Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Elaine Coffman; The Return of Black Douglas

by Danielle Jackson

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.


  1. In answer to your question, I was at first tempted to say that I would have every possible injection, vaccine etc given to me before I left but perhaps that would not count as "taking something with me), so I would take a book of the most complete history of the era back with me. That way I could basically fortell the future and ensure I made friends with winners and was always in the right place to enjoy the best possible lifestyle.

    If the giveaway is open worldwide, please enter me.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. Danielle: You do very well as a journalist!

    Elaine: Loved the MacKinnon series! We passed them around around our family. Glad to see you are giving us another taste of them!

    What would I take with me if I woke up and was in that era? Just in case it ever happens I keep a blank notebook and a pocketful of pens in my robe. Surely, fate would not send me to that era wearing what I normally sleep in. It would at least put a robe on me. The paper and pens? To take notes to bring home when I got zapped back. That way I wouldn't forget a single thing.

  3. Very nice interview! I think that if I could only take one thing back, it would have to be a medical encyclopedia so that if I became sick I could look up a cure. I really can't think of anything else to take back because none of the electrical things would work. Well...maybe my teapot as I'm not sure how they heated up water back then.


  4. Wonderful interview, Elaine! Hmmm...they'd probably burn me at the stake because I'd love to have my voice-activated tape recorder in case I run out of ink and paper!

  5. Elaine, welcome back! So glad to have you at Sourcebooks. You are as beautiful as ever! I've missed your books and seeing you at conference. Congratulations on your new book. It sounds like a winner to me! And so glad there's more to come. Will you be at RWA in NYC?

  6. Thanks for stopping by today, Elaine, and to all the commenters! And for putting up with my "skills" as a journalist, but I'm glad Elaine obliged.

    I'm not sure what I would take back in time... Probably a good book to read :)

  7. I just love this title! I'm intrigued every time I see it mentioned. Congrats on the release. Can't wait to read it!

  8. Lovely interview Ladies! Welcome Elaine!If I went back in time I would take a super duper first aid kit, complete with antibiotics. Or would I take Diet Coke? Hmmm...Diet Coke or medicine. I suppose I would have to do without Diet Coke.

  9. Oh, I'm one of those readers that loves anything Scotland. The medical items have already been mentioned so maybe a book on plants (and seeds) that explains what they are good for (or poisonous) - food and medicine! And love your cover.


  10. What modern item... Hmmm.... Nothing electric would work, so my microwave is definitely out. And so is the refrigerator. And my iPod. So I guess I'd take a case of toothpaste and toothbrushes!

  11. Awesome interview! Sounds like a great book. I'm really intrigued by the second one, too!

    That's a tough question. Can I take indoor plumbing? I need my plumbing!

  12. Great interview! I would have to bring back antibiotics...I could probably deal with everything else.

    vampgirl99 at comcast dot net

  13. I will have to say I love books set in Scotland and I love the cover of this book, can't wait to read it. Sounds like my kind of book.


  14. Danielle, great questions!

    Elaine, welcome! I can't tell you how glad I am to see your new release on the shelves.

    I'd like to take a digital camera. Nothing like bringing a Highlander home with you. ; )

  15. This book looks great! I would love to go to Scotland, at least for a visit. If I went back in time I'd have to take some gold (cause being a peasant wouldn't do) a digital camera (I'd have to hide it well) and an instant way to get back home in case of trouble!

  16. I would love LOVE to take a camera with me-just in case I ever got to return to my own time :)

    you don't have to enter me, I actually already have a copy :)

  17. I'm sorry I got here so late but I just have to say my # 1 reading choice is always about the Highlanders and Scotland. Your book Elaine is on my TRL,to read ASAP. :)
    I'd like to take back a book on Plumbing. Features I've been spoiled with. lol
    Thanks for the post.
    Carol L

  18. Great to meet Elaine, and wonderful interview, Danielle!