One of the questions that I have been asked repeatedly is why I choose to write Highland/Scottish romance. For anyone who knows me they usually add, “Your husband is from Ireland, why don’t you write books set in Ireland?”
The answer to the first question is, I write Highland romance because I fell in love with the genre the first time I read it. I chose to read it because my heritage is Scottish (among other things, like many Americans). My Grandmother was a Lowther and her mother was a Douglas. My family, on both sides came to America in colonial times. Over the years I have done a lot of research on medieval Scotland and England because it intrigued me.
The second question is harder to answer. I love Ireland and have spent a lot of time there–significantly more than I have spent in Scotland. My pen name is Irish. My husband came to the United States as an adult so much of his family still lives in Ireland and we visit often. I do want to write some books set in Ireland. The fact is, I just don’t know that much about medieval Irish history but I am currently researching it.
Perhaps the bigger reason I haven’t tackled this yet is what I have learned of the medieval history of Ireland is particularly painful and often tragic. Isn’t all history painful you might ask? Perhaps, but compare the Norman invasion of Britain with the later British invasion of Ireland. In 1066 the Normans successfully invaded Britain, took over completely and the Anglo-Saxon Britons were enveloped by new laws and leaders. Eventually, the entire population was considered “British” rather than “Anglo-Saxon” or “Norman.”
Therefore, although they were descendants of the Norman invaders, it was the British as opposed to the Normans that invaded Ireland in 1169. This time, the invaders did not incorporate the local people effectively. There was a book written in 1612 (more than 400 years later) by Sir John Davies, King James I’s, attorney-general for Ireland called A Discoverie of the True Causes why Ireland was never entirely Subdued and Brought under the Obedience of the Crowne of England. In it Sir John notes that the Irish were never granted the benefit and protection of the English laws so that they could be oppressed by the English. Essentially, if they weren’t ever considered subjects of the crown, with the same rights under law as the English, how could they be expected to obey the crown?
My books have historical settings, but they truly focus on human relationships more than the history. So far, I have intentionally not chosen settings during particularly violent periods of history. I find it difficult to write the fairy tale romance I love, when the lord of the castle, and the people in power are the oppressors. Romances written from the point of view of the oppressed are equally difficult. I will probably never write a Scottish romance close to the time of Culloden for the same reason. That said, I certainly do applaud those who tackle this difficult subject matter.