I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Jessi Gage to my blog. Jessi is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I’m thrilled to be in her company for upcoming new releases in June. I recently picked up a copy of her sweeping and steamy historical romance, Wishing for a Highlander, and boy, am I glad I did. With an unconventional heroine (my favorite kind!), a red-hot Scottish warrior who balances his alpha nature with a surprising tenderness, and a dash of magic, this is a great read you won’t want to miss!
While examining Andrew Carnegie’s lucky rosewood box, single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie makes a tongue in cheek wish on the artifact–for a Highland warrior to help her forget about her cheating ex. Suddenly transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in sixteenth-century Scotland, she realizes she should have been a tad more specific.
Darcy, laird in waiting, should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill, but a cruel prank played on him in his teenage years has led him to believe he is too large under his kilt to ever join with a woman. He has committed himself to a life of bachelorhood, running his deceased father’s windmills and keeping up the family manor house…alone.
Darcy’s uncle, Laird Steafan welcomes the strangely dressed woman into his clan, immediately marrying her to Darcy in hopes of an heir. But when Steafan learns of her magic box and brands her a witch, Darcy must do what any good husband would–protect his wife, even if it means forsaking his clan.
WARNING: A pregnant museum worker, a sixteenth-century Scot, and a meddlesome wishing box.
If my gushing isn’t enough to convince you, getting the insider scoop from Jessi ought to do the trick.
Jessi, your heroine Melanie starts off in a bit of a bind – namely, she’s pregnant and alone thanks to being abandoned by her commitment-phobe of a boyfriend before she’s transported back in time and meets Darcy. What inspired you to take a risk on this unconventional situation for a romantic female lead (which works beautifully, BTW)?
Thank you for having me, D.B.! I’m honored to be here and so excited to share a release day with you! Red Shoes for Lab Blues looks like so much fun. I can’t wait to read it!
I was actually pregnant myself when I started writing Wishing for a Highlander. I remember feeling all at home in my body for like the first time ever, and I might have been a tad more interested in sex than before. I’d never felt more womanly than while I was pregnant. I thought, why aren’t there any pregnant romance heroines? Pregnancy is sexy! That’s how Melanie was “born.”
Oh, I remember those days – pregnancy hormones definitely spice things up, don’t they? I fell in love with Darcy from the get-go. He’s all male, all warrior, and definitely carries with him the masculine mindset of 16th century Scotland, yet he comes across as caring rather than high-handed. How did you balance keeping him true to his time while maintaining his appeal to his modern-day lady?
Well, the idea for Wishing for a Highlander started with Melanie, the pregnant heroine who loves history so much she works with it every day at the Charleston Museum. Darcy started out as this enormous boulder of a warrior who was kind of a cardboard cutout until I figured out what his issues were and how Melanie could help him deal with them as much as he helps her in the novel.
My characters tend to evolve slowly as I write. The key for me is always discovering what the characters’ goals are and what motivates them to keep trying to achieve those goals even when things go way wrong for them. (GMC, goals, motivation, conflict: if I can nail that, the novel writes itself—okay not really. I still have to do kind of a lot of work, but it’s way more fun when I know GMC.)
I think you created the perfect hero for Melanie in Darcy – the contrast between his tough exterior and carefully guarded heart was a great source for goals, motivation, conflict, and depth. And…speaking of, er, interesting cultural differences, I found Melanie’s efforts to educate Darcy on the joy of foreplay and her slow, patient awakening of his sexuality very authentic, amusing, and touching. What inspired this aspect of their story?
I’m so thrilled you liked that aspect of the story, D.B. I love me a good alpha hero. Karen Marie Moning writes some of the best (Highlanders too–YUM!). But I was curious about exploring a hero who had some alpha qualities on the battlefield but some beta qualities in the bedroom.
I did this by writing a twist on the much-loved theme of the hero educating the heroine in the finer points of sex. I turned it on its head and let the heroine be the teacher. Darcy has some deep-seated personal insecurities even though he’s strong in other ways. Melanie needs and appreciates Darcy’s strength and protection, and she’s able to reciprocate by patiently helping him overcome his personal issues.
It’s a dynamic I haven’t seen a lot in romance, I suspect because it can be a challenge to keep the hero believably strong. Maybe I’m a masochist for trying it, or just too new to know better, but it sure was fun, and I’ve gotten some good feedback, so I consider the dynamic a success.
Oh I do love to see conventional tropes turned upside down – you made it work beautifully! I was over-the-moon excited to hear there’s a sequel in the works. Can you give us any hints about what is to come in this series?
The Wolf and the Highlander will be the second book in my Highland Wishes series. In it, I will tell Anya’s story. That’s right. I’m giving the murderous whore a chance at redemption, and with a wolf-man no less!
Anya was a very naughty girl in Wishing for a Highlander. She’s got a lot to make up for, and she’ll get her chance to prove she can be selfless instead of selfish. In The Wolf and the Highlander, stakes get raised, and the steaminess will climb a notch. You won’t want to miss seeing Anya go from brash villainess to selfless heroine, all because of the love of one poor trapper with a rather large axe (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?) Well, you won’t be disappointed in that regard, I promise.
Can’t wait to find out how Anya redeems herself! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?
It’s a struggle and a joy. I stay home with my two little monsters…I mean darlings, and I keep very busy running them around, playing outside, keeping them out of trouble, and trying to be a good mommy. I write in chunks of time here and there, largely when they have TV time or are napping or are in bed.
I’d prefer to be able to focus on writing for larger chunks of time. 4 hours is a good length of time to sit and write, but I don’t get that. I might not get that luxury for a few more years. My motto these days is: Make it happ’n cap’n. You just gotta do it when you can and be smart about how you use your time.
One thing I’m HUGELY thankful for is that my mom babysits for me every Friday morning rain or shine so I can go to Cupcake Crew, my wonderful critique group. I get my weekly dose of critique, cupcakes, and snark and am good to go for another week. I don’t know what I’d do without my critique partners or my mom, who makes it possible for me to see them each week.
My goal is to produce 1-2 books per year. So far, I’m managing that much and am a happy camper. Maybe someday it will be more. *fingers crossed* But for now, I consider myself blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity to be with my kids so much while I do what I love (write!) in those windows of time that appear at random intervals throughout the day.
Sounds like you got some great strategies for success there. Desert island – three must-have books?
The Bible. The Stand. KMM’s Fever series (I’m cheating and making the third book a whole series of 5 books, but if you’re going to be a stickler, I’ll take the fifth book, Shadowfever).
Thank you for having me, D.B.! I’m so glad you liked Wishing for a Highlander and loved chatting about it here on your blog.
Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Jessi, please visit any of her online haunts:
For more information about Wishing for a Highlander or to buy your copy, here are the links: