Sue-Ellen Welfonder's path to becoming a published romance author began when published romance author, Becky Lee Weyrich, urged her to stop writing travel journals and too-long letters and try her hand at penning the romances she so enjoyed reading. Her first thought upon hearing this was that she was crazy ... she couldn't write a romance novel. Not her. But her urgings put a bug in her ear and after a few weeks of thinking about it, she asked her what she should do to pursue this new and suddenly irresistible dream. Becky took her under her wing, told her about RWA and put her in touch with the local Florida chapters. She joined, made wonderful friends, and embarked on the tedious course that would eventually lead her to that first sale to Warner Books. Unlike many unpublished writers, she chose to follow her own instincts and shied away from the usual bevy of critique partners and also never entered contests. Instead, she attended many conferences, chose workshops wisely, and read her way through just about every book on writing shecould get my hands on. The door cracked ever so wider by the year and burst full open when she signed with her current agent. It took her four years of trial and error to find her voice and produce the kind of writing her agent and editor obvious wanted. There were many set-backs along the way, though, and each time it took all her stamina to scrape herself up and keep trying. And that, truly, is the key. You have to keep at it. We'll never know how many beautiful books we'll never get to read because someone somewhere gave up too soon. .
Suzie Housley: KNIGHT IN MY BED was the hottest book I have picked up in some time. Each page seemed to sizzle as I read each one of them. In the beginning did you plan for this book to be as intense as it was?
SE: Well, before I even begin writing a book, I
know it will be hot because that is how I prefer romances to be. I love
the Alpha heroes: super-sexy, dark, and dashingly handsome, and I can't
imagine such a hero in a tame book. The kind of heroes I love are larger-than-life
and bold and as such, their very nature demands the heat. KNIGHT is
several degrees hotter than DEVIL and that happened naturally because
Donall (being Donall the Bold) simply was, well, quite bold and sure
of himself. To me, the hero and heroine dictate the tone of the love
scene and allowing Donall and Isolde a high degree of steam felt right
to me and fit their natures.
Suzie Housley: How did you come up with the idea for KNIGHT IN MY BED?
SE: My story ideas are always inspired by atmospheric
places I've visited. Atmosphere is very important to me and I make annual
research trips to Scotland and England and specifically visit medieval
castles and castle ruins, battle sites, ruined abbeys, etc ... While
walking around such places, I absorb the atmosphere, try to listen to
it, and it is at such times that the hero will appear to me. Born of
the atmosphere, if you will. KNIGHT was inspired by my own ancestral
isle of Colonsay in the Hebrides. Colonsay has a wealth of archeological
sites dating far back in time with many brochs which formed the inspiration
for the ruined sea tower where Donall was held prisoner. There are also
several tidal rocks in the Hebrides similar to the Lady Rock in KNIGHT
and each one has a similar legend attached to it. Those elements combined
to inspire KNIGHT.
Suzie Housley: In writing KNIGHT IN MY BED were there ever a moment where you would find a scene difficult to complete? If so, which one?
SE: No, not really.
Suzie Housley: Both of your books have been successful historicals, does this signal your next will also continue in this gene? Or will you break out into something entirely different?
SE: I will definitely continue writing Scottish medievals and will most certainly not switch to contemporary romantic suspense as so many historical authors seem to do these days. Writers are often told to write what they know, well, I like to take that further and say we should write what we love. I have three great passions and they are Scotland, the medieval period, and the paranormal. I write Scottish medievals because that is what makes my heart pound the fastest, what stirs my blood. Sure, I might have enough writing know-how and skill at research to write, say, a Western-set romance, but my heart would not be in it and that would show.
One of these days, I would enjoy writing paranormals, too, but please
put the emphasis on 'too.' I would never abandon the Scottish medievals,
but would like to write paranormals in addition to them. And even then,
I would set the books in Scotland and they would have a strong association
with medieval Scotland. My ultimate goal is to have a career similar
to Lynn Kurland who writes historicals, ghost heroes, and time travels.
