Highland Blessings received a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times and won the Holt Medallion Award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading.
Jennifer's newest book, Highland Sanctuary, came out this month, and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions about it! I reviewed it yesterday, so click here to read that review.
What was your favorite scene to write?
In Highland Sanctuary, I enjoyed the spiral stair scene in Braigh Castle where Serena isn’t paying attention and lands on Gavin’s feet.I laughed out loud when I read that scene! Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Serena Boyd, has grown up in a small one room cottage made of dirt and rock. She sleeps in a loft. Her mother raised her alone with the help of a servant. They live in the Village of Outcasts and Serena considers them her extended family. She has a secret and lives in fear for her life if it were to be discovered by the outside world. With her mother’s private education and the manners she’s been taught, she doesn’t appear to fit in with the villagers. Serena doesn’t see her natural beauty and believes her secret will keep her from experiencing the love of a husband and children of her own.I am always interested in the amount of research that goes into a historical novel. What was your research process like?
Gavin MacKenzie, is a chieftain heir who has come to Caithness, Scotland with his younger brother to provide protection and to help his brother learn a trade in repairing Braigh Castle. Unlike Serena, he grew up in a castle, used to being the center of attention. His family has expectations of him, of the bride he’ll bring home and as the leader of his clan. Gavin is healing from the death of the woman he’d planned to marry and struggles with the idea of disappointing his family if he chooses to wed a village lass like Serena.
I had to research the history of the Catholic Church and the relationship between the Church and the Scottish monarchy. I needed to know what people believed about seizures in 1477, medical procedures, trials and executions. I needed to know about the area of Caithness, Scotland, the landscape, trees, flowers, the sea, seasons, and temperatures. I also had to research the layout, foundation, and how castles were built and restored.The Village of Outcasts was one of my favorite parts of the book. Is it based on an actual village that you read about, or is it something you created?
There is a nearby village that was close to Brough Castle on which Braigh Castle is based. However, it was just a small village and wasn't a village of Outcasts--I created it as well as the layout of Braigh Castle and the cathedral.If you could go and live inside a book, which would you choose?
I would have to say none of them, because I wouldn’t want to be stuck in one story. I like adventure, exploration and the freedom of choosing one’s destiny as I go.Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes, I have two novellas coming out with Barbour Publishing in 2012. The first is Highland Crossings, four short stories in one volume by different authors following the generations of a family from Scotland to colonial North Carolina. The second is the Quakers of New Garden, also four short stories by different authors following the generations of a family from NC to IN from 1808 to present day.Wow! I certainly am glad that we will be seeing more of your work in the near future! Thank you so much for answering my questions, Jennifer!
I also have a Quaker historical, A Path of Promise, coming out with Abingdon’s new Quilts of Love series in Feb 2013. Then I have a 3-book series called The MacGregor Quest.
Highland Sanctuary sounds great, doesn't it? Here is the book trailer to give you a bit of a different taste: