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Guest blogger: Lizzie Lamb

14 February 2016

Lizzie LambWhy 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!

Falkland, in the Kingdom of Fife, where the first scenes in Outlander were shot

Falkland, in the Kingdom of Fife, where the first scenes in Outlander were shot

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

The Covenanter's Arms, which doubled as the bed and breakfast where Frank and Claire stayed

The Covenanter’s Arms, which doubled as the bed and breakfast where Frank and Claire stayed

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.

Castle Stalker (used as a film location in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and the inspiration for Castle Tèarmannair in my forthcoming novel

Castle Stalker (used as a film location in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and the inspiration for Castle Tèarmannair in my forthcoming novel

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.

You can find Lizzie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodreadsAmazon

13 Comments
  1. lmsprott permalink
    15 February 2016 3:06 am

    Lizzie’s heroes and heroines make an ideal mix of sassy, strong and determined couples, perfectly matched for each other. These spirited lovers play out their love stories in the romantic background that is Scotland. With all these ingredients, a recipe for success. Feast on these novels and come back for more.

    • Lizzie Lamb permalink
      15 February 2016 9:12 am

      Thank you, what a lovely summing up of my characters. So glad that you’ve enjoyed my books. It makes it all worthwhile 😘

  2. 15 February 2016 12:41 am

    Fab post, Lizzie. I’m a huge fan of your writing and have thoroughly enjoyed all three of your novels and learned so much about Scotland in the meantime. Roll on book number 4!🙂

    • Lizzie Lamb permalink
      15 February 2016 1:49 am

      I must admit that I like to slip in a few nuggets of history/description into the romance, Jan. 😉

  3. 14 February 2016 8:30 pm

    As a reader, I am absolutely drawn to the dreamy, mystical Highland backdrop to Lizzie’s books. Glorious settings for quirky, interesting characters and some fabulously funny scenes. Magic!

    • 14 February 2016 8:50 pm

      Thanks June, I love Scotland as much as you love those wide open spaces in America which feature in your books.

  4. 14 February 2016 8:22 pm

    Nice piece, Lizzie, and thanks for introducing me to this blog. Carole : ) xx

    • 14 February 2016 8:51 pm

      You’re welcome, Carole. I’m sure there are lots of lovely readers who would adore your books.

  5. Isabella permalink
    14 February 2016 7:45 pm

    I couldn’t recommend Lizzie Lambs novels enough!
    You’ll love her witty female characters, and are bound to fall in love with the kilted hero!
    I can’t wait for the new Scottish themed novel to be published🙂

    • 14 February 2016 8:11 pm

      Thank you Isabella. I will have to feature an Italian hero one of these days.

      • Isabella permalink
        14 February 2016 10:20 pm

        that’d be lovely🙂

  6. 14 February 2016 4:06 pm

    I love Lizzie Lamb’s novels, vivid landscapes, great characters, sparkling dialogue – heroines to root for and heroes to fall in love with. All beautifully written with charm and wit – no wonder Scotch on the Rocks is a best seller! Lose yourself in Lizzzie’s highland magic, you’ll have a wonderful trip!

    • 14 February 2016 8:12 pm

      Good morning Adrienne – what a romantic day for authors and readers alike. Thanks for dropping in.

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