her kirtle and surcoat back to rights, wishing again she could wear simple clothes like her maid. The two pieces of clothing were faded and dreary because her father would not allow her any luxuries. Her maid, Inga, had told her people believed them to be wealthy, but her father certainly didn’t act as thought it was true. Perhaps all the money had been lost.
Why had the Highlanders chosen to travel along this road at exactly the wrong time? There was another way into town. In fact, if they were headed for the king’s castle, it was the shorter route. It would not have brought them past her father’s tower home at all, and she would have been with her mother at this very moment. Huffing in indignation, she crossed her arms in front of her, imagining what she would say to the big brute if he stood in front of her. Oh, how she wished she could chastise him.
She rested for a few more minutes, ignoring the urge to scream out the window at the lout who was guilty of interrupting her plans. Why had he bothered with her? No one besides Inga cared about her at all. And Inga had her own family, her own life. Nay, the only people interested in her existence were her father and her betrothed.
Being the daughter of a nobleman, it was inevitable her marriage had been arranged for reasons other than love. Love only happened in fairy tales. Celestina’s father had sold her off so he could pay the king all the taxes he owed, and Fredrik Ivarsson happened to be the one who had enough money. She didn’t understand why Ivarsson wanted to marry her, but that didn’t matter. The king wanted her to marry him and so did her father, and he couldn’t wait to get his payment from her betrothed. Somehow, she believed there was more to the arranged match, but she didn’t quite understand why. She was quite certain that none of the men truly cared for her, and she existed only as a pawn in their game.
Why hadn’t she been born a peasant so she could marry someone in the village? And as a peasant, she’d be allowed to come and go as she pleased. Her father was keeping her imprisoned until her marriage, not allowing her to visit anyone else in the town of Ayr.
Her head dropped as cherished memories of her mother returned to her. How wonderful it had been to be loved. Her present life was so cold and empty in comparison. Rubbing her eyes with her knuckles to prevent the tears, she stood and paced, thinking of all the bloody sentiments she would hurl at the Scot if he stood before her.
And suddenly, there he was—directly in front of her in her chamber. How had he gotten into the tower?
She gasped in outrage and shoved against his chest, but not before the heat emanating from him trailed a path up her arm and shot straight to her heart. The man’s size overwhelmed her senses, and the way he exuded power and strength eliminated her ability to speak. Never had she come across a man like this one. She gazed into his deep brown eyes, blushing from head to toe as he scrutinized her. She hoped he had an honorable reason for being there, because she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, her whole body had been overtaken by a surge of sensations of which she had absolutely no experience.
His hands went straight to his hips. “I knew it. They lied to me. Why would your own family lie about your existence? You were trying to jump, were you no’?”
He reached for her shoulder, but she swatted his hand away. “Do not touch me, sir.” She backed up as she spoke. “Who are you? Where did you come from? Be on your way.” Her words betrayed her true feelings. She wrapped her arms around her middle, hoping to calm the storm his nearness had wreaked on her insides.
“Who am I, lass?” he bellowed, taking a step closer to her. “I am the warrior who prevented you from jumping out your window to your death, performing a sin of grave proportions on your soul. Why would you attempt such a travesty? Why would someone as beautiful as you want to destroy your life?”
She stilled at that one word, not able to focus on anything else. Beautiful? Had he truly just referred to her as beautiful? She could be mistaken, but nay, she was certain he had given her a compliment, something she had never heard from anyone beyond her maid and her mother. “Answer me!” he barked.
The barbarian grabbed her hands and covered them with his own calloused ones. She wrenched her left hand over, hoping to hide the marks her father had left there, too ashamed for anyone to see them. She could do nothing but stare up at the huge warrior in front of her, rugged and handsome, his gaze filled with concern, and all for her. The bronzed skin of his hand against her pale coloring was another reminder of how different they were. But didn’t she want to be different?
Celestina’s instinct was to push him away, yet just by climbing up a tower and stealing into her room, this man had already done more for her than her father had ever done. And now the Highlander held her fingers in his as tenderly as if she was just a newborn babe.
She stared into his deep brown eyes, at his chiseled jaw and his soft lips, and attempted to tell him to stop shouting at her. No sound came forth. He had affected her senses so thoroughly she could no longer speak.
He let go of her hand and brought his fingers up, almost touching her face. She stopped breathing, waiting, almost begging for him to touch her. He hesitantly brushed her cheek with the back of his hand, a touch so light, it was but a wisp of air. Neither spoke, both paralyzed by their proximity, a feeling completely foreign to her. The lad was touching her as if there was something special about her. What could it be?
His hand pulled back and her breath hitched, at the loss of his warmth. She leaned toward him, seeking his touch again, her breasts now swelling and pushing against the light linen of her kirtle. He was so close, she could smell the mint on his breath, and she could think of naught but his warm lips on hers. He came closer yet, until they were almost touching. In that moment, nothing existed to Celestina except this lad, his breath warming hers as she leaned toward him, sighing in pleasure. She closed her eyes as his lips tilted toward hers, but a sound restored her to reality.
Her father’s footsteps echoed against the tower walls as he ascended the steep steps. She pushed the tall Highlander back toward the window from which he’d entered. “Quick! Out or my father will kill me if he sees you.”
Just as he disappeared down the rope hanging out her window, her father opened the door.
Brodie jumped onto his horse and charged in the direction of the coastline to reunite with his clansmen. Who was she? The lass’s sad eyes would haunt him for days. How had he gone from mere concern for her safety to almost kissing her in such a short span of time? Definitely a beauty, her blue eyes had bewitched him for sure. He’d had no thought of even touching her until he had stepped close enough to inhale her scent. Had her father not been near, he would have tasted her for certain. Hellfire, he wished he had so he could get her out of his head. He didn’t need a lass in his head when the Scots could soon be at war. The king would not have summoned his brother unless he needed a sizeable army.
