It’s hard to think of many authors who have had such a lasting influence on a genre, as Diana Gabaldon has had on Scottish fiction, particularly Scottish romance. Her OUTLANDER series helped to spawn an entire sub-genre of Scottish Time Travel Romance, with favorite authors like Karen Marie Moning (who brought me back to romance in the early 2000s), Janet Chapman, Melissa Mayhue, Veronica Wolff and many others.
Although OUTLANDER isn’t technically a “romance” (I’d call it Scottish fiction with elements of fantasy, romance and adventure), many romance readers became hooked on the genre after reading it. For many it was their first introduction to Scotland, its rich history, and those oh-so-sexy lads in plaid. Count me among them.
In the early 90s, while attending law school at Stanford, I took a comparative legal history course and decided to do a paper on feudalism and the clan system. Around this same time, I stumbled across this very big new book called OUTLANDER. I can still remember picking it up for the first time, after being intrigued by the clock, necklace and swathe of plaid fabric cover (anyone else remember that one?). I absolutely fell in love, not just with Scotland, but also with James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, aka Jamie Fraser. Sigh. Okay, double sigh.
I’m not sure what it was about him. When we first meet him in OUTLANDER, if I recall correctly, he’s 22, 6’4, not yet strapping, ginger-haired and a virgin. But there was just something about him (and it wasn’t simply the kilt!). It was his honor, integrity, honesty, strength, sense of duty and pride. He was stubborn and quick tempered, but when he fell in love with Claire, it was completely.
Who can forget lines like this: “You are safe,” he said firmly. “You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again, while I live.”
Okay . . . melt.
Not surprisingly, the same things about Diana’s books that captivated me as a reader—the rich history and the strong, yummy hero—are what have influenced me as a writer.
When I actually sat down to write that book I’d always wanted to write, I knew that it would take place in Scotland, and the history would be an important part of the story. In Diana’s case, for OUTLANDER it was 18th Century Scotland and the Battle of Culloden. For me, it was early 17th Century Scotland for my MacLeod and Campbell trilogies, and early 14th Century Scotland and the Wars of Independence for my current Highland Guard series.
Although not historical fiction like OUTLANDER, my romances have quite a bit of history. I’ve taken a kind of a Law & Order “ripped from the headlines” approach, spinning fictional love stories off real people and actual events. THE RECRUIT, out on October 30th, holds true to this, centering on two real-life figures, Kenneth Sutherland and Mary of Mar, who were married not long after Kenneth switches sides from fighting with the English to fighting with Robert the Bruce.
One of the other reasons I gravitated to Scotland was the ability to write about Highlanders, the tough, rugged, warriors who fight back even when the deck is stacked heavily against them. Perhaps because of their difficult history, Highlanders seem to evoke images of the quintessential strong, alpha hero. Jamie was my first taste of this kind of hero, and I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of the honorable, strong, proud and stubborn men who roam the moors of Scotland (at least in my imagination.
Have you read OUTLANDER? (If you haven’t, or need a refresher, make sure to check out the fabulous new e-bundle from Random House.) Was it your first introduction to Scotland? How about that Jamie? 2 book giveaway of THE RECRUIT to randomly chosen commenters below – good luck!WINNER ANNOUNCED below – congrats ladies & thanks for blogging with us!
About the author:
Monica McCarty is the bestselling author of The Chief, the first book in the Highland Guard series, the Highlander trilogy (Highlander Untamed, Highlander Unmasked, and Highlander Unchained), and the Campbell trilogy (Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw, and Highland Scoundrel). Her interest in the Scottish clan system began in the most unlikely of places: a comparative legal history course at Stanford Law School. After a short but enjoyable stint as an attorney, she realized that her career as a lawyer set against her husband’s transitory life as a professional baseball player was not exactly a match made in heaven. So she traded in her legal briefs for Scottish historical romances with sexy alpha heroes. Monica McCarty lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two children.
Find Monica on her website | Twitter | Facebook
Preview of THE RECRUIT here:
The Recruit (A Highland Guard Novel) by Monica McCarty – Excerpt