Author Veronica Wolff Visits The Riskies!

“Their passion flames off the page and delivers the best first kiss scene I’ve read in years…” –The Season Reviews

“Wolff writes a story that will grab you from the first word and not let go” –Night Owl Reviews

Riskies: Welcome to the blog, Veronica! Tell us about your August release, Devil’s Highlander

Veronica: Hello everyone! It’s the first in my new “Clan MacAlpin” series, following a family of orphans in the 1680s, after the Civil Wars have ravaged Scotland. These devilish Highlanders run wild, without parents or other family, steeped in secrets and tragedy, claiming castle ruins as their home. Think “Party of Five” with claymores. :))

Devil’s Highlander is Cormac MacAlpin’s story. He and Marjorie were ten–the best of friends and only just beginning to wonder at the fascination each felt for the other–when, because of a childish prank, Cormac’s twin Aidan was kidnapped. Blaming themselves, their friendship was shattered.

Years later, another boy is taken, and Marjorie begs help from the only man she knows who’ll understand: Cormac. Now a war hero, Cormac treasures his solitude and wants nothing to do with an incident that can only bring fresh pain. But he and Marjorie find they are still drawn to each other, only this time they’re adults, with needs too powerful to deny.

Riskies: What was the inspiration behind this book? Did you come across any interesting research tidbits??

Veronica: Years ago, I stumbled across a mention of chimney sweeps, and the dreadful fates of many of these “climbing boys.” Many were simply stolen, transported to faraway lands where they became forced laborers. This won’t be news to longtime historical readers, but it was to me at the time! Particularly the fact that many people argued that working in the fresh air and fields was healthier for the boys anyhow.

It stuck in my craw for years, and was the kernel from which this latest series grew. I couldn’t stop thinking about these imaginary kids. What would come of a child stolen from his homeland? Who would he be as a man? What of the family left behind? Interestingly it was the brother, Cormac, who was the first character in my mind. The rest barreled quickly on his heels.

Riskies: What were the challenges in moving from your previous time-travel stories to straight historical?

Veronica: I’ve been loving the shift! I’m not saying I’ll never write a time-travel again, but for now I’m enjoying not having to worry about the fantasy elements of the story–how the character travels, what their experience is, how she comes to terms with the past, etc. It’s been a pleasure to plunge in, dealing purely with the story of a man and woman in the 17th century.

And, ironically, this new series has me doing less of the intense “in the weeds” research than I did for my time travels, as it marks a shift away from the real heroes and battles that were the crux of my first series, wherein each modern heroine was transported back in time to meet a famous hero from Scottish history. Instead, my MacAlpin books find me focusing much more on domestic scenes, amping up the internal conflict and spending less time on recreating real historical events and battles than I have in previous books.

Riskies: You also have a YA series coming out soon! Can you tell us about those books?

Veronica: Yes–I am SO excited about it! The series is called “The Watchers.” Girls who are outcasts from society (like gang girls, runaways, and so on) are seduced onto a bleak and faraway island where they undergo rigorous training, studying everything from languages, to computer hacking, to the tidiest way to kill an armed attacker. Only the best survive to become Watchers, an elite group acting as emissaries, guards, agents, and sometimes assassins for an ancient coven of vampires.

Each book will be told in the point of view of a very kick-ass, very smart young woman named Annelise Drew. The first installment, Isle of Night, hits the shelves in Fall 2011 and I can’t wait. I’m practically bursting at the seams to see the cover they’ll come up with!

Riskies: And what is “risky” about this book?

Veronica: The risks are all personal: my shift away from time-travel, away from the characters based on real historical figures and plots inspired by real events and battles, pose new challenges to me as a writer. If my past books had more external conflict than internal, my MacAlpin books flip that equation.

I cut my teeth on ’70s television and all those wonderful epic dramas (who didn’t love Richard Chamberlain??) and this latest series is my way to explore, over several books, the relationships in a big family, gradually uncovering family secrets, dark pasts, bitter regrets, hidden enemies–all that juicy stuff. Like I said–risky!

Riskies: And what is next for you?

Veronica: I’m really excited about what next year will bring. Devil’s Own, the next installment in the series, hits shelves in March, with my teen vampires and Isle of Night following in the fall. In the short term, though, all I can think about is September 19th when I’ll be leaving for a trip to Scotland! Can’t wait!

(Veronica is off doing Important Research at the Highland Games today, but will be dropping by later this afternoon to answer questions and comments! Be sure and comment for a chance to win a copy of Devil’s Highlander…)

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

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