Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Welcome Wednesday's Guest is Kate Robbins

My Wednesday guest interview is with Kate Robbins. Her historical romance - Bound to the Highlander - was released last week from Tirgearr Publishing and is the 2013 TARA Award Winner for Historical Romance. 

Kate's highlander - James MacIntosh - was interviewed on last week's Familiarise Friday slot. We got to know a little bit about James, so now it's Kate's turn.

Welcome, Kate! 
What part of the world do you come from?
I live on the east coast of Canada, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Have your origins had any bearing on what type of novels you tend to write?
I believe my family originated from Scotland, though I don’t have any proof of that. Regardless, Scotland has always fascinated me so setting a novel there was a no-brainer.

Where are you currently living right now? Can you describe your usual writing place?
I live in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It’s a port city and I live on an island so the isolation we’ve always known here has produced an amazing culture of storytellers and entertainers.

On any given day we might see four seasons so for about eight months of the year I’m happy staying in out of the rain/drizzle/fog (RDF) to escape into my head and create stories.

Being Scottish I totally understand all about those four seasons... and the rain you mention? We get a lot of that too. It doesn't stop your creativity, though! I know you've written in the field of drama before embarking on your novels. Can you tell us what led you to change direction into fiction writing?
I’ve always loved theatre and at some point will most certainly go back to my passion for directing. I’ve written a short film and many stage plays and so I think it was a natural progression for me to explore narrative writing. You get so much more time with your audience—the reader—and are able to carry them on the character’s journey in a very different way than on stage or camera.
Kate Robbins

I love it.

Was the title of the novel you've just launched always going to be Bound to the Highlander? Actually for a long time I had just called it MacIntosh because that’s the chief this book focuses on. At some point last year I realized it needed a real title so played around with using Highlander in all the titles and went on from there. The next in the series is Promised to the Highlander and the third is Enemy of the Highlander.

Tell us about your ‘Highlander’ trilogy.
The backdrop is during the reign of James Stewart I. I found researching him fascinating. He’d been imprisoned in England for 18 years and in order for him to return to Scotland, the English crown demanded 40,000 merks (marks), big bucks even by today’s standards. Scottish parliament agreed and in order for the King to come home without actually paying the ransom upfront, 20 Scottish nobles had to go live in England at their own expense as surety and until the ransom was paid in full.

When the king returned and claimed the throne, he set about trying to unify the country by imposing new laws on authoritative reform. He gets all the power and the nobles have to relinquish theirs. How you think that went over? Anyone? Anyone?

Not on right? So there were many plots against the king and he was eventually assassinated in 1437. My story opens in 1430, six years after his return.

In Bound to the Highlander, my hero is a Stewart supporter who sees the overall benefit of the king’s vision. My heroine is the daughter of one of the nobles sent to England as surety for the king’s ransom. Yeah, they don’t like each other much in the beginning.

The subsequent books in the series focus on feuding clans and sets about to reveal more about a fictional plot to usurp the king introduced in Bound to the Highlander.

Were any of your visits to Scotland the triggers which led to the plotline for Bound to the Highlander?
My trips came after the series was already plotted, in my head anyway. Visiting Scotland allowed me to add sensory flavour to the books though and I have been inspired to write a different series in the future relating to another time in history and another political time of interest during the reign of James Stewart VI of Scotland and  I of England. More on that later.

James MacIntosh is the hero of the story. What’s he really like?
Too damn hot for his own good. Cocky bugger. And he has a lot to learn lemme tell ya.

What does your heroine, Aileana think when she first meets James?
Knee-buckling gorgeous but as arrogant as the day is long.

How much research did you have to do?
A lot. Setting a story in a different country and six hundred years ago was a challenge that I embraced. You should see my resource library.

What is your hero's biggest challenge in Bound to the Highlander?
Supporting the king. He knows it’s the right path but the Stewart doesn’t make life easy for anyone around him.

Which character do you like best in Bound to the Highlander?  
James MacIntosh. Love him. His character arc is my favourite.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently editing Promised to the Highlander and trying to get it to my publisher by the end of October. I’m hoping readers like Bound to the Highlander enough to want more and if I may say so, my hero in book two makes my heart flutter. He’s my favourite character in the entire series. Can’t wait to share him with you. But you can only have a little bit of him. He’s MINE. J

Quick fire questions, Kate - short answers, please:

What's your favourite time of year?

