One of my new favorite authors is Suzan Tisdale. She writes a wonderfully romantic, suspense filled series about the MacDougall Clan. I do love me a good Scottish accent!
Hi Suzan! Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview! I’m so excited to have you here with us today.
So, let me start by saying congratulations on your series being in the Top 100 on Amazon! I know that must be very thrilling for you.
Thrilling doesn’t begin to describe it! ;o) Actually, I’m quite humbled by all of it. This has been the most amazing year.
Now, on to the grilling, er…I mean questions….yeah, questions. That’s what I meant to say!
You’re relatively new to the published author way of life. What has changed the most for you since you started writing and publishing your stories?
I’m not sure it has been just one thing…almost everything has changed. I was able to give up my day job so that I could write full time. I suppose that was the biggest change. I can help my family more now than I ever could before so that has been the best change. And even though my son is 15, I love the fact that I am here every day after school. If he’s sick, I don’t have to call a boss and ask permission to stay home or leave him while I go to work. The most fun things are interacting with my readers! I’ve met some amazing authors too. And, finally, after eight years, I get my new kitchen! If you saw my current, tiny, ugly kitchen you would understand my excitement. I am so looking forward to being able to open a cupboard door and not have lids and pans fall out and land on my toes! ;o)
How scary was it to quit your full-time job to write full time?
It wasn’t. It was liberating and exciting! To a certain extent, I am a risk taker. Though you’ll never find me on a zip-line or a roller coaster. I don’t take those kinds of risks. I was completely at peace with the decision. I don’t like to discuss money, but I was already making more money as an author than at my full time day job, so it was a very easy decision.
What made you choose Scotland (besides the sexy accent and sexy kilts)? And why that time period?
I got hooked on Highlanders by reading Carmen Caine, Laurin Wittig, and Amanda Forester. I owe it all to them! I’ve been writing since childhood. But I always wrote mysteries, whodunits. But something happened when I started reading the books by these amazing authors. A spark was ignited and the next thing I knew, I was in front of the family computer typing away. Every day, I was up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning just to write.
I guess I chose the 14th century Highlands for several reasons. The primary one being I had a bit more artistic leeway. I am able to create good, decent, honorable, romantic men (all modeled in some fashion or another after my beautiful husband.) My roots are based in Ireland and Scotland so I was drawn to it in that respect. And really, who doesn’t love a man in a kilt???
Where did you get the idea for this series?
Divine intervention. God has blessed me with a really crazy brain that can go in ten different directions at once. It is a blessing, no doubt about it. The ideas just pop into my head, for no apparent reason other than, again, God blessed me with a creative mind.
I blogged about where my latest story, Angus McKenna Hangs at Dawn came from. It hit me, out of nowhere, like a bolt of lightning, while tending to my morning ablutions. That little sentence, “Angus hangs at dawn.” No idea where it came from, but I actually gasped, my eyes widened with surprise and for a moment, I forgot where I was. I was actually arguing with myself, out loud. “No!! Not Angus? Why Angus?” It is going to be a good story.
One of the things I love about your series is how they’re all intermingled. We get to see our favorite characters again and again in each subsequent book. But not only that, their stories are intertwined. How hard is for you to keep the facts straight from one book to the next? How do you keep it all straight?
If it weren’t for my beautiful editor, Judy, I wouldn’t! I have lots of handwritten notes on cards and a few printed out that hang on the bulletin board above my desk. These little notes help me stay on track. I’d be lost without those. I guard them like a mother lion guards her cubs.
So, have you actually been to Scotland?
No, we haven’t, but it is on our bucket list. I need at least a month there, not so much to visit all the castles and pubs, but because I want to get lost in the libraries and do hours and hours of research. I’ll hit the pubs too, but I very much want to go for the libraries. We decided to build the new room addition (kitchen, dinning room, and home library/office) first. Maybe next year we’ll get to go.
Out of the three couples so far, who is your favorite?
Oh man, that is a hard one! I really do love them all. I love Aishlinn and Duncan because they were my first. I love Findley and Maggy because they were the bridge between Laiden’s Daughter and Wee William’s Woman. Wee William is probably my most favorite story to write so far, because of the humor I was able to elicit from his great character. Little Elyse is actually modeled after my oldest granddaughter. (I even let her pick the name!) So when you imagine strawberry blonde longs, big blue eyes, and a 6 year old with a thousand questions, you’re getting a good glimpse at my little granddaughter.
Where do you write your stories?
I have an office in the basement of our home. 99% of my writing is done there. But I will also write in the car when we travel for family functions. And today, I actually wrote for two hours while on my front porch. I’m looking forward to my new library/office though, as it will be rich, elegant, and sunny! But at this time next year, I will be moved into my new office/library. It is going to have a precisely medieval theme to it. Yes, I’ll post pictures when it is all done.
What been the greatest compliment you’ve received about your writing thus far?
