Jen: Please share a short bio and links to where you can be found online.
Vonda: Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot, Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. She is a past Golden Heart finalist and Laurie award winner. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Vonda: My newest release is My Brave Highlander:
Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn’t who everyone thinks he is. He’s Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time?
Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother’s order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety.
Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man’s bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.
Dirk was a secondary character in the previous book, My Wild Highlander, and I wanted to write his story. I knew he’d had a fairly traumatic past. The ideas for what happened to him, the threats to his life when he was a child and young teenager, came from real history. On at least a couple of occasions back in history, a laird’s second wife wanted her son to inherit instead of her husband’s older son from a previous marriage. Sometimes they took matters into their own hands to make that happen.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Vonda: Halfway between. I call myself a hybrid. 🙂 I do some planning ahead as I’m writing my rough draft to make sure the plot as a whole works. My rough draft is fast and more like a sketch than a painting. On the second and third drafts, I add lots more detail and flesh out the story. I really enjoy this phase because it allows me to know the characters deep down and take the journey along with them and bring the whole story vividly to life.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Vonda: I visited the setting, Durness and the Assynt area of Scotland. It is an amazingly beautiful, wild and harsh environment. I can’t get over how picturesque the scenery is there with the bare granite mountains, the blooming heather and yellow gorse bushes, the lochs reflecting the turbulent Scottish sky. The views are breathtaking. And the Durness area has many beautiful beaches and a cave. We were there in May of last year and experienced some severe weather, harsh winds, sleet, driving rain, etc. My Brave Highlander takes place in November and December. The weather would be even harsher and colder then. This is definitely a snowy story. In order to research castles, even fictional ones that I create, I’ve visited a number of Scottish castles. When I visited Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, I knew I had to set some scenes there. It’s incredibly haunting and atmospheric with the mist rising off the water and green hills and granite mountains all around. I could almost hear the clash of swords echoing across the loch.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Vonda: I go through Scottish and Scottish Gaelic name lists I find online. Or in books. I also use baby name books. If the origin is Scottish, Irish or Norse, I consider it because Scotland was a melting pot. There are simply not enough Scottish first names and a lot of the great iconic names, like Angus or Ian, will be used over and over in various Highlander books. Recently, I’ve gone further afield to find Scottish names that are used less. My books tend to have a lot of secondary characters so I need lots of names. 🙂
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Vonda: There have been many highlights. One of the best is when readers leave reviews or send me emails telling me how much they enjoyed one of my books. All three books being on the Amazon historical romance bestseller list was another highlight. Finaling in published book contests has also been rewarding.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Vonda: I’m working on the next story in the Highland Adventure series and I’m pretty far along on it. Shouldn’t be too much longer until it’s finished. The story, entitled My Daring Highlander, is about Dirk’s cousin Keegan MacKay and the forbidden lady he has fallen for, Seona Murray.