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Author Interview with Laura Strickland

The Keeper of the Gate is out tomorrow! Laura was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

You can get your copy of this delightful historical romance HERE!


What is the most inspiring place you’ve visited and has it shown up in one of your books?

One of the most amazing, magical, and inspiring places I’ve ever visited is Glen Etive in the Western Highlands of Scotland. There’s a funny story that goes along with this. I’ve been writing most my life, and years ago I wrote a Celtic historical series. In my mind, I could just see the setting where it took place, and in my heart I wanted more than anything to find that place. It took me years before I was able to travel to Scotland with my daughter and track down the spot where I thought my “imaginary” glen might be. Turns out it was identical right down to details, to the glen I’d been seeing in my head for all those years. Proof positive that Scotland truly is magic!

How much research do you do into the time period and places you write about? Do you have any experience dressing in character or participating in living history situations or are you more a fan of libraries and online resources?

I feel as if I’ve been researching my books set in Scotland all my life. From a very young age, I was taken with that beautiful land and read all I could get my hands on, from history to fiction. The pieces all fell into place inside me and took up residence so it became knowing rather than research as such. I call it immersion in one’s chosen historical place or time. When I’m writing, the knowledge just comes to me. And yes, I’ve loved attending our local Celtic Festival every year! I do dress up and, in fact, I’m sending along a picture of myself in costume. One year, our Festival featured Bonny Prince Charlie and his loyal companions sailing in through the mist across Lake Ontario. It was a stupendous moment.

What are your favorite kind of characters to write? Do you have a specific trope that you’re drawn to?

To be honest, I don’t write my characters—they tend to write themselves. Once I get inspired and put pen to paper, they pretty much take off on their own. I love strong female characters, because though I do feel our female ancestors are underrepresented in the history books, I know right down to my roots how strong they must have been to survive and rear their children in oftentimes difficult circumstances. Just between you and me, I also love a good villain. They’re such fun!

Which comes first for you: the plot or the characters?

It depends. Very often, I will get a glimmer of an idea first, a picture in my mind or even an emotion that can be attributed to a potential character. It could be a situation in which someone has been caught, such as having to give away a child, or betrayal by a close friend. Things tend to unfold from there. Very often, it’s the answer to the question that has sparked so many of my books, “What if?” I tend to get my best and most spontaneous ideas when I’m doing something boring like cleaning the house!

Do you know where the story is going before you begin, or does it come to you as you write? Do scenes come to you fully formed or are you as surprised as the reader?

I’m an inveterate pantser, so I almost never have a plot outline. For me, one of the best and most enjoyable parts of writing is when the story takes off without me and I have to try and keep up. I still write my stories with a pen in a spiral notebook, so when the story gets flowing, you’ll find me scribbling madly, often very early in the morning. But oh, what a wonderful feeling when that happens! Though I might have an inkling where the story is going to end up, I seldom know the details, so I’m as surprised as my readers!

From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?

That’s an impossible question to answer! I fall in love with each and every one of them. I hope my readers do, too!