Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Scent of the Soul by Julie Doherty

Thank you for having me. I know blogging takes a great deal of time. I appreciate your offer to introduce me to your readers.

You are every welcome, Julie. I love to showcase authors. Let's get started with you telling the readers a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I’m 48 and married to a Glasgow-born Irishman. It took us four years to navigate the US Immigration minefield, so I know a bit about love that knows no bounds, star-crossed lovers, and love conquering all. I guess that’s why all three of my books include those themes.

I was born the first girl after four rotten boys who had no interest in dragging me along on their adventures (probably why I’m still alive), so I had to use my imagination for entertainment. I spent a lot of time hiking up and down the ridges surrounding our Pennsylvania home, and I remember thinking how cool it would be to find a concealed Indian tribe or a deer that could talk. This probably grew into the “what if” method I use today as a writer. What if I went for a walk and stumbled across a forgotten tribe? What if a deer stepped out of the mist and told me I had a week to live?

It didn’t hurt that my dad was a natural storyteller. Most of his tales involved our Scots-Irish ancestors, which nourished my burgeoning fascination with all things Scottish/Irish. When I embarked on a journey to write fiction that I call “plaid to the bone,” few were surprised. All of my stories feature Scottish, Irish, or Ulster-Scots characters.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

SCENT OF THE SOUL features Somerled of Argyll, the 12th century progenitor of many Highland clans and the world’s second most common ancestor. Once an exile, Somerled is making alliances, expanding his territory, and proposing marriage to the Manx princess. It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell and a demon hot on her heels.

Are you a mom?

I wish! Unfortunately, I was never able to conceive. My third novel (in progress) touches on the anguish associated with infertility. I haven’t come across any novels with infertile characters, but maybe your readers have. I’d love to hear about them.

I am very sorry to hear that. I don't think I've come across any novels with infertile characters. Though I know one author I showcased wrote about her journey with adoption, I believe because she was infertile. I'll have to look that up and see if I can find the author/details. There is an urban fantasy series, The Delilah Street Series, that kind of touches on the heroine's supernaturally induced infertility (her uterus has somehow become lined with silver). But that's not really the same.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Many scenes from SCENT are based upon events from my own life. Overall, the book highlights the pain of two lovers forced apart by a third party. I have some experience here, since my husband and I endured four hellish years of separation during the immigration process.

There are more specific examples, too. I’ll give you two:  

The first is the scene in which Somerled comes up behind Breagha in the great hall. Would it surprise you to learn that part of this scene was based upon an experience I had at a gas station twenty years ago? Yes, really. I was waiting to pay for my gas when a man stepped into line behind me, and I felt this unbelievable energy emanating from him. It was bizarre, because he was not the sort of man I’d ever notice. In fact, if I met him in an alley, I’d probably run the other way, but as he stood behind me, I could feel the heat of him against my back. I’ve never forgotten the power of it, and I’ve often wondered why I experienced the magnetism. There was nothing sexual about it—just a familiar pull, like I already knew him somehow. Were we soul mates in a past life? Were our lives meant to connect in some manner? I’ll never know, because I paid for my gas and ran out of the station like my pants were on fire. It’s crazy, I know, but it led to the question: what would happen if we met a soul mate from a past life? Would we recognize him/her? How?

The second example is the scene in which dark warriors ambush Somerled’s warriors, who are camped on a beach with Breagha. In order to describe the terror of the attack, I drew upon my experiences from a 2009 home invasion. Believe me when I tell you I know what a woman goes through when she’s in hiding and facing her worst nightmare.

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

Yes. True love is worth fighting for. If you find it, never let it go. Unless there’s a restraining order. Then, please, move on.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

That I used to be a canine artist. Proof below.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I would love to take a stab (see what I did there?) at horror.

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

My second novel, coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing, is a story of emigration and hardship. It follows two of Somerled’s impoverished descendants as they flee Ireland with the one valuable thing left to them—a gold torc that once belonged to Somerled himself. Unfortunately, they find themselves in Philadelphia at the outset of the French and Indian War.
My third novel is in progress. It features Somerled’s contemporary descendant, who unearths a gold torc on her Pennsylvania farm. Curious about its origins, she travels to Scotland to investigate—and finds more than she bargained for.

What book are you reading now?

CAPTIVES, 1677: THE STORY OF BENJAMIN AND MARTHA WAITE, by Stuart Vaughan. I’m enjoying it very much.

What is in your to read pile?

