I’m delighted to interview author Meggan Connors whose newly released Highlander romance is simply off the charts at the moment. Highland Deception hits all the right spots for me and I gave it five stars. Let’s cozy up with Ms. Connors…
Meggan makes her home in the Wild West with her two kids, lawman husband, and a menagerie of pets. She keeps herself busy as a wife, mom of two busy kids, and teacher. When she’s not at a children’s sporting event, you can find her hiking in the mountains with her family, reading a good book (preferably romance!) or looking up cute shoes on the Internet.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I always wanted to write. My dream job, for as long as I could remember, was to be a travel writer for a food magazine. Or work for Nat Geo. But I’m allergic to almost everything that’s delicious, and nearly every insect and several vaccines, so that dream went out the window fairly early on.
Then, when my son was two, my husband decided that he would start working in app development. I had a really stressful job, and I’d just had surgery, and I had two kids under the age of four. I needed an escape. One day, I was sitting at the computer looking at cute shoes I would never wear and it hit me: I could start writing again. Not some Great American Novel, like I always dreamed I would, but a romance novel. Mostly, because, well, I loved them. As an English Lit/Linguistics major, I always thought I’d have to like to read the tortured stuff (and I do. Sort of), but my guilty pleasure was the romance novel. Gah, I love them so much.
Are you a plotter or panster?
Um… I’m both. I’m mostly a pantser, and my first inclination is to say that I’m a pantser. But I also do plot, particularly if I’ve got a complicated plot going on. I guess at this time, you could say that I’m a loose plotter. I have a general plot worked out ahead and time, and a series of events that have to happen, and yes, it’s all written down. But how I get there is up to the characters.
At what age did you write your first novel?
I’ve written since I was little—I completed my first novel when I was eleven, I think. It was sixth grade, anyway. The thing was around 100 pages, and about the boy I had a crush on, complete with unicorns and an evil witch that looked suspiciously like my teacher. Oh, and I confused the words perverse and profuse FOR THE ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT. It was awesome.
But my “for real” novel, the one that’s still sitting on my laptop waiting to be rewritten? I started and finished it when I was thirty-four. It probably wasn’t much better than the epic fantasy sixth grade thing, but I knew then that I had the bug, and that I would be writing romance exclusively.
What is the most romantic place you’ve ever been?
I’ve been to Paris, and while I loved the city of lights, I have to say that Prague, Czech Republic, was the most romantic place I’d ever been. The city is very Gothic, and the cathedrals (at least back then) were very dark, black spires against a night sky, illuminated by the lights on the bridge. When I first saw the bridge and the castle at night, something tightened in my chest, and I almost cried for no reason at all. To this day, Prague remains one of the most moving places I’ve ever been.
Alas, I had no boyfriend at the time. But I am desperate to take husband with me the next time I go (which could be awhile—little kids and lots of bills do not make international travel much of a possibility).
Name your favorite real-life or fictional hero… How have they influenced your life?
I struggled with this question, because I have so many fictional heroes. And real life heroes. It sounds really lame to admit, but I have weird fan-girl moments over big name Speech Pathologists (hey, it’s the day job, and I have favorite researchers just like I have favorite authors). They inspire me to do better at my job, to keep pushing myself to expand how I do therapy.
Fictional heroes? Hm. Honestly, I think Hawkeye from Last of the Mohicans—played by Daniel Day-Lewis. What he was willing to do for Cora just slayed me, and I think I looked for my own personal version of Hawkeye. I wasn’t willing to settle for anything else. I guess it’s a good thing I found my own him (though mine refuses to wear buckskin or leather pants, which, if you ask me, is a pity).
Name your favorite books from childhood and adulthood.
I loved Little Women, Gone With the Wind, and Interview with the Vampire. To this day, I still love A Tale of Two Cities, The Count of Monte Cristo, and, to go nerdy, The Language Instinct. Oh, and Leon Uris’ Trinity. For kids, I like Where the Wild Things Are and all of the Skippy John Jones books, though my own personal kids have outgrown those. These days, I’ll happily read anything by Karen Marie Moning, Julie Garwood, and Eloisa James. I think Philippa Gregory writes beautiful prose, too. And I really enjoyed Artemis Fowl, though I think I liked it better than the kids did.