So many of them have brought tears of joy to my eyes! I guess the greatest compliments were from the people who compared me to Hannah Howell, Catherine Bybee and Julie Garwood. Those blew me out of the water because I know I’m no where near the caliber of writers that these women are. However, I strive to get as good at this as they are.
I love it when readers write that they couldn’t put the book down, or that they were up half the night reading and those that say they can’t wait to read the next book. I did not realize just how seriously readers take things until I started writing. The outpouring of love, positivity, kindness, it has been a beautifully overwhelming experience. I love my readers! ;o)
What’s one thing you want readers to walk away from your books with?
That good always conquers evil. There is always hope for happiness. Romance comes in so many forms. The good guys always win and yes, happily ever after’s are real. ;o) I’m living my happily ever after, so I know they do exist. I want to be able to take my readers away from their every day world for a few hours.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Write passionately, with fervor and zeal and from your heart. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. And for heaven’s sake, get an editor! ;o)
Lastly, tell us where we can find you. (Twitter, blog, GoodReads, Facebook, etc.)
Goodreads — Suzan Tisdale
Thank you so much for joining us today. One last question and I’ll let you go write some more. When can we expect our next installment of Scottish love from you?
Very soon! I’m currently working on Angus McKenna Hangs At Dawn. I hope to have that released at sometime in July. Rowan’s Lady will be released late September. In July, Wee William’s Woman will be released in audio book format.
Prologue to Rowan’s Lady
The Black Death did not discriminate.
Like fire from hell, it spread across England, Wales, Italy and France. Untethered, unstoppable.
It cared not if the lives it took were of the noble and wealthy or the lowly born and poor. It showed no preference for age or gender. It took the wicked and the innocent. It took the blasphemers and the righteous.
The Black Death took whomever it damned well pleased.
It took Rowan Graham’s wife.
Rowan would not allow his sweet wife to die alone, cold, afraid, and in agony, no matter how much she begged otherwise. He would not allow anyone else to administer the herbs, to apply the poultices, or to even wipe her brow. He was her husband and she, his entire life.
Knowing that the Black Death had finally reached Scotland, Rowan’s clan had prepared as best they could. The moment anyone began to show signs of illness, they were immediately taken to the barracks. Seclusion was their only hope at keeping the illness from spreading.
Within a week, the barracks could hold no more of the sick and dying. The quarantine was all for naught.
By the time Kate showed the first signs of the illness, the Black Death had taken more than thirty of their people. Before it over, Clan Graham’s numbers dwindled to less than seventy members.
At Kate’s insistence, their three-month-old daughter was kept in seclusion. It was the last act of motherly love that she could show her child. In the hours just before her death, Kate begged for Rowan’s promise on two matters.
“Ye shall never be afraid to speak of me to our daughter. It is important that she know how much I loved her, and how much we loved her together.” ’Twas an easy promise for Rowan to make, for how could he ever forget Kate?
’Twas the second promise she asked that threatened to tear him apart.
“And ye must promise ye’ll let another woman into yer heart. Do not save it long fer me, husband. Yer too good a man to keep yerself to a dead woman.”
He swore to her that yes, someday he would allow his heart to love another. Silently however, he knew that day would be in the very distant future, mayhap thirty or forty years. For there could never be a woman who could take Kate’s place in his life or his heart.
“I love ye, Kate, more than me next breath,” Rowan whispered into her ear just before her chest rose and fell for the last time.
Fires were built to burn the dead. When Rowan’s first lieutenant came to remove Kate’s body to add it to the funeral pyres, he refused to allow Frederick anywhere near her. Rowan’s face turned purple with rage, his chest heaved from the weight of his unconstrained anguish. He unsheathed his sword and pinned Frederick to the wall.
“If ye so much as think of laying a finger to Kate, I shall take yer life,” Rowan seethed. Frederick knew it was a promise Rowan meant to keep.
Later, with his vision blurred from tears he could not suppress, Rowan bathed his wife’s once beautiful body now ravaged with large black boils. He washed her long, strawberry blonde locks and combed them until they shined once again. When he was done, he placed a bit of Graham plaid into the palm of her hand before wrapping her cold body in long linen strips.
Alone in the quiet hours before dawn he carried her to final resting place under the tall Wych Elm tree. He stayed next to her grave for three full days.
Frederick finally came to see him late in the afternoon of the third day.
“I ken yer grievin’, fer Kate was a fine woman.” Frederick said. “Ye’ve a wee bairn that needs ye, Rowan. She needs ye now, more than Kate does.”
Rowan was resting against the elm tree, with his head resting on his knees. In his heart he knew Frederick was right, but that did nothing the help fill the dark void that Kate’s death left in his heart.
For a brief moment, Rowan could have sworn he heard his wife’s voice agreeing with Frederick. Deciding it best not to argue the point with either of them, Rowan took a deep breath and pulled himself to his feet.
For now, he would focus on the first promise he had made to Kate.
“Ye be right, Frederick,” Rowan said as he slapped one hand on his friend’s back while wiping away tears with the other. “I need to go tell me daughter all about her beautiful mum.”