Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Post: A Discussion with Amanda Scott

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Each of these three series (Dangerous, Border, Highland) takes place in a different location. Can you talk about how it's different to write about each place? Does the location in which your book is set change the way you do research or form your stories?

The Dangerous series: Dangerous Illusions, Dangerous Games, Dangerous Angels, and Dangerous Lady, takes place in England and, rather unexpectedly for the author, takes place from Waterloo (1815) into the first years of Victoria's reign (1837), so that was a bit of a stretch for me. Regency England was quite familiar by then (my son said it was much more familiar to me than any part of the twentieth century, and I suspect he was right about that). I have also studied the Victorians, but for the last book in the series Dangerous Lady, I had to focus on the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, when she was only nineteen. That required some new and detailed research into the Queen and her ladies, because I decided to make my heroine a maid of honor to the Queen. Since the heroine, Lady Letitia "Letty" Deverill, had an established background as the daughter of the Marquess of Jervaulx, she was a good candidate for the post, but I still needed a hero and a plot.

The primary problem in deciding to use Letty as my heroine in that fourth book was that she had been about nine in the third one, which meant I had to leap forward about ten years, into Victoria's reign. I looked further into the primary subjects I had used for the first three books, laws pertaining specifically to women – marriage, divorce, child custody - and how some of the wealthiest families got around the most restrictive ones. I also researched property and inheritance laws, and as always, I spent a great deal of time getting the details of the settings (primarily Waterloo, Cornwall, and London) as accurate as possible.

I knew that it was a common practice for Regency and Victoria women to keep exotic pets, so I gave Letty a pet monkey. Then I had her unexpectedly, and for reasons unknown, inherit a house in London with two eccentric tenants, supposedly impecunious old ladies, already living in it and utterly unevictable. So, when Letty learns exactly how they are using her house, all sorts of complications arise.

Their grandnephew, Viscount Raventhorpe, happens to be a lord-in-waiting to the Queen, and is a most intriguing…and interfering… gentleman.

To make matter worse (or better, from an author's point of view), the Queen surrounds herself with loyal Whigs, of whom Raventhorpe is one; while Letty is a devout Tory.

The research for the whole series was expansive, though, including a call to the Smithsonian Institutes. I researched politics, gaming, and tales of outrageous gambling, court intrigues, and many other subjects. I also traveled to England so that I could see the Cornish countryside for myself. My husband went with me, and drove, so I could watch the landscape and take pictures as we went. We traveled all over Cornwall, to Land's End and back. The high point, though, was that we had afternoon tea with Alison Adburgham, the author of Silver Fork Society and Shops and Shopping, 1800-1914, two of my favorite source books for the Regency period. I had been corresponding with her for some time, and when I told her that we would be visiting Cornwall, she invited us to take tea with her at her home.

The Bawdy Bride, a stand-alone title, also takes place in Regency England but in Derbyshire, an entirely different area of the country. It also includes hot-air ballooning and takes place almost entirely in a stately country house, which sent me scurrying for books on housekeeping, servants, kitchen "appliances", the training of servants and exact duties of the many people employed on a country estate.

For the Border books, Border Bride, Border Fire, and Border Storm – I read Border Ballads and many, many books on the area and its clans. Clan Scott is a Border clan, and so is Clan Douglas, and both have solid presence in my family tree. (I tell people I have horse thieves – reivers – hanging from every branch). I also relied on stories that my grandfather had told me and did further research of my own. I also traveled to Scotland and visited all of the places I was describing, to see them for myself.

At Hermitage Castle, we had a private tour because the custodian had kept the castle open after its official closing date and was delighted to meet a Scott. She was wonderful and extremely informative. It was October, so the best I had hoped for was to see the castle at a distance. Instead, she took us all around and chatted about its history for an hour or more.

With respect to the Highland books, I have visited and explored the Scottish Highlands a number of times over the years. In fact, I took my first trip there with my graduate-school roommate before I began writing seriously. We spent a month in Scotland, and I collected so many guidebooks, and other books, that I had to ask a storekeeper in Aberfoyle to box them and ship them home for me (along with half the other things I'd bought, fortunately many of them from him).

I still collect guidebooks and maps from all over Scotland. The first time my husband went with me, he said it was silly to ship things home – too expensive. Plus, we had a car, so we really didn't need to ship anything. It took no more than that first trip together to teach him how wrong he was, though. Fortunately, since the x-ray machines at the airports couldn't see through 78 pounds of "paper products," we only had to get them to the Heathrow check-in line. They were thus "delayed en route," so they didn't get to San Francisco when we did, and the airline very kindly sent them the rest of the way, right to the house, so we never had to lug them.

I'm not sure that the research or writing process is different with different settings, but I do my best to keep true to the ways people lived in the various places, so from that standpoint, the research can certainly impact a storyline. And setting definitely impacts the dialogue for any book. I have numerous books on regional slang and slang dictionaries to give me dates of usage and so forth.

