Message From The Author
Ive always suffered from an overactive imagination. As a child, I got spanked for it. Now I get paid for ita definite improvement.
Whenever my family went on a trip when I was a little girl, I would see the other cars and think of them as story capsules. I entertained myself by looking at the people inside and making up stories about them and the houses, places, and businesses I saw along the way. So I guess you could say storytelling comes naturally to me.
As for how I come up with specifics for my books, the method varies with each one. Im a reader just like you. I love reading about ferocious women. And I love reading accurate history, as long as its presented in a compelling, Calgon-take-me-away story that leaves me feeling good when Ive finished it. Thats the kind of book I try to write.
So the winter before last when I was struggling through a gruesome marital meltdown and could hardly move because of my arthritis, I knew Id found the setting for my July 2000 book, HIGHLAND PRINCESS, when I discovered the Caledonians. This thousand-year culture in northern Scotland transmitted all their wealth and royalty through their women, and wives often fought alongside their husbands. Though the Caledonians had no ruling queens, the seven local kings had to be the sons of princesses, and they competed for the top spot.
Imagine, a nation of ferocious princesses working alongside their warrior husbands and sons for the throne. What a great setting for an adventure and a love story! It had everything: intrigue, warriors in kilts, action, warriors in kilts, suspense, warriors in kilts. And women who could fight with the best of them. Perfect.
So I created Bera, a fierce princess bound by blood loyalty to her huge family. She could ride standing bareback on her steed and kill a man three times her size with her little sword. (No wimpy heroines in my books.) Just writing her made me feel like a champion. She could do everything I cant.
I paired her with Curran MacDougald, a deadly mercenary (gorgeous, of course; think Rutger Hauer in Ladyhawke) born a slave and loyal to nothing and no one, until he meets the mysterious weaver (Bera) who is determined to steal his prize. Needless to say, things get physical, and not just romantically.
Next, I needed a villain. I love female villains. Theyre much more fun to write than men. As one writer said, Every villain is the hero of her own life. Since HIGHLAND PRINCESS is about the time of princesses, my villain had to be one, too. So I had a ball creating Princess Diedre, a character who maintains the perfect image of medieval wifely submission while she quietly and ruthlessly runs things behind her slow-witted brute of a husbands back. Delicious!
Then I stirred in an execution and some true-to-life historical intrigue, seasoned it with a fascinating dash of Caledonian folklore, topped it off with a couple of plot twists, and voila: HIGHLAND PRINCESS.
If I did my job right, youll have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. After youve turned that last page, write me and let me know. I love hearing from readers.
Award-winning author Haywood Smith is currently at work on her sixth St. Martins historical, BORDER LORD, on sale May 2001.
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