24 February 2013

Guest Blog: Blythe Gifford

Welcome back one of our own, Blythe Gifford, who has been blogging with Unusual Historicals since 2009.  Her new trilogy from the Harlequin Historical line, The Brunson Clan, concludes this month with TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL.  Set on the Scottish Borders during the early Tudor era, it centers on a family of Border Reivers and in this book, Black Rob, oldest and now head of the clan, meets his match:  a woman from the family that is the clan’s blood enemy.

Here's the blurb:


As leader of his clan, Black Rob Brunson has earned every dark syllable of his name. But, having taken hostage his enemy’s daughter in a fierce act of rebellion, he is tormented by feelings of guilt and torn apart with the growing need to protect her—and seduce her!

Stella Storwick feels Rob’s disdain from the first. Then slowly she starts to see behind his eyes to a man in turmoil. Something he has no words for, something that can only be captured in a heart-wrenching kiss....

Lovers from warring clans.  Captor/captive.  Romeo and Juliet.  What’s unusual here?

There are many classic elements to the story.  That’s why people read romance!  But I do write unusual settings and time periods.  The Borders setting, the early Tudor time period, and the incorporation of real historical characters combine to give this story a twist.  Oh, and I talk about catching salmon in 16th century Scotland!

Salmon fishing in Tudor Scotland?
Did you know that salmon and other “red fish” were highly regulated at that time?  There is documentation over several hundred years of Scottish laws, some forbidding the sale of salmon to England.  These fish were even the subject of some clauses of international treaties!  Yet when I tried to discover how the trade actually worked, even my academic experts didn’t know.  No, this is not a book about the salmon trade.  Fishing enters the story in a much more personal context, but I love discovering these unfamiliar parts of history.  The print here (from a much later period) is of “leistering” salmon, which was going out at night and spearing them by torchlight.
Did you have any special challenges with this book?

I’m basically a pantser, not a plotter.  I rework a book through many drafts and change every time.  Often, I go back to layer in backstory or motivation for something that changed later in the story.  I was worried that I would get to book three and need to change something that was already set in stone in books one or two.  But I had a piece of advice from a fellow writer who said, leave things as open ended as possible.  I did, and it all worked out.

What in particular did you leave open ended?
The hero’s character, for one thing!  Black Rob appeared in the first two books and so had a pretty well developed persona by this time.  I made him the strong, silent type, partly so I wouldn’t back myself into a corner.  When it came time to write his story, I had to discover what lay behind the facade.  He turned out to be a much more interesting character than I had known.

And what about the heroine?
I had briefly introduced her, seen at a distance, in the first book, RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR.  I even had Black Rob keep his attention on her a little too long!  Stella Storwick is one of the more unusual characters I have written.  Something that happened to her as a child makes everyone treat her as special and different.  They give her deference and treat her with awe.  It sounds like an ideal life, until you have to live it.  And I was astounded to discover what she and Rob ultimately had in common.

You’ve got a free bonus starting this week, too, right?
Starting tomorrow, February 25, I’ll have a free, online read available on the Harlequin website (www.harlequin.com)  Wee Mary, one of the secondary characters from CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, gets her own happy ending in TEMPTED BY THE BORDER CAPTAIN.  The story will be run as a serial, in twenty installments of a couple of pages each day.  This was a writing challenge, but one I enjoyed.  In the shorter length, I write a lighter story than my full-length fiction.  “Fun and flirty,” my editor called it, but she also said “very romantic.”  If you’ve never tried my work, this might be an easy way to start.

Oh, and one more thing!  I'll have a post here on Unusual Historicals on Tuesday on the Scandalous Affairs of Queen Margaret of Scotland.  She is appears off-stage in CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD and on-stage in TEMPTED BY THE BORDER CAPTAIN. She was the sister of Henry VIII of England and you can see the family resemblance!
TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL, was released in print in North America February 19.  Electronic and UK editions will be available March 1. 

One lucky reader who comments on today’s blog will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, or TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL.  Your choice!  

Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, she’s written a Harlequin Historical trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era.  The books are RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013.  The Chicago Tribune has called her work "the perfect balance between history and romance."  Visit her at www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, www.pinterest.com/BlytheGifford or on Twitter @BlytheGifford. 

Author photo by Jennifer Girard.  Cover Art Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.  Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.