Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Amanda Forester, Author of THE HIGHLANDER'S SWORD

Today I'm delighted to interview Amanda Forester, author of The Highlander's Sword, her debut novel. Find out all about Amanda's love of history, as well as men in kilts. Sourcebooks will give away two copies of The Highlander's Sword. Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one. Amanda will select the lucky winners. Please note that Sourcebooks can mail only to addresses in the USA and Canada.

Welcome Amanda!

Thanks, Linda for inviting me!

What attracted you to historicals and medieval Scotland in particular?

I love to escape in a book. Though I enjoy a variety of books, historicals are my favorite since I get to escape even further from my current reality, into the world of history (another love of mine). I enjoy a lot of things about Scotland; the fierce drive for independence, the rugged, beautiful terrain… but really it’s all about the kilt.

Since The Highlander's Sword is your first book, tell us how you came to write it.

I’ve always had stories floating around in my head, but I thought them interesting fantasies at best. It was not until I was going through a rough time and a friend recommended I read a romance novel that I realized there was a whole genre of wonderful stories about finding love. It was nice to think I was not alone in having these romantic daydreams. I took a chance and wrote a story down, and here we are!

The book opens in 1346, with the Scots fighting in France against the English. Why?

In 1295 Scotland and France formed a treaty that is now known as the Auld Alliance. For the next several hundred years France and Scotland supported each other in their frequent wars against England. In 1328, Charles IV of France died leaving his heir in dispute. The English King Edward III claimed to be king of both France and England and thus began what is now known as the Hundred Years’ War. At the beginning of the story, I have our hero MacLaren leaving France after he fought with the French in support of their ongoing strife with England.

The Graham clan in the story is based upon a real Scottish clan. Can you give us some background on the Grahams and how they fit into the story?

I was attracted to the Graham clan because they had been staunch supporters of Scotland’s bid for freedom. Also, according to legend, the Grahams fought at the battle of Neville’s Cross against the English and charged the longbowmen who were harassing the Scot line. Unfortunately, they were not supported by the rest of the Scots and the Grahams suffered heavy casualties. It is in the aftermath of this great tragedy for the Grahams that I set my story with Lady Aila Graham finding that since her brother and relative have died in battle, she is now a substantial heiress, yet vulnerable due to the loss of fighting men. Her father arranges a marriage with a Highland warrior and the story begins…

Are any of the other characters based on real people?

The characters are all completely fictional, except for the references to kings and such. I did name Aila’s father John after the John Graham had also signed the Declaration of Arbroath, in which the Scots requested the Pope to recognize Scotland as an independent state.

The Scottish people in the books speak with a Scottish brogue. How did you find out what the brogue sounds like?

The Highlander who visits my dreams whispers to me in the night. And I watch British TV.

The Highlander's Sword is a story of expectations, the misunderstandings these expectations cause, and how both can threaten a relationship. Tell us about the basic misunderstanding between Aila and Padyn.

Padyn MacLaren is a distrusting soul, after being deceived by his first love. Aila was destined to be a nun, until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress. Aila is intelligent but woefully na├»ve when it comes to men. Padyn is ready to see everything through the lens of rejection and betrayal. So when Aila waits for him to escort her to the feast and he doesn’t come, and Padyn waits for her at the table and she never shows, each is inclined to assume the worst. ’Tis not a smooth road for these two reluctant love-birds!

You pack a lot of information about medieval Scotland into the story. How do you weave it in so that you're not "information dumping"?

I love history. Doing the research for the story was a lot of fun and helped me to understand the setting. Yet in my writing I attempted to tell the story first and bring out elements of medieval Scotland only as it related to the story. My husband also read it, pointing out any “info dumps”, and made me take them out!

Fun question--what's the attraction of men in kilts?

Oh my! Need I say it? Can you possibly regard a hunky guy in a kilt without wondering what’s under it?

Thanks for coming over, Amanda. Come back any time.


A quiet, flame-haired beauty with secrets of her own...
Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent, until her brother's death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught between hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior, the Abbot's insistence that she take her vows, the Scottish Laird who kidnaps her, and the traitor from within who betrays them all.

She's nothing he expected and everything he really needs...
Padyn MacLaren, a battled-hardened knight, returns home to the Highlands after years of fighting the English in France. MacLaren bears the physical scars of battle, but it is the deeper wounds of betrayal that have rocked his faith. Arriving with only a band of war-weary knights, MacLaren finds his land pillaged and his clan scattered. Determined to restore his clan, he sees Aila's fortune as the answer to his problems...but maybe it's the woman herself.

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance novels was way more fun. She lives in the Pacific Northwest outside Tacoma, Washington with her husband, two energetic children, and one lazy dog. You can visit her at


Linda Banche said...

Hi Amanda, thanks for coming over. Glad to find I'm not the only one who reads historical romance for the escape. Historicals forever!

neecy said...

Great interview Amanda, love the cover.

susan said...

Loved this article and what a great time to read about men in kilts. I have seen so many men in kilts this week end and your books came to mind. I attended a St Patrick Day's parade over the week end and loved the bagpipes and kilts. awesome. susan L.

peggy said...

Hi Amanda,I like you have a special place in my heart for historicals.And the highlanders is my favorite.Who does not want to read about a man in a

Debra St. John said...

Great interview, ladies.

What's not to love about a man in a kilt?!

I love how you've woven the history of the real clan into your book.

Tiffany Green said...

Wonderful interview! I can tell you put a lot of research into this book, Amanda. Congratulations and best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview, Amanda. I love men in kilts!

Amanda Forester said...

Hi Linda! Thanks for having me over to chat! I do so love my historicals! And yes - kilts!!

Erika said...

Strange that this interview should land in my inbox today. For it is my love of the highlands and yes...kilts that sent me to the Renissance festival yesterday.

The machismo needed to effectively wear a kilt staggers the mind. but some day it beautifully tere. The struggles that you recount and invite us to immurse into with your books is an escape that is sorely appreciated and needed today.

Secretely, the type of man who wore the kilts is sadly missed in todays "acceptable" society.

Men were men, and treated women as a special part of their lives. Not as an equal but many times as someone much better. A priceless treasure to be protected, loved and safeguarded at all costs.

What women wouldn't want someone to always be there for them, to lean on , for that person to lean on. For their feminity to be cherished, not spurned in the rat race of life.

your books are a window back to the history that made us, and a tiny look at what was lost.

your fan,

catslady said...

I'm one of those readers that picks up any book that says Highlanders, Scottland, kilts etc. I think you explained it pretty well - I like to be totally taken away and medievals to it best! Great interview and what a wonderful cover.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Amanda,
Great interview. Men in kilts. You have won me, before I have even read a line of your story.


booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed reading the post and look forward in reading your works.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

rm2h said...

Scotch men are so dreamy and to see under the kilt wow... Great interview.

rm2h said...

forgot to leave my email address: rm2h @ - left spaces due to the spammers.

Amanda Forester said...

Thank you Erika for your post. You have summarized for me something I have felt, but couldn't quite put to words. To be loved and cherished for who we truly are, now that is something.


LK Hunsaker said...

Linda, wonderful questions!

Amanda, this sounds like a great read. I love historicals, especially Celtic, and may need to find out if your psych background helped create deep characters. ;-)

Amanda Forester said...

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments. I had a lot of fun researching this period in history and imagining myself back there. I'd like to think my psych background helped, though I didn't think of consiously. I do think both writing and psychology try to understand the heart of the person.

I hope you will enjoy!


Meandi's corner said...

great interview and the kilt thing well call me crazy but its the man that makes the kilt. I mean scrawny guy in kilt not so good. hot man in kilt sign me up :)

Amanda Forester said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. Now for the winners of a copy of THE HIGHLANDER'S SWORD! The two people randomly selected of those who left comments are... Patsy and Peggy! Congratulations!!