Behind the Scenes: Shannon MacLeod
Embrace the Lace by Shannon MacLeod
My goal is always to tell an entertaining, fun story that hasn’t been done before. I get daily emails with the new romance releases, read the blurbs and try to avoid plotlines that are overdone (you know the ones). In time travel romance, the heroine always is in a massive struggle to get back to her own time but torn between home and new love. Two of my favorite words are “what if”. In the case of Embrace The Lace, it was what if the heroine didn’t want to leave? What if she really liked where she was and didn’t mind staying? I adore Van – smart, fiercely independent, and being a woman in a male dominated field, has both wicked wit and a sailor’s mouth. She’s completely at odds with 17th century Scotland, where woman are still to an extent considered property. So there’s a fish out of water element, and to counter that, I needed a strong male lead with just a hint of Darrin Stephens-ness. Andrew was that result, strong sense of duty but young enough at heart that he is absolutely charmed (and often befuddled) by Van’s zest for life.
One of the critiques I’ve received for Embrace the Lace is my confusing the medieval/renaissance periods. Each time the period was mentioned, it was in Van’s dialogue. I figured Van (as an Engineering student) likely wouldn’t have the nuances of historical reference, so mistakes would be inevitable. I promise I do know the difference 🙂
I used to write late at night because I thought it terribly romantic (cue dark and stormy thunderstorm app), tortured artiste and all that rubbish. I have since found that I get much more done in the mornings. I almost always write in my home office, surrounded by windows so I can watch the birds and squirrels while I’m thinking. No TV, phone turned off and instrumental music only so I won’t be tempted to sing along. I AM the poster child for “easily distractable”. Writer’s block is absolutely a thing. Whenever I hit a wall, I’d go reorganize something (writers have the cleanest closets). I think about the current dilemma, try to imagine the most ridiculous resolution possible then land somewhere in between. “What could possibly go wrong? Ok, let’s go with that.”
I plot, outline, do worksheets on character building, and start typing. Then somewhere around 20,000 words the characters say, “You go sit down, we got this”, often deviating from what I’ve so painstakingly laid out. In many cases, I’m just trying to keep up. I find new character traits as I go and always end up backtracking to weave those in.
Call it a character flaw (or more accurately OCD/ADHD), but I live for research. I keep a dictionary open to search word origins, so that a 16th-century Scot doesn’t use a word unknown before the 20th century. Or as in the case of my work in progress, a 9th-century Irish slave doesn’t grasp the skirt of her cotton gown, cotton not being introduced in Ireland until 1750.
With prior novels, I received requests from readers asking for a pronunciation guide for the Gaelic words/phrases. I included that in the back of Embrace the Lace, along with a glossary of some of the more interesting things I learned along the way. Although I do speak some Scots, I have a native speaker who checks my grammar and spelling, often with hilarious results. “What the actual *** are ye trying to say, lass?” is common feedback.
Setting and Worldbuilding
I use Google Maps and travel websites to scout locations, landmarks, and landscapes. For castles and grounds, I draw floorplans so that I can keep everything straight when I describe, for example, Van’s flight from the castle kitchen to her chambers. I also keep a desktop folder called Faces and Places filled with interesting or unusual photos I’ve saved from websites. They are an invaluable resource later when I’m at a loss for description. I use a ton of historical sites, reenactment societies, period merchandise shops, and YouTube videos for clothing, weaponry, and customs.
The most important takeaway from Embrace The Lace is never, ever forget how to play. In real life, we all get bogged down in the daily grind but we can’t let it define us. We must take time for ourselves and just have fun, however we define it. Andrew was so mired in his responsibilities that he lost sight of just living. It took Van, the most unconventional lass that ever drew breath, to snap him out of it.
Embrace the Lace
Widowed Andrew MacIver has problems and responsibilities aplenty. At twenty and five, he is already chieftain of his large clan. His castle is in a state of disrepair, his cook is clueless and to make matters worse, his uncle appears dead set on taking his job. He doesn’t have time to admit he is lonely, but he does need to remarry – and quickly, for the clan expects their laird to have a wife and heirs. He needs the perfect noble lady, decorous, competent, and obedient. The upcoming clan gathering seems the perfect opportunity to renew allegiances, find a suitable bride and get married, in that order. Well…that was the plan, anyway. But then the fae got involved.
Loveable geek Paisley Evangeline Darling – Van to her friends – wants one last adventure before going off to complete her master’s degree in mechanical engineering like her hero Tony Stark. On the very first night at the SCA renaissance festival, she is snatched kicking and screaming back to 17th century Scotland, nearly drowning in the process. Andrew, her handsome rescuer, is stressed out and intent on helping her find her way home, but she is having way too much fun to leave. Who better than a smart, free spirited and independent 21st century lass to bring a little love and laughter back into the exasperated laird’s dull life? After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Caution: Contains meddlesome faeries, questionable inventions, culinary miracles, one ferocious dragon, a heroine with zero regard for convention, and a reluctant hero with his hands full.