Welcome to Willa Blair, whose debut novel, Highland Healer, is winning awards even before it’s released!
Thanks for having me here today!
What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc. Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I live in Texas, which used to be its own country. Some people would like for it to be so again. But I’m a recent transplant, so I don’t feel qualified to have an opinion on that debate.
I’m married to an Army veteran and golf fanatic, which is great for a lot of reasons, including the fact that I get undisturbed time to write while he’s on the golf course.
We have one cat left to us. She’s fifteen and spoiled rotten, even more so now that she’s an only kitty.
I’m addicted to chocolate. And caramel.
Tell us about your most recent publication.
My debut novel is Highland Healer. It’s a bestseller on Amazon (yes, I’m jumping up and down) where my wonderful publisher, The Wild Rose Press, put it up early on Kindle KDP Select. On its official release date, January 4, it will be available from TWRP, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, in other e-formats, and in print! So, no, I haven’t held it in my hands yet (except on my tablet) but I will soon!
Here’s the blurb:
HE NEEDS HER FOR HIS CLAN.
HE WANTS HER FOR HIMSELF.
CAN HE HAVE BOTH?
Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileana Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?
Aileana Shaw has a healing touch – and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she’s kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?
While Toran battles the invading lowland army, he also battles his desire for Aileana. And Aileana must decide if she can trust her secrets to this fierce warrior who needs her talent, but wants her love.
What inspired you to write this story?
I have a very visual imagination. I saw the opening scene – a man being brought into a tent on a rough stretcher, a woman standing inside, watching. I knew she was a healer and I knew he was the hero. The rest followed from there.
What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
Writing this book took lots of research of Scottish history. The hardest part was deciding when to set the story. Once I read that many clans were broken when their leadership died fighting the English in 1513 along with King James IV at Flodden Field, I had it.
How would you best describe your books?
I loved reading science fiction growing up, especially stories about psi talents, so now I include them in my writing. I’d call this series Scottish historical with a paranormal twist. In addition, I’m finishing an award-winning contemporary that uses paranormal elements, and plotting a science fiction romance series that will also have paranormal elements. Oh, and there’s one I started at my publisher’s retreat that will probably turn out to be romantic suspense with a paranormal element.
What is your favorite genre to write?
So far, the Scottish stories are my favorite. There’s been so much to learn, and because the history of the highlands is not well documented, the time period I chose for these books allows me a lot of creative freedom.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I don’t have one favorite. I enjoy Scottish historicals, science fiction romance, and romantic suspense, but I’m happy reading almost any genre if the writing is good, the story is compelling and the characters are people I want to get to know.
What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?
A number one bestseller? Then another. And another. And another? Basically, I want to be Richard Castle – minus the people shooting at me.
What do you most like about writing?
The freedom to explore ideas, personalities and places, and to learn things that have no direct bearing on my real life.
Sitting for hours. I know, I have complete control over that. But I really do need to get to the gym more often. Or at all.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Always. I must have been born to write. I won a state-wide essay contest in junior high (middle school), wrote for my high school newspaper and literary publication, including poetry, and started books (handwritten in pencil – I still have them) as early as junior high. I’m a voracious reader. But my day job took creative energy away from writing, so it’s great to be able to do it now.
What do you love most about writing and what do you not like?
My readers are the best! I enjoy connecting with them, and really appreciate it when they take the time to put a review on Amazon or Goodreads or anywhere else. But like most authors, I don’t love doing promotion. It takes time away from writing, and who likes selling themselves?
Do you belong to any writing groups?
Absolutely. RWA, of course. Several RWA chapters: Washington Romance Writers (WRW), San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA), Celtic Hearts, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, RWAOnline. I even included WRW, SARA and RWAOnline in the Acknowledgements of my debut book – they’ve been incredibly supportive over the years with classes, online classes, speakers, and friendships.
Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
Besides the ones associated with those RWA chapters, I use the heck out of an online etymological dictionary, online thesaurus, Electric Scotland and other Scotland-based websites, Wikipedia, and several baby-names websites, which are great for coming up with characters’ names.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing?
I can’t listen to music and write. I’ve always been musical, so it distracts me. I get sucked into the song and out of the scene I’m trying to set in my book.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I belong to one of the best, most experienced critique groups in the world. The author who runs it has over 150 published books, and the other members are no slackers, either. They took me from totally wet-behind-the-ears and taught me everything a writer needs to know, from the basics (POV? What the heck is that?) to the business end of writing (agents, editors, and contracts, oh my!). One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from them is that even the best writers have to work at it, edit, polish, accept criticism and keep writing. Since I moved to TX, I still Skype with them when they meet. I can’t do without them. I’ve also started a group here. I like the dynamic of a critique group – everyone brings their own strengths and uses them to help everyone else.
Tell us a little about your path to publication.
Highland Healer is my debut book – and what a debut it’s been so far! I’ve finished the second book in the series and given it to my editor to see what she thinks. I’m working on the third book.
How many books did you write before selling one?
A handful of unfinished MSs currently languish in a drawer, several of which I will eventually finish and hopefully publish. But only after I finish the highlands series and perhaps the SFR series, oh and there’s this romantic suspense idea I started writing up, so it’s safe to say they’re not currently on the front burner.
How did you find a publisher?
At a pitch session.
How did you receive the Call?
It was an email, but trust me, that’s just as good!
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That it sold? Kidding. I love that so many people are enjoying it.
Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
Yes – the phone call I got telling me that it was a finalist in the Paranormal category of WRW’s 2011 Marlene contest. I know precisely how actors feel when they get the call that they’ve been nominated for an Academy Award. That was my first major contest entry, so making the finals was a huge event for me. And it went on to win! That did wonders for my confidence as a writer.
What are you writing now?
Book 3 of the Highland series. I’m calling it Highland Troth. Troth is an old word for truth and the heroine of this book is a soothsayer. And of course we associate it with plighting troth in weddings, which is perfect for a romance.
What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you? I’ve got a blog tour lined up for the official release of Highland Healer. Check my website for upcoming dates! And I’ll be part of a group book-signing on 9 February at the Shops at La Cantera Barnes and Noble here in San Antonio with other SARAs.
Willa Blair is the best-selling and award-winning author of Scottish Historical and Contemporary Romance, both with a touch of the paranormal.
She grew up reading science fiction, and her best-loved books focused on the relationships between the main characters, who often had psychic talents. When she discovered Romance, she was thrilled to find that some of the books not only portrayed the journey of the hero and heroine, but included the special talents she’d enjoyed reading about.
With her Scottish heritage, it was natural for her to write a Scottish historical and incorporate those special talents. The result is her award-winning debut book, HIGHLAND HEALER, the first in her Highland Talents series.
She realized her life-long dream of becoming an author after retiring from her day job to write, travel, and enjoy life. Married to her own military hero golf fanatic, she lives in the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio where she writes, feeds hummingbirds year-round and has too many hobbies to count.