Veronica Wolff was an aspiring art historian when she realized that academic writing was not the place to explore her romantic flights of fancy. She lived everywhere from South Carolina, to Hawaii, to India, finally settling in Northern California where she lives with her husband, two children, a dog and cat, and countless houseplants. Her unmarketable skills include snowboarding, speaking Hindi, gardening, and knowing an alarming amount of pop-culture trivia. She has two books coming out with Berkley in 2008, both time-travel romances set in seventeenth-century Scotland, based on the lives of real heroes.
Vonda Sinclair: Hi Veronica, welcome! I'm so glad you're a guest here today! Please tell us about your first book, just released by Berkley, Master of the Highlands. (And what a yummy cover! Nothing better than plaid over a muscular chest!)
Veronica Wolff: Master of the Highlands was based on the real life and battles of famous seventeenth-century laird, Ewen Cameron.
SHE'S BACK IN TIME...
Lily Hamlin has finally realized that her life isn't as perfect as she once thought. Making a pilgrimage to Scotland, a land she's only heard about in lullabies, Lily hopes that she can find her place again. But while exploring the Highlands, she discovers an overgrown maze and a strange stone map--and lands in the Lochaber of 1654...
...JUST IN TIME FOR HIM.
Ewen, Chief of the Clan Cameron, is a busy man who must figure out how to save his people from the brutal redcoats and has time for little else. Having sired an heir, the widowed Ewen has no need--or room--for another romance. Then into his life drops a saucy lass with a peculiar accent, no regard for his title--and an arousing body. Drawn to each other despite their differences, they both realize that they don't want her to go back to her own time. But with battles brewing between the Camerons, the redcoats, and a rival clan, staying is a gamble.
Vonda: This sounds like my favorite kind of book! What is the story behind the story?
Veronica: I was a fantasy fiction fan who hadn’t read much romance. My mother gave me Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER as a gift and, though I know Gabaldon wouldn’t call it a romance novel, that book made me realize how deeply satisfying a good love story could be. It also made me an avid fan of Scottish history! After I read everything she’d written, I went on to devour every Highland book I could find. Karen Marie Moning quickly became another favorite. But all these wonderful love stories spoiled me: Suddenly, a book felt lacking if it didn’t have a good, solid romance at the heart of it! And so I became a fan of all romances, not just those set in Scotland.
As for Ewen's story in particular, I am a history buff and web surfing addict, and have lost many an hour poring through the vast number of historical accounts, legends, and just-plain ghost stories there are to be found in Scottish history. I stumbled across this strapping and noble laird one day and got completely swept away by his life story. I couldn't believe that there weren't all kinds of movies and books based on his life--I felt like I'd discovered some secret treasure! I immediately set to work imagining what his life might have been like, inserting my own heroine into his family and amidst his real struggles with the MacKintosh clan and with the redcoats. I'm selfish, though! I wanted to get as close to the action as possible, which is why I sent a modern-day heroine back to him.
Vonda: Sounds fascinating! I can certainly see how your interests led you to writing the books you do. What challenges did you face in writing a time-travel?
Veronica: My biggest challenge is one that I imagine is faced by all writers of historical fiction: Accuracy! That is, I'll be jamming on a scene, the words really flowing, and then my hero will do something simple like pick up a glass from a table. Full stop as I proceed to lose fifteen minutes confirming just what kind of glass a laird would use in seventeenth-century Scotland. Leaded? Metal? And what would he drink?
Or, picture this: He pulls his sword from his scabbard, hearing the scrape of steel on... Another full stop! And twenty minutes this time, confirming period dress, sword type, scabbard material, and so forth. People have suggested that I simply flag these moments with an asterisk to return to later, but I like to really see the full scene as I write.
Vonda: I know exactly what you mean. Each detail must be researched and that research can eat up the time. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
Veronica: Ooh--good question! It's a hard one, though. At the time, I most enjoyed writing Gormshuil. She's based on a real-life "good" witch who advised the Cameron clan, and I had such fun imagining what path would’ve lead a woman to such a role. That said, once I was done writing the book, the character I missed most was Ewen! So much so, I ended up writing a part for him in my second book (coming June 08), which takes place when he was a teenager. Now that was fun to write! In fact, I'm finding I get deeply involved with all my heroes, I think precisely because they are based on real historical figures. The stakes were so high in old Scotland--it's hard not to get wrapped up in the lives of these amazing men!
Vonda: Absolutely! I can't wait to meet your heroes. Your website is one of the most amazing and beautiful I've seen. Can you tell us more about how it was created?
Veronica: Thank you! I'm actually thrilled to answer this, since building the web site was such a rewarding and collaborative experience for me. First, I must confess, I have an unfair advantage in that I'm married to a software developer! I hired a wonderful designer, Sunni Chapman, who came up with the feel of the site, and Adam, my fabulous husband, put it all together, treating it as its own application, architecting it, optimizing it, and so forth.
For me, though, the photography is the real soul of the site, as is the music. I've been so blessed to come across such generous and talented people, and photographer Rebecca Cusworth is first and foremost among them. She's a young Glasgow-based artist whom I discovered on a photo blog. She sells her work online, and if you ever wonder why I'm constantly touting her and giving away her work, it's because she is one of the loveliest, sweetest, and most gifted people I've encountered.
Musician Áine Minogue was also a delight to work with. I literally teared up the first time I saw the slide show on my front page, so moved was I by her beautiful music set in tandem with those evocative photos.
Finally, Tom Cameron, Commissioner of Clan Cameron of North America, very generously supplied me with all those great shots of Lochaber. I'd been shy to get in touch with the clan, but when I finally did, Tom was so kind and enthusiastic! Getting shots of Cameron country from an actual Cameron was a heart-warming experience for me.
Vonda: Wow, that's wonderful! Thanks so much for visiting with us today. I've enjoyed it! Please point us to your website, contest (with a fantastic prize!) and where to buy your book.
Veronica: You're a sweetie, Vonda. Thank *you* for the time and effort here. I sincerely appreciate it. My website is here veronicawolff.com
Enter my contest celebrating the release of Master of the Highlands! You can win a gorgeous Rebecca Cusworth photograph, suitable for framing.
Order Master of the Highlands at Amazon.com.
Vonda: Finally, in closing would you like to ask blog readers a question?
Veronica: Vonda asked me what stumps me in my writing. The question I'd pose back to you is, what brings you to one of those Full Stops while reading? Is it a difficult-to-understand bit of accent or language? Historical inaccuracy? A character who's not true to themselves? Weak love story? Please do tell!