The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
SE: Ah, well. First and foremost, I am a dedicated Scotophile with a grand passion for Scottish medieval history. I live and breathe to be there and my entire world revolves around my great love for Scotland. That's the heart of me.
The cut-and-dried answer would be that I am of Scottish (Hebridean) descent, worked for the airlines for many years, am married, and live with my husband and Jack Russell Terrier in Florida. In addition to loving Scotland, I am a card-carrying dog lover and keenly interested in the paranormal.
Career-wise, I write Scottish medievals for Warner (now known as Grand Central Publishing) and Scottish-set paranormals for NAL under the pen name Allie Mackay.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
SE: Kira Bedwell of my upcoming NAL release, HIGHLANDER IN HER DREAMS. I can't say why without spoilers but anyone who knows me and reads the book will understand. Otherwise, Mara McDougall of my first NAL paranormal, HIGHLANDER IN HER BED, because she inherits a Scottish castle and not only gets to live in it, but also wins the heart of a very sexy Highlander.
What's your favorite genre to read?
SE: My pleasure reading consists of nonfiction books on all things Scottish and medieval. Also books on ghosts and hauntings and the like. Anything with a touch of the 'woo.'
Who or what influences you when you write?
SE: Scotland. I spend a lot of time there each year and always come back inspired.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
SE: Ha ha ha. I do not believe there is such a critter. That said, I do my best to ignore everything that could be a distraction and just write. I am not a morning person, so my day begins with strong, black coffee. Then I walk my dog and cycle after his walk. The coffee, fresh air, and exercise gets me going and I then work all day, taking a break for lunch and later for a afternoon tea. Another break for an evening walk with my dog and dinner, then around 11-ish, I settle in for my 'nitty-gritty' late night writing stints. Being a night owl, I do my best work after midnight, sometimes working through till 3 or 4 a.m. depending on where I am on my deadlines.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
SE: I believe there are two reasons for writer's block: letting negativity get to you, creating an emotional block, or trying to force a situation that doesn't fit the characters or plot. For the first, I try to avoid negativity in the first place. Life is too short and deadlines too serious. Re the second, I take a pause and cycle. The fresh air and exercise helps me 'listen' to my story and I suddenly know what is wrong and how to fix it.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
SE: My next release is BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT, a Scottish medieval and the latest in my MacKenzie series. It is a September release from Warner (now known as Grand Central Publishing) and is Jamie Macpherson's book. Readers who read UNTIL THE KNIGHT COMES will have met Jamie in that book. He's very special and I had great fun writing his story.
November sees the release of my second "Allie Mackay" NAL Scottish-set paranormal, HIGHLANDER IN HER DREAMS. Readers who read HIGHLANDER IN HER BED will see some familiar faces and also get to visit the Isle of Skye, one of my favorite haunts in the Highlands. The book's setting is very real, my own favorite castle ruin on Skye, and the story is based on my own experiences exploring the ruin. Sadly, the mystical moments that sparked the story idea ended there for me: quick mystical 'glimpses' whenever I visit the ruin. (which is every time I am in Scotland) I would much rather have had everything unfold as it does for Kira, the book's heroine. As it is, I had a wonderful time writing the story.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
SE: More of the same. Scottish medievals for Warner/Grand Central Publishing and Scottish-set paranormals for NAL. I am currently on dual deadlines, a fact of life since the birth of "Allie Mackay."
One deadline book is BRIDE BY SEDUCTION and is Gelis MacKenzie's story. She is the youngest daughter of Duncan MacKenzie, the hero of DEVIL IN A KILT. She's quite a spitfire and really keeps me hopping. Readers may remember her from UNTIL THE KNIGHT COMES. She also has an appearance in my upcoming release, BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT. There is an excerpt for BRIDE BY SEDUCTION in the back of BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT.
My other deadline book is the third "Allie Mackay" Scottish-set paranormal, TO TEMPT A HIGHLANDER. I am especially pleased because it is Hardwick's book. Readers familiar with HIGHLANDER IN HER BED will know who he is. He makes a wonderful and amusing hero. There is an excerpt for his book in the back of HIGHLANDER IN HER DREAMS.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.
SE: In general, I would hope to remain healthy and happy. Re my writing career, I imagine I will be more or less where I am today: writing in two subgenres I dearly love. As long as my core readers enjoy my books, I am content.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
SE: Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. For too many reasons to list, but mostly because he was one of Scotland's most heroic kings. He went up against England and its formidable mailed and horsed chivalry, winning Scotland's independence with a much smaller and poorly equiped army. He was larger than life, struggled years for what he wanted, inspired his men to love him and his enemies to respect him. In addition to his bravery and skill with a sword (and axe) and superb ability at battle strategy, he was also quite a ladies man, said to have been incredibly charming as well as handsome. I have made 'pilgrimages' to all sites of note in his lifetime and whenever I visit such a place, I can almost feel his power and presence still there, lingering. He was that great a man.