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About the Author: A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction. Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband. For more information on Amanda Scott’s novels, please visit the website

About the Book ~ Highland Fling: Forbidden passion has never been more dangerous—or more irresistible—in the first novel of bestselling author Amanda Scott’s spellbinding Highland series. Scotland, 1750. In the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Maggie MacDrumin vows to keep fighting to liberate her people. But the intrepid Scotswoman is risking her life for a dangerous cause. When her latest mission lands her in a London courtroom on a trumped-up larceny charge, she has only one hope of survival. Enlisting the aid of Edward Carsley, the powerful fourth Earl of Rothwell, is a two-edged sword. The seductive aristocrat who awakens treacherous desire is her clan’s mortal enemy—a man she can never trust. Edward will do whatever it takes to quell another bloody uprising. But how can he fight his passion for the rebellious Highland beauty in his safekeeping? As their lives come under siege, Maggie lays claim to the one thing Edward vowed never to 

About the Book ~ Border Bride: Set in treacherous sixteenth-century Scotland, the first volume of Amanda Scott’s Border Trilogy tells the unforgettable story of a woman sworn to defy the knight she is forced to wed—only to discover a love she’ll do anything to claim.  As Mary, Queen of Scots, languishes in the Tower of London as a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, war tears Scotland apart. To save her beloved homeland, a proud Highland beauty named Mary Kate MacPherson must wage her own battle when she’s forced into wedlock with a knight, Sir Adam Douglas, from the barbaric borderland of Tornary. Even as she succumbs to her seductive husband’s sensual demands, Mary Kate vows never to give him her heart. She will belong to no man. But Adam burns with something deeper than desire. Sworn to carry out a long-awaited revenge, he won’t rest until he has vanquished his enemies. Accused of treason, the last thing he expects is to lose his heart to the woman he’s determined to tame but never to love: his own wife.

About the Book ~ Dangerous Illusions: The first book in Amanda Scott’s acclaimed Dangerous series journeys from the battlefields of Waterloo to the ballrooms and boudoirs of London, where a deadly deception unfolds . . . Engaged by proxy to a man she’s never met, Lady Daintry Tarrant is dismayed when the war hero returns, introducing himself as her fiancé, Lord Penthorpe. She cherishes her independence and has turned away many suitors, but this one she must marry. Penthorpe is completely captivated by Lady Daintry—but he’s not who he claims to be. Penthorpe and Lord Gideon Deverill fought together at the battle of Waterloo, and when Penthorpe fell, Gideon assumed his identity in order to see the beautiful Lady Daintry. Gideon knows there’s bad blood between Lady Daintry’s family and his own, but he’s smitten with Daintry and determined to reunite the bitterly feuding clans. When a ghost from Gideon’s past appears, he could lose everything—including Daintry’s love.

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Check out all the stops on the historical fiction VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR of Amanda Scott's Highland Fling, Dangerous illusions and Border Bride

Wednesday, April 3
Review at The Picky Girl Blog (Highland Fling)
Review at Books Like Breathing (Dangerous Illusions)
Thursday, April 4
Interview at A Bookish Libraria
Friday, April 5
Guest Post & Giveaway at In the Hammock Blog
Monday, April 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, April 9
Review at Just One More Chapter (Border Bride)
Review at Overflowing Bookshelves (Highland Fling)
Interview at Tribute Books
Wednesday, April 10
Feature & Giveaway at A Writer’s Life: Working with the Muse
Thursday, April 11
Review at Overflowing Bookshelves (Border Bride)
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Dangerous Illusions)
Friday, April 12
Feature & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Monday, April 15
Review at Romantic Historical Lovers (Dangerous Illusions)
Guest Post & Giveaway at History Undressed
Tuesday, April 16
Review at Ramblings from a Chaotic Mind (Highland Fling)
Wednesday, April 17
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! (Border Bride)
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie (Dangerous Illusions)
Thursday, April 18
Review at Books Like Breathing (Highland Fling)
Review at Overflowing Bookshelves (Dangerous Illusions)
Friday, April 19
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Dangerous Illusions)
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Border Bride)
Monday, April 22
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Highland Fling)
Guest Post & Giveaway at Ramblings from a Chaotic Mind
Tuesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Border Bride)
Wednesday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at The Bookworm (Highland Fling)
Thursday, April 25
Review at Romantic Historical Lovers (Highland Fling)
Review at From the TBR Pile (Border Bride)
Friday, April 26
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at From the TBR Pile
Monday, April 29
Review at Books Like Breathing (Border Bride)
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! (Dangerous Illusions)
Tuesday, April 30
Review at Romantic Historical Lovers (Border Bride)
Wednesday, May 1
Review at WTF Are you Reading (Highland Fling)
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Thursday, May 2
Review at WTF Are you Reading (Border Bride)
Interview & Giveaway at Ramblings of a Chaotic Mind
Friday, May 3
Review at Starting Fresh (Highland Fling)
Review at WTF Are you Reading (Dangerous Illusions)

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