Today I have Deborah Gafford in the hot seat. I love getting to know new to me authors and sharing them with you. Deborah is an amazing person and a great author. Her cover is so beautiful. I can't wait for you to see it.
Welcome Deborah. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hmm, where to start? I have been a teacher, a stained glass
artist and shop owner, and even tried my hand at Victorian millinery. Through it all, I always loved writing.
I am married to the love of my life, my high school sweetheart from way back when, and we have one son who is our pride and joy.
I love to travel and have lived in Japan and visited many
places in the Far East. I have traveled all over the United States as well as in Mexico and Scotland.
What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
I have an antique spinning wheel from the Netherlands and love to spin and weave.I think of story plots while spinning, often imagining a Highland lass with a child at her knee playing in a humble cottage on the Scottish hillside. I love to dye raw wool and then sit and spin it into beautiful yarn to use on my floor loom. My goal is to go from raw wool to dyed, spun yarn, to a beautiful hand woven blanket one day. Could it be I was born in
the wrong century?
If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
Hoard more batteries! I loved to read as a child and long after bed time I would read by flashlight under my blanket. Unfortunately the batteries never lasted long enough. How's a young girl supposed to finish Nancy Drew in the dark?
For what are you grateful?
I am grateful for the love and support of my family and friends.
I am blessed with the most loving husband in the world. He, our son and friends make my life a joy even when it's not.
At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?
I have to say I am happiest right now. I am at a point in my life where my husband and I are able to be together all the time since we have both retired from our career jobs and every day is a moment of something new to share together.
What is the number one lie you tell yourself? How is that working out?
Hmm, that I still look or move like I did when I was thirty? I don't know how it's working out just yet. I need to finish turning the rest of the mirrors in my house to the wall and then I'll let you know when I manage to get out of my chair without sounding like a commercial for Rice Krispies cereal: Snap, Crackle, Pop.
Now about you as an author…What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
I have to say Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series, got me interested as a young girl in reading about mystery and adventure. I loved the adventure and the fact that Nancy held her own with adults in the stories. Later, I began reading Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart and Jude Deveraux. Adventure and mystery still held my interest, but romance surged to the forefront and has remained there. These authors brought the world and romance to my doorstep and I've been reading and writing romance ever since.
What is your favorite aspect of writing? Your least favorite?
My favorite aspect of writing is the initial writing of the story, discovering my characters and their stories as I go along. I don't do a lot of external plotting but rather enjoy the journey of the story as it unfolds in my mind. I believe I'm what some call a "Pantster"- writing by the seat of my pants, rather than plotting everything out ahead of time. My least favorite part of writing is
revisions. Sometimes I may sit for half an hour playing around with one paragraph trying to get it "just right". But I love being a writer. What other job lets you work in your pajamas if you feel like it?
What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on?
I suppose I would like to be "faster" but then it's all relative. Some books seem to flow quickly while others move like a very tired snail across the Sahara. Uphill... In a sand storm… Blindfolded….
Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
I always have a bottle of Fuji Apple Pear flavored water beside me and sometimes have Celtic music playing in the background. I used to have some chocolate but the keyboard kept getting sticky. "Are" kept turning into arghhhhhhhhhhhh and I don't speak "Pirate".
Do you have a common theme or item that appears in each of your books?
My literary love is Scottish historical romance. Who WOULDN'T want to write about a handsome, brawny man in a kilt? It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Right? Once in a wee while I write contemporary romantic comedy to shake the dust of the glens from my mind and clear it for my next Highland romance. But no matter what I write, there is always a Happy Ever After
What have you learned the most from being in the writing business?
I'd like to say patience, but I'm still working on that one. It's hard to wait for each novel to finally come out in finished form. Years ago, when I was pregnant with our son, I thought that took a long time. I've since discovered giving birth to a book takes just as much effort and usually more time. The only difference is with delivering the book there's no drug for labor pain, hence the chocolate. Aye, captain, thar she blows!
Tell us about your latest release:
My latest book is THE TALISMAN. This book was fun and challenging to write. I created the original cover (on the left) and learned how to make a video trailer, and although Cecil B. DeMille I'm not, it was a lot of fun to make. You can see the book trailer on my website www.deborahgafford.com and on you tube at http://www.youtube.com/watchv=OBT_7JaWO5U
THE TALISMAN will be released soon with a fabulous new cover, by cover artist Erin Dameron-Hill again featuring cover
model extraordinaire, Jimmy Thomas.
Not only did I need to research daily life, travel, festival and
holy days in medieval Scotland, but I also had to learn all about the process of making medieval ale. Since my heroine, Ailis, was the daughter of a medieval ale brewer I knew she would need to know how to brew a good barrel of ale. Believe me, I now know more than I ever thought possible on brewing ale as they did in medieval days. But who knows, that knowledge may come in handy one day if the local grocery store runs out of interesting things to drink.
There is a very dark side in The Talisman. Ailis O'Brien's family
is murdered in the Highlands and she vows to find the murderer and repay the blood debt at the risk of her own life. Though not of his clan, when Laird Gavin MacPherson finds her stumbling in a Highland forest half starved and nearly senseless with shock, he vows to aid her. Over time, their attraction to each
other begins to deepen promising love to fill the emptiness in their hearts. However, the secret of the talisman threatens to shatter their bond, forcing them to ultimately choose between love and vengeance.
How did you decide on your story plot?