My TBR pile isn’t as awesome as you might imagine. I have a bunch of non-fiction titles concerning Colonial America to read. Not all that exciting, but necessary for infusing my work with authenticity.

Scent of the Soul
Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication:  February 11, 2015

ISBN:  978-1-61935-705-1

Number of pages: 288
Word Count:  91,000

Cover Artist: Leah Suttle

Book Description: 

In twelfth century Scotland, it took a half-Gael with a Viking name to restore the clans to their rightful lands. Once an exile, Somerled the Mighty now dominates the west. He’s making alliances, expanding his territory, and proposing marriage to the Manx princess.

It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell.

Somerled resists the intense attraction to a woman who offers no political gain, and he won’t have a mistress making demands on him while he’s negotiating a marriage his people need. Besides, Breagha belongs to a rival king, one whose fresh alliance Somerled can’t afford to lose.

It’s when Breagha vanishes that Somerled realizes just how much he needs her. He abandons his marriage plans to search for her, unprepared for the evil lurking in the shadowy recesses of Ireland—a lustful demon who will stop at nothing to keep Breagha for himself.

Available at   Amazon    Amazon UK    Amazon Canada

As Godred’s oarsmen shoved off from the jetty, Somerled wondered if there was any man less suitable to deliver a marriage proposal. Godred of Dublin was coarse, marginally Christian—indeed, marginally sane—and easily riled. Nevertheless, King Olaf liked him, and for that reason alone, Somerled had selected him as his envoy.
“No side trips,” Somerled shouted before Godred was too far away to hear. “Ye have three places to go and that’s it: the Isle of Man, your clan, and back here.” Godred was prone to unscheduled detours.
Unless bad weather or the scent of easy plunder pulled Godred and his thirty oarsmen off course, Somerled would have Olaf’s answer in a few days. If Olaf agreed to the marriage, Somerled would add a wife to the items decorating his new castle at Finlaggan and eventually, the Isle of Man to his expanding area of influence.
The nobles would respect him then. Half-breed or not.
Behind him, a door squealed on one of the two guardhouses standing sentinel over the Sound of Islay. The small building spat out Hakon, his chief guard, another man of Dublin birth and temperament. Hakon strode the length of the jetty to join him. “I have every confidence the Norns will weave Godred a successful journey, my lord king,” he said, his words puffing white clouds above his tawny sheepskin cape.
“If your goddesses have woven anything, it’s an unfortunate headwind,” Somerled said. “Godred is forced to tack.” He closed his cloak and secured it at his throat with a brooch he once plucked from a Viking who no longer needed it. “The wind promises hail. My proposal will be delayed.”
“Aye, likely,” Hakon said, his hair and beard whipping into copper clouds, “but it will hasten Olaf’s reply. Do not despair, my lord. Ragnhilde will marry ye soon enough.”
Despair? Somerled stifled a laugh. Did Hakon think he had feelings for a lassie he had never met? He was about to tease his guard about being a romantic when Hakon stiffened.
“Another ship,” Hakon said, looking past Somerled’s shoulder.
Somerled spun around to inspect the northwestern waters of the channel separating Jura and Islay—the jewel of the Hebrides and the island that served as the seat of his burgeoning kingdom. “Where?” he asked, squinting.
Hakon thrust a finger toward the fog bank blanketing the horizon. “There, at the promontory, in that pale blue strip of water. See it?”
At first, Somerled saw nothing but swooping terns and ranks of swells. Then, an unadorned sail appeared. It crested on a wave, dipped low, and vanished.
“Should I sound the horn?” Hakon asked.
Somerled raked his fingers through the coarse, wheaten mess slapping at his eyes and held it at his nape while he considered his response. Behind them, the signal tower on Ben Vicar was smoke-free. Across the sound, the towers on the frosty Paps of Jura were likewise unlit, although clouds partially obscured their peaks. The Paps had a commanding view. If a signal fire blazed anywhere, the men stationed there would have seen it and lit their own.
“My lord king, should I sound the horn?” Hakon impatiently palmed the battle horn dangling at his broad chest.
Men began to gather on the jetty.
“Let us wait. It is only one ship, and it looks to be a trader. The signal fires would blaze by now if it were someone worthy of our concern.” Somerled glanced back at the mud and thatch cottages shouldering against one another. At their doors, the bows of half his impressive fleet rested on the shoreline, a sandy slip extending well into the distance. The rest of his ships sheltered at the far side of Islay, in Loch Indaal. A signal fire would deploy them quickly and, perhaps, needlessly.
“Alert the village. Have Cormac ready Dragon’s Claw,” he said, “but send only the nyvaigs for now.” The nyvaigs were smaller, but no less deadly. They would be out and back quickly.
Hakon sprinted through the gathering crowd and past the guardhouses. He leapt over a pile of rocks with surprising agility for a man of his years and size. In no time, specialized warriors and oarsmen were boarding the boats. A pony thundered inland, its rider instructed to warn, not panic, the people of Finlaggan.
Though Somerled carried his mighty sword, he had dressed for warmth, not battle. His mail shirt, aketon, and helmet hung in his bedchamber, two miles away in Finlaggan. He singled out a boy in the crowd. “Lad, find me a helmet and a shield, and be quick about it.”
The boy shot like an arrow toward the cottages.
Somerled held his breath as he watched the nyvaigs head out. At the first flash of steel, he would blow the battle horn. His men would light the towers and he would board Dragon’s Claw. The foreigner would be sorry he entered the Sound of Islay.
The ship’s features were barely discernible, but he could see that its high prow lacked a figurehead. He was trying to identify the banner fluttering on its masthead when the ship’s sail dropped and scattered gulls like chaff in the wind. His heart hammered against his chest as he waited for the foreign vessel to sprout oars; it didn’t. It stalled—a sign its crew had dropped anchor.
Dragon’s Claw bobbed next to him at the jetty, her top rail lined with colorful shields and her benches holding sixty-four of his savage warriors. Cormac gripped the tiller, but he would move aside when Somerled barked the order to do so. He would serve as his own shipmaster in the face of an enemy.
Low and curvy with a dragon’s head exhaling oaken flames from her prow, Dragon’s Claw was his favorite vessel, not because she was new or particularly seaworthy, but because he had wrenched her from the last Viking to leave his father’s lands.
The memory of that battle warmed him and occupied his thoughts while the nyvaigs swarmed around the foreigner. Then, they swung about, furled their sails, and rowed for home like many-legged insects skittering on the water’s surface.
When the boats reached the beach, Hakon jumped from his nyvaig and jogged through ankle-deep water, apparently too impatient to wait for his men to haul the vessel’s keel onto the sand. “Well, my lord king,” he said, “it seems to be the day for marriage proposals. It is an envoy from Moray, who comes at the behest of Malcolm. He asks to speak with ye regarding Bethoc.”
“Malcolm MacHeth . . . the Malcolm MacHeth . . . wants my sister?”
He had met Malcolm MacHeth only once, at King David’s court, on a night spoiled by ill-bred lassies who had mocked his foreign garb and speech. Malcolm, a bastard nephew of the Scots king, had observed his humiliation and pretended not to notice.
Yet here was Malcolm of Moray, a claimant to the Scottish throne and a known rebel, seeking Bethoc’s hand in marriage. Tainted bloodline or not, Somerled was apparently worthy of notice now.

