Short BIO: RITA ® Award Finalist Michelle Willingham has written over a dozen historical romances, novellas, and short stories. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband and children. When she’s not writing, Michelle enjoys reading and avoiding exercise at all costs. Visit her website at: www.michellewillingham.com.
Eggnog or Mimosas? Are you old enough to drink?
Both! I love a rich egg nog, but anything involving champagne is absolutely delicious. I’m just barely old enough to drink (smile).
We’re also taking pictures with Santa, did you bring a gift for him? (Maybe a new release or a pretty book cover…)
I think my books might raise Santa’s eyebrows, since they tend to be a little naughty. I don’t want to risk not getting any presents this year, so I brought him some hot cocoa served with a candy cane spoon. J
Please enter. Drinks are served by the elves in the corner.
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas is my favorite holiday because I love to bake. It gives me an excuse to taste-test the frosted cookies, fruit cake, and bourbon balls.
Did you ask Santa for anything good?
I asked Santa for a new book contract—and he delivered it early! J
What’s your favorite place to spend the holidays?
I like spending the holidays at home with the kids. I love waking up on Christmas morning, putting on the Christmas carols, and watching the children wander downstairs with sleepy eyes . . . until they realize what day it is and shriek with delight at seeing the presents and their filled stockings.
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
We were walking outside of church on Christmas Eve and it had started to snow. By the time we got home, the ground was covered in white and we had a white Christmas that year. It was lovely.
Do you have personal resolutions for the New Years? Anything interesting?
2012 will be a very busy writing year for me, so I’ll be writing every day, but I’m also going to try to exercise a little more (yuck). I also started a new habit last year where I try to do one nice thing, at least once a month. So I’d like to try that again, whether it’s helping a friend, donating to a charity, or spending some one-on-one time with one of the children.
Why do you write romance?
Romance novels have always been my favorite books to read. I love being swept away by an alpha male and enjoying the journey of falling in love. It’s my dream job, and I plan to keep on writing until they pry the keyboard out of my cold fingers.
How long have you been writing for? And how would you describe your publication journey?
I started my first romance novel when I was 16 years old, and when I was in college, I submitted something for publication every month (including greeting cards, if you can believe it). I was rejected from every creative writing program I applied to, and after that, I vowed that I would keep writing until I was published—I didn’t need an MFA degree to write a book. I took some time off after college to discover what I really wanted to write and I even explored writing middle grade fiction. Writing shorter novels helped me to master the structure, and eventually I returned to my first love—historical romance novels. It took me some time to create the right story, but eventually I sold my first book (Her Irish Warrior) to Harlequin on September 15, 2006 at 10:03 in the morning. J Not that the date is branded into my mind for any reason…
Are you a plotter or pantser? What is your routine?
I’m a plotser. I plot out the major turning points that revolve around the love story—the friendship, the love, becoming lovers, crisis, and ending. But I rarely have any idea what happens between point A and point B. I know where I have to end up, but the journey is half the fun. I’ve been known to plot out who the villain is and then near the end, I realize that I was completely wrong—he/she was a red herring and the true villain was xyz.
What characteristics do all your heroes/heroines have in all your stories?
My heroes are usually wounded men—either a physical manifestation (my next hero can’t speak) or an emotional weakness. My heroines are often healers in some way or they fill the hero’s emptiness. Usually there’s a theme of healing, either emotional or physical.
What writing resources do you abide by as a writer?
I love my research books (too many to name!), my writing soundtracks (I’ve been listening to The Tudors), and Michael Hauge’s plotting resources are excellent.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write a story about an emotional journey and how your characters fall in love. Don’t worry about plot—worry about making the reader care about the people. The rest will fall into place once you’ve mastered that.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished a Christmas anthology of three medieval Irish stories. Since my MacEgan Brothers series was popular among readers, I wrote three stories about the second generation of characters. It was fun to revisit favorite couples and to write love stories for their children.
What news would you like to share with your readers?
My next Scottish Highlander book, Tempted by the Highland Warrior (Callum MacEgan’s story) will be released in July 2012, and I’ll be tackling more diverse time periods—everything from Viking Ireland to Regency Scotland. Can’t wait!
Where can readers find you?
List other books you have out:
Claimed by the Highland Warrior (May 2011)
“Pleasured by the Viking” in Delectably Undone (April 2011)
“Lionheart’s Bride” in Royal Weddings through the Ages (e-book novella April 2011, print anthology March 2012)
Thank you so much for joining us at Romance Author Hotspot!
Thank you for having me! I’d love to offer up a signed copy of Seduced by Her Highland Warrior, as well as five e-book copies of my novella “A Wish to Build a Dream On” as a giveaway today. Happy Holidays!
PRIZE: Signed copy of Seduced by Her Highland Warrior, 5 e-book copies of “A Wish to Build a Dream On”
Alex MacKinloch is chief of his clan and, in these dark times of unrest, he has united his people.
The void between him and his wife is proving a much harder challenge. When Alex discovers Laren has been keeping secrets from him, his thinly veiled frustration can no longer be contained.
The pleasures of the marital bed seem long forgotten to Laren. Yet her warrior husband is looking at her with increasingly hungry eyes… This powerful Highlander has seduction on his mind and his wife in his sights!
Glen Arrin, Scotland—1305
Soldiers gripped spears in their palms and charged forwards, their weapons aimed at his wife and daughters.
Blood dripped from a wound on his forearm, but Alex MacKinloch wouldn’t stop running. A primal roar resounded from his mouth as he lifted his sword and hacked his way toward the women. His lungs burned as he fought, the battle haze clouding his awareness of reality. In the distance, he saw his wife Laren’s gleaming red hair as she struggled through a water-filled ditch. Her skirts weighed her down and she held their younger daughter in her arms. She didn’t see the dozens of soldiers approaching as she tried to evacuate the fortress.
I have to reach them. Or they’ll die.
It was a reality he didn’t want to face, and the thought of his Laren falling beneath a soldier’s blade was a horror he couldn’t grasp. His arm ached with a vicious pain, but he fought a path towards them. The soldiers blocked his line of vision until all he could see was a swift storm of arrows.
A pulse thundered in his ears until he realised the arrows were coming from their younger brother Callum, who was guarding the women and children. Flames erupted from the wooden keep that stood high above them, like a dying sentry.
The fortress was going to fall. He ran as hard as he could and heard his kinsman Ross breathe, ‘Mary, Mother of God.’
As Alex rushed forwards, he heard the cracking of wood.