Friday, 28 January 2011

Welcome Julianne MacLean!

For the final day of our Scottish Romance party, I'm thrilled to welcome as our guest of honour Julianne MacLean - bestselling author of passionate historical romance!

Julianne MacLean - Why an Author Might Change Settings and Time Periods

Hello everyone – and thank you to Marie for inviting me to your Scottish party!

If any of you have read my books before, you’ll know that in the past, I’ve written about English dukes and earls in the late-Victorian period, so I’ve done my share of London ballroom scenes.  I wrote nine British historicals for Avon, and you’re probably wondering why I decided to change time periods and venture north into the Scottish Highlands.

It’s always been important to me to keep every story fresh, not to write the same thing over and over again, and to be honest, I just needed a change.  I was getting tired of describing gloved footmen delivering letters on silver salvers, or dukes ringing for their valets.  And all those rules of etiquette to follow…

I love the research that goes into writing a historical novel, and I knew that a different setting would allow me to immerse myself in a very different world, and would bring something new and exciting into my whole writing life.

So I proposed a Highlander trilogy to my editor and wound up moving from Avon to St. Martins in the process.  The first two books will come out back-to-back in March and April, with the third will hit stores in March.

Let me tell you, writing these books was a big, fat, wonderful breath of heaven!  Not only was the setting different – oh, the bliss of describing a green Highland glen or a fast, rushing river with no liveried footmen in sight! - but the plots took on a more adventurous element, and it was easy for me to gallop at a break-neck speed through every scene and chapter.

And the characters…  I shall let out a dreamy sigh here.  What a joy it was to describe a rugged, muscular, sword-wielding warrior who fights for freedom and honor.  And he’s not just at war with England (this trilogy is set during the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715).  He’s also at war with the heroine, who is his political and personal enemy on so many levels.  The conflicts were deep and broad, both internal and external, and I can honestly say that this trilogy was the most challenging and rewarding writing experience of my career so far.

On that note, I must introduce you to a short story prequel I wrote for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SCOTTISH ROMANCE.  It’s called “The Rebel,” and I will be giving away a copy of the MAMMOTH anthology to one lucky person who posts a comment here about whatever you want!

But there’s more!  For each and every one of Marie’s Scottish theme party guests – I have a free coupon for you to use in order to download the Ebook edition of “The Rebel.” This coupon is valid at Smashwords.  Here is the link and the Coupon Code:
Coupon Code:  YJ49S (not case sensitive)

Simply type in this code at checkout, and The Rebel is free!  I encourage you to share this coupon code with others on your favorite blogs and message boards, where readers like to know about free LEGAL downloads.  Important info – this promotional offer expires on Friday, Feb 4, 2011, so I hope you’ll take advantage now.

Happy reading, and thanks again for letting me be a part of your party!

Excerpt from The Rebel:

November 13, 1715
On the field of Sherrifmuir, six miles northeast of Stirling Castle...

      At the sound of the bagpipes and the roaring command of his chief, Alex MacLean drew his sword and broke into a run, charging up the north face of the hill.

      A wild frenzy of bloodlust exploded in his veins and fuelled his body with savage strength and determination, as he and his fellow Jacobite clansmen advanced upon Argyll’s left flank. Their lines collided in a heavy clash of bodies and weaponry, and suddenly he was thrashing about in a red sea of chaos. Men shouted and lunged, shot each other at close range, they severed limbs and hacked each other to pieces. Blood splattered onto his face as he spun around and swung his sword at one soldier, then another. Adrenaline fired his instincts. The fury was blinding. His muscles strained with every controlled thrust and strike.

      Keenly aware of all that was happening around him, he raised his targe to encumber the piercing point of a bayonet. Dropping to one knee, he dirked the offending redcoat in the belly.

      Eventually, in the distance, beyond the delirium of combat, the Government Dragoons began to fall back, retreating through their own infantry. The fury was too much for them. Alex raised his sword.

      “Charge!” he shouted, in a deep thunderous brogue. “For the Scottish Crown!”

