Hello everyone, Sue-Ellen/Allie here…
Can you believe February is nearly over? The days are lengthening, and before long we’ll be back on Daylight Savings Time. I’ll refrain from sharing my opinion on that particular beast and just say, where does the time go?
Indeed, I was thinking just that when I realized my blog day was fast approaching. And I had no ideas for a topic. As I often do when inspiration doesn’t strike, I decided to surrender, leaving it to my muse to deliver an engaging idea. That decided, I tackled a seemingly mindless task: cleaning up my overcrowded email files. And – lo! – while going through several years of saved emails, deleting most of them, one jumped out at me because it had HAUNTED WARRIOR in the header.
HAUNTED WARRIOR is one of my favorite Allie Mackay Scottish paranormal-light titles. It’s a special book for me for many reasons, including my attachment to the North Sea fishing village where the story is set. But what caught my eye in the above-mentioned email from a friend were these words:
“Oh, Sue-Ellen, I have to tell you – Kendra is so you!”
And there was my topic: The Writer’s Thumbprint.
We all have one. Sometimes these telltale author marks are smeared all over the page, other times they’re harder to spot. But they’re always there. Readers who know a writer well can see them everywhere. That’s because ideas and the words that craft a story come from the writer’s psyche.
All our life experiences, world views, and likes and dislikes, blend to create the story. Sure, fiction is fiction. But it’s equally true that every drop of ink on the page holds a reflection of the author.
That’s the writer’s thumbprint.
Also a promise to readers, it signals what they’ll find in a book. For example, my books, under both names, will always have an atmospheric (usually) Scottish setting, a sexy (usually) Highlander hero, and strong heroines. In my Allie Mackay titles, readers will meet American heroines who are usually down on their luck. Longtime readers probably know there will be dogs in my books and that those dogs never die. They’ll know my tongue-in-cheek humor will be present. And perhaps they’re also aware that I’ll weave magic and whimsy into the tale.
The above could also be termed as voice.
The writer’s thumbprint is more. It’s detail that is individual and defining.
My friend was right when she recognized me in Kendra Chase, the heroine of Haunted Warrior. I’m always in my Allie Mackay heroines, but Kendra stands out because of her interest in ghosts and her attitude toward them. I was never a ‘spirit negotiator’ like Kendra who uses her ability to soothe disgruntled souls. But I am fascinated by the paranormal and spent years ghost hunting in the UK with two like-minded friends. That background helped me write Kendra.
My thumbprint is stamped on her in other ways, too.
She inherited my love of wild places and raw weather…
Also like me, she appreciates quietude, craving peace and tranquility. She dislikes the hectic of the modern world and is charmed by the quaintness of the North Sea fishing village where Haunted Warrior is set.
She has a love-hate relationship with UK driving. She isn’t fond of braggarts. History, legend, and lore are her passions. Given the choice, she’d spend the day at a remote cliff-top castle ruin rather than a ‘tourist castle’ that might be intact, but also overrun with tour bus crowds.
She believes in preserving untouched places. She’s allergic to construction noise and chaos, especially bucket trucks. And she considers leaf blowers the scourge of the earth. An animal lover, she is easily charmed by a very clever border collie and even a full-of-himself seal.
Those are the details of a writer’s thumbprint.
The little bits of me that went into making Kendra who she is on the page. Those were the things my friend recognized as ‘me’ in the book.
Kendra’s first meeting with MacGrath, the hero, was also taken from an experience of my own. It happened on a deserted Scottish beach. I saw a kilted man on the dunes. He was just standing there, his gaze on the sea. He was impressive, as all kilties are. As I watched him, he disappeared right before my eyes.
To this day, I think he was a ghost.
Perhaps a guardian of that stretch of rugged North Sea coast? I’ll never know. But I do know I saw him. He was my inspiration for HAUNTED WARRIOR.
Like me, Kendra also sees a kilted man on the dunes as she walks that same remote Scottish beach. Unlike me, she meets him on the beach a short while later.
Here’s a mini-excerpt showing their meeting…
Set-up: A short while after seeing the kilted man on the dunes, she sees him again. But now he’s on the beach. No longer kilted but wearing jeans and a black leather jacket…
Excerpt: Kendra and MacGrath’s Meeting on the Beach…
He was the man from the dunes.
And he was coming right up to her, his strides long and easy, his dark gaze locked on hers.
“This is no’ place for a woman to walk alone.” His voice held all the deep, richness of Scotland. “The seas here are aye heavy, the surf rough-”
“Who are you?” Kendra didn’t miss that his dark, good looks were even more stunning up close. “Didn’t I just see you on the dunes?”
“You’re an American.” A corner of his mouth lifted as he avoided her question. His sexy Scottish burr deepened, as if he knew the rich, buttery tones would make her pulse leap. “A tourist come to visit bonnie Scotland, what?”
“Yes.” Kendra’s chin came up. “Weren’t you in a kilt a while ago?”
“A kilt?” His smile spread, a dimple flashing in his cheek. He held out his arms, glanced down at his jeans. “I do have one, aye. But as you see, I’m no’ wearing it now.”
“You did have one on. A kilt, I mean.”
“You’re mistaken, lass.” He lowered his arms, fixing her with the same intent gaze as he’d done from the dunes.
“I saw you.”
“You could’ve seen anyone. That’s why I’ll tell you again, this is no’ place for a bonnie lassie-”
“I’m not a lassie.”
“Nae?” He gave her a look that made her entire body heat.
“I’m an American.” The excuse sounded ridiculous. “We don’t have lassies.”
“Then beautiful women.” He touched her face, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
Kendra’s pulse beat harder. “There are lots of gorgeous women in the States. Smart women who-”
“Those other women aren’t here and dinnae matter.” He stepped back, studying her appreciatively. “I meant you.”
How well do you know the authors you love? Can you spot their thumbprint in their books? Oh, and if you haven’t read HAUNTED WARRIOR and would enjoy doing so, here are the deets…
If you want to be transported to Scotland and love hot Highland heroes, this one’s for you…
Bound by a centuries-old legacy to guard Scotland’s rugged north coast, Graeme MacGrath doesn’t have time to dally with fetching American tourists. But when Kendra Chase arrives, desire flares between them. On a secret ghost hunting mission, she soon learns that the seaside village of Pennard is more than North Sea nostalgia, peat smoke, and plaid. Renovation work threatens the veil that shields this world from the ancient, half-mythic past. MacGrath and Kendra join forces to save Pennard, but can they stop themselves from the one thing they can’t risk – falling in love?
“For those who believe in magic and love!”
FREE with KU or Purchase on AMAZON