interview by Nancy Northcott
Your first book, The Warrior Trainer, was a January release. Now you have your second, Warrior's Bride, on the shelves. Yet your success was a long time in coming, as you told our own Anna Campbell in the September issue of The Romance Writer's Report. How did you persevere to reach this point?
Partly it was having faith in what I wanted, partly it was being too stubborn to give up. I had to ask myself every day if I wanted to be published. If I wanted to publish, then I had to do what it took to get there—and that was to write every day regardless of the rejections, regardless of the self-doubt that crept in every so often!
What advice would you give the new writer just starting his or her first manuscript?
This will probably sound strange coming from someone who took twelve years to sell, but don’t be in a hurry. Learn your craft, write the best book you can, and take a deep breath. Nothing happens fast in this business, so it is important to send out the very best product you can to the right publisher or the right agent. Don’t waste your opportunities by sending out a product that isn’t ready.
Both of your published novels are set in medieval Scotland. What draws you to that time and place?
The mystery, simplicity, and opulence of the Medieval and Renaissance times have always fascinated me, as have knights and heroes of old who fought for and defended what they believed in.
My family and I are all so captivated by the time period that we have worked as living history re-enactors at the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in King’s Valley, Oregon, for the past eight years. It’s a wonderful learning as well as bonding experience for us all.
Why Scotland? I love that the woman are not as restrained as their English counterparts. And who doesn’t love a man in a kilt, armed to defend, with a soft burr in his speech?
Both books also have mystical overtones related to stones. How did you settle upon that as a connecting thread?
That’s the funny thing about research. Once you start down a certain path, interesting things happen. I started The Warrior Trainer with no idea it would have any companion books. And as I started to research more about Scottish stones, the more stones I read about. That’s when I decided to do the Stones of Destiny Series. I chose three wonderful stones that each had remarkable histories associated with them. You’ll be reading about the Stone of Scone, the Seer’s Stone, and the Charm Stone in each of the three books.
Tell us a little about the hero of Warrior's Bride.
Douglas Stewart is the bastard son of Robert II, Scotland’s king. His father has forced him from childhood to do his bidding, and he’s earned the name the Black Wolf of Scotland as a result. His latest demand—marriage to a woman of little consequence. Wolf would refuse his father this last demand, except that he’s holding Wolf’s brother hostage, threatening to hang him for treason is Wolf doesn’t obey.
The heroine of Warrior's Bride is Isobel. How do she and the hero clash?
Warrior’s Bride is a traditional marriage of convenience story. Wolf and Isobel clash over their forced union. Isobel wants nothing to do with marriage, watched how marriage drove her own mother to insanity. Fearing the same end, she fights Wolf at every turn. But sometimes the heart leads even the resistant places they don’t want to go. . . .
Your route to publication was a little unusual, with your first book winning the American Title II contest. What advice would you give authors who're thinking of entering a national internet contest?
Advice . . . or more warning . . . Be ready for the contest to totally consume your life—writing and otherwise. In order to succeed in this online venue, you need to be a master at promotion. You’ll need to be creative, willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, push past your comfort zone in ways you never knew you could, all while being an ultimate professional.
You're also a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart competition for unpublished writers, a contest that's now open to entries. What do you think authors who are entering should know or consider?
The Golden Heart is a wonderful opportunity that gives you lots of exposure if you final. But it is critical to remember that the Golden Heart is just that, an opportunity, one that does not guarantee you will sell. Selling a manuscript is part talent, part perseverance, and part luck!
Your launch party for Warrior's Bride benefited the Early Childhood Programs for the Bellevue School District. How did you decide to do that?
I received so much support from my community while in the American Title contest and I wanted to give something back. Literacy, at all levels, has always been a cause near and dear to my heart, so together with Barnes and Noble we arranged it so that proceeds from sales would benefit Early Childhood Programs in the local school district—programs that supported literacy.
Not only did we raise over $500 in donations from sales, but attendees also purchased books donated straight to the district exceeding the donated amount. It was an incredible evening—a memory I will treasure forever.
Thanks for being here, Gerri! Gerri is giving away one copy of each of her books. To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment on the blog. To learn more about Gerri, visit her website, www.gerrirussell.net.
What times and places do you love, and why? Has your reading ever led you down an unexpected road?