Guest blogger: Lizzie Lamb
Why I write Scottish-themed novels
Readers, I have discovered, are drawn to the mystical, dreamy highlands of Scotland as the backdrop to contemporary romance. As a writer, born and bred in Scotland, I heartily agree with that sentiment. Tall, Dark and Kilted, features a sexy laird Ruairi (Roo-ary) Urquhart who has to fight to safeguard his land and inheritance. In Scotch on the Rocks, kilt-wearing American, Brodie, arrives on Eilean na Sgairbh on the back of a storm wind and turns my heroine’s life upside down. Both novels have gone down a storm in countries where there are ex-pat Scots—USA, Australia, New Zealand or Canada; it appears that second- and third-generation Scots are eager to learn about the old traditions and their former homeland. And if they learn through my novels, then so much the better. My novels are meticulously researched and, as a Scotswoman, I write with complete authenticity about the land and its people.
Romance readers simply love a novel that features a man in a kilt. The element of ‘costume’ (i.e. the kilt), especially in a contemporary setting, removes the hero and the reader from the everyday and transports them into the realm of fantasy and romance. And, in the case of a kilted hero, there is also the tease of whether he’s followed tradition and gone ‘commando’, or not!
The kilted hero in my novels is, generally, aristocratic—a laird, at the very least. And, while he does not have to work to earn his daily crust, he carries the weight of his inheritance and the welfare of his tenants and family on his shoulders. He often has emotional scars that only the heroine can heal. All of my novels have a happy ending and readers can close the book with a satisfied sigh knowing that all the obstacles that prevented the hero and hero from leading a happy life, have resolved.
My interest in kilted heroes began as a child growing up in Scotland, reared (courtesy of Saturday morning cinema) on the exploits of highlanders in such movies as Rob Roy, Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Ghost Goes West and, sob, Grey Friar’s Bobby. After the movie (or fil-um, as we pronounced it) we’d re-enact Rob Roy’s leap and subsequent escape through the waterfall, or the scene from Kidnapped, where Davie Balfour is almost murdered by his evil
uncle. Our dogs were dragooned into being ‘Bobby’, loyally guarding his master’s grave in Grey Friar’s kirk, Edinburgh. And I longed to be Flora Macdonald, helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape over the sea to Skye and away from the Redcoats.
Tales of brave Covenanters and Jacobites stayed with me as I grew older and read Scottish-themed novels … The Jacobite Trilogy by DK Broster (falling in love with Ewen Cameron), The Lymond Chronicles (who could resist Francis Crawford?) More recently, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, featuring uber-hero Jamie Fraser has fired my imagination. For me, he is the ultimate kilted hero and has it in spades—looks, sense of honour, loyalty, is sex-on-legs and can speak Gaelic. I’ll even admit to subscribing to Amazon Prime so I could watch the TV series: Outlander. For me, a hero wearing a suit, carrying duct tape, rope and plastic ties just doesn’t cut it. Give me an exiled, romantic Jacobite every time.
During autumn 2014 and spring 2015 I travelled to Scotland to research Scotch on the Rocks. While I was there, I checked out some of the locations where Outlander had been filmed.
I was also privileged to have a personal tour of Castle Stalker near Fort William and this has inspired me to write novel number four—This Highland Magic. Does it feature a braw, kilted hero? You bet it does.
If you like reading about Highlanders, check out the blurbs for my three books and download the first three chapters.
After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie Lamb decided it was time to leave the chalk face and pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, honed her craft and wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Lizzie loves the quick fire interchanges between the hero and heroine in the old black and white Hollywood movies, and hopes this love of dialogue comes across in her writing. Although much of her time is taken up publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride, she has published a third novel Scotch on the Rocks and started writing number four. Lizzie is a founding member of indie publishing group—New Romantics Press. In November 2014 they held an Author Event at Waterstones High Street, Kensington, London the icing on the cake as far as they are concerned—and a fitting way to celebrate their achievements. As for the years Lizzie spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as she is building up a reputation as a go-to speaker on the subject of self-publishing. Her recent ‘gig’ was talking to third year creative writing students at De Montfort University, Leicester.