What’s your astrological sign? Do you fit the characteristics associated with it? How?
I’m an Aquarius. According to what I had to look up on the Google, Aquarians are humanitarian and visionaries, creative and eccentric, and like to be right. They also like the newest technology and gadgets.
I think that describes me pretty well (that sounds totally conceited, but I’m sure you get my meaning). In my day job, I work in Special Ed, and I work with populations that have complex communication needs (nonverbal, autism, etc). I spend a lot of my time trying to make things better for them, trying to come up with new motivators, or different ways to use technology to help them access the communication they have. So, yeah, while I’m not off trying to prevent war, I am interested in helping people in my own way.
I also write romance novels, so I guess I’m creative and eccentric, too. And I absolutely love the latest gadgets. Oh, and Google tells me I should like watery colors. I guess it’s convenient my favorite color is blue, then, huh?
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from your journey as a writer?
That when you become an author, it’s best if you check your ego at the door. It helps with that whole “authors behaving badly” thing.
Favorite Color: Cornflower blue (not the crayola color cornflower, but the color of actual cornflowers, the bright blue of a perfect tanzanite).
Favorite Actor/Actress: Michael Fassbender (That’s today. Ask me again tomorrow, and I’ll give you a different answer. I almost went with Viggo Mortensen, but changed my mind at the last minute)
Favorite Movie: Last of the Mohicans. Daniel Day-Lewis is positively swoon-worthy in it.
Favorite century and why? 19th. I just love those wacky Victorians. But the 18th is a close second, followed by the eleventh. This one is pretty good, too, though, since if I lived in any other century, I’d probably be dead.
Favorite Food: Anything I’m not allergic to.
Least favorite vegetable: bell peppers.
First boyfriend/How old?/Why did you like him?: His name was Jan. I was 17, and living in Germany for a summer. We met on the fourth of July at a castle where we were both watching an outdoor screening of The Commitments. He was wearing a black t-shirt that said “Iowa” on it, and within five minutes of meeting me, he said I was pretty. It was the first time anyone had ever said that to me, and I pretty much attached myself to him after that. I tried to play it super cool, but I might have been a little like a lamprey. Maybe we both were. In any case, we were attached at the hip for the next month.
I still love the movie The Commitments, by the way. I think I’ve watched it at least 20 times.
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Mother, wife, teacher, funny, quirky.
The hot cover for Highland Deception…
When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.
Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.
Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their marriage, and she’d long since given up on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel’s heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if they were family. Who, for the first time, cares for her as if she is, too.
Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear them apart.
Malcolm closed his eyes wearily and made a dismissive gesture with his hands. Despite the low light and the dark beard that ran from Malcolm’s neck to his cheeks, Kenneth saw Malcolm’s Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed hard. “You never answered me. Why do you care?”
Kenneth remained silent for fear his voice would betray him. He turned from his brother and tossed the foul bandages in the fire, simply to escape what he’d seen, if only for a moment.
The wound had festered, the skin around the wound hot, raised and dark. Pus oozed from the gaping hole in his brother’s leg, and pale red lines extended out in all directions from the wound itself. Malcolm’s leg bore evidence of leeches and bloodletting.
Fat lot of good that had done him. His blood was poisoned.
“Kenneth,” Malcolm prompted.
“Where’s the healer keeping the bandages?”
“The chest at the foot of the bed,” Malcolm answered. “Now tell me why it matters at all to you if I live. Tell me why you came back.”
Kenneth opened the trunk and pulled out the bandages. He couldn’t quite bring himself to meet his brother’s eyes. Instead, he cleaned the wound as best he could and began wrapping it with clean linen. Around and around, losing himself in the simplicity of the task. He focused on the motion of his hands to avoid focusing on his brother’s injury.
