The Riskies Welcome Back Michelle Willingham!

1) Tell us about Her Warrior King!

Her Warrior King was technically the first book in the MacEgan Brothers series. When I first wrote it, the book had some serious flaws and didn’t sell. I put it aside and wrote Her Irish Warrior which did sell. I had also written The Warrior’s Touch in the meantime, and with both of those books coming out, I wanted to resurrect Her Warrior King.

I polished the first three chapters, dumped the rest of the book, and started over. It was truly a hard book to write because I had to let go of my previous version and start fresh.

The hero, Patrick MacEgan, is a king struggling to rebuild his Irish tribe after they were defeated by Normans. The price of their lives was an alliance with a Norman bride. Patrick agrees to wed Isabel de Godred, but he refuses to let his bride play any part in their lives. But what he doesn’t count on is Isabel’s idealism and desire to be a true wife. She’s stubborn, spunky, and is not about to let her Irish husband isolate her upon an island. She does everything she can to help their tribe, trying desperately to fit in. But the tribe won’t have anything to do with her. Patrick begins to sympathize with her efforts, and slowly Isabel conquers his heart. Then Patrick is faced with having to choose between his people and the wife he has come to love.

I loved these characters, and Isabel kept surprising me with things she did to make her place among the tribe.

I think the most startling scene, for me, was when she couldn’t find a boat to escape the island and she swam across the channel!

2) How does this fit with your previous releases?

It’s being released as a prequel, and it’s technically book 1 in the series. I would have liked to have the books come out in chronological order, but the original version had too many flaws to be published first. It’s not necessary to read the books in any particular order, but I’m glad that all three stories will be told. For readers who wanted to hear about the story of Patrick and Isabel, they finally can learn what happened.

3) Did you come across anything interesting in your research for Her Warrior King?

At first, I had made Patrick’s rank a chieftain, but after consulting with an Irish archaeologist, he pointed out that Patrick commanded too many people to be a chief or chieftain. Instead, he recommended that I make him into a petty king. I was startled to learn how many kings there were in Ireland–hundreds at one point!

Most readers’ impression of a king is one person governing a country, but in Ireland, they would elect a High King from all of the provincial kings. Being king wasn’t necessarily a birthright, either, although often the previous king’s sons were the strongest candidates.

Patrick is a fictional provincial king from an imaginary kingdom not far from Waterford. This was where the Norman invasion took place in real life.

4) Your settings are so well-drawn! What is it about medieval Ireland that makes you want to set your books there?

Anyone who has ever visited Ireland knows that the country has a mystical sense of folklore and romance. When I visited some of the ancient ruins, I could imagine sexy Irish warriors riding through the grounds.

Scottish heroes are always popular, and I wanted to put my own spin on Celtic heroes. Medieval Ireland seemed to be an untapped wellspring, and then I had a great excuse to return to the country last year, to continue the research.

5) I know you have three kids AND a teaching job! I think I speak for all writers when I ask–what are your time management secrets???

Early bedtimes! My children aren’t aware that other kids don’t go to bed at 7:00 p.m. Shh! Don’t tell them! I use the night hours to write, but that’s been more challenging lately with the birth of my son this November. But I do try to write, edit, or revise every day to keep my head in the story. I love what I do, and it’s not truly “work” to me.

6) What’s next for you?

I am finishing a book that’s set in 1101 AD, tentatively titled SLAVE TO HER DESIRES. It’s about a slave who comes to love the woman betrothed to his master. Kieran is a woodworker, and there is a connection to the MacEgans…but readers will have to wait and find out what that is!

Thanks so much, Michelle, for visiting with us again (while your kids are asleep, LOL).

For a chance to win a signed copy of Her Warrior King, comment on this post and watch for tomorrow’s announcement of the winner.

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About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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