Okay guys…. I am so excited about this release! Sue-Ellen Welfonder has a new book coming out. Grim is my all time favorite character. He played a role in her Highland Warriors series and he’s finally getting his own book, Once Upon A Highland Christmas. He will also play a crucial role in the Scandalous Scots series following this novella that launches the series. Once Upon A Highland Christmas will release on December 3rd. You can pre-order it now on amazon for just $.99!
Sue-Ellen is not only one of my favorite authors but one of my favorite people too. I found her in 2001 when she released Devil In a Kilt and fell head over heels for her writing. She’s one of only a handful of people in this world who really “get” me and our beliefs run identical. She’s funny, kind, and all around real deal and I feel blessed to call her friend! If you love Scotland and those brave, fierce highlanders and the strong women who love them, her books are for you. Her heart lies in Scotland and her stories do too and in picking up her books you’re guaranteed to be swept away to another place and time and set firmly down among the magical mist and beautiful rugged landscape that make up the highlands. Not only will I be giving away an E-copy of Once Upon a Highland Christmas but she will be giving away a signed copy of Seduction Of a Highland Warrior from the Highland Warriors series where Grim was introduced and a signed copy of her first book, Devil In a Kilt! So without further ado, here she is….
Thank you for joining us today, Sue-Ellen!
SEW: My pleasure, Leah! I’m delighted to be here, especially as part of your Push-A-Book party to celebrate bookworm2bookworm’s 3rd Birthday. Thank you so much for inviting me, and for your lovely words. I feel the same about you. We’ve journeyed a shared path for a long while, as we have before and will again. You know exactly what I mean.
Leah: Yes, I do
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
SEW: I’ll share my ‘official’ bio and an ‘unofficial one.’
The official bio:
Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes Scottish medieval romances for Grand Central Publishing. As time allows, she also writes as Allie Mackay, penning contemporary paranormals, mostly set in the Scottish Highlands.
Her twenty-year airline career allowed her to see the world, but it was always to Scotland that she returned. Now a full-time writer, she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She spent fifteen years living in Europe, using that time to explore as many castle ruins, medieval abbeys, and stone circles, as possible. Anything ancient, crumbling, or lichened caught her eye. She still visits Scotland when she can as such trips give her inspiration for new books
Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies and never misses a chance to attend Highland Games. In addition to Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, nature, and animals. She enjoys long walks and bicycling, loves haggis, and writes at a 450-year-old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.
The unofficial bio:
My unofficial description of myself would tell you that I am old-fashioned, listen to classical and New Age music as I write, that I live, breath, and dream medieval Scotland, and enjoy living quietly. Shabby chic suits me better than glitz and glam. Hate shopping except bookstore sand thrift shops. I believe in Highland magic and love whimsy. I also believe some people are born out of time and place, and I am sure I’m one of them. (as are you, Leah!)
If I wasn’t writing, I’d be out in the field fighting for animal rights, rescuing stray cats and dogs, saving whales and seals, hugging trees, and going ghost-hunting, always searching for a time portal to sweep me out of this world and back to medieval Scotland.
Leah: We are SO alike! [as she stated above, she also writes as Allie MacKay and these books are just as awesome as her historical stories are! Tons of humor along with the romance and paranormal.]
What started you down the road to writing?
SEW: One of my own favorite romance writers encouraged me. She was Becky Lee Weyrich, the Queen of Time Travel in the 80s. I loved her books and sent her a fan letter. We became friends. At the time, I was flying and I’d send her long snail-mail letters about my adventures in far-flung corners of the globe. She told me that she ‘felt like she was there’ when she read my letters. She urged me to write. I balked. I loved flying and never wanted to do anything else. But Becky was a wonderful mentor, and eventually I wrote the story that became Devil In A Kilt. It sold fast and then there I was, published. So I just sort of fell into writing.
