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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Alison
12 years ago

What an interesting time period to set stories in! Congratulations on your releases.

Kirsten
12 years ago

Hi Veronca, I saw the given of the chimney sweep boys in a movie once (was it a litlle princess? don’t know for sure anyway) it must have been a horrible excistance for those children! All that black muck, working all the time, little food(?), stolen from your family. Awful!

I absolutely love your timetravel romances. Glad to hear you might write another someday. This story sounds pretty good too and I would love to read it.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Veronica!

What an exciting time and setting for creating a family series!

PJ
PJ
12 years ago

Veronica’s time-travels put her on my auto-buy list and I happily followed her to straight historicals with the release of DEVIL’S HIGHLANDER. It’s a terrific story and I already have my calendar marked for the 2011 release of book #2!

I hadn’t heard about the YA series you’re working on, Veronica. It sounds very intriguing!

Judy
12 years ago

Sounds intriguing, and an interesting dynamic between the H/H.

Bailey Stewart
12 years ago

Saw the tweet and came on over. Love the cover!!

Joy Boothby
Joy Boothby
12 years ago

Veronica is the best of all… her books are exciting, romantic and educational… can’t wait for the new series.

kathia
kathia
12 years ago

First of all, love your work. I’m beyond excited about your YA series, and the next MacAlpin book. I hear they rock.

I’m so jealous you’re going to Scotland! Not that I’d set foot near another airport for at least a couple months. πŸ˜‰ Is there anything special you’re going to see?

Kim Colby
12 years ago

Ooooh! Intriguing plot, awesome setting and unbridled passion to boot!! Can’t lose.

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Hi everyone! Thanks so much to the Riskies for having me today!! I haven’t left yet for the Games–we’re on California time, with the added complication of bickering seven and nine-year olds!

It gives me a big smile to see familiar faces here, and I thank every single one of you for your compliments and support!

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Yes, Kim, gotta love that unbridled passion!! And (waving to Kathia) as for where I’m going in Scotland, I’m sooo excited to be visiting some places I’ve never seen before. We’re taking a ferry to the Orkneys, which I’m very excited about, and will be far, far up north, too. I wanted gray, bleak, rocky, and windswept, and should get a bellyful of it–I think I’m most excited to see the sea caves along the northern coast (very fitting for my YA series), and Dunnottar Castle, too, of course, as its the setting of my MacAlpin series.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Wow, I haven’t read any of your books Veronica, but I will definitely start. I love the idea of a story about what happened to those climbing boys and Scotland is ALWAYS a great setting. I am also a sucker for a family series.

Your YA sounds fascinating as well and as I have a 16 year old niece who is a voracious reader I have a feeling we will both be enjoying that series!

What sources did you discover in researching Devil’s Highlander? Is there a lot of information out there on the climbing boys and their lives?

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Hi Louisa! You know, there’s NOT a lot out there about climbing boys in Scotland, and definitely nothing about specific boys or stories that I found. I pored over old parliamentary acts (painful, believe me) to make it real to me just how accepted an occurrence it was to find and retain one of the “idle poor” for your own purposes. (for example: “That all masterful and strong beggars found…may be taken by any man, [and he] may set his burning iron upon them and retain them as slaves…”)

As for people’s perception, again, I found it in dribs and drabs in various sources, mostly combing Google Books. But as for one definitive source, I still haven’t found it.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Wow, great dedication to your research. Unbelievable that you could just pick up some poor unfortunate and bind them to you for a life of slavery. BUT, fascinating stuff!

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

I know! You see how the whole thing got stuck in my craw… I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen to such a boy, and to the family he left behind. Who he’d be as a man.

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

All right–NOW I’m off to the Games. I’ll check in on the flip side! =)

Barbara E.
12 years ago

Hi Veronica,
You caught my interest with “a family of orphans in the 1680s, after the Civil Wars have ravaged Scotland.” I’m dying to know what happens to your orphans. I’m adding Devil’s Highlander to my wish list and will watch out for more of your books.

Maureen
12 years ago

Congratulations on your two new series and how exciting that you are going to Scotland. Is the trip for research or just pleasure?

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Hi Barbara, I hope you enjoy the books! And thank you, Maureen! The trip is a little bit of both. Especially seeing as Scotland and Scottish research *is* pleasure. πŸ™‚

Carol L.
12 years ago

Hi Veronica,
I have always loved your books. This is an interesting time period. So very sad to think what happened to children, having no protection and forced to live such cruel lives.
I certainly look forward to reading the MacAlpin series. And I so envy you as you go to Scotland. Have a wonderful time and think of me. lol lol It seems that’s the only way I’ll get to Scotland, if someone thinks my name while visiting. lol
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Thanks, Carol! Yes, I feel very blessed that I can take this trip and claim that it’s all in the name of work. LOL!

CrystalGB
12 years ago

Hi Veronica. Great post. Your book sounds wonderful. I love the cover.
I am a big fan of highlanders.

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Thanks, Crystal! Yes, getting those covers is, I think, my very favorite part of this whole process! =)

Karyn Gerrard
12 years ago

Great interview, and I love the sounds of this book, And a highlander on the cover!

All the best for your release!

Amanda
12 years ago

great interview and cover πŸ™‚

librarypat
librarypat
12 years ago

This is most definitely a series I will have to get. Just exactly what I like in plot, setting, and characters.
Aren’t Highland games great? I hope you enjoyed you day. We are going to Williamsburgh the first weekend in October for games there. I can’t wait. One of these days we’ll make it to Scotland and can enjoy them there. The largest games in the world are held in North Carolina (unless something has changed in the past couple of years). We have bee several times and enjoyed it greatly.

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

Skidding in here really late to comment. Veronica, how exciting to read the premise of your new Scottish series. Your YA sounds MARVELOUS! You’ve been living a rather risky writing life lately. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading your new bookish adventures.

BTW, Monica McCarty says you two are planning an “Onica” trip this fall. How fun!

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

And oh, Dunnottar Castle was the setting of my medieval (that’s currently hiding under the bed). We stayed at Dunnottar Mains farm (a small b&b) close to the castle as opposed to staying in the village (Stone-something).

Monua
12 years ago

I loved Devils Highlander! Veronica Rocks!

catslady
12 years ago

Oh, one of my favorite kinds of books – Scotland, highlanders, kilts and that cover is just gorgeous!!

Veronica Wolff
12 years ago

Yes, LibraryPat, the games were awesome! So many more kilts than you see in Scotland. LOL. And hi, Keira! Yes, Monica is my travel buddy once again (less than two weeks away now!) We call it our “Mommy Abandonment Tour.” *g*

Well, thanks again, everyone, for stopping by. It’s wonderful seeing so many familiar faces. =)