Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Main Character Blog Hop - Meet Will Hepburn by Linda Root

I have been tagged by Anna Belfrage and Susan Appleyard in the Meet the Main Character Blog Hop. The idea is to introduce a principal character from a yet unpublished work and tell our reading audience a little bit about the person. In turn, we tag another four or five good-natured writers to do likewise. My tags have gone to Stuart S. Laing, Ginger Myrick, Louise Turner and Darius Stansky.
My current work is part of the Legacy of the Queen of Scots series featuring husband and wife adventurers Daisy Kirkcaldy,posthumous bastard daughter of the knight Kirkcaldy of Grange, and William Hepburn, the son of the 4th Earl of Bothwell. I have previously answered the questions as to Daisy in an earlier round. Now it’s Will’s turn: Questions used are composed by Debbie Brown of The English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog and Facebook pages.
Photo (C) Distrik 3, Deamstime.com, from
The Other Daughter by Linda Root

What is the name of your character?

Will Hepburn:  If ye dae nae mind, hen, ah’ll be speakin fur m’self. Tis bad enough ‘aving Daisy puttin’ words in m’ maw.  Ah call m’self Will Hepburn, but when ah was a lad, ah used the name a’ Will Beaton.  Ah borrowed the surname from m’ Granny’s best friend Janet Beaton, an older hen who happened tae be m’ da’s mistress on an off.  Tis fair tae say m’ da the earl’s love life was a wee bit complicated.

Are you fiction or a historic person?

Oh, ah’m real enough, but there’s nae much written boot me.  Just a few lines here and there unless ye’re good at trawlin. Ah was at Holyrood serving m’ step-brother James as his browdinstair, which means ah was the one who embroidered the canopies hangin’ o’er the king’s head at banquets, ‘cept when as busied m’self at tasks ah was better at doin’, such as savin’ the king from folly and courtin’ me gudewife Daisy.

When and where is the story set?

The action starts up at Kinghorn at our lodge on the shore a’ the Firth.  Twas a couple a’ years after our king toddles off tae LondonTown tae catch himself a crown. Truth be told, most a’ the action takes place on the wrong side a’ what we used tae call the Border which our fickle king has renamed ‘The Division’ and calls it parklands ‘stead of battleground.  Like ma da Lord James Hepburn, formerly the Earl of Bothwell, R.I.P., ah ‘ave nae affection fur the English.

What should we know about you as a main character in the story? 

 Ma mammy was a Norwegian lass who got herself jilted by ma da. She said they were handfasted and m’ da nay-sayed. So, she hauled me off tae Scotland when ah was wee, hoping tae enforce a marriage contract. Nice as they were tae her—and she was very rich, so they were very nice—they were nae anxious tae go against Marie Stuart, who was Queen a’ Scots and had other plans fur m’da. After a spell, m’mame gave up and sailed back tae’ Norway, leaving me with Lady Janet, who helped m’ daddy raise me up. Fur the most part ah lived among the reivers until m’ da got mixed up with the Queen.  Tae understand the way ah look at things, ye need tae know ah am closer tae being a Border Reiver than a royal embroiderer. Ah dae nae cut the image a’ some a’ the other Borders like m’gudewife’s kinsmen the Kers a' Ferniehirst, but people ‘ave a way of sensin’ ‘twould nae be healthy tae come at me with a dagger drawn, if ye git m’meaning.

What causes the conflict in the story—what messes up your life?

After the last time me wife a’ ah nearly got ourselves killed savin’ Scotland from the intrigues a' ma cousin Wild Frank Stewart, who wears the Bothwell title as a reward fur being born on the right side a' the sheets,  ah promised Daisy tae settle intae  the quiet life. Things were goin’ just fine 'til a pack a' bawbags broke intae the house in Kinghorn. They murdered our master of the household and carried off our son Wee Peter. Ah had a heavy load a' guilt tae deal with,  'cause ah was the fool what caused it. And tae top it off,  fur sure m' wee lad came first, but ah also felt duty bound tae save our sorry king. Seems like savin’ James had gotten tae be a habit.

 What was your personal goal?

First and foremost came gettin’ wee Peter back, but ah needed tae find a way tae save the Stuart Royals if ah could.dae it and still keep m family safe. Ah guess  ye could say ah needed tae balance m' duty tae m' family wi’ m' pesky sense a’ honor. And there's always the need tae keep  Daisy frae getting all a' us killed.

Is there a working title for this novel, and where can we read more about it?

