A big welcome to Heather McCollum who is here to telling us about To come and celebrating the release of TANGLED HEARTS, Highland Hearts #2 (published on January 28, 2014 by Entangled Select). Want to win a copy? Enter via the widget below.
Inspiration for the setting of TANGLED HEARTS
Thank you so much for having me here today on All Things Urban Fantasy to celebrate the release of my newest historical, paranormal romance, TANGLED HEARTS! TANGLED HEARTS is set (mostly) in London in the 16th century. The other books in the Highland Hearts series are set in the Highlands of Scotland and Edinburgh. I just love Britain and the Tudor era, so this series has been wonderfully fun to write.
Just this past summer I had the incredible fortune to be able to journey for two weeks through Britain! Whew, it was amazing! The first book of the series, CAPTURED HEART, takes place in the shade of the western mountains of the Scottish Highlands. Readers are thrust into the blood feud between the Macbains and Munros as Caden Macbain fights for peace at Druim Castle, using Chief Munro’s niece as a bargaining chip. Although Druim Castle was created in my own gray matter, I toured several Highland castle ruins while visiting there. I found a bit of Druim in all of them.
My favorite ruin is Kilchurn Castle, a 15th century castle situated on Loch Awe. Without rebuilding it, the castle has been beautifully propped up and made safe for explorers like my family. Wooden steps have been added to lift visitors up to the various levels with remaining sunken-in stone hearths all the way up. Before them I held my hands, imagining the winter winds seeping along the floorboards during snowy, bitter winters. I touched the stones and wondered what battle or wedding plans were made while staring at the flames?
I stood on the remaining stone turret-walk and looked out over the sweeping Loch Awe with sun sparkling off its surface. Who beheld this exact scene before? Who felt their hearts stir at the rugged beauty of this land? Who decided, right where I stood, that they would die to protect and keep this holding, this view? I could feel the convictions and strength, of the ghosts of ladies and warriors past, imbuing the air around me. Sheep bleated in the distance as the wind blew my hair across my face. Down below along the base of the stone fortress, purple wild thistle grew, both gorgeous and prickly, refusing to give up against the wind and rough elements of this wild place.
I also explored Inverlochy Castle built in the 13th century near Ft. William, Scotland. The shell of the castle has been fairly well preserved though none of the roof remains. Some of the castle walk, high on top of the outer wall, remains part way around with grass and wild flowers growing on it like nature’s carpet. It’s location on the River Lochy made it a very important fortification to control. The dug-out path of the moat, flooded by the river itself centuries ago, still encircles the castle. Even though it was breezy and cool, I just couldn’t leave the place. I swear I heard whispers haunting the remaining stones. So silent now, but in the 13th century it was bustling with life, love, strategy, battles, and regret. Yes, a slice of heaven for a complete romantic like myself.
Edinburgh Castle is a huge fortification which is still in use. I was able to tour Mary Queen of Scots’ bedroom with the original tiled hearth and the room in which her son, King James VI, was born. Touching the hearth tiles, I felt as if I could be sucked back into the castle’s dramatic past. I actually teared up! And after talking to the guard about my book, he let me take some pictures even though there were signs prohibiting it – yay! The painted designs on the birthing room walls were the original from the 16th century – amazing!
I strode briskly to the stone, one-room church built at the top of the castle compound, St. Margaret’s Chapel. It was near closing time so most tourists had already left. I had the chapel, the oldest building still erect in Britain, all to myself! Cream-colored, carved stone arched overhead. Narrow stained-glass windows sat built into the walls depicting saints, including St. Margaret. They were not originals but still quite old and lovely. Standing before the roped off vestibule at the front, which was only big enough for three people, and very small for a Highlander, I knew then that the chapel would be in my third book, CRIMSON HEART, and it is.
TANGLED HEARTS, which just released, follows a Highlander from Druim Castle down to Hampton Court where King Henry VIII is wooing his soon-to-be third wife, Jane Seymour. At home I had printed off the floor plan of Hampton Court and envisioned the corridors. But on this trip I was able to actually walk in King Henry’s footsteps, trailing my hand over the walls, imagining what princess or queen or sacrificial scape-goat had touched the same spot five-hundred years ago. I walked through a garden which is the setting for Ewan and Dory’s hilarious discussion about swiving. I’m sure the vegetation was a bit different in the 16th century, but it certainly gave me the perfect atmosphere to add detail to the scene.
I also visited the infamous Tower of London where the world comes crashing down for Dory near the end of TANGLED HEARTS. The stone walls were both amazing and menacing. Walking along the cobblestone, feeling the vacant windows stare down at me, feeling the breeze as I stood at the site of Anne Boleyn’s beheading – it felt flooded with the past and so full of stories just waiting to be told.
I absolutely love history and the colorful people who stare back at me from their portraits. The buildings and castles stand solid against the pressure of time, witnesses of the drama from long ago. But it is the very earth I walked on in the Highlands, the rock strewn mountains lifting from the glens, which inspire me the most. The breeze is fresh and free, the world a swirl of green and mist. Boulders jut out from grassy hills like old bones poking out, streams separating one mountain from the next. Ferns and trees hide all but glimpses of red deer, small herds roaming free up the steep slopes. My books all contain a magical element, and the British landscape is the perfect magical backdrop for all of them.
The trip was fantastic and I took in so much sensory information that the details have bled into my writing. My muse and I are so thankful to get the opportunity to tour the land, hear the people rumble with brogues and sit upon the ancient setting of such drama, tragedy and triumph. And now we get to share it with all of you in the HIGHLAND HEART series.
Have you ever visited a place that captured your breath and made your heart thump wildly? Please let us know. Thank you so much again for having me today!
Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology from the University of Maine, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist. Ms. McCollum has four full length historical, paranormal romances released in both electronic and digital formats. She also has one short novella released in electronic format.
When she is not busy writing and answering calls of “Mom”, she can be found educating women about ovarian cancer. She is a teal warrior herself and just finished slaying the ovarian cancer beast.
She currently resides with her very own Highland hero and three spirited children in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
More information about Ms. McCollum and her books can be found at www.HeatherMcCollum.com.
Be sure to stop by the other stops on the tour-click the banner above for both weeks’ schedule!
1 $25 Amazon Gift Card (open to US Only)
3 eBooks of TANGLED HEARTS (open to international)
TANGLED HEARTS by Heather McCollum
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Available on January 28, 2014 by Entangled Select
The Tudors take on The Pirates of the Caribbean in this 16th century romantic adventure!
Pandora Wyatt is the most complicated woman alive. Raised by a pirate captain, Dory risks exposure of her magic to free the only father she’s ever known from the Tower of London. But when she’s tied to a smoldering witch’s pyre, her powers aren’t enough to save her.
Ewan Brody is on a mission to deliver a traitor’s corpse to King Henry VIII when he rescues a beautiful spitfire from a horrific fate. Saving the lass’s life leads him on an adventure he never intended. Thrust together in the roles of husband and wife, they dodge royal intrigue, dark twists, and secrets as they attempt to find the true traitor at the Tudor court.
Magic and adventure spark, igniting a fire between Ewan and Dory, consuming them and tangling their hearts together forever. But to reach forever, they first need to survive the day.
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