Friday, 7 September 2012

Author Spotlight – Harriet Schultz

Harriet Schulz is an Author from Portland, Maine in the USA. Her background is in magazine journalism. She loves to travel, cruise and sail, and has published a few travel stories. Harriet has also just completed her first novel Legacy of the Highlands, a contemporary romantic suspense story set in Scotland.
Harriet at Arbroath Abbey
Well as you all know, I do love a contemporary novel set in Scotland, so when Harriet and I got chatting on Twitter recently, I was interested to know more about how she went about researched the Scottish elements of her story, so I invited her onto my blog to tell us about it.

Take it away Harriet!

My husband and I spent three weeks in Scotland last year. It was a vacation for us both, but for me this trip had an added bonus. I would see, hear and smell the locations in my already-published romantic suspense novel, Legacy of the Highlands, to see if I’d gotten it right.

It was with a sigh of relief, therefore, that we dropped off our rental car 1,500 miles later. For me, that relief came from the realization that I’d chosen and described my locations well. My husband’s was that we hadn’t killed ourselves or anyone else as we drove on the wrong side — to us — of Scotland’s narrow, unforgiving, and occasionally one-track roads.

We followed the coast north from Edinburgh to John O’Groats with a day trip to the Orkney Islands before continuing as far west as we could go. We traveled south to Oban before returning to Edinburgh for our flight home. Two destinations were of particular importance to me — the coast north of Aberdeen, between Cruden Bay and the town of Boddam and Arbroath Abbey where the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath was prepared.

A pivotal dramatic scene in my novel required a location that had physical characteristics similar to Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. The Internet is a wonderful research tool and I felt confident that the Bullers of Buchan, near Boddam, could be the perfect place for the action I’d planned. But I had to be sure. I posted my question to a Boddam-area chat room. Participants not only confirmed my hunch, but actually went to the site and then posted videos — with sound! — so that I could have a sense of the place. Their generosity was stunning and I thanked the Grampian Life Forum in my book’s acknowledgments.
Despite this, I still wanted to see the Bullers for myself. It was raining as we entered the small car park and headed up the narrow path to the deep hole in the cliffs that fills with the churning waters of the North Sea. The sound was deafening. Hundreds of squawking birds nest in the rocks and waves pound the cliffs with a roar. It was perfect.

Before visiting the Bullers, we stopped in the town of Arbroath. My novel is contemporary, but a phrase in the Declaration of Arbroath and an oath taken by one of its signers form the basis for a murder that occurs almost 700 years later. It was with wonder that I roamed through the abbey’s preserved ruins, imagining the courage it took to ask the Pope to urge the English to leave Scotland and her people in peace.
Harriet near the Bullers of Buchan

Novels are creations of a writer’s imagination. And while there’s a bit of leeway in fictionalizing actual locations, the more real they are, the more believable the tale.

LEGACY OF THE HIGHLANDS. Young, good-looking, successful, and wealthy. Will and Alexandra Cameron had it all until the night he went out to buy ice cream after an evening of passionate sex and never returned. When his body is discovered in a nearby Boston alley, the only clue to his murder is a Scottish sgian dubh dagger left beside it. Will's grieving widow finds refuge in the Miami villa of his best friend Diego Navarro, who has the means, power and temperament to solve the puzzle and to avenge his friend's murder. The sinfully handsome and charming womanizer's feelings for Alexandra run deep, and he becomes equally determined to win the devastated widow's heart. The attraction between them grows as they follow leads from Miami to Buenos Aires and Scotland, unraveling the Cameron family's centuries-old secrets.
LEGACY OF THE HIGHLANDS is available as an e-book from and and most other e-book sellers for £1.45 and $1.99. The book has also been published as a paperback.
The novel’s bestselling prologue, LUST AND HONOR, is a free download from the same sites.
You can catch up with Harriet on her Blog & Twitter
Twitter: @HarrietSchultz


Melanie said...

Sounds like my kind of read! And with it being partially set in Aberdeenshire, I'm definitely in!

Great interview, ladies.

Susan Vaughan said...

What a wonderful experience to visit the sites in your novel. Isn't it amazing to what extent people will go when you ask for information! Your attention to details and the authenticity enhances your exciting story.

Brenna Ash said...

Sounds like a great read! I'm totally jealous of your trip to Scotland. Someday, I keep telling myself. Someday I'll get there!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to do the research for your book! Congrats, Harriet. I'll have to check out your book.

Mandy said...

Would you believe I've never been to Scotland? I must remedy this now I am reading so many books set there! Great post and will look out for Harriet's books!

Linn B Halton and Lucy Coleman said...

Wow - what a trip! I've been several times when my sons were younger and we loved every second of it. The scenery was amazing. Congrats Harriet!

Kit Domino said...

How marvellous. I've only been to Scotland once but am determined to visit again. Good luck with your book Harriet, it sounds a fascinating read.

AliB said...

Hello Harriet
How great that you at last got to the locations for your book. I'm actually jealous as I was brought up in Scotland but have never been beyond Inverness. My novel (out soon!)is set in Fife where I used to live, but I still had to do lots of research as everything has changed so much since then :(

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Scotland though I've never been there in this lifetime. I'm can't wait to read it!

Melanie said...

I've been to Scotland six times. The longest duration was in 2000 when my husband and I went for 3 weeks to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

My feet are getting itchy to stand on Scottish soil again but in the meantime, reading books set in Scotland helps.

Harriet Schultz said...

I love all of your comments. Thank you for the kind words.
One thing we seem to have in common is a fascination with Scotland. I've visited three times now. After each trip, I think "enough," but then it draws me back again.
I hope you enjoy reading Legacy as much as I liked writing (and researching) it.

Janice said...

Thanks for all your really interesting and fabulously enthusiastic comments on Scotland, research, and Scottish set fiction. I'm really looking forward to reading Harriet's novel too - having downloaded and read her free prologue to Legacy of the Highlands - 'Lust and Honor'

Thanks for being a fantastic guest, Harriet.

Janice xx

Harriet Schultz said...

The thanks go to you, Janice, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. It was fun!


Talli Roland said...

Sounds like a great read, and Scotland is such an atmospheric setting. Congrats to Harriet!

Anonymous said...

nice post thanks for sharing...i found your blog thrue other follower im looking for to visit more...blessings

Harriet Schultz said...

Thank you, Talli. I liked your post about the York Writers' Conference. I've found writers to be the most supportive, generous people as evidenced by Janice's invitation to me to post on her blog. I'd mentioned to her that it was difficult to find readers in the U.K. This has helped!

Janice said...

I agree with Talli - Scotland is so atmospheric and especially in the Autumn months before it gets really cold and icy!

I've really enjoyed having you over from Maine USA, Harriet, and I'm so delighted to hear that you've had such a great response from UK readers for your wonderful Scottish based novel.

Janice xx