Interview & Contest: Vonda Sinclair

Vonda at KilchurnJen: 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.

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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.


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47 thoughts on “Interview & Contest: Vonda Sinclair

  1. Ann/alba says:

    Great Interview .. Can’t wait to read this book…. I love my highlander…..
    The Cover is Fabulous. it will love great with the rest. 🙂
    Have a good one Ann/alba

  2. Jeanne Miro says:

    Anyone who wants to see some wonderful pictures of Scotland should be sure to visit Vanda’s web page!

    I loved Dirk in My Wild Highlander and can’t wait to find out how rescues Isobel! Vanda has such a wonderful way of bringing the Highlands to life that you’ll think that you’re there yourself!

    Congratulations to Vanda on the release of another wonderful book!

    • Jeanne, thanks!!! I’m glad you liked Dirk in MWH. It was a lot of fun making him a hero, considering he is the strong silent type. 🙂 One of my main goals is to bring the Highlands to life in my writing, so those who can’t visit in real life can visit by reading. I love Scotland so much! It’s a wonderful place! I’m glad you like the Scotland pics, too! I’m doing a series on Stirling Castle now at Fierce Romance Blog, if anyone would like to see them. I also have lots more posts about Scotland at the blog. You can do a search.

      Stirling Part 4
      Stirling Part 3
      Stirling Part 2
      Stirling Part 1
      Thanks!

      • Jeanne Miro says:

        Hi Vonda!

        I can’t wait to go over and check out posts about Sterling Castle! We had a chance to visit there when my husband and I went to Scotland several year ago and we both loved it! Of course since my husband is a master stone and brick mason we had to visit Stonehenge while we were in the area! He spent about two hours just walking around and admiring the work and placement of the stones!

        Have you ever been to Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots? We were fortunate to be the only visitors there the day we went and my husband fell in love with the fountain there. He also had a good laugh a Edinburgh Castle watching some workers carrying one block at a time during the repair being done there. Believe me there is no way he would put up with that with his crew!

  3. Keira Montclair says:

    Great interview, Vonda! Love the names you have picked for your hero/heroine, Keegan MacKay and Sonea Murray.
    Keira

  4. Jena Lang says:

    Hi Vonda! Nice interview! I’ve enjoyed all of the photos you posted on Facebook after your trip to Scotland. I hope to get there one day. Until then, I’ll just keep reading my favorite romances (like yours!) to get my Highland fix.

    • Aww thanks Jena!! I’m addicted to Scotland and taking pics there is my favorite thing to do. I hope you also get to visit Scotland one day soon! Thank you for reading my books!

  5. Joy F says:

    Absolutely, I love historical romance. I always feel like I’m there in the book wherever they may be. I also love action, suspense and adventure in my books. I also love paranormal. Thanks!!

  6. Kathleen O says:

    Great interiview. I love my romance historical or otherwise, with suspence.. And if they have a brawny Highlander in them all the better.

  7. Mel Bourn says:

    I do love historical romance. I cut my teeth on it. I have recently discovered paranormal and suspense. I enjoy them as well. My favorites are cowboys and highlanders though.

    Mel
    bournmelissa at hotmail dot com

  8. erinf1 says:

    Thanks for the fun post! I like it all it! As long as the story flows well, I don’t care how or where 🙂

  9. JoAnne says:

    I like action, suspense and adventure with my romance. I also enjoy a detailed and unique historical setting you can feel a part of. I like historicals set in both England, Scotland and Ireland as well as in the Western US.

  10. Diane D - Florida says:

    I adore Historical Romance with a passion. I love my stories when they contain passion, romance, intrigue and maybe a little danger. Highlanders are one of my favorites to read about. I love following their battles, romps, and eventually them finding their “happy ever after”. 🙂

    Thanks for such a great opportunity to win. 🙂

  11. Angela Love says:

    I love action suspence and romance in my reads I love settings that I can feel like I have been to or would love to go to….. Loved the review and interview and thank you for the giveaway!!!

    I tried to tweet to share it but I couldn’t get it to work so I am going to try facebook and see if I can share it there…:)

    angelalove40@gmail.com

  12. Barbara Elness says:

    I like action and adventure with my romance, not so much suspense. I enjoy historical details and unique settings in a story, it makes it more interesting.

  13. Linda says:

    I like action & adventure but I recently realized while a little suspense is nice; not too much. Otherwise I feel like I can’t breathe =) I’m not too particular about the setting. The story & characters are more important.

    Excited to have come across an author I’ve not read before. Thanks!

    • I feel the same way about suspense, Linda. I don’t normally read books that are incredibly suspenseful. I don’t like to be scared. LOL But a small or moderate amount of suspense gets me to reading faster to see what will happen. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  14. Janie McGaugh says:

    Do you like action, suspense and adventure with your romance? What about setting… do you enjoy a detailed and unique historical setting you can feel a part of?

    Action, suspense and adventure are great, but not required, in the romances I read. And, yes, I do enjoy the historical settings to be detailed enough that your feel like you’re there; uniqueness is not required but is okay.

  15. Maureen says:

    I do like action, suspense and adventure in stories. It makes for a fast paced exciting story. I also like all different types of settings.

  16. Damaris says:

    Absolutely! I love action, suspense and adventure in romance stories as well as a well described setting. They’re all different layers that add flavor to the story. It enhances them. Thanks for the giveaway.

  17. Cathy V. says:

    Great post. I like action, suspense and adventure with my romance. I like the tension it creates and the chance for the hero to be a hero. I love historical settings with detail. I am fond of historicals that take place anywhere in Britain and am partial to Scotland. I went there about 10 years ago and can’t get it out of my mind now. I would go back in an instant!
    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  18. Mary Preston says:

    I do love a touch of adventure with my romance & the setting can certainly add another element to the story.

  19. Diane Sallans says:

    I do enjoy action, suspense and adventure with my romance – and I always feel that I can learn a lot from an authors detailed and unique historical settings. Inf fact I’ve probably learned more thru reading fiction than from school.

  20. Jennifer Page(JC) says:

    Loved the interview with Jen! I have to say, I belong in the hybrid group too…

    2013 will be a great year for you Vonda,,,so excited for you!

  21. pc says:

    Thanks for the interview…this book sounds like a wonderful read…I’ll check it out!
    I like it all…action, suspense, adventure..especially in a historical setting (Scotland and England are my favorites) that pulls me in!

  22. Thanks so much, everyone, for your wonderful and helpful comments!! It is great to know so many of you enjoy adventure with the romance. And detailed settings. I truly enjoy the process of bringing Scotland to life in my stories. And I love weaving the adventure through the romance.

  23. Debra Yates says:

    What a great interview! I love everything that is Scottish! The land, and reading any romance books about Scotland. 🙂

  24. Michelle Tucker says:

    Historical romances are my favorite and I like them any way I can get them. I do like a strong heroine, and the ones constantly getting into trouble I really like.

  25. Thanks so much for your comments! I’m with you on that. I love anything Scottish, especially historical romances. Heroines who get into a lot of trouble are fun too! 🙂

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