Ever wonder what lies beneath the ink of a story?
If you're like most readers, you probably do. Inspiration can come from a myriad of sources. The spark might be an external influence, such as the author's passion for her setting. Or an idea will spring to life from something deep in the writer's psyche. The writer's life experiences also offer great fodder. Ideally, a story is a good blend of all these factors.
Haunted Warrior is largely inspired by its hero, Graeme MacGrath. Haunted Warrior is also a tale that gives meaning to the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.
Graeme didn't just pop into my mind, telling me his story, as so often is the case with romance novel heroes.
I actually saw Graeme.
It happened years ago when I was walking a remote beach in northern Scotland. I spotted a lone man standing atop the dunes, looking out toward the sea. Tall, striking—looking, and kilted, he had an air about him that said he owned the strand. The word 'guardian' struck me.
He also had a sense of the otherworldly about him, even though he was quite solid. It was something indefinable that set him apart and caught my attention enough that I discreetly took three photographs of him. Two show him as I saw him. In the third picture, there's a globe of light where he should be standing.
He vanished as I snapped the third photo.
Startled, I ran up the dunes, looking for him. I was sure he'd simply nipped out of view and that I'd spot him striding away. But the dunes were empty. And so were the flat, grassy moors stretching in all directions. This was an isolated area with no nearby roads or houses.
The man was just gone.
And as I knew that the beach was said to be haunted, I wondered if I'd seen a ghost. The waters there are treacherous and have downed many ships, claiming countless lives.
If the man I saw was a ghost, perhaps he sees himself as a guardian of that shoreline?
Whoever, or whatever, he was, he gave me the inspiration for Graeme MacGrath and Haunted Warrior. The book's opening scene shows the heroine, Kendra Chase, following in my footsteps as she walks that same beach and spies a magnificent kilted man high atop the dunes.
Like my own experience, the man Kendra sees disappears before her eyes. Unlike what happened to me, she sees him again. She encounters him a short while later, a bit farther down the strand. The following excerpt shows what happens when they meet…
Kendra and Graeme's Meeting on the Beach…
He was the man from the dunes.
And he was coming right up to her, his strides long and easy, his dark gaze locked on hers.
"This is no' place for a woman to walk alone." His voice held all the deep, richness of Scotland. "The seas here are aye heavy, the surf rough—"
"Who are you?" Kendra didn't miss that his dark, good looks were even more stunning up close. "Didn't I just see you on the dunes?"
"You're an American." A corner of his mouth lifted as he avoided her question. His sexy Scottish burr deepened, as if he knew the rich, buttery tones would make her pulse leap. "A tourist come to visit bonnie Scotland?"
"Yes." Kendra's chin came up. Hunky or not, he didn't need to know her business here.
She was interested in his. Only Superman could change clothes so quickly.
"Weren't you in a kilt a while ago?" She kept her chin raised.
"A kilt?" His smile spread, a dimple flashing in his cheek. He held out his arms, glanced down at his jeans. "I do have one, aye. But as you see, I'm no' wearing it now."
"You did have one on. A kilt, I mean."
"You're mistaken, lass." He lowered his arms, fixing her with the same intent gaze as he'd done from the dunes.
"I saw you."
"You could've seen anyone. That's why I'll tell you again, this is no' place for a bonnie lassie—"
"I'm not a lassie."
"Nae?" He gave her a look that made her entire body heat.
"I'm an American." The excuse sounded ridiculous. "We don't have lassies."
"Then beautiful women." He touched her face, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
Kendra's pulse beat harder. "There are lots of gorgeous women in the States. Smart women who—"
"Those other women aren't here and dinnae matter." He stepped back, studying her appreciatively. "I meant you."
Graeme made a wonderful hero, possibly one of the most intensely sensual heroes I've written. But he's bound by a centuries—old legacy that leaves little time for romance. His days are filled with safeguarding his village and the coast that has been his responsibility for more centuries than he cares to count. The veil between this world and darker, more ancient ones is thin in the wilds of northern Scotland. And Graeme's enemy is determined to rip through the protective barriers Graeme keeps in place. Now, his foe is growing stronger, his increasing power threatening to seize advantage as a restoration project unleashes the wrath of spirits disturbed by the upheaval.
Graeme's hands are full. The last thing he needs is a distraction.
Even when Kendra Chase arrives on the scene, he determines to ignore her. Unfortunately, he can't. His archrival moves in on her at once, leaving Graeme no choice but to protect her from his enemy's clutches. It's just a shame he can't shield his own heart.
Graeme quickly falls under Kendra's spell and they soon find themselves pitted against supernatural powers that could destroy them both if they don't work together to undo an evil that's been brewing for centuries.
As with Graeme, I share a connection with Kendra. She works as a spirit negotiator, using her ability to see and speak with ghosts to defuse potentially explosive paranormal situations. I can't do that, but I did spend many years ghosthunting in the UK with two like—minded friends. Our adventures took us to haunted sites all over Britain. We had some amazing paranormal experiences and stayed at haunted inns, hotels, and country manor estates. We visited haunted castles, stately homes, pubs and restaurants, theatres, abbey ruins, cathedrals and churches, battlefields, and more.
The things we saw, heard, and felt, left me a believer.
If you still aren't convinced that truth can be stranger than fiction…
In Haunted Warrior, Graeme has a grimoire, a book of magical spells and symbols. Recently, a friend gave me a very special present. It's a lovely pendant, a talisman to bring good luck to writers.
And guess what?
My new pendant has symbols and magical words taken from designs found in an ancient grimoire.
With a grimoire featured in Haunted Warrior and the book's release only days away, I believe my friend's timely gift will bring me luck.
Fact and inspiration came together neatly as I wrote Haunted Warrior. I hope you'll enjoy watching Graeme and Kendra fall in love.
With all good wishes,