King Alexander III was currently at his royal castle at the mouth of the River Ayr in the west of Scottish territory. He had sent a messenger to Brodie’s brother, Alexander Grant, laird of the largest and most powerful clan in the Highlands, requesting his presence at the castle.
Brodie caught up with Alex inside the gates of the castle after finding the rest of his men outside the gates awaiting instructions. His brother’s loud bellow could be heard across the burgh. “Do no’ get yourself wrapped up in any skirts here in town, Brodie. I do no’ intend to stay long.” The Grant laird tossed the reins of his horse to the stable lad. “We need to find the purpose of the king’s summons and make haste back home. You know I do no’ like to leave my wee wife when she is carrying. And she has three bairns in her care. I do no’ want her doing too much or fretting in my absence.”
Brodie smiled as he dismounted. “Och, Alex. Calm your dirk. Maddie will be fine in your absence. She has many to assist her. You just can no’ handle being far from your wife.” Alex was known as the fiercest warrior in the Highlands, yet he would do anything for his golden-haired wife. Of course, his wee daughter, Kyla, had her own hold on Alex’s heartstrings.
Alex shook his head in disagreement. “Aye, I know your thoughts, but the twins are exhausting. They have more energy than you, Robbie, and I combined. Poor Maddie. I can no’ handle the guilt of leaving her alone for long.” Alex’s pace never faltered as he headed toward the cobbled steps leading to the enormous door to the great hall.
Brodie ran to keep pace with him. “Cease your fretting. Robbie will tire the lads in the lists. And Jamie and John love being with their uncle. Our brother will make sure they are too tired to drain your wife.”
“Mayhap so, but I still say do no’ get your breeks twisted over a lass here. ‘Tis too far from home in any case.” Alex strode up the steps.
“The lass was about to jump, I swear it.” Brodie followed his brother closely. Now he was ready to admit to himself that he would not give up on the lass. Something told him she was in grave danger. “By my sword, she only stopped because we arrived.” He continued, hoping to convince his brother he was not losing his wits. “Alex, when I gained an audience with the owner of that house and his steward, they denied the existence of any lass in residence. Then I scaled the tower and found her inside the chamber. They lied. They must be keeping her imprisoned for some reason.”
“And what did she tell you when you gained entrance to her chamber?”
“Naught. She told me naught because she was frightened and her father banged on the door.”
Alex turned to him at the entrance to the hall. “Then you must find out who she is. The only way you will do that is to talk to the king or his men. ‘Twas foolish to attempt to gain entrance to her chamber as disheveled as you are from riding.” Alex glanced down the dirty, dusty front of his clothing. “I would have been frightened of you, too, looking the way you do. We have been on the road for almost a sennight and you are hardly presentable to a member of nobility. Clearly, the size of that home indicates the status of its owner.”
The door swung open. Before stepping inside, Alex said, “Settle our warriors and meet me inside. I am in dire need of a bath and ale. And I recommend both for you as well.”
Brodie managed to stifle his frustration and spun on his heel to head back to the stables. Hellfire, his brother was stubborn. All his life, he had followed in both brothers’ footsteps. Brodie was now eight and twenty; while his brother, Robbie, was a year older; and Alex, the eldest of the Grant lads, was one and thirty. They had two sisters as well, Brenna, who had just married, and, Jennie, who was currently visiting her elder sister at the Ramsay keep not far from Lothian.
Their parents had been so in love, they had died within a short time of each other. Their mother had passed first and their sire had been lost without her. Alex, as the firstborn, had been trained since birth to step up as laird upon their father’s death. No one had expected it to happen as soon as it had, a mere five years ago.
Alex had married Maddie, the lass of his heart, just two years after becoming laird. He was still as infatuated with her as he’d been on their wedding day. Brodie had to admit he was jealous of their relationship. Most of the lasses he met were more interested in him as a way to get to Robbie or Alex than they were in getting to know him. Everyone knew Alex would never stray, but the lasses continued to act as if they could entice him. And Robbie had the fairest hair of all of them and a bright smile which caused the lasses to squeal each time he glanced at them.
Brodie was ready to be seen as a person of value on his own, not just for being the third Grant brother. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he almost charged into his best guard and friend, Nicol, who was awaiting his instructions inside the gate near the stables. Alex had brought ten warriors for their journey to the king’s castle. He’d left most of his men at home to protect his family.
Nicol grinned from ear to ear, his trademark expression no matter what the situation. “Och, you do no’ like what your brother told you? He did no’ promise to storm the gates of that tower home with his sword in search of the fair lass?”
“Nay, his breeks are always too tight when he is away from Maddie.” Brodie snorted as he thought about how his brother had changed since his marriage.
“Did you no’ remind him how it felt when he held Madeline in his arms for the first time after she had been beaten? How many times have we heard the story of how Maddie grabbed his heartstrings even when her eyes were closed?” Nicol chuckled.
“What in hellfire does that have to do with my situation?” Brodie glared at his friend.
“Seems the same to me. One glance and you’re smitten, just as Alex was with Madeline. Must be the curse of the Grants.”
“I am no’ smitten, fool. I am concerned about a wee lass who was about to take her own life. ‘Tis all this is. And you’d be wise to remember that.” Brodie grabbed a stone from the ground and fired it at the tree next to the gate, splitting the bark on impact.
“And you’d move heaven and earth to find the lass at this verra moment, would you no’?” Nicol winked at him, still smiling that wretched grin of his.
Without responding, Brodie shot another rock at the tree, grumbling to himself about his situation. Then he froze, realization smacking him right between the eyes.
Nicol turned around and headed for the rest of the warriors. “Been waiting a long time for this, Grant,” he yelled over his shoulder. “I have no doubt ‘twill be verra entertaining.” His chuckle echoed in the distance.
Brodie stared after his comrade with a sinking feeling in his gut. Hellfire, Nicol was right.
He was smitten, and he was about to move heaven and earth.