About the Author:

Something magical happened in the musty basement of Julie Doherty’s local courthouse. She went there intending to research her ancestry, not lose herself in a wealth of stories, but the ghosts of yesteryear drew her into the past and would not let her go. The trail left by her ancestors in those yellowing documents led her from rural Pennsylvania to the Celtic countries, where her love of all things Irish/Scottish blossomed into outright passion.

She became particularly interested in Somerled, self-styled "King of Argyll" and progenitor of the Lords of the Isles. In 1164, he led a fleet of 164 galleys up the River Clyde in an all-or-nothing attempt to overthrow the Scottish crown. What would lead a man of his advanced years to do such a thing?

Of course, history records he did so because the king demanded forfeiture of his lands. But the writer in Julie wondered ...what if he did it for the love of a woman?

Those early ponderings led to SCENT OF THE SOUL, Julie’s first novel, coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing.

Readers will notice a common theme throughout Julie’s books: star-crossed lovers. This is something she knows a bit about, since during one of her trips to Ireland, she fell in love with an Irishman. The ensuing immigration battle took four long years to win. With only fleeting visits, Skype chats, and emails to sustain her love, Julie poured her heartache into her writing, where it nourished the emotional depth of her characters.

Julie is a member of Pennwriters, Romance Writers of America, Central PA Romance Writers, The Longship Company, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA. When not writing, she enjoys antiquing, shooting longbow, traveling, and cooking over an open fire at her cabin. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, who sounds a lot like her characters.

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1 comment:

Julie Doherty said...

Thanks so much for featuring me. Much appreciated.