I saw that the movie Highlander was released exactly 30 years ago, the other day.
One of my favourite films ever, if not my favourite, it is the perfect example of something I wrote a blogpost for MuseitUp’s Sunday Morning Musings last week, in answer to the question … is every story a potential series?
My response was No. Not in the least.
You can read the full answer below, but suffice to say, some stories are done when they are done, much as we’d like them to keep going. Highlander said it right before they broke their own rule with two successively silly sequels – There Can Be Only One.
Even those that seem like they could be are probably better off not becoming series.
I don’t like writing novellas very much – if I have to create a world and a set of characters each with their own back story, I want to give them more life than just 25 thousand words. And while it is nice to use the universe you create for more stories, especially if that universe is kickass and cool and populated with beings Darwin only wished could have evolved, sometimes the story to be told about that world has its beginning, its middle and its ending. And they say “that’s all she wrote” because there was nothing else to tell.
Trying to come up with a something new to say in a series is often difficult, and sometimes contrived, if not an abject failure. Just look at some of the movie franchises that have “graced” our cinema screens over the years.
I’ve never written a series. Nor do I plan to. But I am writing a trilogy, which didn’t set out to be one – I got the idea for the second two parts twenty years after I wrote the first book, which stands alone fine. I just needed those twenty years to get the novel right, get it published, and have the characters age that much – kind of like if Sylvester Stallone made Rocky and then just went straight to Rocky Balboa. And thought the story for second and third books came pretty easily, and I have first and second drafts of both, they still feel a little contrived and not as fresh as the first, and are having an equally long and difficult birth as that – my first ever novel.
Though some of my other novels are open ended, so that the characters are mostly alive and well at the end and could hypothetically continue their adventures, I’d feel like I was just throwing more shit at them just for the sake of it. They did their time. They paid their dues. They deserve to live happily ever after in everyone’s imagination. Aside from this fact, I don’t have the time for them anymore. They came, they conquered my imagination and I obliged by giving them a story and now I’ve shown them the door.
There are too many other ideas knocking to get in, demanding mind time and requiring their own stories be discovered and told.
And while I wish they’d hush now and then, I’m forever in love with the next book, whose possibilities are endless and unprescribed by stuff I’ve already written.
Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Kate Robbins, author of the Highland Chiefs series of historical romance novels. I have to admit I am very jealous of Kate – not because her books are flying off the shelves, which they are, – and a read of the excerpt below will let you see why – but because she lives in Newfoundland: a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I know, I live in Spain and many might think I’m barmy for wishing to go somewhere cold instead, but different strokes for different folks!
David O’Brien: First off, welcome Kate! This is my first author interview of a person from anywhere in Canada, much less from your neck of the continent, and it’s a pleasure to have you here. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself: where are you from, do you still live there?
Kate Robbins: Hey! Thanks for having me! I’m from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada where I work as a public servant, live with my man beast and two man cubs and write in my spare time. J
DOB: Why do you write? What would you do if you didn’t write?
KR: I write because I feel compelled to express stories that well up inside me in a written form. I’ve explored filmmaking and have written and directed stageplays as well, so I guess I’m a storyteller and writing novels is my current medium.
DOB: Tell us a little about your latest work.
KR: Promised to the Highlander (PTTH) released on May 30th and is the second book in my Highland Chiefs series. It’s set during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name in 15th century Scotland.
PTTH is a love triangle between Fergus MacKay, his brother, William, and William’s intended, Nessia Stephenson. The political backdrop introduced in book one, Bound to the Highlander (BTTH), threads through this one as well as the others in the series.
DOB: Why do you set some of you novels in Scotland?
KR: I love Scottish culture and history. Fascinates me, especially the plight of the clans during the middle ages.
DOB: Would you like to, or have you already, set a story in Newfoundland?
KR: Writing is an escape for me from daily life. As much as I love the province I live in, writing a novel set here would be a challenge because it is my every day. I can’t escape in it and so am not quite sure I’m the right one to tell stories set here. Plus there’s far better writers setting stories here than me. I don’t think I could do it justice.
DOB: What is your workspace like? Do you have a view, or does everyone have a view there?
KR: I am a nomadic writer, like an old cat pawing her way around looking for a spot to curl up most days. I keep everything portable and at the ready so I can write wherever the mood strikes me.
DOB: To make everyone (read: me) jealous, can you tell us what wildlife we could see if we visited?
KR: On the island of Newfoundland you can see moose, rabbit, fox, lynx, black bears, perhaps caribou (though there’s a much larger population up in Labrador). If you like fish then you can get just about anything here including lobster, snowcrab, scallops, mussels, cod, halibut, mackerel, herring…and now I’m getting really hungry.
