The following interview is intended to give readers a greater insight
into what motivates certain storytelling decisions, what goes into
constructing a story, and what challenges I've faced along the way.
Capture of the Earl of Glencrae Interview
Sale 31st January, 2012
This is the final volume in the trilogy. What were your thoughts
when you sat down to write it?
principal and most imperative aim was to do justice to the previous
two books and then make this final volume something extraspecial,
a crowning delight for readers. I wanted the trilogy to end on a
high note, so to speak. With such a trilogy, one that contains an
overarcing story, each volume has a different job to do with respect
to that overarcing storyline. The first book had to introduce it,
show it getting underway, and reveal a little bit about that story
and its principal protagonist without giving too much away. The
second book had much more of that overarcing story in it, with more
action, revealing more motivations and character, and ending with
a major confounding event - the laird falling off the cliff in order
to save Eliza and Jeremy. The third book had to wrap it all up,
reveal and bring that overarcing story to a complete and satisfying
conclusion - and to achieve that, the overarcing story had to be
an integral part of the final romance. The third romance and the
overarcing story had to merge so that the motivations from one lead
to actions which lead to resolutions of the other. Angelica's romance
and the overarcing story had to essentially become inseparable,
and that was a challenge - one I feel very happy about, because
I think I pulled it off!
heros, three rescues, three weddings is the trilogy tagline. You've
spoken earlier of the challenge of writing multiple journeys, but
were there any challenges associated with writing, one after the
other, the tales of three sisters?
task was made much easier because, by the time I started the trilogy,
I had a very clear idea of the differences in the characters of
Heather, Eliza, and Angelica. Each had to possess the Cynster traits
of courage, inner strength, curiosity, and determination, but beyond
that I drew on my experience of siblings. Heather was in many ways
the archetypal "oldest" - although she isn't the oldest
child in the family, she is the oldest girl, and both her brothers
are quite a few years older again. So Heather presents as outwardly
more confident and a touch more serious that her younger sisters
- she is also the sister who forges the way, who steps out first
on the sisters' path to find their heros. Eliza meanwhile, is a
typical middle sister, less assertive, and quieter all around, while
Angelica. She's an over-the-top youngest child
in a brood - she has an unwavering belief in herself, in her ability
to bend the world to her cause. And in large measure she's successful,
simply because her enormous self-confidence, backed by her self-belief,
carries all before it. She's intelligent, quick witted, and observant,
as many youngest children are - very attuned to the people around
them. I had great fun letting these three girls evolve and come
alive through their stories, and their different characters are
a major part of the reason for the different feel in each of the
chosen to end the trilogy in the highlands - was there any special
reason behind that decision?
and no. As always, my characters lead me into the stories, and this
trilogy, and in particular the story that arcs over all three books,
starts in a castle in the highlands. Clearly, that overarcing story
was going to end in the highlands, most likely at that same castle,
as indeed proved to be the case. In addition, I've always wanted
to write a full-length novel set in the highlands - which is quite
possibly why that first opening scene was set where it was (yes,
my mind works like that - works to somehow get me to where my story-brain
wants to be). My first and only previous story set in the highlands
is my novella, Rose in Bloom - I've always wanted to return to castle,
loch, and glen, and spend more time there, and this trilogy with
its atmosphere of sweeping adventure provided the perfect opportunity.
refer to various landmarks in Gaelic - how widely used was Gaelic
in the highlands?
I discovered when I looked at maps from that time, Gaelic was still
extensively used in the highlands, and most place names that were
not towns - streams, mountains, topological landmarks - were still
known by Gaelic names in 1829, the year of the trilogy. It was therefore
necessary for the characters to use the Gaelic names when they referred
to such landmarks, but while most highlanders would have had a working
understanding of Gaelic, and possibly used it between themselves,
English had already started to supplant it as the more widely used
tongue, even in the highlands. Consequently, aside from problems
due to accents, Angelica wouldn't have had to immediately learn
Gaelic to get by - the vast majority of people she came into contact
with would have spoken English.
described this book as: Elizabeth Bennet rescues Errol Flynn in
the wilds of Scotland. Why?
have to be careful here to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say
that, speaking literally as well as figuratively, that is indeed
what happens. I wanted a twist to the customary, expected plot line
wherein the hero always rescues the heroine - why couldn't a heroine
rescue a hero? And when it came to the story itself, Angelica was
clearly the sort of young lady to carry off such a challenge.
hero of this book is the head of a highland clan - how does his
role differ from the head of a large family?
writing about the Cynster family for so long, this was an area of
research that fascinated me specifically because of the parallels
that emerged between, for instance, the role of Devil Cynster, Duke
of St. Ives, the head of the Cynster family (whose members have
often enough in multiple books referred to themselves as the Cynster
clan) and the role filled by Angelica's hero, the head of a Scottish
highland clan. At one point, after examining her hero's status and
responsibilities, Angelica considers the comparison, and, indeed,
the highland clans still surviving at that time may well have been
very similar to her conclusion, which was that a highland clan operated
on the same familial relationship lines as her extended Cynster
family, but that the members of the clan were even more directly
interdependent for their welfare and overall survival. Angelica
concludes that clan is the equivalent of family taken to the extreme,
and that seemed a valid description for a clan tucked away in an
isolated glen, one that had managed to survive the earlier highland
refer to a story involving Sir Walter Scott and George, the Prince
Regent. Was that story true?
was one of those serendipitious quirks. I sometimes wonder who it
is who whispers in my head when I'm spinning a story! I needed a,
for want of a better word, maguffin - an object of worth, a treasure
of great meaning, something of the sort that could mean a great
deal to my hero, and be important and valuable or powerful enough
for others to want to possess it. I was typing away on the outline,
and paused - then simply typed on because to me it was obvious,
for reasons I had no clue about, that the object was XXX. (Again,
I'm trying to avoid spoilers!) I finished the outline, then went
back to research and check that there really had been, or at least
might have been, an XXX. And lo and behold, I all but immediately
stumbled across the story of Sir Walter Scott, novelist and patriotic
Scotsman, and his great obsession, and how that tied in with the
Prince Regent, a close friend of Scott's, and
I swear I had
never heard even a whisper of the story before, but there it was,
with all the history, pomp, ceremony, and mystery I could possibly
want, the perfect, true life basis for my maguffin! I am still seriously
tickled that I could use such a fantastic yet true story - and yes,
the story of Sir Walter Scott's obsession is told, albeit in condensed
fashion, in the book - to underpin my entirely fictious tale. For
a novelist, this was a dream find.
was your feeling on reaching the end of the last story in the trilogy,
and why did you end the final volume as you did?
ending of this book - the ending of the trilogy - was dictated by
a rule all novelists know they have to follow: Deliver on the promise
of the premise. In this case, the promise of the premise is contained
in the trilogy tagline: Three heros, three rescues, three weddings.
I had to deliver that, but I also had to deliver on the end of the
overarcing plot, and tie off all the flapping story threads. Once
I'd done that, then and only then could I turn to the grand finale
- and after such a sweeping Errol Flynn/Elizabeth Bennet/Scottish
highlands adventure-romance, the finale definitely had to be grand!
The ending had to be over-the-top - it had to contain everything
of course, I couldn't resist twisting that, too. Just a little.
All in the interests of giving our three valiant heros and our three
interpid heroines the weddings they deserve. I hope my readers enjoy
my version of the ultimate in three weddings!