As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, Ireland and Scotland are my favourite settings for historical fiction. So today I’ve invited Eliza Knight, author of The Stolen Bride series to visit Ascroft, eh? to talk about her series and its most recent release, The Highlander’s Temptation.
Welcome Eliza! Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novels.
The newest release is The Highlander’s Temptation, which is actually the prequel to the entire series.
Desire tempted them, but love conquered all…
Laird Jamie Montgomery is a warrior with a mission. When he travels to the northern Highlands on the orders of William Wallace, temptation in the form of an alluring lass, could be his undoing.
Lady Lorna Sutherland can’t resist the charms of one irresistible Highlander. Though she’s been forbidden, she breaks every rule for the pleasure of his intoxicating embrace.
When their love is discovered, Jamie is tossed from Sutherland lands under threat of death. But danger can’t keep the two of them apart. No matter what perils may try to separate them—Lorna and Jamie swear they’ll find a way to be together.
What prompted you to write about this historical event?
I love Scotland and the medieval era. The War for Scottish Independence and its brave warriors (ie. William Wallace), have always fascinated me. In fact, one of my all-time favorite movies is Braveheart—however many historical issues it might have. One of the lines from the movie, I actually had inscribed on my husband’s wedding ring. So, naturally, when I decided to write a Scottish romance, I was drawn to these events. I created an entire world and families that were dealing with the events of the time. I wanted to bring about joy and happiness in a time period that I love, that was so full of strife. While each book is a romance, and has its own subplots, the connecting plot is the war for freedom, and William Wallace makes a cameo in each book. When I visited Scotland early in 2013, I made a point to visit most of the places within the series, and even got a picture beside Wallace’s sword.
How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?
I try to stick very closely to all historical facts when I write, because while my characters are fictional, the time that they lived was not. I want to bring that time period to life. I want my readers to experience the era while reading—and get a happy ending. Some of the facts that I have changed in the book are dates. I have moved some dates around—not anything major, such as a battle, but perhaps a date that a castle was built, or a date that The Bruce was visiting a castle, or the date a title may have been given. I only changed those dates to match my timeline.
What research did you do for this series?
I am a huge research fanatic—mostly because I actually enjoy it! I have tons of research books on Scotland’s history, Highlanders, Clans, castles, herbs. I’ve watched documentaries on Scotland, William Wallace, the war, the medieval era. I also took a research trip to Scotland early last year, which was instrumental! I’m planning to go again later this year.
Do you use a mixture of historic figures and invented characters in the series? Which is more difficult to write? Which do you prefer to write and why?
I do use a mixture! I think a story can be much more authentic with historical figures included. Even though I’m writing fiction, I still want my stories to be believable, especially since I’m dealing with a very real event—the war for freedom. Some historic figures that make cameos in the books are, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Longshanks aka King Edward of England. My heroes/heroines are all fictional, but they do reside in real castles, and have real Clan names.
Great question on difficulty! I think I’m going to have to say that the level of difficulty is equally matched. I say this because, with fictional characters you have to stay true to their goals and motivations, but you also have to do that with a historical figure. Maybe slightly more so with a historical figure, because we already know what happened, whereas with your fictional characters you can change what happens because you make it up—but because you can make it up, there is a lot more potential for creating issues.
I actually prefer writing both. Under the name E. Knight, I have written two historical fiction novels, based on historic figures, that will be releasing later this year.
In an historical novel you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
By doing a lot of research, I was able to close my eyes and recreate the scenery in my mind. I’m a very visual person. So watching documentaries, looking at pictures and visiting a place really help me to create it inside my mind where I can see it, and then lay it out on paper. Even just being outside, smelling the air, smelling a campfire, going on a hike and studying the way the leaves crunch under my feet or feeling the bark of a tree. I’m really big into those sensory details, and I want to immerse my readers inside the time.
There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
I have to say, I think that is because male historical figures were documented more. If you look back, there are just as many female historical figures that were instrumental in challenging and changing the world (even if they didn’t have a front row seat), just not as well documented. One of my all-time favorite female historical figures is Elizabeth I—she ruled for forty-four years, without marrying, and was hounded for it. Women were not supposed to be superior to men—and thank goodness there has been a shift in thinking!
I definitely prefer a female, because I can relate better, as I’m a woman. In historical fiction (my E. Knight books coming out later this year), I tackle the female’s point-of-view only—these books are generally about the journey of that historical female figures life. But in romance, I think it’s important to see both sides of the story. To watch them fall in love and understand the motivations, goals and conflicts on both sides. When I first started writing, I would ask my husband what he thought of my depiction of my male characters, and he was instrumental in telling me whether or not a man would think like that, or say something like that. Crit partners help, too. So my answer is two-fold. For romance, I prefer both. For historical fiction, so far, I prefer to write from a female’s perspective—but that only means I’ve now challenged myself to take on a male!
Thanks for giving me such detailed answers to my questions. It gives me and my readers a great insight into your books. And by the way, I enjoyed Braveheart too, despite its inaccuracies.
About Eliza Knight: She is the multi-published, award-winning, bestselling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) Eliza likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. Being a self-proclaimed history nerd, she owns the acclaimed historical blog, History Undressed. Eliza lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.