This spring if you visited you would also be treated to many icebergs. Will make for a cold summer, but they sure are beautiful. Oh and don’t forget to do some whale watching while you dream-visit. 😉 Am I evil or what?
DOB: Yes, but we forgive you. Finally Kate, where can we buy/see your work?
KR: BTTH is available on most online ebook sites. There’s a list of them on Tirgearr’s book page here.
PTTH will be available at first on Amazon and will gradually populate to the other sites as well. Check out that book page too. J
DOB: Thanks a million for stopping by!
KR: Oh hey, thanks so much for having me!!! Cheers!
Nessia Stephenson’s world was safe until a threat from a neighbouring clan forces her to accept a betrothal to a man whose family can offer her the protection she needs. The real threat lies in her intense attraction to the man who arranged the match—the clan’s chief and her intended’s brother, Fergus MacKay.
When powerful warlord Fergus MacKay arranges a marriage for his younger brother, William, he has no idea the price will be his own heart. Fergus is captivated by the wildly beautiful Nessia, a woman he can never have.
When the feud between the MacKay and Sutherland clans escalates, Nessia, William, and Fergus all must make sacrifices for their future. Longing and loss, honour and duty. How can love triumph under such desperate circumstances?
William paced while Fergus leaned back in his chair with his long legs stretched out and his arms crossed over his chest. Stephenson was late, not by much, but enough to make William fidget and Fergus take notice. Their three younger siblings, Freya who was in her sixteenth year, John who was fourteen, and eleven-year-old Stephen, waited as well, all in various states of impatience.
The great hall was large and welcoming with dark wooden beams framing the ceiling and walls. Fergus had counted the eighteen beams along the length of the room about a hundred times. William had worn a permanent path on the wide plank floor in front of the red sandstone hearth beneath the many MacKay hunting trophies. Young John sighed again.
“You know, for a man who isn’t eager to meet his future wife, you’ve got quite a set of nerves there lad,” Fergus said to William.
William straightened his linen shirt and smoothed his tunic as he glared at Fergus. Yet, the comment was absorbed and William ceased his pacing to sit on a chair near the fire. Fergus watched his brother adjust his belt again. The young man wore his usual dress, but had taken greater pains today to perfect his appearance. Fergus glanced down at his linen shirt and leather sleeveless tunic. William’s long hair was tied at his nape while Fergus’s was left hanging loose. Fergus recalled having to take extra pains upon his betrothal. Thankfully, those days had passed and he needn’t overly worry anymore. A young lass would surely find William’s neat, respectable appearance appealing. He hoped so, but before he could dwell on it further a servant entered, announcing the arrival of Thomas Stephenson, his daughter Nessia and several of their clansmen.
William sprang to his feet and crossed the floor in a few quick strides to greet them. He continued to fidget as Fergus sauntered up from behind.
“Thomas! Welcome. We thought we’d have to send out a search party soon.” Fergus led the stout man into the great hall.
“Aye, the road was a bit rough with a wagon in tow.”The man’s brow was streaked with sweat and he looked weary from his travels.
“We’ve had a lot of rains this harvest, there’s no doubting that.” In truth he would have gone searching himself had another hour passed. Earlier that day he’d heard more rumours about Ronan Sutherland. Apparently, the lad had agreed to his father’s suggestion and would commence his campaign in the coming days.
Fergus sensed William stiffen beside him as Thomas began the introductions.
“Fergus, William, this is my brother Neville and these three are my sons, Colin, Robert, and Camden my youngest. And this is my daughter, Nessia.”
Fergus acknowledged each man in turn. When the introduction came to the girl and his gaze fell on her, his breath caught in his throat. With black hair and bright blue eyes, she stood proudly before him with her chin lifted and all the regal confidence of a noblewoman. She displayed no fear or reservation at all, something which was unusual in most men he met, but was more so in a woman. The gentler sex usually cowered before him—not this lass.
Fergus stared at her, his heart drumming hard inside his chest. His guts clenched as if he’d been punched. He had to force himself from moving toward her to touch her hair, which looked like spun silk, for surely it could not be real.
Fergus remembered his brother then, and tore his gaze from her to find William’s eyes wide and his jaw slacked. An unexpected pang ran through him. When he
turned back it was to find her still staring at him, seemingly unabashed for staring openly at a man. A bold one, then. Fergus drew his brows together. What did she want?
Ebook available at these links.
Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance.
Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to blend authentic historical fact into her stories. She has travelled to Scotland twice and visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.
Her Highland Chiefs series is set in the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.
Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her man-beast and two man-cubs.