Welcome to another Friday night on the blog and tonight I am having a cheeky tipple with fellow RNA member, author…. Sarah Mallory.
Welcome to the blog, Sarah, thank you so much for joining me this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Bubbly! I thought a nice glass or two of fizz would be a good way to celebrate the weekend, and the fact that my latest book, Forbidden to the Highland Laird, has just been published.
And thank you for inviting me to your virtual bar: I am imagining ultra modern – swish black and chrome fittings, comfortable chairs, soft chatter and the gentle chink of glasses around us.
Do you know, I’ve never wondered how people envisage my imaginary bar before, that’s really interesting! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I would whisk you away to our local inn. It is a couple of miles from my home and set on the edge of a beautiful bay of the loch. Being winter, we would have to sit inside by the log fire. In summer, when the weather is good, we sit out on the decking, looking out over the bay until the sun goes down.
Sounds wonderful, I love Scotland. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
One could definitely be Victoria Wood. I loved her comedy and was so sad when she died and I realised there would be no more of her genius stand-up routines or series like Dinner Ladies. I would love to talk to her about the north (we lived for 30 years very close to where she grew up) and to listen to her observations. On anything and everything!
A man… now that is more difficult. I spend a lot of my time looking for heroes for my historical romances – guys who look like heroes, that is, but we all know that a handsome face and body does not always mean a great mind or an interesting character. I think I would like to invite Stephen Fry. He is clever, witty (but not, I believe, cruel) and it would be so interesting to talk to him – or just to listen to him and Victoria Wood chatting!
Great choices. Victoria Wood is a very popular pick. Rightly so, I absolutely loved her too. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
Currently I am writing a romance set in Regency England. My second book in the Lairds of Ardvarrick series has just been accepted (another reason for bubbly!) and after talking with my editor we thought it would be a good idea to have a break before writing the third. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about the Highlands, but in the 18th century it was a harsh place to live, and the history is pretty bloody. There were clan rivalries, religious unrest and, of course, the Jacobite uprisings. Much as I love an adventure, I am enjoying writing something set in an English country house.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Proudest moment? Oh, goodness, writing-wise, that is difficult, because there are so many. Every time one of my books is published it never fails to give me a buzz, and the feeling that I am a “real” writer. However, the icing on the cake was to win the RoNA Rose award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013: to receive that accolade was very special.
As for my biggest challenge, hang on a moment while I refill my glass and think about that one! Okay…I think the biggest challenge – and it is an ongoing one – is to actually finish writing a book. You see, I get an idea, and it is wonderful, the best thing ever. But then I have to write the darn thing, hours and hours of sitting at a desk, putting down in words this marvellous idea, filling in the details and setting the scene. You get to a stage where you think, “this is rubbish” and you want to walk away. But you battle through it, getting the rest of the story down. Sometimes a book just flies onto the page, but there will still be that little moment of doubt. Most writers will tell you, you just have to write through it.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I suppose I would really like to have one of my books turned into a best-selling movie! But that wouldn’t really be my achievement. Having written the book, my work is done 😊
On a more practical note, years ago I started writing a series of books following the history of an English family from its beginnings in sixteenth century right up to Waterloo. I am so busy enjoying myself writing historical romances that this project sits on the back burner, and I keep saying to myself, “One day”…..
What do you have planned that you are really excited about?
I am excited about starting another Regency romance. It will be a mixture of Cinderella and battle-weary soldier romance (which is as much as I can give away, so it’s no good plying me with more drink, I won’t say more!). That, and my third book in the Lairds of Ardvarrick series, will fill my writing time for most of the next twelve months.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
My favourite place is now my home! We made a tour of Scotland in 2016 and I fell in love with it, especially the Highlands and Islands and two years later I am living here! How wonderful is that? I had a lifelong ambition to live by the sea (which may have something to do with being born in the West Country, where you are never far from the coast) and at long last I have achieved that dream.
I really wouldn’t mind too much if I didn’t travel far outside Scotland for a while (except to see my family, of course). There is so much history to explore here, so many castles, lochs and glens to see, then there is Edinburgh and the borders – if I tried to do everything I wouldn’t have any time for writing at all! As for going further afield, I am not one for sitting on a beach, but I have enjoyed some fabulous battlefield tours, including Waterloo and Corunna (Northern Spain, where the British were chased out by Napoleon’s army, but that’s too long a story for tonight!)
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
Oh, that’s a tough one, I spend most of my time making up interesting lives for my characters rather than living it up myself! However, I did once loop the loop in a WWII Tiger Moth…
Ooh, that’s a good one! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Can’t give you one book, but there is one author who is a must-read for me. Milly Johnson. Her books are a real treat; funny, touching stories of people battling through Life to find happiness. To find themselves, really. The Teashop on the Corner is still one of my favourites. Times are tough at the moment and I find her books a great tonic when one needs a lift.
Life is full of second chances, if only you keep your heart open for them.
Spring Hill Square is a pretty sanctuary away from the bustle of everyday life. And at its centre is Leni Merryman‘s Teashop on the Corner, specialising in cake, bookish stationery and compassion. And for three people, all in need of a little TLC, it is somewhere to find a friend to lean on.
Carla Pride has just discovered that her late husband Martin was not who she thought he was. And now she must learn to put her marriage behind her and move forward.
Molly Jones‘s ex-husband Harvey has reappeared in her life after many years, wanting to put right the wrongs of the past before it is too late.
And Will Linton‘s business has gone bust and his wife has left him to pick up the pieces. Now he needs to gather the strength to start again.
Can all three find the comfort they are looking for in The Teashop on the Corner? And as their hearts are slowly mended by Leni, can they return the favour when she needs it most?
Oh, I love Milly and her books, she’s a Yorkshire lass like me! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Well, not mixing my drinks helps, but I have no failsafe, I’m afraid, apart from not drinking too much (and remember, I have been doing most of the talking!). I try to finish with a soft drink, keep a water bottle by the bed in case I wake up thirsty, and drink tea in the morning. Lots of tea, then egg and chips for lunch. Plus a couple of painkillers if really necessary.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A perfect weekend would be to potter about the house for the morning, then take my lovely dog Willow for a walk along the shore – but that depends on the weather of course!
Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me tonight, I’ve really enjoyed it and I wish you success with you new book.
Sarah’s very first Highland romance is now on the shelves – Forbidden to the Highland Laird is the first in the Lairds of Ardvarrick series. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early years of the eighteenth century, it has a reluctant laird, a beautiful Highland lass, it has a touch of adventure mixed in with the romance. You can buy a copy here.
Exchanging elegant society balls for clan wars, Logan Rathmore has returned to Scotland as the new Laird of Ardvarrick. Peace is within grasp when he meets musician Ailsa McInnis from a rival clan.
Her stubborn pride and innocence fascinate him—but with her now under his protection, he must do nothing to abuse her trust. The fragile peace is dependent on his being able to resist the forbidden temptation she presents…
Sarah Mallory is an award-winning author who has published more than 30 historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon. She loves history, especially the Georgian and Regency. She won the prestigious RoNA Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013. Sarah also writes romantic historical adventures as Melinda Hammond.
After living for many years high on the Yorkshire Pennines, Sarah moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2018 and now lives by the sea, enjoying a whole new adventure.