Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Highland Healer: Interview with Author Willa Blair

Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileana Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?

Aileana Shaw has a healing touch – and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she’s kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?

While Toran battles the invading lowland army, he also battles his desire for Aileana. And Aileana must decide if she can trust her secrets to this fierce warrior who needs her talent, but wants her love.

In the author's words . . .

Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?  I’ve always been a writer in the same way that some people are born to be doctors or engineers.  I just didn’t always write.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?  I wish I could say that it’s exercise, but it’s probably more of a tossup between reading, eating and sleeping.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Believing in my own abilities and accepting that I could write a book.  And finish it.  And sell it.
Have you been able to overcome it?  Yes, indeed!  

If you had to sum it up Highland Healer in 30 or less words, what would you say?  A talented Healer saves a Laird who frees her from an invading lowlander army.  Under siege, they must learn to trust their way to victory and each other.

Do you have a favorite character in Highland Healer? Who and why?  Besides Toran and Aileana, I’d say one of my favorite characters is Elspie.  She’s an unrepentant gossip with a heart of gold who will do anything to help others.  She can’t resist nudging things along when she gets the chance.

What message do you hope readers take away from the book?  All of us have the ability to grow, change, and learn to trust in people and things that at first seem strange or threatening.

What three words would best describe Aileana?  Proud, talented, lonely.

While writing Highland Healer, did you connect with one character more than the others? Who and how?  I loved writing Toran and Aileana’s story, but I really felt sorry for Ranald, Aileana’s mostly silent, long-suffering assistant in the lowlander army’s camp.  He was dealt a bad hand in life, but did his best to protect her.

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book? It’s a toss-up between finishing it, which was a revelation; selling it, which was incredibly exciting; and seeing readers’ reactions to it, which are amazing.  

As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre?
So far, that hasn’t been a problem for me.  I adjust pretty seamlessly to the change in language from Scottish historical to present day and futuristic.

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?  That Highland Healer starting hitting Amazon’s best-seller lists in less than a month after being released to Kindle. It hit the tops of its lists during the KDP Select free days, it has remained an Amazon best-seller ever since.  I’m really fortunate to have loyal readers.  They must be telling their friends, because Highland Healer keeps selling and getting great reviews.    

What type of hero do you like best? I like a strong hero but not necessarily an over-the-top Alpha.  There has to be room in his personality and world-view to see others’ perspectives.  He can be stubborn up to a point, but must deal with reality and solve problems in a way that benefits others as well as himself.

What type of heroine do you like best? Strong-willed, feisty, smart - very smart.  I can’t abide a simpering, helpless female.  She may not be able to overpower an obstacle, but she can out-think it, whether it’s the hero, the villain or something else.

Do you write your friends or family members into your books? If so, did they figure it out?  No, but I have written villains based on former bosses.  Hey, it’s a writer’s prerogative - and you know what they say about paybacks!

Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it?  Yes - Science Fiction Romance (SFR).  I love Linnea Sinclair’s and Catherine Asaro’s books, among others.  I’m plotting out an SFR series, but haven’t started writing it yet.  Like my other books, it will have a paranormal element, lots of action and adventure, and it will be sensual, sexy and fun.

What is one trait you despise in people that you tend to give your villains/protagonists? I learned from an early age to have a lot of contempt for hypocrites.  And for those who use the power of their position, even though they’re often less intelligent or less capable, to put other people down and to hold onto power, no matter what.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? There are two.  First: (a version of a Nora Roberts quote, I believe) You can edit crap, but you can’t edit a blank page.  Second:  Finish the damned book.  So many writers never do. 

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?  I do go back to Donal MacNabb, the Lathan arms master and advisor to Toran - he’s the hero in the second book in the series.  The theme of that book is accepting who you are.  And Jamie Lathan gets his own book in the third book of the series, where he must learn that past may be prologue, but it doesn’t have to determine the future. 

Favorite place? At home.

Best Christmas present?  Anything from my husband.

Favorite author?  I can’t pick just one!

Favorite smell?  Fresh citrus, especially lemons and grapefruit

Favorite series?  Still can’t pick just one.

Favorite movie?  Toss-up between Star Trek:The Wrath of Khan and the 2009 Star Trek movie.

Favorite dish? Mashed potatoes, with butter - best comfort food ever!

Favorite color?  Teal

Favorite quote? Yoda: “Do or do not; there is no try.”

Your best trait?  I strive.

Your worst trait?  I don’t have one.   (Kidding!)

An Excerpt from Highland Healer
Despite his threats a few moments before, she had sensed no real animosity in him. She’d been treated well since arriving at the Aerie. Her dream of a home, with people who cared about her, perhaps a family of her own, rose unbidden to her mind, and with it came a familiar lump in her throat. She was tired, she thought, to let that longing overwhelm her now. She folded her arms under her breasts and kept her eyes on the flames. She heard Toran move from the door to stand behind her. She tensed as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He turned her gently, but irresistibly, to face him.

   “What should I do with so beautiful, so valuable, a prize?” he murmured, almost to himself.

    His deep blue gaze ensnared Aileana as completely as his hands. She knew she should be outraged at being called a prize. He’d done it before, on the way here. Did he truly see her that way? She refused to be chattel any longer, she told herself, and would not allow him to treat her so. But she found she could not summon her ire. One of his hands left her shoulder and he lightly touched her cheek, then slowly slid his fingers down her throat to her collarbone. There, he hesitated, and Aileana held her breath until he moved the hand back to her shoulder.
   His simple touch sent shivers dancing and nearly undid her.

Meet the Author

Willa Blair is the award-winning author of Highland Healer, her debut novel, the first in a series set in the 16th century Highlands, when the old ways, and old talents, still shaped events.   She always wished she had several psi talents, such as reading her husband's mind, cleaning house by simply thinking about it, and flying.  But alas, no.  So she endows her characters with special talents and lives vicariously through them.  She loves reading and writing romance novels set in the past, present and future.

Connect with Willa

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon



  1. Thanks for inviting me to be here today. You ask great questions! And I'm looking forward to hearing from your readers.

  2. Wonderful interview, MK. A Star Trek fan who loves mashed potatoes! My kind of gal. Loved the excerpt, and your Aerie is intriguing, Willa. Good luck with your Highland Healer, and with all your writing!

  3. Wonderful interview!!!! Loved your excerpt!!!

    Andrea :)

  4. Great interview and excerpt... And a Great book! Congrats Willa!!

  5. It's a pleasure having you with us Willa! I had a lot of fun with your interview and as a bonus, the books sounds great! :)

  6. Hi Willa. What a great interview. It sounds like you're doing great on sales. Fantastic!!!

    I love any story with a Highlander and Scotland. This concept sounds like and interesting story. Best of luck with continued success.

  7. Thanks, everyone! The well-wishes are greatly appreciated. I'm having a wild time, as you can tell.

  8. Wonderful interview. I love the way she said she was born to be a writer, she just didn't always write. What a great description of a lot of us.