Recently I had the chance to interview author Madeline Martin about her book Deception of a Highlander.Madeline, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I recently read Deception of a Highlander. I want you to know first off that I lost sleep over your book. It was a willing sacrifice on my part because I just couldn't put it away to go to bed. High praise? Perhaps, but deserved. Mariel Brandon is a spy for a shady man named Aaron who sends her to Scotland with the hero Kieran MacDonald. For once the heroine is the more damaged of the two characters. What inspired this book? Why Scotland and why a female spy?
Madeline Martin: That is high praise! Thank you so much, Amberly - I'm so glad you enjoyed Deception of a Highlander! When this book idea first came to me, it was Mariel who burned the thought into my mind. I wanted to know what would go through the mind of a female spy/assassin - a woman who could externally demonstrate considerable strength and skill, but whose subconscious was mired in constricting desperation at her own situation.
Why Scotland? When I was on maternity leave with my first minion, I let myself fall into Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and I was in love! I had Scotland not only on the brain, but on the heart - and it's never faded.
Me: Oh that sounds lovely. The reader finds out early on about Mariel's mission from Aaron. Plenty of pages to speculate yet I was just as surprised as Mariel to find out the truth. (trying to avoid too many spoilers) The book deals with physical and emotional abuse. What do you think makes those topics so easy to relate to for readers?
While you work out that tough question, let me ask you an easier one. I love books with kick ass women. One of my favorites is by Jackie Ivie called Lady of the Knight. In Deception, Mariel is skilled in hand to hand and with knifes. If you could be superskilled, what would be your area of expertise be and why?
Madeline: If I could have any area of expertise, I'd love to be super badass skilled at hand-to-hand combat. I'd never need to worry about having a weapon on hand, and I'd probably be in such great shape, I wouldn't feel so guilty about having a handful (or two!) of M&M's.
The other question is a tough one!! With physical and emotional abuse, both leave one feeling beaten down, worthless, and helpless. While all of us may not have been subjected to abuse, we all know what it's like to feel those emotions and can relate to how debilitating they can be. Great questions, BTW!
Me Plain or peanut? I'm a firm believer that the protein level in peanut M&Ms make them a healthy snack. I agree that it's not whether or not we had the same experience but if we have felt the same emotions. You have other books based in Scotland; are they in the same series? Do any of the books contain characters from this first book?
Madeline: Peanut butter M&M's, actually. Those things are addicting!!
The other two books are part of the first in that they are the other men's stories. Possession of a Highlander is Colin's story and Enchantment of a Highlander (coming out January 19th) is Alec's story. They can all be read independently.
Me: I really like Alec as a character and can't wait to read more about his past. Enchantment is going on my Christmas list. You mentioned earlier that you have minions. My daughters are 14 and 12. What do your kids think about you being a published author? If they grow up to write, what do you want them to learn from you?
Madeline: Thank you. Aw, I bet your girls are so sweet! I have two daughters too! Mine are 6 and 9. They are my biggest fans. Every time we meet someone new, YoungestMinion digs a bookmark out of my purse and asks the person to please buy my book (I swear I didn't put her up to that!!!). LOL
Every time I get a new book out, they ask for bookmarks to pass out to the staff at school - it's so sweet. Once I was apologizing for my release day being busy and YoungestMinion said, "Don't feel bad, feel proud! We're proud of you!" Melt my heart.
If they grow up to be writers (OldestMinion is already treading the path!) and it makes them happy, I'd fully support them. My biggest piece of advice would be for them to always appreciate what others do for them. Writing is almost a community effort these days - not just with an editor and an agent, but also fellow authors and, of course, readers.
Me: That is amazing! Best minions ever. As one of your readers, I'm glad to be part of your community. In fact you acknowledge quite a few people at the end of the book for their help in making all this possible. One name that jumped out at me was Margie Lawson. She came to Boise in 2008 (I think) for a Master Class. Brilliant. With community increasing and interaction with your readers a greater possibility, do you think that brings more pressure to the writing life?
Madeline: Thank you - I definitely think my minions are pretty special and I totally agree with your assessment of Margie - brilliant! I did one of her immersions last year and it was amazing. I already want to do another one! I recommend her to every new author who asks me for advice.
The reader interaction brings more pressure, but it's not a social pressure as much as it is a time-limiting one. I love my readers and interacting with them daily makes me smile. They are a wealth of knowledge and humor and suggestions. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know so many wonderful people because of it. But it does take time and that starts to cramp sometimes when things get busy. Fortunately, everyone is also very understanding and I've never had anyone seem offended when I am running late on replying to a post or I say I need some time off for a while.
Me: Before I ask my last question, I just want you to know it's been a pleasure to interview you. I think if we met in person we would totally get along. You have an epilogue of sorts and the book has a happy ending, all good romances do. What was the hardest part of the book to write and why?
Madeline: I totally agree! If you go to San Diego this year, we need to meet up for a cocktail.
The hardest part to write was the travel from England to Scotland. Probably not what you expected. Long travel scenes are so hard to write. They can be tedious if not done right or too "what the heck just happened?!" if too quick. But in a historical, it's a constant necessity since everything was by horseback. I wrote and rewrote that trek to Scotland and deleted TONS of unnecessary words to keep it trimmed up. It was a total pain to deal with. LOL
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. I enjoyed your questions and have had fun chatting with you. Hopefully you'll be in San Diego and we can meet in person. Have a wonderful holiday season and a fabulous new year.
You can get your own copy of Deception of a Highlander here. Also, follow Madeline on Facebook or visit her website.
If you'd like to be interviewed, it's tots fun, drop me and email with a link to your kickass book.