Author Interview & Giveaway: Highlander Redeemed (Guardians of the Targe) by Laurin Wittig

Title:  Highlander Redeemed
Series:  Guardians of the Targe
Author:  Laurin Wittig
Genre:  Medieval Romance
Publication Date:  May 12, 2015
Length:  272 words/ 86,500 words
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Cover Artist:  Regina Wamba

Book Synopsis

Scotia MacAlpin may be only eighteen years old, but she’s no stranger to trouble. Her latest incident—which resulted in a death and forced her clan into battle—has made her an outcast among her exiled people. Scotia is tired of being ignored and trapped in the shadow of her sister, a gifted Guardian of the Targe; and she’s become hell-bent on destroying the army out to capture the ancient Highland relic for their English king.

Duncan of Dunlairig has looked out for Scotia since she started to walk. She was as restless and reckless then as she is now—only the stakes have become higher and more perilous. While the rest of Clan MacAlpin ostracizes her, he secretly helps Scotia become the warrior she yearns to be. But the real test of her skills may come when Duncan needs her help—and her long-forgotten heart—in this thrilling and romantic Guardians of the Targe tale.

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1.  Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? I grew up in the deep, deep, South (Mississippi) but have spent most of my life in the mid-Atlantic, in and around Washington, DC, and Virginia. I’ve lived in six states and DC, and have lived briefly in Paris, London, and Rabat, Morocco. Thanks to my mom, who ran a travel agency when I was a child, I’ve also traveled through most countries in central and southern Europe as well as taken an incredible trip to Israel, all when I was eleven. I’ve been to Scotland twice – not nearly enough, even though I spend five days a week there in my imagination. I used to be able to speak French pretty well, but it’s gotten very rusty. I love technology, history, walking in the woods, teaching, and of course I adore writing. I used to teach computer classes, and Jamestown history to school groups, but now, when I can find the time, I teach writing workshops. Traveling more internationally is at the top of my bucket list.

