I would like to welcome, R.L. Syme to Layered Pages today. Author of the The Highland Renegades Series.
When I first conceived of The Runaway Highlander, I had one basic plot point. I knew that two minor characters escaped from the dungeon at Berwick. I knew that there was someone there to help them, but I didn’t know who that someone was yet. Then, I started writing character sheets and the connection between Anne de Cheyne became clear.
The de Cheyne family are a real historical family who really did have power in the Caithness region of the Highlands during this time period. There were some discussions in my research about fealty to England being the deciding factor for some of these lorships, and given that the Sinclair family already had ties to the historical de Cheyne family, I decided to flesh them out and meet them.
Anne de Cheyne was born out of the knowledge that, in The Outcast Highlander, Broccin Sinclair was engaged to Anne for most of his childhood. It made sense that, when she found out he was in Berwick and she was about to be sold into marriage, she would consider helping Broc escape from prison in exchange for his helping her escape from her bad marriage contract.
The research for this book was partly done when I researched the first book, because their timelines overlap and I wanted to stay true to the real events (big events) that were happening during the wars of Scottish independence taking place at the time. For the first book, I spent about six months buried in books and maps and library catalogs. So much fun. For this book, I reprised some of that research, but did a lot of locational searching.
I’d discovered the “Street View” version of Google Maps, so once I figured out exactly where these things were set, I used the street view to look at the surrounding areas in order to get a sense for the setting. That was a lot of fun. But lots of work. It’s amazing how much time it takes to go even just a mile or two in that kind of street view.
This particular genre, Scottish romance, requires a good amount of detail, so the discovery of Google Street View was really a fantastic one for me. However, this Fall, I’m going to be making my first research trip to Scotland and I’m absolutely ecstatic. I feel like the more authentic details (things like smells and touches) can really only be known if you’ve physically been in the space.
Of course, that provides a huge challenge to write well in this genre, because I haven’t been to Scotland yet. But I’ve done so much research and have been reading Scottish historical romances since I was a kid. So I definitely love the genre.
My favorite part of writing Scottish historical romance is actually the community of writers I belong to who all write Celtic romance. In the national Romance Writers of America organization, we have created a little home called Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, where we all love Celtic romance of all kinds. I’ve been the President over at CHRW for almost three years now, and on the Board for five. I adore Celtic Hearts and I’m so happy to get to have research conversations with my favorite Celtic authors, and hear about their work process and take workshops from them. It’s so rewarding.
The Highland Renegades Series
Book One: The Outcast Highlander Book Two: The Runaway Highlander Book Three: The Pirate Highlander — Coming Soon!
Buy the Book
About the Author
R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she’s not writing. Otherwise, she’s putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste…
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Wednesday, May 14 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, May 15 Review at Bibliotica
Monday, May 19 Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Tuesday, May 20 Review at A Bookish Girl (The Outcast Highlander)
Wednesday, May 21 Review at A Bookish Girl (The Runaway Highlander)
Thursday, May 22 Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Girl
Friday, May 23 Guest Post at Layered Pages
Monday, May 26 Review at My Not So Vacant Bookshelf
Tuesday, May 27 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, May 29 Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, June 3 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Wednesday, June 4 Interview at The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, June 5 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Friday, June 6 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, June 9 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 11 Review at Fic Central
Friday, June 13 Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read