Favourite place to visit for a short weekend break?
Hatchet Cove, Newfoundland

Favourite restaurant cuisine?
India Gate, east Indian food.

Great answers, Debbie! As a lover of all things historical, I love to research and love to use the most accurate details that I can in my writing. My bookcases are also groaning. Thank you so much for coming today, and I wish you the very best with your 'Highlander' series.

Here's what the story's about: 
Aileana Chattan suffers a devastating loss, then discovers she is to wed neighboring chief and baron, James MacIntosh -- a man she despises and whose loyalty deprived her of the father she loved. Despite him and his traitorous clan, Aileana will do her duty, but she doesn't have to like him. But when the MacIntosh awakens something inside her so absolute and consuming, she is forced to question everything.

James MacIntosh is a nobleman torn between tradition and progress. He must make a sacrifice if he is to help Scotland move forward as a unified country. Forced to sign a marriage contract years earlier binding Lady Aileana to him, James must find a way to break it, or risk losing all -- including his heart.

From the wild and rugged Highlands near Inverness to the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, James and Aileana’s preconceptions of honor, duty and love are challenged at every adventurous turn.

Buy from:
 Amazon UK
 Amazon US

More about Kate:
Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance. Her journey into storytelling began with a short screenplay she wrote, directed, and produced which was screened at the 2003 Nickel Film Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She has also written and directed several stage plays for youth.

Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to give readers the most authentic historical romance possible. She has travelled to Scotland and has visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.

Bound to the Highlander is the first of three books set during the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.

Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her hubby, the man-beast, and her two awesome boys, the man-cubs.

 See Kate at:

Kate's sharing this bit from Bound To The Highlander with us today!
Aileana turned on her heel, intent to put this rogue in his place, and ran into his chest. She gasped. The thick, rich scent of leather enveloped her, sending an unexpected shiver down her spine. She stumbled, but he was quick enough to catch her by the arms before she fell. Her hands splayed flat against his chest. Bulging muscles underneath his jerkin begged her fingers to stroke their curve.

His bright green eyes bore into hers. While his long sandy brown hair was tied at his nape, a few strands had broken free and fell loose across his face. She fought the irresistible urge to tuck them behind his ear.

“Who are you?”

His voice was warm honey on her skin. He smelled of sweet mead and she was transfixed by his mouth which curved in all the right ways.

“Perhaps you’re a faerie come to steal me away.”

His raspy voice made her skin tingle.

“Good sir.”

Aileana pushed against his chest. He pushed back. The stranger pulled her forward, his mouth now no more than an inch from hers. His hard body pressed against her, spreading heat to her very core.

“I bet you taste as delicious as you smell.” His fingers brushed the side of her mouth and his lips parted.

Her knees trembled. His intent was clear and their proximity was inappropriate.

Panic hit her hard.

I've had very little reading time lately, too many domestic commitments sucking up my days,  but I've now finished my copy of Bound to The Highlander! Here are some of my thoughts on reading it...

Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

For me historical fiction comes in all sorts of forms. Some novels are serious and very heavy on detail. Others are much lighter on detail and less formal in that they give a gist of the period, just sufficient to give the reader a feel for the era. I’ve read a lot of ‘highlander’ romances and they have varied tremendously in the amounts of detail and in the accuracy of the period. I found Bound To The Highlander an interesting mix. From the outset, there’s a formality to the syntax which is in keeping with the period, yet there was also a contemporary feel in some of the phrases used – mainly during banter that is more light-hearted - which was different. I thought at first the plotline was going to be quite simple to follow but was delighted to find that wasn’t the case –there were some unexpected scenes which kept me engaged and wondering what was coming next. Aileana’s uncle having arranged a marriage with the MacIntosh clan sets James and Aileana on an emotionally rocky road. Mutual desire isn’t expected in such engagements, far less a deep and abiding love. How they work through the ties that bind them is quite a tale of political intrigue and potential disaster!

I was quite partial to James MacIntosh who has everything a highland hero needs, but I was also drawn to his brother, Calum, who counterbalances James’ tough, hard edges. Aileana’s maid, Gwen, is a forthright character I liked very much- probably more than Aileana herself who was a mix of modern woman and na├»ve maiden.

If you like Highland Heroes - then Bound to the Highlander will entertain you!  

Thank you, once again for coming today, Kate. Best wishes!


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