I’ve been married for thirty years to the love of my life; have two great children who make me very proud; and a small dog who runs the house. And I get to spend my days writing my stories for my fabulous readers. Ah, it’s a great life!
2.  What inspired you to write your first book?
It started almost as a dare. One night, shortly after we were married, I was complaining to my husband about how bad a book was. After the gripping had gone on for a little while he looked at me and asked, “Why don’t you write your own?” He probably said it to get me to quit grousing, but the simple question revealed a dream I didn’t even know I had. It had never occurred to me that I could be a writer, a spinner of tales. In my head authors were mystical beings, not simple humans like me. Fortunately I discovered, after quite a few years spent learning how to tell a good story, that I was one of those people I so revered. I published my first novel in September 2001, about 13 years after that simple question.
3.  How do you choose the names for your characters?
I start by figuring out where in Scotland I’m going to set a story, then I look for clans that lived in that area in medieval times. Once I get the family names settled I start looking for interesting first names that aren’t overused (as much as possible) or that have some meaning that fits one of my characters. In this book, Highlander Redeemed, I chose the name Scotia for my heroine, the bratty youngest of my three heroines in the Guardians of the Targe series.  Her name comes from the name the Roman’s called Ireland, which in the middle ages came to mean Scotland. But, I also discovered that Scotia is a Celtic name of a warrior goddess and that fit Scotia MacAlpin perfectly.
4.  What kind of research did you do for this book?
One of the nice things about writing a series is that you only really have to do the research once, so most of that was done before I wrote the first book, Highlander Betrayed, but there are always details that I have to find as I go along. In Highlander Redeemed, for example, I needed to figure out how many ships it would take to get my English detachment from northern England to Oban, Scotland, and how long it would take to make the journey. I happen to have a son who spent four years working as a costumed interpreter at Jamestown Settlement on the (reproduction) 17th century ships (yes, he and I are both a little geeky about history). So I asked him what sort of ships my detachment might have available to them in the early 1300s, how many would be needed, and how long it would take to make the journey. He’s a college student studying anthropology and art history, so his research skills and resources are much better than mine for this sort of thing. It took him a couple of days to get back to me. He had researched what sorts of cargo ships would have been around, compared them size-wise to the ships he was familiar with to ascertain how many men, horses, gear, food, etc. could be reasonably carried on one, and what their average speed was, then found a website that helped him calculate the distance, and thus the duration of a probable voyage. I needed a little more time in the story than it would have taken, so I threw in a storm at sea and the need to avoid other ships, and voila, I had the details I needed. I love having a research assistant. I pay him in home cooked meals when he comes home for visits.
5.  Do you have a favorite character from one of your books?  Which one, and why?
That’s a little like asking a mother which child is her favorite! For a long time Catriona in Charming the Shrew has been my favorite. She had been the most fun to write—tough on the outside but vulnerable on the inside with a sharp mind and a sharp tongue to match. Tayge had been the perfect, charming hero for her and I loved watching her become her true self with him. And then I wrote Highlander Redeemed. I think Scotia has taken over as my favorite character now, but only by a little. Scotia is another tough on the outside, vulnerable on the inside character, but she’s also been spoiled her whole life and has a bad habit of acting before thinking. She’s gotten her clan into bad trouble, but she’s determined to get them out of it again, and she’s equally determined to redeem herself no matter what it costs her. In this story I paired her with a gentle warrior who understands her as no one else does. She has a lot more growing up to do than Catriona did, and she does it with a fierce determination that I really admire. But shh, don’t tell Catriona she’s second favorite now!
6.  Do you currently have any works in progress, and if so, could you share a little with us?
I wrote the Guardians of the Targe series so fast (three novels plus an extra novella in less than two years—very fast for me) that I’ve been taking a bit of a hiatus since I turned Highlander Redeemed in at the end of 2014. I’m currently working on a completely different story, not even a romance, but soon I’ll turn my attention back to medieval Scotland where I’ll return to my stormy MacLeods of the Legacy of MacLeod series for a long awaited third book. There are three more MacLeod brothers who were sent off to war in Charming the Shrew that are overdue to get their own stories so there’s lots of opportunities for romance there. I’ve also got several novellas I want to write, one is a spin off of Highlander Redeemed, one in my Kilmartin Glen series, and possibly a prequel to the MacLeod books. I’m not sure when those will get done, though!
7.  Where do you write, and do you have a daily schedule or do you write when inspiration strikes?
I have a lovely home office, but I write on my laptop in a local coffee shop inside a grocery store. My home office is where I take care of the business side of writing. At the coffee shop, which has very unpredictable wi-fi – a plus for this distractible writer, I write five days a week, generally 9:30 to 12:30, and most days one or two writing friends join me at the coffee shop. We keep each other accountable to show up and work. I used to wait for inspiration but I found that was a really hard way to write because I’d lose track of the story between those rare moments of inspiration and waste the inspiration on re-reading what I’d already written in order to get back into the story. What I’ve learned, thanks in large part to deadlines, is that if I show up at the keyboard everyday, inspiration follows me there, and I never lose the thread of the story.
9.  Is there a question you have you always wanted to be asked in an interview?  If so, what is the question, and what is the answer?
The question: What makes you happy?
The answer: The sound of my children laughing together, family card games at the lake in Maine, getting notes from my readers, cooking with my husband and son (daughter hasn’t gotten the cooking bug yet!), long talks with my girlfriends, and a great day of writing. Oh, and a large, soft, oatmeal raisin cookie.
10.  Just for fun:  If you were stranded on a deserted island, and could pick only 3 necessities to have with you, what would they be?”
My husband—he’s definitely a necessity! A machete—a very useful tool. A cast iron pot. Can you tell I watch Survivor? My imagination would of course by my biggest necessity and my most useful tool!
Thanks for great questions and for hosting me on your blog today!
Duncan braced himself for the verbal battle to come, but before he could make himself known, Scotia began to move, hesitantly and without her usual grace, but so focused on her task he could almost taste her determination. She watched her feet, letting her weapons go slack in her hands. Even so, he quickly recognized the exercise Malcolm had been teaching the lads a few days ago. She shook her head, then started the series of moves again, talking to herself just under her breath. She repeated the process over and over until, all of a sudden, she flew through the short exercise as if it were a dance she had known her entire life, thrusting, parrying, spinning, attacking the dirt clad roots of a toppled tree. The sharp sound of wood on wood reverberated through the forest like a woodpecker hammering on a hollow log. 
His breath caught in his chest. She was magnificent. Beautiful. Strong.
She fought as if demons threatened her life.
And Duncan could not take his eyes off her. She was everything he would expect her to be if he did not know her so well.
About Laurin Laurin Wittig was indoctrinated into her Scottish heritage at birth when her parents chose her oddly spelled name from a plethora of Scottish family names. At ten, Laurin attended her first MacGregor clan gathering with her grandparents, and her first ceilidh (kay-lee), a Scottish party, where she danced to the bagpipes with the hereditary chieftain of the clan. At eleven, she visited Scotland for the first time and it has inhabited her imagination ever since. 
She writes bestselling and award-winning Scottish medieval romances and lives in southeastern Virginia. For more information about all of Laurin’s books, visit
‘Hosted by My Family’s Heart’

2 Copies of Highlander Betrayed 3 Guardians of the Targe tote bags

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1 Comment

  1. May 3, 2015    

    Thank you for the wonderful interview and for participating in the Tour. Victoria at My Family's Heart

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