links: Amazon

 August 11th 2014

This weeks interview is with the lovely and talented Laura Strickland.

Thank you so much for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here!

Me: Tell us about yourself

Laura: Me? In truth, I am nothing but a spirit who loves beauty and delights in painting pictures on pages with words, so I might communicate the beauty I see in the world around me to those who read my words. Somewhat to my shock, that spirit now dwells in the body that is no longer as youthful as it was…  Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder, “Who’s that?” But then I gaze more deeply into my eyes and see there the ancient soul who is forever young.  I can only laugh at the ebb and flow of this existence: the body is nothing more than a garment we will one day lay aside before transforming into pure essence and then, probably, taking up another coat to don.

But by your question, you probably meant: what’s my family situation and how long have I been writing?  I’m married and have one daughter, now grown. We live in the country not far south of Lake Ontario in Western New York. I’ve been writing since third grade and I hope when my spirit at last abandons this garment, I’ll still have a pen in my hand.

Me: Tell us about your new book?

Laura: Lord of Sherwood is the third book of my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy.  Set in the Autumn of 1260, it’s a true Medieval tale with a big helping of adventure and a lot of romance thrown in. It tells the story of Robin Hood’s great-grandson Curlew Champion who believes he is just an ordinary man, his only talent the ability to shoot an arrow uncommonly well.  He knows he will be one of three individuals destined to carry the magic that protects Sherwood Forest. But he never suspects he may be the hero who can guide his people into a victorious future for which they’ve worked so long. Nor does he dream he will win a love the like of which has been unequaled since Robin Hood’s time.

Me: When you write, does your real life spill over into your book at any time?

Laura: Very rarely does my “real life” spill over into my writing.  My “real life” is pretty tame and well-disciplined.  Rarely does a troop of Norman soldiers come crashing into the living room while  I’m working, nor do my neighbors get seized and dragged off to the dungeons at Nottingham Castle for failing to lower their eyes when the Sheriff rides past.  My village hasn’t been pillaged or burned lately and there haven’t been many archery contests.  And though my heroines might well appreciate indoor plumbing, running water or a washer/dryer combo, I don’t think things are going to bleed through from my direction either.  I guess the sort of time travel I create is confined to the magic of the page, and the mind!

