In December of 2003, I was preparing to market my novel, A Restless Knight. At the time, several author-friends said the market for Historical Romances was slow and was especially over-saturated with Scottish Historicals; I should try writing something else that would stand a higher chance of selling. Well, that’s a fine how do you do! A Scot, one with a strong background in medieval history, and couldn’t sell a Scottish Historical? Well, fudge!

One who offered me sage advice was NY Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands. Lynsay suggested I try for a lighter romance, one laced with a wee dram of my quirky Scots humour. She thought my voice would come alive with that style. This is Lynsay’s area--she’s the Queen of Hysterical Romances. When she gave good advice I would’ve been silly not to listen.

She asked me what else I was working on. I told her about a series of books I originally thought to target Silhouette Intimate Moments-- seven books about seven sisters, in their thirties and finding love better the second time around. As I worked with the novels, I knew they deserved single title treatment. Each book was just so special.

The idea for the series hit me one summer while sunbathing in Scotland! No, I hadn’t had a wee dram too much. It was a hot summer, into the high 80s some days, very unusual, so my sisters and I were taking advantage and actually getting a tan. I realized each of us were into a ‘second love’ in our thirties. We’d lost loves through divorce or death. Now we were starting over, facing love on a stronger footing. We’d grown enough to be comfortable with who we are and what we wanted in life, and brought that ‘woman in bloom’ to our relationships. We each agreed our love was so much stronger, more vital because we were better equipped to handle it, treasure it, and were mature enough to put aside our own egos and really work for a fulfilling partnership. Being a writer―translation: all life experiences are fodder for our imaginations―I hit on the idea of doing stories of seven women coming into their own, dealing with finding their place in life, and discovering that romance was, indeed, better the second time around.

I had finished one sister and started working on four others--all written as straight romances--no paranormal elements, not going for humour. When Lynsay asked what WIPs I had going that weren’t historical, I showed her the first one that was a rough draft finished, but also told her about The Invasion of Falgannon Isle. Originally, I had set it up as book three in the series. Only, she loved the premise and said she’d like to see more. That night I wrote the first three chapters. Much to my delight, she adored it and pushed me to finish the book and submit. I took her advice and haven’t looked back.

I recall a friend coming over to Scotland for a vacation that summer and being very disappointed. I guess she expected everyone to live in castles, paint their faces with blue woad and all the men run around in kilts. Scotland is so much more, but she failed to look past the Hollywood image with which she was familiar. Hollywood offered you quasi-history in Braveheart and Rob Roy, which were sweeping, majestic, but missed so much of what is special about the country. Two of my favourite movies, yes, despite their glaring faults―only Scotland, as I told my friend, is so much more.

It’s that more I wanted to tap into, that out-of-step with the world, far from the beaten path, the slower pace of days, the small community feel with the oddball, gentle humour that seems to laugh at life. These were things I wanted to imbibe into my loving prose. As I was on a boat going past Skye in the Hebrides, inspiration rose within me. Skye was often called the Isle of Women. Suddenly, the story seemed to write itself, taking on a life of its own. An Isle of Men. With it came the quirkiness and a touch of Highland mist, blending in a Brigadoon-ish, paranormal theme of an island of men wanting brides, but cursed to unhappiness until their Lady of the Isle found her one true love.

As for The Cat Dudley­―inspiration for him came from three cats my grandfather has―The Cat Basil, The Cat Nigel and The Cat Cyril. They tend to run his office and seem to boss everyone about. Dudley’s character is a blend of the three orange tabbies. He is an excellent character, but also a ‘device’. His immediate acceptance and unconditional love clues up the reader from the start that Des is a person worth loving­―even when Des doesn’t know it himself. The Cat Dudley shows the reader this by adoring Des from the very first.

So take seven sisters, romance, a mythical isle of men and one arrogant tabby cat and you have the formula for The Invasion of Falgannon Isle.