Welcome to The Legend of Lady MacLaoch Spring Break Tour! I have author Becky Banks here today to talk about her book, The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, and a bit about her writing process and how she became a writer.
Without further ado, here's Becky.
1. What is your writing process like? Outlines? Music? Time of day? Where do you write? That type of thing.
Great question, and before we dive in, thank you very much for having me! So, up until several years ago, I didn’t think I had a process for writing since I would simply sit down and pound it out. But then I realized that is exactly what my process is. I do what some authors call pantsing (versus plotting). I write by the seat of my pants. :0) For The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, it was written solely from my gut with a whisky at my side and Celtic music in my ears (think Susan McKeown, Natalie MacMaster, Meav, etc.) to keep me in the moment of when I was there last. This is what I now know as “feeding my creative," the internal critic is drowned out allowing me to write unhindered until the end of the story. :0)
Regarding where I write, I feel I should mention that during the writing of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch’s manuscript I was working full time. I wrote before I went to work, during my lunch break, and after work until bed, then got up and wrote all day during the weekends. Since I write on a laptop, I write anywhere. Currently I’ve remodeled my attic and work there with a great writing station, but before that I was just on my couch or floor or wherever I wasn’t cramped from sitting too long. :0)
2. Where did you get the ideas for your characters and setting?
For this book, it was directly from my trip to Scotland. Scotland has a mysticism about it; the history that is seeped into its soil and etched into the stone of its castles is pure muse. I came back from Scotland with wild fantasies and stories all clamoring in my head, and I simply sat down and started writing. I’ll be honest--and you can ask my initial peer reviewers on this--the first edition of this manuscript was a little schizophrenic. I think one of my reviewers said, “This is ahhh...good. In some places it actually reads like a book.” LOL!
Castle Laoch in the book is inspired by Dunvegan castle on Skye, home to the MacLeod clan who still operates with a clan chief. Regarding the characters, Cole is a mix of women I know, but is loosely based on a coworker of mine who’s an engineer, very analytical and is known to see things in black and white--it is or it isn’t. For Rowan, he’s a bartender we met while in Portree (the town that the fictional Glentree was based upon) on Skye. He’s a MacLeod and charming and looks much like Rowan, though he is NOT a clan chief, and I’d bet dollars to donuts he’s never seen the inside of a RAF fighter jet’s cockpit. :0)
For the secondary characters, they all resemble one person or another that I have either met personally or know of through various means. The MacDunnah brothers, however, came right from my subcortex. I woke up one morning in the midst of doing massive edits and they simply clamored right out of my mind and onto the page. These two hilarious lovable old Scottish twins are my favorite, though Wanda comes in as a close runner up. She’s pretty fun too. :0)
3. Did you go to college? What did you major in?
Yup! I was a hardworking science chick. I studied at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, earning a bachelor's in natural resources and a minor in science education. It wasn’t until much later that I thought maybe I should have taken the hint from my fiction writing course instructor and changed my major. But I was just semesters away from graduating at that time, and was focused like a laser on graduating then starting my career instead. Though looking back now, I’m happy to have taken the path I did--the sciences give my writing a depth, or as my dad says, it builds character. :0)
4. At what age did you figure out you wanted to be a writer? Is there anything else you want to do besides write?
This is always an interesting question for me because I came late to the realization that I was a writer, as in, I realized I wanted to be a writer about five years ago. But as I’ve learned over these past few years, you don’t just wake up and be a writer; you’ve probably been writing for years not realizing that writing is your craft. I’m one of those people. I’ve been doing personal creative writing since I was a child. Diary entries, bad poetry, emotional diatribes--things like that. It wasn’t until the college fiction writing course I mentioned above that I realized I had any knack for it.
Because I’ve just arrived onto the writing scene, there is little else I want to do besides write right now. Though I do fill my days when I’m not writing with working part time at my old career in the environmental field, gardening, bossing my dogs and husband around, and generally being a nuisance to people I know. It’s quite fulfilling! :0)
5.Which classics are your favorites, if any? Why? Favorite book? Favorite band?