Me: Do you think about a book of yours, being made into a movie, or not when writing? 

Laura: There are many Historical Romances that warrant being made into movies and some of them have been, with great pageantry and success. I never really think about that while writing, even though when I write I tend to see everything in scenes, complete with color and sound, which I then transfer into words.  I don’t create my books so much as translate them from images. So I guess it would make sense for them to be turned into movies (images) again someday. 

I do listen to music while I write, and the only thing that’s ever really made me think of my books in relation to movies is thinking how great the music would translate to the big screen. The music of choice for Lord of Sherwood (and the whole Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy) would have to be that of the great English folk band Steeleye Span with some Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure.

Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Laura: Yes, I do. I think names are very important and significant, particularly the names of the characters in this Trilogy.  In honor of Robin Hood, the patriarch of the tales, all the main characters are named after birds. Robin and Marian’s daughter, in the first book, was called Wren. She had to choose between the two young men who, with her, completed their magical triad: Martin and Sparrow.  In the second book, Champion of Sherwood, Wren’s twin daughters, Linnet and Lark, must form the successive triad with a young man called Falcon. In Lord of Sherwood, Curlew and his cousin Heron search for the elusive woman who will complete their circle of three, and when she appears, her name is very significant indeed. But I don’t want to give too much away here …

Me: What made you want to write and also what made you want to write the genre you are writing?

Laura: I believe I originally began writing, as a child, because I loved to read. I especially adored those books that created complete worlds in which I could lose myself. I found it so difficult to surrender those worlds when I finished a book that I decided to write my own stories so I could continue the tale for as long as I wished and return to the world in book after book.

Since then, my spirit has ranged far. It has traveled in time back to the days when the earliest Celts set foot in Ireland, it has fought in chariots with Iron-age Scots; it has helped to raise stone circles in Britain. I delight in remembering the places it’s been and describing all that on the page. So I guess Historical Romance was an easy fit for me. One of my main goals in writing Historical Romance is to show that the men and women who lived many centuries ago were not unlike us. They were witty and funny and clever and sly; they were loyal and courageous and loving. Most of all, they were ancestors of whom we can be proud.

Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Laura: Wow, this is a very difficult question for me! I’ve read so many books over the years, and gleaned different bits of wisdom from all of them.  There were the books I read in my girlhood that still stand out, like Louisa May Alcott’s Rose in Bloom, and Sally Watson’s Witch of the Glens.  There have been books I read in adulthood, like Edith Pargeter’s The Heaven Tree Trilogy, that utterly transported me. If I had to choose one writer who, I believe, influenced the path my writing took the most, it would have to be Mary Stewart, but not for her Romantic Suspense novels.  Rather, I’d choose her work in the Merlin books: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment and The Wicked Day.  These wonderful stories showed me what can be done when a writer truly gets inside her characters’ heads and presents a tapestry woven of beauty and magic. I would be honored to call Mary Stewart my mentor!

Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?

Laura: Don’t let anyone discourage you. There’s a lot of beauty inside us all and the only thing stopping you from putting it on the page is the lack of a pen in your hand or a laptop on your knee.  Believe in yourself and never stop, no matter how many rejection letters you receive or how many catty remarks and reviews you hear. Dive into your subject and immerse yourself in the world you create. If you aren’t convinced by it, how will you convince anyone else? Write every day, even if it’s just a few words. The writing muscle, located somewhere in the brain (though I’m not sure where) needs to be exercised and works better the more you use it!

Me: Tell us anything you want?

Laura: I am very grateful to my readers and honored every time someone picks up (or downloads) one of my books. Thank you for letting your spirit fly a while with mine.

Lord of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy Book Three:


Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny.  With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people’s fight against Norman Tyranny.  But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew’s heart.
Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father’s bidding.  He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down.  But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet.  She knows she’s been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home.
Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago …

Buy link Amazon

Facebook page Laura Strickland

You know I love my EILEAN DONAN CASTLE, so here are a few photo's for you. Done by DRW Photography


  1. Kimi, Thanks for hosting me today. I enjoyed your interview questions!

  2. I love Laura's books! Full of magic!!!

  3. Lovely interview ladies. LORD OF SHERWOOD sounds like a wonderful read.

    1. It does and I had to go get it. It's gonna be a good read.

  4. Daughter of Sherwood captures the feel of the time in a wonderful, page-turning way. However, it's not necessary to read that before the other volumes because they all stand alone, well except for all being great reads!