“Because,” he answered. Another swath of linen went around his brother’s thigh. “You sent for me. I’m a Mackay. I answer. How did you find me, anyway?”
“Doesna matter.” Malcolm shook his head. “But you’re not back just because I sent for you.”
“No?” Kenneth struggled to keep his tone even. He covered his brother in blankets and walked over to the fire. Picking up a poker, he stabbed at the logs until they crackled and hissed. An ember floated out of the hearth and descended to the stone floor by Malcolm’s bed, where it darkened and went out.
“No,” Malcolm said. He was quiet for a long time.
Kenneth drew a hand over his mouth and shook his head. “You’re my brother,” he finally admitted. “No matter what happened between us, I would take your place right now, if I could.”
“Did I not tell you, Grant?” Malcolm laughed, but the laugh was drowned in a cough.
Kenneth whipped around to find Grant standing just inside the doorway. He leaned against the frame, and his jaw worked as he frowned in Kenneth’s direction. “Aye, you said as much,” the man growled.
“What’s this about, then?” Kenneth demanded. His shoulders stiffened, and he rested his hand on the short sword at his hip.
The corners of Malcolm’s lips curved up into a smile that nearly wasn’t one. He blinked slowly, and when he opened his eyes again, his blue eyes appeared a little glassy. “I’m dying, Kenn.”
“Nay, you are not,” Kenneth lied.
“’Tis naught to fash yourself over,” Malcolm said. “I’ve made my peace with myself and my Lord. The only one I’ve not made peace with is you.”
“What happened is in the past now.” Kenneth stood and shook his head in an attempt to banish the painful memories. The last thing he wanted now was to relive what was fast becoming the second most painful day of his life, after this one.
“But ‘tis not, is it?” Malcolm asked. “Not for either of us. If things were different, you’d be here, in my place, and I’d be in yours.”
The corner of Malcolm’s lips tipped upwards. “Right. I’d forgotten your sentence.”
“Of course you did.” Kenneth hadn’t intended for his voice to sound as bitter as it did.
He leaned against the hearth, but the room was as hot as blazes, and he moved over to the window. As he brushed the heavy drapes aside, he put his hand against the glass. The surface was damp and cool beneath his palm, a stark contrast to the furnace of this room.
On the other side of the glass were the rolling hills of the Highlands, where his band of outcasts waited for him to return. Out there, he faced both freedom and the imminent threat of death.
But the latter was never far in the Highlands. Famine and cold, sickness and war with other clans, had been a part of his reality for as long as he could remember, whether he’d been safely inside the heart of a clan or not.
“I meant no offense.”
Kenneth acknowledged his brother with a nod, but didn’t turn from the window.
“I once did you a grievous wrong, Kenn.”
“I can’t make up for all you lost.”
“’Tis in the past.” Kenneth closed his eyes and rested his head against the cool glass.
“Nay. But now I’m dying, and I want to give you what you once gave me. I want to give you a life.”
Kenneth laughed bitterly. “Will you simply summon the sheriff? Explain ‘twas naught but a misunderstanding?” He looked up at the ceiling, where a fat rat raced along one of the beams. “You cannot change the decisions I made. I may not have partaken in the first crime, but the others? They are mine. I’m guilty of the ones the sheriff kens, and several more he does not. Took me a while, but I earned the hanging I’ll get if I’m caught.”
“Doona be ridiculous,” Grant snapped. “Of course we would not sully the good name of the laird of Clan Mackay. ‘Tis bad enough it has come to this.”
Kenneth eyes darted from his brother to Grant and back again. He shifted his weight, put his hand on the rapier at his hip, thought better of it, and relaxed his hands. “Come to what?”
“The life I want to give you is not yours, Kenn.” Malcolm closed his eyes, and his voice shook. “’Tis mine.”
So intriguing! Thanks for stopping by today, Meggan.
Where to connect with Ms. Connors…
and at www.megganconnors.com
Where to find the book…