Welcome to ON THE RECORD where I chat with romance authors about some of their favorite things, which sometimes includes writing, but always includes handsome men.
Today I’ve got the fabulous Jennifer McQuiston, author of the delightful, romantic romp, WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND which debuted on February 26th to rave reviews.
TB: Jen, let’s start with some basics. Give a quick overview of what WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND is all about.
JMcQ: Oh, you know. The usual… a naked Scotsman who can’t remember what (or whom) he did last night. A feisty yet prudish heroine who is determined to pretend something so terrible (and delicious) never happened. And, as they try to piece together the parts of their forgotten night, a trail of unfolding clues that leads each of them to draw some incorrect conclusions about each other… and points to a more nefarious plot afoot.
What Happens in Scotland is actually a version of the good old “she woke up married” story…only, with a historical twist that will hopefully lead the reader wondering “what the heck just happened?” And more importantly, “what in the hell could happen to these poor, confused souls next?”
TB: What girl hasn’t woken up in bed with a naked Scotsman? Or is that just me? Anyway, having read this amazing book, let me say I LOVED all the mayhem you threw at these two characters! They were each endearing, and yet flawed, and the whole story unfolded in such an engaging and plausible way. Well done, Ms. McQ. And didn’t you write this book in a matter of months. Like, three?
JMcQ: Umm… why yes. It WAS 3 months. I am not sure a hard-working author is supposed to admit that. Not all books go that fast for me, but this story just poured out of me, and I knew it was different almost from the beginning. My wonderful critique partners (*cough Tracy Brogan*) kept up the lovely encouragement, and the alarm clock kept waking me up to write from 4-6am. It all came together… but there is no doubt I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of that marathon.
TB: I remember that grueling sprint! And you did it while working full time. I continue to be in awe of morning writers. Nothing would get me up at 4am except a tornado siren. And even then I’d have to consider the odds of being in its path before I’d actually move to the basement. I know you like to write while traveling, too. And visiting family. Where are some of the oddest places you have written, and what has been going on around you?
JMcQ: Nothing would rouse me from bed at 10pm except that tornado siren. Or perhaps a naked Scotsman. I go to bed early to accommodate those hours, and I sleep hard. That morning sprint from 4-6am is the only part of my day I have totally free (my kids are little enough I hear “mommy, mommy, mommy” as soon as 6am rolls around.) But I am also lucky that when the odd, unexpected moment offers itself up during the day, I can slip into writing mode almost anywhere.
Hmmm… Odd places I have written. Just a few weeks ago I wrote while waiting for a mammogram, in one of those wrap-around robes with the boob tapes already in place. 🙂 Trans-continental flights are VERY productive for me. I usually start off putting on my invisible “don’t talk to me” shield. Luckily, most folks settle for reading the scandalous things I am madly typing and don’t actually try to draw me into conversation.
I do a lot of work for the day job in Arizona, and when I do that I try to stick to my east coast schedule so I get LOTS of writing time in hotel rooms. Specifically… Indian Casino hotel rooms. And then I treat myself to one of those huge casino breakfasts as a reward. I write in cars (no, not when I am driving!) Watching kids’ horseback riding and gymnastics lessons. Last summer I wrote a little in the middle of my kids’ madhouse swim team competitions. Wow. I make myself seem a little antisocial, don’t I? But the truth is, I would rather write if I get 5 free minutes than almost anything else.
TB: Well, it certainly works for you!! I’d say stick with it. Some writers chose celebrities or photos of gorgeous folk to act as their muse. Do you pick out ‘faces’ for your characters or do you just picture things in your big, brilliant brain?
JMcQ: I am not sure how brilliant this brain is, but it is certainly active. I sometimes find pics of female models in my regular junk mail circulars that I stop and think “she looks like a romance heroine”. I LOVE Lands’ End and Eddie Bauer catalog models, they look so wholesome and old-fashioned. I tear them out and often pin them on my bulletin board. So, while nameless, they aren’t exactly faceless. For What Happens in Scotland, I more or less made the hero, James MacKenzie, up in my head (although actor Matt Bomer may have been poking at me a little). James is tall (apparently I have a thing for that) and has a beard (my cougar tendencies for today’s hipster youth got to be unleashed).
I also listen to a lot of country music, and the hero of book #2, Summer is for Lovers, is modeled after none other than the fabulous Dierks Bentley. And for the hero of book #3, the inspiration is country singer Kip Moore. *fans herself* I know you know where I am coming from with this, Brogan!
TB: That is a fun tidbit, Ms. McQ! I did not know bachelor #3 was my very own Kip Moore. Who I guess I cannot claim since you found him first. Now I shall have to go those other boys just for fun! It’s a little awkward being a woman of a certain age and realizing that all the gentlemen callers in our books are slightly younger. Just slightly though! And I must confess, Eddie Bauer has provided me with more than one character. Let’s switch gears a bit. What five items would you take with you to a deserted island? No sentient beings count.
1) Jim Beam (you know, for medicinal purposes)
2) Solar powered satellite phone to call Kip Moore to join me
3) Flint to make a romantic fire when he shows up
4) Fishing line and hook (I am counting these as one, no matter what you say. And I will need both to catch him a fish to cook on said romantic fire)
TB: That’s good planning. Kip Moore on beach with a campfire and some Jim Beam. Girlfriend, you are never coming home. But let’s say you DO come back home. What would be your perfect day?
JMcQ: Actually, it’s not that far off the scenario you pose, only instead of Kip Moore, it involves my husband and two girls for company. I count a rustic beach in the Virgin Islands (Cinnamon Bay in St. John) as my favorite place in the entire world. There is no 5-star resort there… just ocean-front camping cottages and tent sites. But the sand is like pure sugar, the ocean water is the perfect temperature, and I am quite sure you need a satellite phone to check email. When the girls get tired of frolicking in the waves, there are mongooses and wild donkeys to chase through the underbrush, and there is the cutest little open-air pavilion restaurant so I don’t have to cook! So, that is the day I would pick if I could wave my magic wand and make the cold, gray Atlanta day I am actually having go away. But… can I take the medicinal bourbon with me? ‘Cause you never know when you might need some.
TB: Ohhhhh, that IS a heavenly day! I went to St. John’s on my honeymoon and I can concur that it IS that lovely. And on that note, I think we can wrap things up here so our readers can go Google pictures of the Virgin Islands and maybe plan a vacation. But let me remind everyone, no beach vacation is complete without a great book!!! So be sure to take along a copy of Jennifer’s WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND!! Or if you’re stuck in a dreary winter place, then you need this book even more. It’s a fun, fabulous, romantic story and you will love it.
Thanks for chatting with me today, Ms. McQuiston!!
JMcQ: Thank you so much for having me Ms. Brogan! It has been a pleasure. Hope folks don’t trash my beautiful beach now that the secret is out, but I am willing to share… as long as they bring their own bourbon.
Jennifer McQuiston may prefer to live in an era where hunky country music singers can be Googled at whim, but when she writes, her heart is always in the Victorian era. Visit her at www.jenmcquiston.com, or Follow her on Twitter (@jenmcqwrites) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/jennifermcquistonauthor). She lives in Atlanta, GA, and keeps her secret Kip Moore fantasies firmly in check with her busy day job at the CDC and her home life of laundry and litter pans.