      He and his fellow clansmen cried out in triumphant resolve and rushed headlong at the breaking enemy ranks, while the Jacobite cavalry thundered past, galloping hard to pursue the Hanoverians into the steep-sided Glen of Pendreich.

       Moments flashed by like brilliant bursts of lightning. The battle was nearly won. The redcoats were fleeing….

       Before long, Alex slowed to a jog and looked about to get a better sense of his bearings. He and dozens of other clansmen were now spread out across the glen with precious space between them and clean air to breathe.

       It was over. Argyll’s opposing left flank was crushed. They were retreating to Dunblane.

       Stabbing the point of his weapon into the frosty ground, Alex dropped to his knees in exhaustion and rested his forehead on the hilt. He’d fought hard, and with honor. His father would be proud.

       Just then, a fresh-looking young redcoat leapt out from behind a granite boulder and charged at him. “Ahh!”

       He was naught but a boy, but his bayonet was sharp as any other.

       Rolling across the ground, Alex shifted his targe to the other hand to deflect the thrust of the blade. The weapon flew from the soldier’s hands and landed on the grass, but before Alex could regain his footing, a saber was scraping out of its scabbard, and he suddenly found himself backing away defensively, evaluating his opponent’s potential skill and intentions.

       Blue eyes locked on his, and the courage he saw in those depths sharpened his wits.

       Carefully, meticulously, they stepped around each other.

       “Are you sure you want to do this, lad?” Alex asked, giving the boy one last chance to retreat with the others in his regiment. “I’ve done enough killing this morning. I don’t need more blood on my hands. Just go.”

       But why was he hesitating? The dark fury of battle still smoldered within him. What difference would it make if he killed one more? All he had to do was take one step forward and swing. The boy was no match for him. He could slay him in an instant.

       “I’m sure,” the lad replied, but his saber began to tremble in his hands.

       Alex wet his lips. “Just drop your weapon, boy, and run.”


       Alex paused. “You’re a brave one, aren’t you? Or maybe you’re just stupid.”

       All at once, the young soldier let out a vicious battle cry and attacked with a left-handed maneuver that cut Alex swiftly across the thigh.

       He gaped down at the wound in bewilderment.

       Musket fire rang out in the distance. The morning chill penetrated his senses, steeled his warrior instincts.

       The next thing he knew, he was whirling around with a fierce cry of aggression. He swung his targe and struck lad in the head. The young redcoat stumbled backward. His saber dropped from his grasp.

       Then, as if it were all happening in a dream, the soldier’s hat flew through the air, and long black tresses unfurled and swung about. The boy hit the ground and rolled unconscious onto his back.

       Alex’s eyes fell immediately upon a soft complexion and lips like red cherries. All thoughts of war and the Jacobite triumph fled from his mind as he realized with dismay that he had just struck a woman.

Remember, everyone can use the code to download REBEL! Julianne's contest for the MAMMOTH BOOK OF SCOTTISH ROMANCE will close at midnight tonight, EST, and her winner will be announced on this thread.


  1. First off let me say YUM! I totally agree, sweaty scummy yummy men wearing skirts running about in green glens and high mountains weilding swords and being THE MAN will always get my vote. As an American living in England, I find it hard to find books I can enjoy reading. I find British Authors very different from American ones. And it can be frustrating to find genre's that I enjoy reading and keeping my focus on. (Ok so I read the last Harry Potter book in one evening..but that is different!)
    What inspired you to begin writing? Did you feel the call? The nagging story in your mind that you just cannot get away from? I have a wonderful teen story in my head and I have tried so many times to write..and I even have a chapter or two started..but then I hit a road block and find I am over describing something or cannot describe it the way I want. How do you cross those hurdles? Peace (and carrots)
    Ti Colluney

  2. Julianne: Any particular reason why you were drawn to the late Victorian period? Most romantic authors seem attracted to earlier periods.