Leah: I’m so excited about Grim’s story, Once Upon a Highland Christmas. We met him in your Highland Warriors series where I fell madly in love with him and we’ll be seeing more of him in your upcoming Scandalous Scots series. Can you tell us about Grim and Breena, the woman who claims his heart?
SEW: Grim is one of those characters who stride onto the page full-bodied and breathing, alive and possessing such a powerful presence you’d swear they were real. I’m convinced Grim is out there somewhere, just the other side of a swirl of Highland mist, looking on as we talk about him today, his arms crossed and a slight smile tugging at his lips, pleased (and a bit humbled) to be honored this way.
He first appeared in Highland Warriors where he was champion to Kendrew, the hero of Temptation of a Highland Scoundrel. Tough and battle-hardened, Grim was Kendrew’s most fearsome warrior. He is formidable with both a sword and a Norse war ax, which he prefers. He’s also fierce-looking, being a big, powerfully-muscled man with smoke-gray eyes, wild black hair and his beard rings. (beard rings are made from the steel of the swords of slain enemies) For all his ferocity in battle, Grim is great-hearted and a good man. He is loyal, a staunch friend, and he loves animals. He knows he isn’t a ‘bonnie’ man, so he admires Breena from afar, sure that she would never even glance at a brute like him.
Breena is a young woman who has experienced incredibly hard times. She is Irish and was captured by brigands who raided her village. Those men planned to sell her at a slave market, after they’d taken their own pleasure with her. They brought her to Scotland and she was with them when they attacked a Highland stronghold. Grim was in the party of neighboring allies who rid the castle of the brigands. So he basically rescued Breena in the months before Once Upon A Highland Christmas opens. Breena is strong and resilient, refusing to let bad things break her. She adapts to her new home, coming to love the Highlands, and the clan that welcomes her so warmly. She also loses her heart to Grim, but as he rarely even speaks to her, she is sure her feelings for him aren’t reciprocated.
In their story, the season’s magic and the enchantment of long, cold and dark Highland nights, full of stars and wonder, lend a hand in making them realize how perfect they are together. Of course, secrets from the past could rip them apart before they can celebrate the joyful Christmas – and love – that they so deserve.
Leah: What excited you the most about doing a Christmas Novella?
SEW: Above all being able to write a story that sparkles with the magic of the season. Anyone who knows me (or my work) knows that I believe in magic, especially Highland magic. Christmas, Midwinter Solstice, Yule, whatever you call this special time, it is magical. There is wonder in the air and everyone feels it. Miracles can and do happen, hearts quicken with excitement, and love. Add my love of winter, my own Christmas birthday, and appreciation of the season and all its trappings, and there you go. I loved writing this story. I’d always wanted to do a Christmas tale and was thrilled when my publisher asked me to write one.
It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to create a ‘bridge’ between Highland Warriors and Scandalous Scots. Readers familiar with Seduction of a Highland Warrior, in particular, might be happy to see a certain well-loved character find a happy ending of his own in the novella. I really enjoyed adding that twist. (it shows that it is never too late for love)
Leah: Although the novella can be read as a standalone, it was nice seeing some beloved friends through the story. One especially was mentioned…Devorgilla. She always brings a smile to my face. Will you share with our readers who she is? (That is, unless she jumps in and shares Herself with us)
Devorgilla aka Old Dev: Herself is here, indeed, lassie. You aught know that I have excellent ears. I aye hear when my good name is mentioned. Those who speak it kindly, better yet, in awe, will be greeted as friends. Woe betide any tongue-waggers who dare whisper against me. They might find themselves enjoying a fine hot bath in my cauldron or – if the mood strikes me – they might waken to discover they’ve been turned into a newt.
I am the greatest cailleach in all broad Scotland, after all. And although my home is the fair Isle of Doon, as my lady noted in her second book, Knight In My Bed, when she first saw fit to loose me on the world all those long years ago, I do get around as you moderns say. My lady grants me entry to most of her books and I do take advantage, slipping across the pages, creating a bit of mayhem here, employing a dash of Highland magic there.
