Celeste: I will be returning to the Highlands before the year is out. I left room for characters who had cameos in His Highland Pledge and His Highland Surprise to have their own stories. The new series is tentatively called Highland Ladies and will be a spin off from The Clan Sinclair, following several of the ladies in waiting at Robert the Bruce’s court.
Celeste: As a new author, I was still trying to find my groove. Vikings interest me, and I’ve read numerous Viking romances. After I finished The Clan Sinclair, which was always intended to be five full lengths with a prequel novella, I wanted to try my hand at Vikings. I’ve enjoyed writing this series since some of the social norms are so different for couples; there’s more freedom in many ways to write a steamy story. Much of the historical information included in the books comes from my own running knowledge of European history, which I’ve studied and taught. The smaller details were researched as ideas came to my head, such as, wedding rituals. I couldn’t say exactly how long it took since I fell through the rabbit hole more than once, but the added knowledge is never a waste.
Celeste: I’ve been asked this type of questions before, and the answer is yes. They all come together roughly at the same time, but a scene is usually how it starts. My mind wanders as I’m falling asleep and scenes will form. If my brain returns to the same scene more than once, and the scene grows each time, then I know I have a story I want to tell. It germinates and flowers all at the same time.
Celeste: I like reading and writing alpha males, but each of my male characters is willing to acknowledge his need for an equally strong female partner. I’ve read plenty of arranged marriage stories and even written them, but I wanted this to be a reverse arranged marriage where one family refused to consider it. I thought it would be interesting to have one character not only know, but see, the future relationship while the other had no idea. I wanted to create a female character who was strong enough to live a life with as many uncertainties as there were certainties, and one who could be patient as life progressed. Vikings believed heavily in the power of fate, so knowing that, it made it easy for Leif to fall in love quickly with Sigrid. Readers who might not know that about the Viking culture might wonder how their relationship could develop so quickly, but people do talk about love at first sight. There’s some of that in this story too.
It’s not an easy relationship when one person knows what will happen and the other is in the dark. It’s hard to be the one who must hold secrets while it’s just as hard to be the one who is left out. I wanted Sigrid and Leif to show their commitment to one another despite this sizable challenge. As a seer, Sigrid could only convey the events the gods planned; she could not influence them. Leif shows his commitment to Sigrid through his faith in her gift and his willingness to trust her. They could each have simply accepted their fate and that marriage was their destiny. Instead, they choose to build a solid and loving relationship the way they want and need it.
Celeste: Freya released at the beginning of June, and it was a fun story to write. She’s torn between her self-proclaimed need to prove herself as a shieldmaiden along her need to prove she can be jarl’s wife capable of running a home. She’s insecure in ways no one expects, and her persona of being fierce and untouchable is one she created as a protective wall. She doesn’t let many people get close, and Tyra is her only female friend before she meets Sigrid. She’s prickly and mercurial when she meets Erik because of her insecurities. She isn’t easily convinced that he won’t love her and leave her, so she pushes him away instead. Erik is persistent and is determined to prove he is not just there for the chase. I wanted to include a male character who once again is an alpha but has more insecurities than most alphas would ever admit. He’s in awe of Freya, believing she could have any man she wanted, so when she does finally relent, he is terrified she will decide he’s not enough. It’s the hero’s turn to worry that the heroine will find someone “better.” Forced to travel and work together, they realized they are far more alike than either realized. While they thought it was opposites attract, they discover they are so similar that they complete one another.
I haven’t announced the third book yet, but suffice it to say, there are five friends and only four books. I think most readers have predicted which two will be paired together, but their story has far more history than anyone knows yet. The final character has had a troubled life with loss and more recent betrayal, so when part of the past comes back, our final character isn’t sure whether it’s just familiarity or real love that is at play.
Celeste: This isn’t necessarily strange since plenty of historical authors have to research homeopathic remedies to make cures sound realistic to the Middle Ages, or at least pre-penicillin. I was away with my family this weekend in a little mountain town, and the nature center had an amazing tri-fold with pictures and descriptions of medicinal plants. I was entirely too excited about it. I kept thinking how my author friends will be jealous when I tell them about this since I no longer need Google or massive texts! I have it all on a handy pamphlet.
Celeste: I had every intention of being an international corporate lawyer. I even had that intention when I started law school! Life happens, plans change. I’ve been a teacher for nearly 15 years, and now I’m an author too. Slightly different than what I envisioned at 10.
Pick Six Author Interviews are occasional features on A Slice of Orange. We send a bunch of questions to the author who then picks just six of the questions to answer. This month we are featuring a Pick Six Author Interview with Celeste Barclay.
It was utterly surreal. I remember uploading it onto KDP and thinking, “okay, now I need to figure out what I’m doing.” I had a story to tell, and I did. It wasn’t until after I wrote and published it that I realized I needed to figure out how to market it and all that goes with it.
I celebrated by staring at my screen for a good long while in disbelief that it was done and really for sale! I hadn’t told a soul what I was doing (fear of failure and rejection is mighty powerful), so I celebrated when my author proof arrived. I took a pic and sent it to my best friend captioned, “So I did a thing.” I believe at least one glass of wine was involved too.
All of the above. For years, stories have pranced, or is it scampered, through my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep. Usually, it’s a scene somewhere in the story, not always the beginning, and that begins to give me an idea for characters and plot. From there theme and trope materialize. If my mind comes back to it for more than one night, I know I have a story to tell.
I would like to be a daily writer, but I’m not writing full time (yet), so it’s usually weekend warrior bursts or nighttime writing. I’ve churned out as much as 20,000 words in one day, but average between 5,000 and 10,000 on a good weekend day.
One where no one is asking anything of me! I prefer the beach even though I live near one. The Caribbean and Mediterranean are my favorites, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at Bali or Tahiti. I admit I’m still a sun worshiper, so time spent in the water is what I look forward to, or time in a lounge chair reading.
This one makes me laugh. Why would I keep a diary? All my innermost thoughts are shared with my readers through my stories! I write to escape reality as much as I write to offer others an escape, so stories have flashes of my fantasies or memories which are things many people fill their diaries with. Mine just happen to get published for the masses.
We hope you enjoyed this Pick Six Author Interview with Celeste Barclay.
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