    I'm fascinated by late 19th, early 20th settings as the narratives (both fictional and non-fictional) seem to come alive for me. Compared with reading about other periods, the difference is almost like that between dreaming in colour and dreaming in black-and-white, or the psychological difference between remembering and knowing.

    I'm a newcomer to the romantic literature genre and haven't read any of your books -- something I intend to redress as soon as possible. I'm delighted to have made your acquaintance through this blog.

  3. Thank you so much for the download. I can't wait to read the story! I enjoy historical romances, and from reading the snippet I just know I'm going to enjoy yours as well. Thanks again, and have a great weekend!

  4. Julianne I think you have totally captured the Highlands, the history and those hunky Scottish men in your latest book. I read Rebel and couldn't put it down and honestly, can't wait for you new series to launch. Like all your writing, your voice and depth of characters shine!

  5. OK, Julianne, I'm intrigued! I have to know what's going on here now!

    Great to have you at the party - thank you for coming :). Are you going to write more Scottish stories now, are have you moved on to other times and settings?


  6. Hi EternalsBlissy - Thanks for the post! Glad to hear you enjoy a grimy Highlander like I do :).
    You asked about feeling the "call" to write - obviously you are feeling it yourself. I do find that every book is a hurdle, and sometimes I have a hard time keeping my butt in the chair - because writing is HARD. Deadlines help, however, because I have no choice. I simply don't let myself quit for the day until I have at least 5 pages written, which means I have to push through any doubts or urges to rewrite something. I rewrite/edit the FOLLOWING day before I begin the new stuff, but then the same rule holds. I'm not allowed to quit until I have 5 new pages, even if I feel like I'm writing drivel. I remind myself that I can fix the drivel later. Rewriting is a huge part of the process. So just give yourself permission to write less than perfectly, and get the story down. Then you'll have something to sculpt. Good luck!

  7. Hi Jud - I was attracted to the late-Victorian period because so many of my favorite novels are set then. I know everyone goes ga ga for Jane Austen, and I do love her, but my favorites are Edith Wharton and Henry James - I loved Washington Square so much. My first books at Avon were inspired by the old New York society and the American heiresses traveling to England to marry into the aristocracy. I still find that whole period of history fascinating.

    If you want to read some of my older Victorians, I would suggest starting with To Marry the Duke, which is the first in that American Heiress series. Thanks for posting here, and happy reading!

  8. Hi Marie - I have changed settings yet again for my next trilogy, which I have just started writing. So I will depart from the Highlands after these four stories (I am calling 2011 My Scottish Year) :).

    I am now in Regency England, which is a new experience for me as well, because I was writing about late-Victorian England before. While there are a lot of similarities, there are differences, too. Politics, for one thing - with that Napoleon guy making such a nuisance of himself :)

  9. I love Highlander and love to read about them. I'm glad you change periods.


  10. I think change is good! I love my Highland Romance books, but I need to switch it up with different genres so I don't get bored.

  11. 'Writing these books was a big, fat, wonderful breath of heaven!'

    LOVE that, Julianne! Can't wait to go to the Highlands with you.

  12. Your a new author for me and I can't wait to check out your work. I love it when authors change it up, let's me know how talented they are in taking me from genre to another and each world is like a breath of fresh air. These books look amazing. Put a man in a kilt on a cover on a book and you bet I will pick it up off the shelf. LOL I've only read a few highlaner books, but I can't wait to get my hands on some more. Love those accents, I always get them stuck in my head. The last scottish highlander book I picke up, I had a blast with the sexy accent and the book I picked up afterwards was a contemporary with the hero being a New York native. Cracked me up when I was about one hundred pages in when I realized I gave him the accent from the last book. OOPPS :) Thanks so much for the code for smashwords, can't wait to read REBEL


  13. Hi Jolene! Thanks for posting! I enjoyed your post :)

  14. For those of you who don't know Julia, she is my lovely cousin - a great writer and a champion blogger :)

  15. Interesting, Julianne! I'm a bit of a time-tripper too - can't stick to just one period. There are always so many other fascinating things going on!