Hopefully, without sounding as if I need a visit to the local loony bin, my characters find me and bring the plot with them. Sometimes I'll be doing the dishes or spinning on my spinning wheel and a character will pop into my head already complete with a story of his or her own. Sometimes a picturesque landscape or stirring music will start an idea and before I know it, a character and plot have formed. The tricky part is convincing the characters to let me tell their story my way. That is what happened with THE TALISMAN.
How did you choose your characters names and location for your story?
I was looking over a huge map of Scotland and reading names of mountains, lochs, and forests when a few seemed to jump out at me. Their names created a mental picture that were just what I needed for the location. For the characters' names, I looked through Scottish and Irish baby names books until I
found ones that fit the images I had in my head.
Do you have a favorite scene? Why?
It is hard to decide on just one. There are several I like but I suppose one of my favorites is the scene when Ailis and Gavin spend the night in an alehouse on a journey to Craigmuir,
Scotand. Without spoiling the scene, all I can say is it is a moment when Ailis and Gavin are forced to see things as they really are, both in their feelings for each other and in a fight to stay alive.
Do you have a character that you identify with? Who and why?
Again, just one character makes it a hard choice. One of my
favorite characters is a secondary character, Calum, Gavin's cousin. Life has made him strong and tough but he has retained his sense of humor. His quips add fun to many of the
Here is the Prologue of THE TALISMAN to give you a taste of t
the book. I hope you enjoy it.
A terrified scream pierced the quiet of the Highland forest startling Ailis O'Brien. That was her sister Jenny's voice! Dropping the firewood she'd gathered in an old blanket, Ailis ran back through the woods toward the traveling wagon she shared with her father and sister.
The fading light of twilight hampered her as she hurried through
the thick undergrowth. Limbs and roots appeared out of nowhere slowing her progress. A fallen tree branch snagged her skirt causing her to fall. The tumble knocked the air from her, and she lay there gasping, desperately trying to suck in enough air to move as the screaming continued. When she was able to breathe again, she crawled to her feet and yanked fiercely at her skirt freeing it from the tree limb.
The screams stopped abruptly. The sudden silence filled Ailis
with panic. The encroaching darkness fed her fear and she could not run through the forest fast enough. Why, in God's name, could she not move any faster?
A flickering light glowed through the trees ahead. Flames lit the area as she burst free of the forest and ran into the clearing where her family had made camp for the night. The blaze in front of her was much too large for their small campfire. Sweet Mother Mary, their wagon was on fire!
For a moment, the silence of the night was broken only by the sharp snap and crackle of flames as they began to climb up the front end of the wagon. Then she heard a man's harsh shout and the sound of a horse's hooves retreating in the distance. Jerking her gaze toward the sound, she caught a fleeting glimpse of a man in a tartan plaid but it was too dark to make it out clearly or to tell what he looked like. Ailis glanced frantically around the empty campsite looking for her father and sister. Praying they were safe, she ran toward the burning wagon. "Da, Jenny, where are you?"
Ailis' heart pounded in her throat as she forced herself to
climb into the back of the burning wagon to search for her family. She tripped just inside it and looked down. Her father's body lay in a crumpled heap. "Da, get up!" Grabbing his tunic to pull him to safety, she felt a sticky wetness. Lifting her hands, she stared down at her fingers. They were coated with blood.
Frantically, she shook his shoulder trying to rouse him and called to him again. "Da, speak to me! Where are you hurt?" She knelt beside him and searched for his wound to try to stop the bleeding. When she found a hole through his chest, she
realized there was nothing she could do for him. He was dead.
Sorrow threatened to overcome her but fear for her sister forced
her on. Da would want her to find Jenny. But where was she?
The smoke was getting thicker. Ailis could barely breathe.
Coughing, she stumbled past her father's body, and groped through the dense smoke until she found her. "Jenny!" Her sister lay naked, her head twisted unnaturally to one side.
Dear God, no! Not her, too!
Ailis dropped down beside her sister's still form. Her neck was
broken. A glint of something clutched in Jenny's fingers caught Ailis' eye. She reached down and pulled a strange talisman on a leather thong from her sister's hand. Jenny must have pulled it from her murderer's neck. Ailis gripped it tightly. This would prove who killed her father and sister. She would find its owner and avenge her family!
The smoke-filled air burned Ailis' throat. Coughing and gasping
for breath, she made her way to the back of the burning wagon. As she jumped out, her skirt caught on a flaming timber, setting it ablaze. Oh God, she was on fire!Tossing the talisman from her, she tore at her clothing, freeing herself of the flames. Naked and dazed, she backed away from the burning wagon then stood there helpless and watched as the blazing inferno
engulfed it. As it burned out of control, her grief and rage overwhelmed her and she began to scream.
Sometime later, she came to her senses. The wagon and everything in it was nothing more than a large pile of charred, glowing cinders.
Her family was dead!
What was she to do now? She looked down at her nakedness and saw the strange talisman at her feet. Grabbing up the incriminating amulet, she pulled its leather thong around her neck and stumbled into the woods. The blanket she had dropped would cover her while she sought shelter. Da had said
their next stop was a town two day's journey from there, but surely there was somewhere closer. She would find shelter and clothes and then she would find the murderer. Aye, no one would stop her from avenging her family.
The glow of the cinders faded as she staggered deeper into the
forest. She picked up the old blanket and tore an opening in the center large enough to slip over her head. Pulling the blanket down around her, she stumbled further into the woods. Within minutes, it began to rain. She could barely see in front of her.
Suddenly, her foot slipped on wet rock and she pitched forward down a small hill. The last thing she felt was her head hitting the ground.
Thank you Deborah for visiting today. Doesn't The Talisman sound like an amazing read. Who can't resist a hot Scotsman?
Musings from Michigan