Guest blog: Why I write Scottish-themed romance

Braw! I’m very glad to be welcoming Lizzie Lamb to my blog today. I’m a fan of her novels set in Scotland, and I hope you will be too!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Eleanor, I hope your followers will enjoy reading my about the reasons why I write Scottish-themed contemporary romance.

The cover of Lizzie Lamb's novel "Scotch on the Rocks"

My interest in kilted heroes began as a child, reared (courtesy of Saturday morning cinema) on the exploits of Highlanders in such movies as Rob RoyBonnie Prince CharlieThe Ghost Goes West and, sob, Greyfriar’s Bobby.  After the movie (or fil-um, as we pronounced it) we’d re-enact Rob Roy’s leap and subsequent escape through the waterfall, or the scene from Kidnapped, where Davie Balfour is almost murdered by his evil uncle. Our dogs were dragooned into being “Bobby”, loyally guarding his master’s grave in Greyfriar’s kirkyard, Edinburgh. And I longed to be Flora Macdonald, helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape over the sea to Skye and away from the Redcoats.

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The chorister and the Scout leader

The choir stalls of a church, with a blurry human figure walking by in the background.
Empty choir stalls in the redundant church of St Lawrence, Evesham.

After my talk at Evesham Library on Friday, as part of Evesham Festival of Words, I went for a walk around the town. I’d never visited Evesham before, and I became rather fond of its Georgian frontages along the main road. I took a side street and found myself surrounded by timber-framed buildings. By accident, I  ended up walking through a Norman gatehouse and out into a space that contained not one but two very old churches, very close together.

I have never in all my days seen two churches standing that closely together before. Apparently, no one knows why St Lawrence’s and All Saints were built there, about fifty feet apart. All Saints still functions as a parish church, but St Lawrence’s is redundant, cared for by the Churches Preservation Trust.

I happily wandered round both churches, and in All Saints, I saw the plaques which are in every church around the country – to the locals who died in war.  One of them records the death of a man in the First World War who had once been a chorister in the church, and another brass plaque commemorates a man who had been a Scout leader before being sent off to war.

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Captivating Captains and a cavalry trooper

I have news!

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper, a novel co-written by Catherine Curzon and me, will be published by Pride on 3rd April 2018. We’re both really excited about the novel and can’t wait for you to meet Captain Thorne and Trooper Woodvine. You’ll be able to pre-order it from 20th February.

And that’s not the only piece of news – The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper is the first novel of our Captivating Captains series for Pride. We have lots of lovely captains, both contemporary and historical, who are waiting for you in a very neat, orderly queue where they are quite possibly polishing their buttons and admiring themselves in their shiny boots, or looking disheveled and lovely.

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper

As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917 when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.

Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.

With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the Captain and the Cavalry Trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?

The Captivating Captains

Throughout the ages, the image of the stern, unyielding captain, resplendent in his immaculate uniform, has been a staple of fiction. He instills loyalty, devotion and sometimes fear in the hearts of his men, and they’ll follow him anywhere.

It’s time to meet a new generation of captains, who still make their men tremble, but for very different reasons. From the oh-so-proper ballrooms of the Regency to the hellish trenches of World War One, the flashing cutlasses of the Golden Age of pirates to the chilly bunkers of the Cold War, these captains will have you hungry to join their ranks.

Feud: Bette and Joan

Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as feuding Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Feud.

Equal billing, darling! I am no one’s support.

What could be more splendid than feuding actors? Aside from pop stars, actors are perhaps the most diva-ish of creatives. Aside, perhaps, from authors….

FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan is currently on UK screens, and I have been nibbling my way through the box set on BBC iPlayer, as if through a box of the richest Belgian chocolates. The mid-century costumes and sets pop with colour, Lange and Sarandon flounce and stomp and glower with gusto, and the whole thing is wrapped up in a wonderfully crisp and zesty layer of camp. And I want every one of Hedda Hopper’s hats for my collection.

Of course, I can’t watch Feud without thinking of Adam and Thomas in the short story “An Actor’s Guide to Romance”, written collaboratively by myself and Catherine Curzon.

There’s something fun about a theatrical feud – even if it’s not always that fun for the players involved, though one suspects that anyone whose profession is performance cannot but resist bringing some drama off-stage. A melodramatic flounce through the theatre bar after a performance, a sulk in the Green Room, a battle for parts and plaudits.

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An Actor’s Guide to Romance

It’s the first day of a new year, and my first ever (trumpets please) published fiction is out in a couple of weeks’ time.

When long-time theatrical enemies are cast as lovers, their late-night rehearsal brings a whole new meaning to method acting.

For twenty years, Adam Fisher and Thomas Fox have been the best of enemies. From their first meeting at drama school to shared stages, shared bills and a competition to amass the most illustrious awards, they have been the names on every theatregoers’ lips. Separately they can sell out an entire run in an hour, so when they’re cast as lovers in London’s hottest new play, the tickets are gone in minutes.

But for rakish Adam and gentlemanly Thomas, the small matter of their first on-stage kiss is causing a headache for everyone. Over a bottle of wine on one rainy night in the city, these two acting legends will do whatever it takes to banish their first-night nerves. After all, as everyone knows, the show must go on!

An Actor’s Guide to Romance, co-written with Catherine Curzon, will be published 23 January 2018 by Pride. Pre-order from PrideAmazon Kindle and Kobo.