In 16th Century Scotland, the clans are in a state of relative peace, but the younger sons of the Strathyre clan are still expected to serve two years of military service. Mackie isn’t a keen soldier, but his duties have been made more bearable by highly pleasurable encounters with his fellow conscripts. With their green kilts hoisted round their hips, the men find ways of staying warm in the inhospitable Scottish climate.
Mackie’s least favorite task is lookout duty in the woods outside the chieftain’s castle, where he’s unexpectedly forced into action when he spies an intruder among the trees. As a result of the incident, he’s assigned to accompany the chieftain’s eldest son Alexander to his uncle’s castle in Braelen. The trip should be short and uneventful, but when disaster strikes, Mackie’s strength and bravery are put to the test. He soon finds himself in an even more risky situation, as it becomes clear that Alexander wants more from Mackie than simply his protection.
1 What is a food that you love?
I’m afraid it has to be cake – of any kind – although chocolate cake would have to be my favourite. A bit predictable, I know, but sometimes it’s the only thing that hits the spot. We have, however, just discovered a wonderful new bakery which does the most amazing ciabatta bread. A chunk of that with a little olive oil is gastronomic heaven.
2 Who are some other authors that you love to read?
My favourite author is Edmund White, whose books are the literary equivalent of the perfect piece of chocolate cake – something to savour and take your time over. I love the way he combines intellect with anecdotes, wandering off into philosophical musings then returning to a beautifully written sex scene. I particularly enjoy his semi-autobiographical works, which can be truly heartbreaking. The other authors on my bookshelf include David Leavitt, Alan Hollinghurst and Patrick Gale. I love Stephen Fry’s novels too. They’re such good fun – I do hope he writes some more!
3 Are you a plotter? Or do you wing it?
It varies from story to story. Sometimes I have a whole plot figured out before I start writing and other times I start off with a single scene and see where it goes. Even then, it doesn’t usually take long for the general outline to take shape, although the details may change as I write. My upcoming novel Burning Ashes, for example, started off with a specific plot about two cricketers, but then I got so involved with the characters that I wanted to delve more into their lives and find out what happened to them beyond the initial story. I’m so glad that I did, as I absolutely love the story now and am really excited about its release in October.
4 Do you revise?
Lots and lots – I’m afraid I’ll never make a fortune out of writing, as I take so long to write (and rewrite) each story. I hope I’m getting a bit quicker, but I do like to get each bit of a story just the way I want it. If someone is going to take the trouble to read my stories, I want to make sure they’re as good as they can possibly be.
5 Without spoiling us, what was your favorite part of writing this story?
I must admit, I did enjoy writing the fight scenes in To Protect the Heir. I’ve never written anything like it before and it was quite a challenge. There are so many emotions involved in a fight scene on top of the pure physicality of the situation. This made the scenes quite intense and I hope that readers enjoy them. Of course, the sex scenes were great to write, too. There are no comfortable beds or plush fur rugs here. It’s far more rough and ready, with bare forest floors on cold wintry nights and danger lurking in the darkness – but there’s still plenty of romance too.
6 Describe your MCs
The main character of To Protect the Heir is Mackie, a conscripted soldier in 16th century Scotland. He has no real desire to be a soldier, but he risks his life for his clansmen on more than one occasion. He’s physically impressive, funny, intelligent and incredibly brave – the kind of character I think readers will fall for.
Alexander is the other main character in the story. He’s the chieftain’s son and starts off as a slightly shy young man. He treats Mackie and his colleagues with respect, but he’s been brought up in a life of luxury in the castle. He gives the impression of being a bit on the soft side, but he’s soon forced to grow up as the plot unfolds. He also happens to be very handsome – and did I mention he looks fabulous in a kilt?
7 If your MC could have 1 superpower, what would it be and why?
I think Mackie would like the proverbial ‘eyes in the back of his head’. He’d save himself a lot of trouble if he could see all around him all of the time – but then it wouldn’t be quite such an exciting story!
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As an avid reader of gay fiction, she decided to have a go at writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and her upcoming debut novel.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England. She’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas, and also likes visiting the beautiful villages in the surrounding countryside. In her spare time, H. loves cooking and also discovering the many fabulous local food shops. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey. She also loves listening to Test Match Special while she’s writing (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)