What do you do for inspiration?
SE: Visit Scotland as often as I can, usually twice a year. Nothing else inspires me more than actually being there.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
SE: No. I am writing the two genres I love.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
SE: The kind I love to read: books that transport the reader to another time and place. That is what I try to do with my own books. I have no desire to read or write a book that is all dialogue and could take place in a broom closet. I need atmosphere.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
SE: Well ... being of Scottish descent, I was raised to appreciate and love my heritage. I've been traveling to Scotland since my teens and visiting annually since adulthood. My family history and my time spent in Scotland goes a long way to giving me a good understanding of the land, people, and culture.
In addition, I have been fascinated by Scottish medieval history since childhood. For many years, I've collected research books on every imaginable Scottish medieval and general medieval topic and now have my own personal research library of several thousand books. My writing office is wall to wall, floor to ceiling books on Scotland and its history. So I pretty much know my story world and feel familiar in it before I write the first line of a new book. If I wish to check something specific, I have several or more books that will give me the answer. Re usage of Gaelic words, if I am not sure, I email or call one of my Highland friends and get clarification.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
SE: I hate deadlines. But they probably help my muse whether I hate them or not. Knowing they are out there, looming and growling, keeps me writing every day.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
SE: Around 1998. DEVIL IN A KILT sold in 2000. I was encouraged to write by a friend, Becky Lee Weyrich, the wonderful time travel queen of the 1980s. I loved her work and we corresponded. I was still flying then and would send her letters describing my travel adventures. She said my letters made her feel as if she'd been with me in these places and that she thought I should try writing romances. Without her urging, I would still be flying. I loved my airline career and do miss it.
What would you like to tell your readers?
SE: That I appreciate them and am always happy to hear from them. I do not blog or visit message boards, but I do respond to readers who email me. Although deadlines or being away in Scotland sometimes means it takes a while before I can reply.
Also, if they enjoy atmosphere as much as I do and would like to see the places that inspired and/or feature in my books, both my websites have special feature pages showcasing photos I've taken on my visits to Scotland. There are photos for each book. Look for them here:
www.welfonder.com "Inside the Pages" and its "Special Tidbits" section or click on "See the Inspiration" noted beside each book.
www.alliemackay.com "Booknotes and Beyond."
I've been doing these special (photos-to-go-with-the-books) features since DEVIL IN A KILT and readers seem to appreciate getting to 'see' into the story setting.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
SE: The best advice I ever received is to just do it. Talking, thinking, or reading about writing, isn't writing. Personally, I'd say the best advice is to write what you love. Only then will your passion come alive on the page.
The worst advice I ever received was to enter RWA contests. I am not a contest maven and was urged by a well-meaning pubbed friend to enter the GH and two other well-known RWA contests. My friend knew the manuscript and thought it had a fair chance to place. Far from placing, the judges hated the entry. Thing is, that entry sold before I received the contest scores. The entry was DEVIL IN A KILT which won RT's Reviewers' Choice Award for Best First Historical Romance and has done very, very well for me. The book is still doing well after all these years. It's seen multiple prints, many foreign editions, and still brings me excellent royalties. Had I heeded the grim comments and low scores of the RWA contest judges, I would have thrown away the manuscript and never written again.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
SE: I have to give my editors a brief synopsis so that they can approve or decline a storyline. That's about all the 'outlining' I do. No storyboards, no character interviews, none of that. I know from the outset who the characters are, what happens, and where it all unfolds. I know the beginning and the end and view the middle as a gray zone where things might happen differently than in the synopsis, depending on how the characters evolve. So I would say that I just write. That, and listen to the characters. They always know best.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
SE: No. Only my agent and editor see my work before it is published. My agent reads along as I write and I trust her opinion implicitly. I have two wonderful editors and respect and appreciate their suggestions and input. And I trust my own instincts. That is enough for me.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
SE: My debut book was DEVIL IN A KILT, a Scottish medieval published Warner Books in Aug. 2001. My first "Allie Mackay" Scottish-set paranormal was HIGHLANDER IN HER BED, published by NAL in Nov. 2006.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
SE: Through either website: www.welfonder.com or www.alliemackay.com I am probably one of the few authors who doesn't blog, do MySpace, frequent message boards, or run a Yahoo group. I am pretty much low-key re self-promotion and only have my two websites and my books to stand for me.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
SE: Through my websites. (see above) Anyone who would like to stay updated on my news can sign up for my quarterly e-newsletter. There's a form to sign up on my Welfonder site's "Of Note" page. Just scroll down a bit and you'll find it.
Thanks so much for the interview, Jenn.
I appreciate it. And warm regards to the Ladies at Night Owl Romance. (love the name
Sue-Ellen Welfonder aka "Allie Mackay"
Thank you for this opportunity!