Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce Willa Blair, author of the Highland Talents Series. She’s here to talk to us about her books and to share an excerpt. Before we begin the interview, let’s have a look at the blurb for Highland Seer…
Donal MacNabb is loyal to his adopted Lathan clan, yet he resents being a pawn in their treaty negotiations with the struggling MacKyries. The MacKyrie clan needs his skills as an arms master, but its Laird is bartering for more than Donal is prepared to give.
Ellie MacKyrie knows the Lathan treaty will help protect her clan from the neighbor determined to seize her holdings any way he can—including forcing her into marriage. But she has another reason to want the Lathan alliance. She has Seen the stubborn Donal MacNabb reaching for her in her dreams.
While Donal fights to save a clan in trouble, his desire for the MacKyrie Seer wars with his obligation to his Laird. Before she is forced into a marriage that will destroy her clan, Ellie must find the heart behind Donal’s gruff exterior and convince him he is the man of her dreams.
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Tricia: Welcome, Willa! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Willa: I love being an author. I think this is what I was meant to do, but I spent years climbing a career ladder – successfully – before I could focus on writing.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Willa: Whether I was actually writing all the time or not, I’ve always been a writer. Words and ideas are important to me.
Tricia: Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Willa: Of course! HIGHLAND SEER is the second book in my Highland Talents series. Skeptical arms master Donal MacNabb did everything he could to thwart his laird, Toran Lathan’s attraction to the lowlander Healer Aileana Shaw in book 1, HIGHLAND HEALER. Donal gets what’s coming to him in HIGHLAND SEER when he falls for the MacKyrie Seer, Ellie MacKyrie. He fights his desire for her, but Ellie is determined for him to stay with her and help save her struggling clan.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Willa: I knew Karma had to have its way with Donal – payback for all the heartache he caused Toran and Aileana. So of course he had to fall for a woman with a strange talent, one that he could not detect with his five senses and that strained his concept of reality. The perfect solution was a Seer whose visions could not be proven until they actually happened.
Tricia: If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?
Willa: I think it helps to start with the first book of any series. The world building is done there, and the later books, even if they can be read stand-alone, usually refer to earlier books in some way. So I’d recommend HIGHLAND HEALER. Although I do love Donal and Ellie’s story in HIGHLAND SEER.
Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Willa: It’s a tossup between Donal MacNabb because of all the contradictions he represents – a very literal, skeptical man who must accept what he cannot see with his own eyes, and Jamie Lathan, who will be the hero in book, 3, HIGHLAND TROTH. Jamie nearly died in book 1 (Aileana saved him), and in book 2, his mission as Lathan envoy brings Donal to Clan MacKyrie to meet his fate. Jamie is affable, easy-going, and hides a wounded soul that must heal for him to love a woman he’s known since childhood.
Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Willa: Research is tough for the early 16th century Scottish highlands. There are plenty of resources describing the royal court and the impact of the deaths at Flodden Fields in 1513 on leadership in Scotland, but little documentation survives, or ever existed, on life in the highlands. The upside is that I get to use my imagination – a lot.
Tricia: What is your primary goal as an author?
Willa: To entertain and to touch my readers. I want them to enjoy the story and experience emotions along with my characters.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Willa: I’m working on HIGHLAND TROTH (Highland Talents #3) as well as two novellas that will fit within this series.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Willa: Finish your book! Many authors, not just new or aspiring ones, will either have 20 projects underway at once, or will focus on one, but polish the first few chapters over and over again, making no progress on the rest of the book. You MUST finish that first draft. It won’t be perfect. That’s what revisions are for. But the sense of accomplishment when you get to “the end” gives you confidence to tackle the rest of the project, then the next book, and the next one. You have to finish the first one.
She swallowed and licked her lips. “Ye are the man I need, Donal.”
He didn’t flinch, but his eyes narrowed again.
“Do ye, now? Has yer Sight shown ye this?” Quick as a viper, he uncrossed his arms and grabbed hers, lifting her onto her toes. His lips waited a whisper away from her mouth, taunting her. “Are ye certain that’s all ye need me for, Ellie? Is that why ye came to my chamber?”
Startled, she shoved against his chest. She had as much success as pushing against a fire-warmed granite wall. He didn’t resist, didn’t shake her, merely stood, as if waiting for her to decide what she would do. As if he held all his power leashed, under tight control. His breath on her lips fanned the flames in Ellie’s face. Her heart thudded as his chest muscles flexed beneath her fingers.
“Nay. Aye.” She pushed again with one fist, torn between making him release her and making him listen. “Nay!”
He let go of her suddenly. Ellie nearly fell as she lost the support of his grip. He steadied her, then released her again and moved toward the door.
“I’m sorry, lass. I shouldna done that.” He spread his fingers, then clenched them into a fist. “Yer touch…ye make me forget my place.”