I am currently eagerly anticipating Sunday. I cannot wait. I’m eagerly anticipating the release of The Braes of Huntly by Kristin Gleeson. It is the third instalment in her The Highland Ballad Series. I have actually had to find something better than just waiting. Luckily for me, Kristin has been kind enough to help me pass the time with a little interview. The first in my new ‘Meet the Author’ series.
The Highland Ballad Series is a fantastic work of Historical Fiction set in Tudor Scotland (in the most part anyway). It is factually accurate although, perhaps rather obviously, the story is fictional.
Abby Gordon is our heroine, she overhears a plot to kill Mary Queen of Scots and is sent, by her father, from Paris to Kilchurn Castle. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes up a position as a lute player with the castle’s musicians. It is there she comes across Iain MacGregor. The web of intrigue around the household entraps Abby and danger edges ever closer. Abby and Iain’s lives entwine in a way that is not immediately obvious.
The story left me completely enveloped in Abby’s story (and wishing I was her). I needed to get to know the woman behind the book.
So, without further ado, I’m pleased to introduce Kristin Gleeson.
Hi Kristin, thank you for agreeing to this. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Originally from Philadelphia, I now live in Ireland, in the West Cork Gaeltacht. I work as a librarian, but I also play the harp, violin and piano and sing. In addition to that I love to paint, something I find hard to resist in the beautiful area in which I live. It’s so inspiring.
I hold a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a national archives, library and museum in America. She has also worked as a public librarian in America, worked as a professional harper and storyteller and taught art classes.
Wow! Your books are historical fiction, where do you get your inspiration from? Is your job, as a librarian, helpful for finding the inspiration?
I get my inspiration from many places like songs, tales I’ve told or just something might catch my eye in the newspaper, on TV or in a book that says- wow that would make a good story. For example, the book, Selkie Dreams was inspired by a ballad I used to sing and play on the harp—The Selkie of Sule Skerrie. The current series I’m writing, The Highland Ballad Series- was also based on a song—as you can tell. The song is Iain Glinn Cuich, a traditional Scottish ballad. It inspired me to write a tale set in Tudor Scotland, during the time of Mary Queen of Scots. The clans are always good for meaty plots so I seized on three- The Campbells, the MacGregors and the Gordons.
Music is so much a part of my inspiration and is woven in so many of my books, I have uploaded and created links to recordings I’ve made of pieces that are linked to each of my books. There are only a few at the moment, but it’s a library that I will expand over time. The link is available in my books and through my newsletter, so if you sign up for my newsletter on my website (www.kristingleeson.com) or buy one of my books the link will be inside.
I did wonder about Iain Glinn Cuich being the inspiration for the character of Iain.
Do you have a research process for the factual historical setting prior to beginning the writing? If so, which process is your favourite, if any?
My approach to research is based on my experience as a historian. Primarily I look for general and specific books on the area, time period or culture and read and note the things that are I think will be relevant. Sometimes I start with children’s books because they boil down the elements really well and then I go on from there to the adult books for the specific things. There are also many good children’s books covering fashion and culture in the past. For instance I had a great book that showed me what an Renaissance Italian palazzo looked like that I used in the Sea of Travail and the Quest of Hope.
I do of course do online research and find that helpful for a specific question or really general inquiries. As a historian I am compulsive about trying to get it as accurate as I can, so I assess online research carefully. But that said, some of the Wikipedia articles are very helpful. And there are really helpful things online like how long it would take a person to paddle a canoe down the Alabama River and then out to sea along the coast (Along the Far Shores) and what was the average distance a person covered riding a horse in Scotland in the Tudor period (The Hostage of Glenorchy)
How long, on average, does it take you to write your novels?
It varies. I’ve been working full time as a librarian the past three years and so it has slowed down to about 1- 1 1/2 a year. Before that I was working part time and I was writing 2-3 a year.
With regards to the Highland Ballad series, are there any characters that are (perhaps loosely) based on real people in your life?
Hmmmm. What a fun question. To some degree I would say all the heroes in my books are based on my husband, because over the years I would say I’ve come to understand men best through him and my brothers. So I would say that the heroes are a combination of the best of my brothers and my husband. So Iain has a lot of my husband’s physical characteristics and many of the others, including wit and charm. The music aspect comes from my brother. J Abby and many of my main characters has a bit of me in her. Or what I would think of myself to be like. That’s hard to avoid too.
I loved the story of Abby arriving in the Highlands and meeting the mysterious Iain. Little did I know how the characters would develop. Do you have a favourite character from the series? (Of course, we must be careful to reveal no spoilers.)
Well, Iain would be a favourite. I put into him what I would want in a man, so of course he would be the best of all things, though a bit flawed. We poetic women love to ‘fix’ men that are a bit broken. I do have to say that I really enjoy and like the character of Claudine, who is in the forthcoming book, The Braes of Huntly. I had so much fun writing her. She is French, very very sharp and witty. I think anyway.
With The Braes of Huntly being released on Sunday to join The Hostage of Glenorchy and The Mists of Glen Strae, will there be any further additions to Abby’s story?
The Braes of Huntly concludes Abby’s story, but she won’t disappear. The next book after that will tell Morag’s story. Morag is Iain’s sister and there is a real good tale to tell for her. Abby will continue to appear, but more in the background. I couldn’t let her go, easily.
Do you have any advice for Wannabe writers, young and old?
The best thing to do is 3 things: 1. Read. 2. Read. 3. Read. 🙂
Lastly, is there anything else you want to mention?
If you want to know more about me, my books, read my blog or sign up for my newsletter to hear about special offers, new releases and other news, go to www.kristingleeson.com. I’m also on facebook. www.facebook.com/kristingleeson1
Thank you so much Kristin, it is fantastic to ‘meet’ the author behind the book (and responsible for a VERY late night!).
If you would like to read Kristin’s books too they are available from Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo and Barnes & Noble. (Full link details below.)