Please welcome Willa Blair to Parajunkee’s View.
Book Name: HIGHLAND SEER
Release Date: 07/24/2013
Genre: Scottish historical paranormal romance, Adult
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Besides all the usual writer stuff, I’m a world traveler. I’ve actually been on every continent except South America (and Antarctica, if you count it). I once flew an entire orbit around the Earth (with a few stops along the way). I used to speak several languages, but they’ve gotten very rusty from disuse. I’ve accomplished a lot of my bucket list, so I’m always looking for new things to add. Becoming a multi-published author, which is totally thrilling, is the latest thing I’ve been able to check off. Let’s see…what’s next?
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
Highland Seer, the second book in my Highland Talents series, just released in late July! I grew up reading science fiction and still love stories about psychic talents, so I include them in by books. The heroines in this series each have a talent – Aileana was a touch healer in Highland Healer. Ellie is a Seer in Highland Seer – she can see the future, but her visions are not always easy to interpret. In book 3, Highland Troth, Caitrin will be a soothsayer, a truth-teller. Troth is an old word for truth, and it’s still used in wedding ceremonies, of course, so it’s a perfect word for a romance. My heroes are all part of the same clan, Lathans either by blood or association: the laird in Highland Healer, the arms master in Highland Seer and the envoy in Highland Troth. Two novellas are also on the drawing board, one that will redeem a villain from Highland Healer and the other about a Lathan ally.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
I’ve got a soft spot for Donal MacNabb in Highland Seer. He was rather grump-tastic in Highland Healer and made things difficult for Aileana. He gets his comeuppance in Highland Seer, but it’s just what he deserves. Ellie is terrific, strong and determined to get what she wants – and what she wants is Donal. Ellie’s friend Micheil – well, I’ll be curious to see what readers have to say about him. He means well, but you know what they say about good intentions. And Jamie, the Lathan envoy whose life Aileana saved in Highland Healer, helps (and goads) Donal in Highland Seer. Jamie’s book will be Highland Troth, and I’m not done wounding him yet. He’s affable on the outside, but inside, there are depths he doesn’t want to explore.
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
That’s a tough question because I think all authors have their own unique voices. As a group, we have made our heroines much more capable than they used to be, something readers now expect. I put my heroines in tough situations, but they’re a match for the challenges they face, including the hero. They don’t depend entirely on their special talent; it’s a tool and a burden. They have to be smart and capable without it. Ellie’s situation is very unusual – rare but historically real – and I think she acquits herself well. I base my stories at a time and place in history, then extrapolate from there as I imagine the impacts of real events.
Who do you think is the sexiest Highlander/Scot (not your own) from film or book?
Besides Gerard Butler? Or Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser? And by the way, if you haven’t heard Sam Heugan’s voice (he’ll play Jamie in the Starz mini-series), google him and find the set of commercial voice-over clips. You’ll fall in love with his voice before you ever see him. Uh, I forgot the question…
Have you been to Scotland? If so, where do you recommend we visit?
Believe it or not, no. Not yet. Thank goodness for the internet, reference books, and a Scottish neighbor, who, by the way, read part of my book aloud to me. I still get goosebumps, thinking about it.
What type of research do you do when writing your Scottish Romances?
Let me just say that I love, love, love the internet. What did we do before it existed? The information we need is so much fresher, more immediate, more visual, and more available than it was in the days when you had to depend on newspapers, magazines and books in the library. There’s nothing wrong with those sources except that they take a lot of time to search. Google is my friend. The other resource I recommend, especially if you take a trip to the UK, where they do them wonderfully well, is children’s books on life in the middle ages, castles, etc. They give you a quick feel for the subject without drowning you in data. Then you can focus your research on the areas where you need more detail.
Is Writing your full time profession?
It is now. And I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a kid singing along with the Beatles’ Paperback Writer. I’ve always been good at stringing words together, so it never seemed impossible for me to become a published author, even though there were times in my life when the day job wore me down, making it seem awfully improbable. But here I am!
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
I’ve tried pantsing. I’ve tried plotting. I think what I do is a hybrid. I develop a chapter by chapter, scene by scene outline and write from it. But as any author will tell you, characters sometimes take over and say or do something that leads the author down a different path. I explore those side paths and decide whether to go back to my outline or see where the latest idea leads me. Rabbit-holes abound.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Lately? Amber Belldene and Sharon Lynn Fisher (RITA nominee). But I also love Linnea Sinclair’s Dock 5 books, Kate Elliott’s Jaran series, anything by Anne McCaffrey, and before that, I read all the scifi greats: from Asimov to Zelazny.
What are you reading now?
I shipped a box of books home from the RWA conference, so my TBR shelf is overflowing. I’ve got some Margaret Mallory, Cathy Maxwell and Monica McCarty Scottish historicals to catch up on, the latest in Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot series, the Kristins’ (Higgins and Callahan) latest books, and…well, you get the idea. I love to read. I read all sorts of things. If there’s nothing else available, I’ve been known to read the back of the cereal box.
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
FINISH THE DAMN BOOK! Do you have a bigger font? Darker bolding? Can you flash those four words in neon or strobe? Please do. So many writers never get there. They polish the first few chapters for years. STOP. Move on. If you’re stuck, go to a place in the book that will be fun to write and get un-stuck. Fix things when you revise and not before. There’s an amazing psychic benefit to having finished something. It builds confidence. That sense of satisfaction in your accomplishment keeps you going the next time you get stuck. Finish your book.
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Willa Blair is the award-winning author of best-selling Scottish romance with a paranormal twist,. Her books are set in the 16th century Highlands, when the old ways, and old talents, still shaped events.
She always wished she had several psi talents, such as reading her husband’s mind, cleaning house by simply thinking about it, and flying. But alas, no. So she endows her historical romance characters with special talents and lives vicariously through them. She loves reading and writing romance novels set in the past, present and future.
She realized her life-long dream of becoming an author after retiring from her day job to write, travel, and enjoy life. Married to her own military hero golf fanatic, she lives in the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio where she writes, feeds hummingbirds year-round and has too many hobbies to count.