Interview with Austine at NovelKnight

Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Highland Crown?

We’re dyed-in-the-wool storytellers and historians. In our reading we’re always looking for historical persons and settings and events that are a little different. Years ago, we ran across information about the Radical War of 1820, a forgotten piece of history. After the long war against Napoleonic France, the people of Scotland and England suffered with terrible economic hardship. Wages fell and prices rose. Dissatisfaction in the middle and lower classes was sharpened by the widespread desire for political reform. People wanted a voice in government. In Scotland this took on a nationalist feeling, similar to 1745, when the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie promised to end the parliamentary union with England. The government became very nervous, and the Crown authorities became brutally repressive.

This was how the idea of Highland Crown, the first book in the Royal Highlander series, came about.

Our novel delves into actual history that most readers might not be aware of. That doesn’t stop the story from providing a solid historical romance experience, however.

Introduce us to your main character!

Isabella Drummond, inspired by an actual female physician, Dorothea Erxleben (1715-1762), is a trained physician who’s been recently widowed. So many people think that women in history accepted a limited role in education and professions and society. The more we research, the more we find women who struck out boldly against social constraints to develop a place for themselves.

Cinaed Mackintosh is a ship’s captain with a mysterious past. He is a classic reluctant hero, charismatic and smart and courageous. Jim says the man is totally based on himself.

In our story, Isabella and Cinaed are thrown together in the middle of Scotland’s ‘Radical War’. Theirs is a relationship tested in fire by the ongoing social unrest. We believe that struggle makes their story timeless.

Walk us through a day in the life of May McGoldrick.

You probably know that May McGoldrick is actually two people. We are Nikoo & Jim, a married writing team who have produced fifty works of historical romance, suspense thrillers, YA, and how-to books.

A year ago, we moved from Northwest Connecticut to Southern California, but we somehow managed to keep to our East Coast schedule.

· 5:00 am – we get coffee and go to work.

· 8:00 am – our hundred-pound dog sits on Nikoo’s lap, so it’s time to feed him and go for a walk.

· 8-9 am – eat, walk the dog, answer emails.

· 10-3:00 – write, write, write

· After – go for a walk at the beach, stare at the sunset over the Pacific (while Nikoo tries to talk Jim out of trying to learn to surf).

· Many of our evenings are spent brainstorming over the scenes for the next day. And we’re huge readers.

Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

We write for the love of writing, just as we read for the love of reading. We say that writing is our passion; the career is incidental. Here’s our advice for all writers new to the business and old timers: read and write and write and read. You can’t be a good writer unless you’re a voracious reader.

I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

We both just finished Where the Crawdads Sing, and we have to say that Delia Owens moved to the very top of our favorite authors’ list.

Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

We constantly wonder “what if?” As individuals, we constantly ask ourselves, if I had only done this differently, how would things in my life or in the world have changed? Our theory is that you have to know the past to do better in future.

Highland Crown’s story focuses on exciting events and upheaval during the late Regency period in England and Scotland and Ireland which are tremendously relevant to us and our reader today. We believe that knowing what happened then helps us understand what is going on in our society today. Add to that a strong and fascinating female protagonist, a gorgeous hero, and lots of swoon-worthy scenes, and you have some good reasons to read our novel.

Any Outlander fans out there? How about Poldark? If the answer is yes, you’ll enjoy Highland Crown and the whole series.

Fun Stuff!

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Nikoo: visionary, storyteller, passionate

Jim: adventurer, funny, kind

What is your Hogwarts house?

We are definitely Gryffindors. “Do what is right.”

Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?

Cinaed and Isabella both win. They each have strengths, but they could never hurt each other.

A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?

Isabella – Lilly Allen, Claire Foy

Cinaed – Kit Harrington, Aidan Turner

Coffee or tea?

Nikoo and Jim – coffee before 12:00 noon, then tea, tea, tea

Best ice cream flavor ever?

Nikoo – anything with chocolate

Jim – chocolate chip

Your theme song/personal anthem?

Nikoo – Dancing Queen (Abba)

Jim – Under Pressure (David Bowie and Queen)

Favorite quote?

Nikoo – “Where there is love, there is life.” Mahatma Ghandi

Jim – “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?

Give more than you want to receive.