Suzie Housley: I heard you had just recently returned from a trip to Scotland, by chance was your interest peaked in the development stages of KNIGHT IN MY BED?
SE: I'm not sure I understand what you mean. If
you mean did I decide to visit Scotland because I was writing a Scottish-set
book, no. I have always been fascinated by Scotland because I am of
Scottish descent on my father's side and grew up with an appreciation
for Scotland, its land and heritage. I spent fifteen years living abroad,
in Munich, and used those years to explore Great Britain and now, since
returning to the US, make annual trips there. I would go regardless
of my career simply because I love being there so much. A great benefit
to me, though, is that I have always been to the settings I use. That
helps when writing because as soon as I put my hands on the keyboard,
I am there again in my mind.
Suzie Housley: What is your greatest fear as an author?
SE: Reviews. This is the one aspect of being a published
author that I have great difficulty dealing with. I am a very private
person and just the thought of someone reading my book with the sole
intent of analyzing it and then posting an opinion of it makes me very
uncomfortable. I disliked being tested all through school and I never
entered RWA's myriad unpublished contests for the same reason. I am
equally uncomfortable with reader message boards and avoid them at all
costs. I don't know if I will ever get over this and even envy the authors
of several decades ago who did not have to deal with the Internet. It
has lots of great advantages but also a very dark underseam.
Suzie Housley: How did you come to be published by Warner? Had you tried other publishing firms?
SE: My agent sent the manuscript (the one that became
DEVIL IN A KILT) to Warner and it was bought within three weeks. Warner
bought it so quickly, the mss did not make the rounds with other houses.
Prior to that, before I signed on with my current agent, I'd submitted
other manuscripts to other houses on my own and been rejected. Looking
back, I can see now why those early manuscripts were rejected: they
simply were not ready.
Suzie Housley: What methods do you use to develop a novel? Do you sit down and plot it out scene by scene, or do you sit behind your computer and let the ideas flow.
SE: As I said above, my ideas always come from atmospheric places I visit, and always first in the form of the hero. I get the entire idea for the story at that time. Once the idea is there, I write a synopsis. Once you sell, this is crucial because an editor wants to know what the story is about and where it is going, if it has enough substance, etc ... I view the synopsis as a general road map that shows me where I am going, but I always allow for slight detours that may arise during the actual writing.
Suzie Housley: What did you do before you became an author? Have you known all your life writing was to be your calling?
SE: My background is with the airlines. I was a flight
attendant for twenty years and, no, I never intended to become a writer.
I am definitely not one of those authors who claim they wrote their
first story in second grade. My greatest ambition was to see the world
and I did that by becoming a flight attendant. I was, however, always
writing. I kept meticulous travel journals. I only considered writing
romance after a published romance author, Becky Lee Weyrich, encouraged
me to do so. We'd become friends after I sent her a fan letter and after
a few years she commented that reading my letters about my travel adventures
let her feel as if she were in those places with me. She then told me
she felt I should try my own hand at writing romances. That is how I
came to romance writing.
Suzie Housley: Your first two novels have been exceptional. What next do we have to look forward in the future months ahead?
SE: Thank you! Re the future, BRIDE OF THE BEAST is slotted
for Jan. 2003 and that Scottish medieval is Sir Marmaduke's book. He
was a secondary in DEVIL IN A KILT, and so many readers wrote asking
for his story that Warner asked me to write it. He is a very special
character and I am especially touched that so many of my readers care
about him. Otherwise, KNIGHT IN MY BED is actually book one in my trilogy
about Clan MacLean, and I am currently on deadline for Iain's book.
He was Donall's hot-headed brother in KNIGHT and his will be another
very hot book. After that, I have a book for Amicia, their sister in
KNIGHT, and then I would like to do Robbie's story. He was Duncan's
little boy in DEVIL IN A KILT. And then a trilogy about the MacKinnons
of MacKinnons' Isle as in KNIGHT. So I have lots of heroes and heroines
waiting backstage to take their turn.
Suzie Housley: In creating a novel, I would assume it would be easy to get caught up in the feelings that are being experienced by your characters. Have you found this happening to you yet?
SE: Most definitely. There is a little bit of me in every
character and I certainly do experience their emotions right along with
them. All of them: the good, the bad, and the funny. Depending on what
scene I am working on, you could walk into my office and find me wearing
a silly grin, frowning, or even pumping my fist in the air in sheer
triumph. The completion of a love scene will find me taking my little
dog for a walk -- because I need the cooling, fresh air after writing
one of those. <wink>
Suzie Housley: Do you plan to write any sequels to either one of your books, or is it hard to revisit your characters once your finish writing the last page?
SE: See above. BRIDE OF THE BEAST is not a true sequel,
but is certainly a spin-off on DEVIL IN A KILT. No, writing such a book
is by no means hard. Just the opposite. By the end of a book, the characters
are very real and dear to me. I had great fun writing Sir Marmaduke's
book and part of it was being able to revisit characters I cared about.
I like seeing them again, seeing what they are up to, and from what
I hear from my readers, they feel the same way. All the books I have
planned for the next few years have some connection to previous books.
Suzie Housley: What do you want your readers to take away from your books once they have finished?
SE: A warm heart and a satisfied sigh.
Suzie Housley: Have you ever explored the possibility to expand your books in other forms such as ebooks?
Suzie Housley: Is there anything you would like your fans to know that we haven’t discussed?
SE: Well, yes, but not necessarily my readers as they know this already. But I am somewhat concerned about Sir Marmaduke's name and worry that I will be roasted online when his book is released. I would like readers to know that I chose his name for a very valid reason. First, I never intended to write his book, so did not concern myself with whether or not Marmaduke was a good name for a hero. Secondly, I chose the name because it is the name of a very real knight of the times. The real Sir Marmaduke was a valiant English knight who had interesting ties to my great historical hero, Robert Bruce. When I knew I wanted Duncan to have an English knight as his best friend, I knew I had to name him after the very real and gallant Sir Marmaduke. Closer to BEAST's release date I will put a tribute to the real Sir Marmaduke on my website, and there will also be a mention of him in the book's acknowledgment.
Also, for those interested, I will soon be putting a 'Scotland 2002
Photo Album' up on my website with photos from my recent trip through
Suzie Housley: How can fans get in contact with you?
SE: Through my website www.welfonder.com or e-mail directly to firstname.lastname@example.org I also have a mailing list and stay in fairly good contact with the readers on it. The form to join my mailing list is in the OF NOTE section of my website. Thank you so much for interviewing me. I appreciate it.
When Lady Isolde, Chieftain of the clan MacInnes, learns that her sister Lileas has been murdered, she fears what her death will mean for her clan. Lileas was the wife of Ian, who is a member of the dreaded MacLean clan. It is rumored that Ian and his brother Donall were responsible for her untimely death. Isolde knows her clan will seek bloody revenge, but is no match for the powerful MacLean's. To go against one so strong would result in ultimate destruction. She devices a scheme to achieve peace between the two warring tribes; her plan includes impregnating herself with the seed of Donall the Bold, who is being held prisoner in the Castle Dunmier. She has him brought to her room, chains him to her bed, and plans to seduce him into her arms. To protect herself from falling for the handsome Warrior, she drinks a magic potion that will harden her heard against his alluring sex appeal. Will it be strong enough to outlast the growing feelings that are quickly overtaking her body each passing day?
In bringing back the body of Lileas Macinnes, Donall the Bold unwittingly finds himself imprisoned at Castle Dumuir. What he does not know is that he will be used as a pawn to help maintain peace among the clans. He is shocked when he is lead into the bedchamber of Lady Isolde. What sweet tortures does this temptress have in store for him?
Just when you think Sue-Ellen Welfonder couldn't get any better; she pulls out of her magic hat another winner in the form of KNIGHT IN MY BED. Readers, be prepared to turn the air conditioner up on high as you seemly melt as you read each hot and steamy passage. In addition to superb love scenes, you will also be rewarded with an intriguing unsolved murder mystery. A novel such as this is not for the faint of heart, but for those that crave excitement in their life!