Prize-winning writer Rosemary Gemmell’s short stories, articles, and poems have been published in UK magazines, in the US, and online. She is now a historical and contemporary novelist and The Highland Lass is the first novel under her full name. She has also published historical novels and contemporary novellas with a touch of mythological fantasy as Romy and tween books as Ros, as she likes to tackle a variety of writing genres and styles. She’s versatile, she’s a great storyteller, and she’s a friend of mine! Welcome to my blog, Rosemary!
Tell me, what inspired this book?
The inspiration for part of the story began many years ago in the old Greenock Cemetery when my mother introduced me to Highland Mary’s gravestone. I’ve been fascinated ever since with this girl who captured Robert Burns’ heart during their short, ill-fated relationship.
I also wanted to set a story around my own area in the west coast of Scotland and another inspiration came from the fact that the American navy was based at the Holy Loch, just across the River Clyde, from the 1960s to the early 80s. And so it became a contemporary story about family secrets but with the short historical chapters told in Highland Mary’s own fictionalised voice.
I can’t wait to read it! What other books have you published?
I’ve published several novels/novellas as Romy Gemmell (historical and contemporary with a touch of mythology), and two tween books as Ros Gemmell. The Highland Lass is the first novel under my full name.
Really? I didn’t realise that. Tell us about your route to publication.
After years of being a published short story and article writer, a small Canadian publisher launched my first Regency novel, Dangerous Deceit, and this was followed by another small Canadian publisher taking my tween books. The next step came when the small Irish publisher, Tirgearr, launched my next historical novel, Midwinter Masquerade, then published the first two novellas in the Aphrodite and Adonis series. Bringing it up to date, The Highland Lass is published by the UK independent Crooked Cat Publishing.
Last year, the rights of Dangerous Deceit reverted to me and I republished it myself, as well as a Victorian novella and collection of short stories. I love the options authors have these days.
Wow – so many publishers. I bet they’ll be fighting for you soon. Tell me more about your writing method. Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Absolutely a pantster, and sometimes I wish I could plan the longer novels a bit before beginning! But I usually start with characters, apart from a vague idea of the story, and it is only when they start to interact that I can see where they are going. I always find different strands appear as I write, so perhaps it’s the subconscious taking over at times. I suspect if I planned too much, I’d never write the story.
I envy the confidence of writers who can write ‘into the mist’. I need to know a bit more about how I’m going to get to the end, myself. What are you working on at the moment?
The third Aphrodite and Adonis novella and far too many other ideas that I’ll need to organise into some kind of priority. But I love working on a few different projects at once.
Again showing your versatility and ability to multitask … What are your top tips for other writers please? Do share!
The most important are to read as much as possible; to persevere with your writing without giving up; and to keep sending work out, as that’s the only way to be published.
Full of common sense, as ever! Tell me, do you have a favourite writing spot? Do you listen to music or have the tv on while you write?
I do have a writing desk in the dining room with my computer and printer on it, but I find I write better with pen and paper when on trains or in cafés! Then I enjoy redrafting the words onto the computer. When I’m working at the desk, I love background music that reflects the kind of writing I’m doing, whether it’s classical, Celtic or a favourite modern CD.
Thanks Rosemary, you’ve been a great guest! Find Rosemary using the links below:
Eilidh Campbell returns to her Scottish roots from America with one main aim: to discover the identity of her real father. But her mother’s past in Inverclyde is a mystery with family secrets, a book of Robert Burns’ poems with a hidden letter and a photograph link to the Holy Loch at Dunoon when the American Navy were in residence.
Staying with her childhood friend, Kirsty, while searching for answers, Eilidh begins to fall in love with handsome Scot Lewis Grant, but just how free is he? Together they trace the story of Highland Mary and Robert Burns, with its echoes to her mother’s story. In short alternate chapters, Highland Mary tells her own story from 1785-6. From Dunoon, to Ayrshire and culminating in Greenock, Eilidh finds the past is closer than she realises.