    Cindy, I like variety in my reading too :).

    Jolene - :).


  16. My goal in life is to go to Scotland, but that dream is still far away so until then I have to enjoy the fabulous books written by authors like you!

  17. Julianne, I love Scottish period books. Scenery is awesome, the men are fearless forces to be reakoned with, the women that love them are just as fierce. The conflicts between people like that... intense, juicy, and sometimes funny to read. I can't wait!!

  18. Love it Candy! I hope I can sweep you away to the Highlands for a few hours, so that you feel like you've really been there. (Although it's not the best time to be touristy in 1715, when there's a rebellion afoot!)

  19. Yummy covers! Gotta love a man in a kilt!

    Thanks for the free prequel...will put me in the perfect mood to read the first book.

  20. Great post, and if your heroes are like those hunky men on your covers...I want to read these.

    Nice to meet you, and thanks so much for the free read!!!

    in Germany

  21. I've love all your books so far. Looking forward to some more, no matter what the setting. (Unless it's the wild west.) I love Scottish things too. Please keep writing and I'll keep buying.

  22. Thanks so much for giving us The Rebel. I can't wait to read it. I am really looknig forward to starting your new series. Who can resist a Highlander? Not me.

  23. Wow, I have wanted this book for a long time! Its on my list to get! Your story looks awesome! Thankss for sharing with us today!


  24. If the author is happy then I am happy!! These are my favorite types of books and I love when authors do a lot of research so it's a win/win situation for us readers. And what gorgeous covers!! I love anything Highlander!

  25. I've enjoyed all your comments today, ladies! Thanks for popping by!

  26. I love all your books and can't wait to get my hand on the trilogy. I'm tempted by the mammoth book of Scottish Romance, but am afraid to buy it in case I've already read some of the stories.

    Wandering over to Smashwords to see if I can get The Rebel.

    See you soon!


  27. well, your covers are awesome! and i have been hooked again. i love warriors like Alex. thank you so much for the free download! i love reading about scotland's history and i love it when true events get put into a story!

  28. Hi Lynne! I doubt if you've read many of the short stories in MAMMOTH. So far, I only know of two of us who have provided the stories as ebooks - Me and Kim Killion. (I have only begun to brave the new world of ebook releases!)

    Otherwise, it's a new release with all new stuff. Hope to see you soon! Book signing at Chapters in Dartmouth in March...

  29. Hi practimom -
    I researched that battle quite extensively for this story, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! And that battle is the catalyst for the rest of the trilogy. It sets the hero in motion with his personal quest, and everything that happens in Books 2 and 3 evolves from that. Can you tell I LOVED writing this series?

  30. Hi Julianne :)
    I just read your prequel "The Rebel" and WOW what a great read. I always liked reading historical novels especially ones based on the Scottish culture. I enjoy how the Scottish culturee and English culture are so different from each other.
    What era to write about is you favorite?
    I can't wait for your Highlander trilogy to come out.
    Mindy :)

  31. I have alsways enjoyed reading your books and can not wait for the new Highlander ones to come out.

  32. Oooh, great excerpt! :) Thanks so much for the free download. I'll post the link on facebook for my reading friends to enjoy.

    Please also count me in for your giveaway. I'm at sweetbrier at shaw dot ca

  33. I've read "Rebel" and now I can't wait for the trilogy!

  34. Nice excerpt. I'm glad you got to set your books in Scotland. Sometimes we all need a change. The covers look great!

  35. You were so right about the scenery! I could
    just sit forever, enjoying the heights & the
    valleys of the mountainously muscular torsos
    shown on your covers! That scenery I would
    never tire of. LOL! Oh, I greatly enjoyed
    the excerpt also!

    Pat Cochran

  36. Great reading all your comments, everyone! And thanks for being such a great guest of honour, Julianne.

    I'll be back in a few minutes with Julianne's winner...


  37. Julianne's winner of the Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance is - SHE!

    Congratulations, She, you lucky thing! Please send your postal address details to me at