If ye are interested in how ah managed tae deal with Peter, m' Bodacious wife  Daisy, a pint-sized duplicitous Prime Minister and a bunch of Catholic fanatics and still dae m' part in saving the royal family, Mistress Root has set it out right straight in a piece she's written called In the Shadow of the Gallows. Parts of it have shown up from time to time on The Review blog and Facebook page on Excerpt Sunday.

When can we expect the book to be published?

Seems moderns are pickier than folks who did their readin’ in the auld days, at least those of them who could read.  Ah keep telling Mistress Root the story she calls In the Shadow of the Gallows is lookin’ fine as it is, but she says, Nae, tis not quite ready yit, like it was one of m’ Granny Agnes’s half-baked shepherd pies. Methinks she’s lookin' at the end a’ June. Daisy says tae tell her tae hurry up. Seems there’s another book she needs tae get busy and write.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A conversation about love, death and writing historical fiction

Those who read my Legacy of the Queen of Scots series know who Daisy Kirkcaldy is.  She is the indomitable posthumous bastard daughter of the Knight of Grange. He is a real historical character, but she is not.  Sometimes I pretend she is my alter ego, but she is not that, either.  I know this, because, in my book 1603, the story begins with everyone who matters  telling her to get on with her life because her husband Will Hepburn is dead, and she refuses to believe them. In my novel, Daisy is right, and the rest of the world is wrong.  I would not have had her faith in Hepburn or her inner strength.

But then, this morning--a beautiful desert morning unique to the high desert after a storm--I awakened knowing as long as I do not write it, Hepburn and Daisy will live without either of them having to share the death of the other.  Such is the way of fiction.  Life is different.   But, I asked myself, what if Will should die on one of their madcap adventures under circumstances disallowing Daisy to deny the reality of  Will Hepburn's death?
What then, Daisy Kirkcaldy?
I think of another pair of star-crossed lovers from the history of Britain both of them real.  Like Will and Daisy, they do not alway act wisely or in their common interest, but their love is enduring and intense.  And one of them, the more selfish of the two perhaps, out-lived the other for many years.  Her name was Sarah Churchill, the wealthiest dowager in Britain, who even in old age was besieged by young, ambitious suitors.  But Sarah did not waiver.  Legend is she drove them off telling them she would never give in marriage the hand that touched hands with John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough. Methinks Daisy would behave in the same manner.

John Churchill - First Duke of Marlborough
She would live on because she is an adventuress, and she would not go about it alone.  But she would never link arms with anyone the way she linked arms with Hepburn. And not just because that is the way I have written them.

When I introduced them in my novel The Other Daughter, I rather expected Daisy to chose her nephew, Andrew Ker of Ferniehirst.

He was the tall, dark and handsome one.  There were genuine obstacles in placing Ferniehirst in a long term relationship with Daisy. Sir Andrew Ker is an actual historical character, married with a son and three daughters.  He became Lord Jedburgh and had his portrait painted alongside his wife Anne Stewart, who is depicted holding a monkey in her hand.

 In addition, there is the problem of consanguinity. Even today, avunculate marriages are not universally considered incestuous, but they are illegal in England and Wales, for example. During Daisy's day, the Pope gave dispensations to Hapsburgs when it was of dynastic advantage for uncles to marry nieces or aunts to marry nephews, but I find no such practice endorsed by the Calvinist Scottish Kirk.

William Hepburn is also real--the bastard son of  Lord James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, third husband of the Queen of Scots. His mother is either Janet Beaton or Anna Trondsen. History has little to say about him other than he was  James VI's browdinstair- an embroiderer of the canopies that hung above the king's place at the banquet table. He also had served as arbitrator in a street brawl. In choosing Hepburn, I had an almost empty slate to fill. But I am not sure I am the one who selected him. I suspect Daisy did.

In my current works in progress (WIPS in novel speak) Daisy is in her early thirties.  If she were a modern twenty-first-century woman, she would have another forty years before she faced the crisis that at 76, I am facing now. Her time with Hepburn likely would have been much shorter.

Modern women with permanent partners may not be as financially and socially dependent as their 17th Century counterparts. We have options. They do not make it easier to watch the breath grow shallow, or the eyes grow dim in one we love.  Daisy suggests rather than becoming maudlin, I should switch my genre to historical romance and send her, Hepburn, and the kids, on a voyage into a painted sunset, heading somewhere warm, mayhap Bermuda.  I wish they had room aboard La Belle Ecoassaise so I could write a place for Chris and me aboard their carrack.