Thursday, May 2, 2019

Blog Tour Q&A with May McGoldrick, Author of Highland Crown

Please join me in welcoming May McGoldrick (aka the husband and wife writing team of Nikoo & Jim McGoldrick) to Let Them Read Books! Having recently discovered and fallen in love with their stories, I was thrilled to have the chance to ask them some questions about the history behind their new Royal Highlander historical romance trilogy. Read on and pick up a copy of Highland Crown today!

Scottish pride, persuasion, and passion—this is Highland romance at its breathtaking best. 

Inverness, 1820

Perched on the North Sea, this port town—by turns legendary and mythological—is a place
where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and
dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts. 

WANTED: Isabella Drummond

A true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery—and
fury—in a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she
came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate
into even stormier waters . . . and her heart into flames. 

FOUND: Cinaed Mackintosh

Cast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself …
until Isabella saved his life—and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can
keep her safe to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the
scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with
Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to
sacrifice to be together . . . for eternity?

Hello, Nikoo and Jim! Thank you so much for stopping by Let Them Read Books!

This time period is a bit of an unusual setting for historical romance, but I greatly appreciated having a light shed on Scotland's "Radical War." Can you tell us what inspired you to weave a romance through this tumultuous yet underrepresented era in history?

We are historians and romantics. We believe that there is much to be learned from the past, from our achievements and our mistakes. In all of our work, we try to shed light on periods and events that we feel are relevant to our present time. As writers, we also believe that we have a responsibility to entertain but also to interest our readers in the political climate of a certain time period and place…and to pursue the truth of what was happening at the time.

‘Underrepresented’ is a great term for this era, but ‘hidden’ may be closer to the truth. The one who holds the pen writes the history, and in this case it was English doing the writing. Scotland’s Radical War of 1820 has many ‘forgotten’ revolutionaries and heroes.

We also believe that history repeats itself, and the events and upheaval during the late Regency period in England and Scotland and Ireland are tremendously relevant to us and our readers. Vast differences in living conditions between the rich and the poor. Governmental power being used to benefit the wealthy few. Citizen’s rights being taken away under false premises. Entrapment tactics being used against people who want reform, decent lives, and a voice in government. People being ousted from their homes in the name of ‘improvement’. Refugee populations soaring.

We also believe that the human spirit is indomitable, however. Love and compassion will always find a way to exist in the midst of struggle and suffering. That’s probably why we started writing historical romance to begin with.

So, to answer the question, we loved putting Isabella and Cinaed in the middle of Scotland’s Radical War. Theirs is a relationship tested by the social upheaval and the fires of their world. And we believe that struggle makes their story timeless. 

Highland Crown starts with a prologue from Sir Walter Scott, and each chapter opens with a quote from one of his works. Can you tell us a bit about his influence on this story?

We loved including Sir Walter Scott in our story. His influence on real history has been almost completely forgotten. The image that most of us have in our heads of the Highlands—wild, romantic, savagely noble—is his invention. Before the popular acclaim of Scott’s poems and novels, Highlanders were not largely respected in Scotland or England. They were seen by most as uneducated, uncouth barbarians. Scott created a romantic vision of the Highland people that was embraced by all Scots as their own national identity. At the same time he turned a blind eye to the Highland Clearances, where thousands and thousands of people were pushed violently from their homes and became refugees.

Sir Walter Scott’s poetic vision of the Highlands made him a lot of money, and his success was used by the Crown for its own purposes. We’re going to get into that in depth during this series . . . and it’ll be exciting.

In the story, Isabella mentions a physician named Dorothea Erxleben. Was she your inspiration for Isabella's character? Did Cinaed's character draw inspiration from a historical figure?

Dorothea Erxleben was definitely an inspiration for Isabella. She was granted a medical degree seventy years before our story. So many people think that women in history accepted a limited role in education and professions and society. The more we research, the more we find women who struck boldly against social constraints. Once again, let us not forget that history was largely written by men. We love putting these heroines in our novels.

Cinaed is a classic reluctant hero, charismatic and smart and courageous. Jim says the man is totally based on himself.

Can you give us any hints of what's to come in Highland Jewel and Highland Sword?

We’ve finished Highland Jewel, and it’s scheduled to be released by St. Martin’s Press on September 24th, 2019. In that novel readers will get to know Maisie, Isabella’s younger sister, an early suffragist and one of the founders of the Edinburgh Female Reform Society. In her story, we’ll be thrown into the protests and battles of the Radical War.

The film Peterloo is being released this month, coincidentally, and it depicts the slaughter of unarmed, peacefully protesting citizens by British government troops in Manchester at this time. Newspapers that were courageous enough to stand against the government and report on the violence called it ‘Peterloo Massacre’. Over a dozen men, women, and children were killed by the King’s Dragoon Guards, and 800 more were injured. One of the women speaking on the platform was Mary Fildes, the founder of the Manchester Female Reform Society. Highland Jewel starts in the days following this actual historical event. 

In Highland Jewel the reader also gets introduced to Niall Campbell, an officer in the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment. He has spent his life serving the Crown. Battle-weary and searching for peace, he can’t help but step in when his sister’s activism risks her life—and leads him to Maisie. These two are immediately at odds, and we don’t want to give too much away, but things will get wild for Maisie and her family in Edinburgh as the government bears down on reformers in Scotland, and more will be revealed about Cinaed Mackintosh and his past, as well.

We’re in the middle of writing the third book in the series, Highland Sword, which is Morrigan’s story. She is a firebrand who is ready to throw herself body and soul into the Radical War.

She is a woman ready to raise sword and gun and fight beside the Highlanders, but in doing so, she meets Aidan Grant, a lawyer and a reformer who espouses a different method of achieving change. She wants war; he wants peace. She wants revenge; he wants justice. She is ready to spill blood; he believes too much has already been shed. Neither one will surrender their ideals, but neither can ignore the attraction for the other.

And lastly, though this may be a silly question, can you please tell me how to pronounce Cinaed's name? Lol!

Kin-eee…! And by the way, Saskia Maarleveld and Raphael Corkhill asked the same question as they were recording the audio of Highland Crown for Macmillan Audio. 😊

About the Author:

Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author.
Jim holds a PhD in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About Highlanders, Taming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands.

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  1. I love reading about Scotland and Highlanders. This sounds like a wonderful story to read filled with so much history. A series that's going on my TEL for sure. Loved the excerpt.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

    1. Sorry, spell check has done it again. I meant my TRL list.

    2. I think you'll like this one, Carol! It was an unknown historical era for me.


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