I also visit my lady’s two blogs. Don’t tell her, but her ‘Tarts’ as she calls her blog ‘regulars’ much prefer me to her. Truth be told, I could rule the world if I wished. But I am most content in my beloved Highlands and the pages of my lady’s books.
Ach! I see her coming back into her turret office, so I’d best slip away. Not because I must, I do what I want, always. But I like you and know you will be a-wanting her to finish her interview and send it to you.
Before I go, it should be said that I am small of stature, but mighty of spirit. Some say I have bright, mischievous eyes. And I garb myself in black, including fine black boots with red plaid laces. Now I am away. (but I will be watching you – I’m right good at suchlike)
Leah: Love you, Dev!
Your stories never fail to transport me straight into the past as if I were in the midst of the story itself watching it all go on around me. I’ve said before it’s like all my senses come alive reading your words. Do you draw most of your inspiration for your stories from time actually spent in Scotland, from research, or simply ideas as they come to you?
SEW: Thank you! That’s always a huge goal: to transport readers into the world of the story. Yes, most of my inspiration comes from my time spent in Scotland. I’ve been visiting all my life and until recently, went over every year, sometimes more than once in a year. (I am not traveling these days because my dog is quite old and I do not want to leave him) Every trip fuels my imagination. Loving atmosphere as I do, I am most inspired by remote, empty places. The wild places, magnificently bleak and so beautiful it almost breaks your heart to gaze upon them. It’s always such areas that speak loudest to me, story-wise.
Research gives me detail, little gems I can weave into a story. I’ve loved Scottish and medieval history all my life, so was studying both long before I ever considered writing. It’s a passion wholly apart from my writing and yet one that also serves my work well because I can use such knowledge to build a story world that, hopefully, will seem real and believable to readers.
Ideas that ‘simply come to a writer,’ are treasures. This happens when a character whispers in our ears, revealing their secrets. It’s pure magic and will usually be just what was needed’ to make a story shine.
Leah: Your stories not only have well-loved peopled characters in them but animal characters whose personalities always shine through the pages. Can you tell us about your own little hero, Em?
SEW: Em is my little hero, indeed. He is a Jack Russell, almost 15 now. He’s robust and healthy for his age, so I hope he’ll be around a good while yet. We go for long walks every day and he shares my chair when I write. He’s been on my lap, or sleeping behind me (on the chair) through every book I’ve written. He’s a fierce and devoted protector. When we’re out, he stops if someone approaches from behind. He won’t walk if anyone is behind us, only continuing on once that person has passed us. He gets upset if I am on the phone longer than he thinks I should be. When that happens, he often goes along the bottom bookshelves in here, nipping gently at book spines until I hang up to stop him. He sleeps curled against the backs of my knees and holds my heart in his beloved paws. I’ve mentioned him in every book acknowledgment and he is always the small dogs in my books. The larger ones are other dogs I’ve had. (I was raised in a menagerie, loving all animals all my life) But Em is special, dear above all others.
Leah: He holds a place in my heart as well even though I’ve never seen him. I came to love him through your sharing him with us on the blog.
Sue-Ellen, thank you so much for agreeing to the interview helping me spread the word for your new release and for sharing in our Push-A-Book party celebrating bookworm2bookworm’s 3rd Birthday!
SEW: The pleasure was all mine. Thank you so much for inviting me. It was fun and CONGRATS on the blog’s 3rdbirthday! Woot!
Now I’d better step aside. A certain black-garbed old woman is peering over my shoulder. I think she wants to read the interview and so I’d best let her. She’s not one to cross, as you know.
Devorgilla adds: you can reach her lady using these modern-day contraptions:
Tartan Ink After Hours: Book News Only
Tartan Ink: All Things Celtic, Highland Magic, Kilties, & Other Neat Things
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Once Upon a Highland Christmas
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