It’s my pleasure to welcome my friend, author Lane McFarland. Lane’s steamy Scottish historical romances debuted earlier this month on Amazon…readers are gobbling up these touching and passionate stories. Lane’s here with a character interview of the heroines of her romances, Cameron and Heather. Welcome, Lane. Please tell us a little about your stories.
Thank you for having me, Tara. I’m excited to tell you about the first two books of my series, The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall. Before I published Cameron and Heather’s stories, I took one last opportunity to interview the sisters. I’d like to share my visit to MacDougall Castle in Kilmarnock, Scotland.
It was late at night when I arrived. Large torches blazed bright into the darkening sky. Solid battlements, secured behind grey stone, ran across the outer gates surrounding the fortress. Guards patrolled the ramparts, ready to drop the portcullis and defend the castle at a moment’s notice.
The carriage rattled across the wooden bridge, through a large worn gate and past guardhouses on either side. We pulled to a stop in the bailey before the stone steps leading to the keep. I tugged my wrap around my shoulders, climbed the steep stairs and knocked on the heavy oak door.
“Thank you, Fergus. It’s nice to be back.”
“Please come in, and I’ll show ye to the solar.”
I stepped into the dimly-lit hall. He lifted the cloak from my back and escorted me down the corridor. More torches secured in brackets lined the damp passage, their flames flickering in a cold draft.
He opened the solar’s worn door and swept his arm in the direction of the chairs positioned before the hearth. “Make yerself comfortable by the fire. I’ll let Mistresses Cameron and Heather know ye’ve arrived.”
I scooted into one of the massive wooden chairs, holding my hands out to the warmth radiating from the golden flames. Nerves strung tight, I couldn’t help but wonder what the MacDougall women thought of the stories I had just written about them. While rummaging through my briefcase for my notebook, the sound of footsteps and feminine laughter drifted from down the hall.
“Mistress McFarland,” Cameron said as she slipped into the room with Heather close behind. “What a pleasure to see ye again.”
I stood and smoothed shaking fingers down my skirt as Cameron extended her hand in greeting. Once again, I was struck by the women’s beauty. Cameron’s long dark hair and green eyes were in stark contrast to her sister’s blonde tresses and deep blue eyes. Friendly smiles lit their faces.
“Please call me Lane. I thank you for seeing me on short notice and at such a late hour.”
“Gracious, ye’re always welcome,” Heather said, grasping my hand. “Please have a seat.”
Rena, the cook, entered carrying a tray of warm spiced cider and her sweet cakes. She smiled and handed me a mug.
The woman nodded and shuffled from the room.
“What can we do for ye?” Cameron asked, sipping the drink.
“I hope you’ve had a chance to review the books I wrote about you and your families.”
Heather leaned back in her chair. “Aye, we appreciated yer just account.”
Relief poured over me and I relaxed. “May I ask a few follow up questions? I want to ensure I have correctly depicted your stories.”
“Certainly. Heather and I will try to answer whatever questions ye have.”
I flipped open my notebook and addressed Cameron. “When I first visited, you were experiencing difficulties. Would you describe that hard time in your life once more?”
She stiffened slightly.
Heather reached over and squeezed her sister’s forearm.
Cameron smiled sadly. “It was indeed a difficult time. Mum had been so ill. I couldn’t find a cure for her wasting sickness. When she passed, I felt like a failure.” She shook her head. “It took a long time before I wanted to continue learning the healing arts.”
“But you did,” I added.
Her eyes gazed at me, the light from the flames in the hearth flickering in the green depths. “Aye, I could not stop my passion to heal the sick and injured.”
“What of the feud with the Grahams? Did it play a role in your decision to continue?”
She scoffed. “There was always some kind of skirmish or prank they played on each other. Inevitably, someone was injured. Poor Fergus still has limited use of his arm.”
“That was about the time Laird Graham kidnapped you, wasn’t it?”
“The very time. As a matter of fact, I was collecting medicinal herbs for Fergus when Robert snatched me. He was bent on revenge. Ye see, he found his younger brother and his elderly captain with my da’s arrows jutting from their backs.” She exhaled through her nose. “Who could blame him for his actions? He had just sealed a truce with my da and was hurting over the brutal attack and outright betrayal.”
“You struggled with escaping or staying with the Grahams. Did you make the right decision?”
The corners of her mouth tugged up. “I did.”
“What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?”
“If there was anything I’d like to change, it would be the continued conflict with the English. We’re on constant alert, forever fearful of attack. I pray someday we will live in peace.”
“Thank you, Cameron.” She smiled, and I turned to Heather. “I would ask the same of you. When I first met you, you were in a bit of a dilemma.”
“Aye, before Mum passed, I promised her I would help Da run the castle and protect the clan. It was a time of unrest. I couldn’t trust our neighboring Scots. Too many scoundrels lurked, waiting to pounce on us at the slightest opportunity. I had to keep them at bay.”
“Ye led your father’s warriors into battle.”
Her blue eyes narrowed. “I had no choice. I had to keep the clan intact while holding off those who plotted to overtake our land.”
“What about Alec—I mean Laird Campbell? Could you not trust him?
She sat straighter, her shoulders squared. “I no longer knew him. It had been many years since we last met. I couldn’t take the chance he would betray Da’s confidence.”
“What do you mean?”
“Da suffers an affliction of the mind. If other clans got word of it, they would storm in and overtake our clan. I had to protect his secret.”
“Alec had secrets of his own, didn’t he?”
Heather’s fingers fidgeted in her lap. “There were rumors he had failed his aging father and clan.”
“But you were attracted to him. That must have been difficult for you.”
Her eyes blinked and her gaze dropped to the floor. “It was indeed a hard time. My heart screamed to turn to him. It would have been so easy.” She smiled. “He was handsome and strong, leading his men into battle and caring for his people.”
“How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?”
“I echo my sister’s sentiments on the rebellion, and understand all too well what it entails to protect the castle and the clan. We will forever be on constant alert.”
A log rolled in the fireplace and red sparks flitted up the chimney. “I wish things were different for you. That is a difficult way to live.”
Cameron nodded. “Aye, but we make do.”
I hated to leave, but the hour grew late. “I thank you for your time tonight. I won’t keep you any longer.”
After shutting my notebook and tucking it away in my satchel, I stood. Cameron and Heather escorted me down the corridor to the great hall.
Fergus ambled toward us. “Ye are leaving already, Mistress McFarland?”
“Aye, it’s time for me to be on my way. I have two books to publish.”
After our visit, I released the first two books about Alastair MacDougall’s daughters, Cameron and Heather. They are available on Amazon in eBook, with printed format offered soon. I plan to publish Lindsey’s story late spring 2014, with Elsbeth’s book to soon follow.
Lane McFarland is a southern girl living on top of a mountain in North Georgia, and is most happy when surrounded by family and friends. When not writing, you can find her hiking with her husband, or fiddling around in her flower and vegetable gardens, feeding the birds and watching black bears and deer. Lane is blessed to have a wonderful son—her pride and joy, her buddy who, along with her husband, have made her life complete.
Lane’s debut novels, CAMERON and HEATHER, are the first in The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall books. Set in late thirteenth century Scotland, this series tells the stories of Laird Alastair MacDougall’s four independent and oftentimes, headstrong daughters coming of age in a country fraught with war and feuds amongst rival clans. Follow his daughters as their lives become intertwined with four fierce, rebel highland warriors bent on eradicating the English soldiers from their homeland.