Ah, the classics. By far it has to be To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the first time that I realized that books could “show” you things. That you could be so immersed into the words that it was as if you were walking in the character’s shoes. I loved it, and hated the injustices that I was shown.
Favorite book, I have several. I’m a moody reader; sometimes I love Phillipa Gregory, and other times she’s not smutty enough for me. So, my favorite book vacillates between Lord of Scoundrels (smutty well written awesomeness) and The Help. The Help is the latest book I’ve read that sucked me into the story and moved me as well as educated me. And there is always the classic epic romance, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
My favorite band? The Black Keys. But I feel with their latest megastar status, I should qualify that with I also love Audioslave, Azam Ali, Madeline Peyroux, Adele, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Presidents of the United States, Cee Lo Green, Cake, Flogging Molly, Fiona Apple...
6. Finally talk about your book. Obviously. What was difficult about writing it? Easy? Can you talk about your next project?
The most difficult thing about it was trying to figure out what in the world I was doing. It was the first manuscript that I’d finished and I had no formal training on how to craft a novel, so I winged it. I just wrote the progression of the characters moment by moment, unwrapping their emotional journey page by page. Then when I finished it, I was giddy for weeks that I’d finished it and I didn’t care how it read. But then reality hit, and I spent the next year editing and rewriting it. And THAT was hard. Rewrite a novel--five times--and you’ll learn a few things on novel writing. What was easy? The creative. The pouring myself a glass of whisky, turning on the music, and slipping back to Scotland. Though all in all, compared to my statistic class in college--it all was duck soup. :0)
The next project is very different from The Legend of Lady MacLaoch. Very different. The story takes place in Portland, Oregon, it’s about one man’s violent past and the loss of his first and only love. It’s a gritty, dark, fast, and redeeming love story that explores the question of first loves: what if your life moved in a way that brought you back together with the person you first gave your heart to? The novel is due out later this year and on Sunday I’ll be posting more about it on my blog www.beckybanksonline.com.
Thanks again Kara for having me!!
And now, my review.
I’ve never been into reading books set in Scotland. But when I was approached to review this book, there was something about the blurb that really piqued my interest. I’m glad I took it on. It was a great book. I also want to note that historical romance is totally not my thing, but since there was a paranormal aspect, I figured I would give it a shot.
The setting of Scotland totally won me over. It was so atmospheric and the imagery was fabulous. I could picture all the green rolling hills, castles, and wonderful little walled gardens as if I was there myself. The author did a great job of setting the scene. I can tell she did her research as well with the talk of Scottish clans and the different types of plant life that grows in Scotland.
One thing I really loved about The Legend of Lady MacLaoch was the dialogue. I thought the way the Scottish dialects were written was absolutely brilliant. It only added to the overall atmosphere of the book, and I found myself really wanting to visit there and see the place for myself. Awesome job, Mrs. Banks. I could not put this book down.
Here comes the part where I turn into a crazy, raving lunatic. The characterizations. Out of this world. I loved Wanda so much. She was just this side character who was in a very small part of the book, but I fell for her. Oh did I ever fall for her. I wanted to know her so badly and wished with all my heart that she was real. The MacDunnah brothers? Hah, I loved them! And Rowan? Holy hunk muffin! What a guy. I can easily understand why women were fighting over him. That’s not actually what happened, but it was sort of along those lines. I try not to reveal storyline in my reviews, so that is all up to the reader to understand. Even the villains were written well. Every character had multiple dimensions and jumped right off the page. Oftentimes the villains are one-dimensional, and just have the bad side. I didn’t find that to be true here at all. I was blown away by the characterizations. Completely wowed.
The writing was superb. If every historical romance novel was written this way, I would be all over this genre. But alas, they are not. So I will walk away from this book knowing that there are some gems out there. Also, I will read everything this author writes. Her voice was amazing. I rarely say this in my reviews, but buy this book!! I recommend it for everyone. Honestly, everyone. I want to thank the author for allowing me to read her book. It was certainly worth the time I invested reading in it.
To purchase The Legend of Lady MacLaoch from Amazon.com, click here: The Legend of Lady MacLaoch. The Kindle edition is only $0.99!
And now for the giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!