Please welcome New York Times Bestselling and now a Casablanca Author, Elaine Coffman! Elaine is an acclaimed author, and we are so excited about her new book The Return of Black Douglas, which hit bookshelves this month! To do something a little bit different for our guest, I decided to do an interview (I once thought I’d be a journalist, so humor me…)!
1. Welcome to Casablanca Authors, Elaine! And congrats on your new release from Sourcebooks Casablanca, The Return of Black Douglas. We know your readers have played a major part in the inspiration for this book—can you tell us a little bit about it?
EC: Sophia Loren once said, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” I can take that one step further and say, “Everything I am writing about, I owe to my readers.” In 1997, when the sixth book of Mackinnon series was published, I wrote in the back of the book a note telling my readers how sad it was to let go of characters I’d spent so many years writing about. My publisher and I were overwhelmed with letters and email telling me, as one reader put it, “Noooooo… you can’t leave us out there in la-la land. We want to know what happened to the sister!” After weeks of this, my editor called and said to write it, so I did. If You Love Me, was the seventh in the series and my first book to hit the New York Times Bestseller LIst. After The Bride of Black Douglas was published in 2000, and I moved on to other books, once again the readers let me know I was not through. They wanted Black Douglas to return. So, I can truthfully say my readers were, indubitably, the inspiration for this book, or in this case, a whole new series of them.
2. The Scottish Highlands are always a fan favorite in historical romance. What do you love most about writing about Scotland?
EC: I have Scottish ancestors, so I was already drawn to the country before I started writing. There is something about Scotland that is eternal, for she is Niobe, turned to stone by grief, yet weeping still, the symbol of eternal mourning. Tempered by never ending sorrow, Scotland calls out to me, like echoes from the past . . . secret, mysterious, evocative, and eerily stirring, waiting for me to give, them a voice. The call is strong- and I wonder if it is the voices of my own Scots ancestors, for I cannot help thinking that when it comes to woe, Scotland wins hands down.
3. If you traveled back in time, what three modern things would you choose to take with you? What time period would you travel to?
EC: I really enjoyed writing about this book’s time period, the early 16th century, but it would be an easier adjustment, I think, if I went back to the 17th or 18th century. I’d take knowledge in the form of books. I can cheat a little bit here, because I’m now writing the story of my current heroine, Isobella’s sister, the physician, Elisabeth. I realize medical knowledge would be a great thing to have, so I’d want the basics, like a BIG book detailing how life-saving medicines, vaccines, aspirin, pasteurization, and even soap were made—did you know penicillin was first made from mold produced on bedpans? I’d love to toss in a few seeds if I was going somewhere with better weather than the Highlands. I’d also want a book on making practical things like matches.
4. Have you ever been visited by a ghost, like the mischievous Black Douglas? Or had any “interesting” encounters you can share with us?
EC: No, I haven’t had any visitations or encounters. Not even the Black Douglas, after all the notoriety I’ve given him. Perhaps he doesn’t want me to cut back his role in the next book, as a way to get even, so he is remaining in the background . . . at least for the time being.
5. A little bird (who may or may not be named Deb Werksman!) told me you have another book in the works… tell us a little bit about it!
EC: Ah Deb! Our wonderful editor! I ’m writing Lord of the Black Isle, for Isobella’s twin that was also taken back in time in The Return of Black Douglas. Elisabeth is a doctor about to start her last year of residency as Chief Resident at Johns Hopkins, when she finds herself in a Scottish glen with her sister and a ghost. A year passes and Elisabeth is about to be married, when the King’s Regent, the Duke of Albany has other plans for the groom, and Elisabeth’s heart is broken.
Her only salvation is her medical skill and she educates herself to understand medieval medicine. Word soon gets around about her and she is kidnapped by Devan Murray, the Earl of Kinloss, and taken to the Black Isle to heal his dying sister. Devan keeps Elisabeth under his watchful eye, not allowing her to return to the nunnery, while he fights the tormenting desire he feels for her, but Elisabeth has vowed to devote her life to medicine. Devan chips away at her defences to reach her cold heart, for he is determined to make her forget the man who separates them. But then a voice from the past calls out to her and she is forced to make a choice no woman should ever have to make.
A BIG Casa thanks to Elaine Coffman for stopping by and chatting with us about her latest release, The Return of Black Douglas, which is in stores now!
We have 2 copies of The Return of Black Douglas to giveaway. Tell us in the comments what modern item you’d take with you back in time to the Scottish Highlands (remember to include an email address so we can reach you). The winners will be contacted on Monday, April 11.