Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Scent of the Soul by Julie Doherty

Thank you for joining us today, Julie.

Thank you so much for having me. I truly appreciate the time you put into this interview.

What inspired you to become an author?

I always thought I’d be an artist, since that’s how my father made his living. I had all these great stories in my head, though, and I wanted to share them with others. I naively thought you just wrote a book, submitted it, and people bought it. WRONG. It took me about ten years to get my act together and produce a novel worth publishing.

 Do you have a specific writing style?

People tell me I do, although I can’t really identify it. I love lyrical writing, but today’s reader demands efficiency. I strive for a blend of both. It’s a difficult task, but possible with proper word choices.

Do you write in different genres?

So far, I’ve stuck to historicals, but I’m working on a contemporary paranormal romance, and I would love to write horror.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

It was fairly easy, since my female character recognizes Somerled, her reincarnated soul mate, by scent.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

The title usually comes to me somewhere in the middle of the book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. True love is worth fighting for. If you find it, never let it go. Unless the other person isn’t all that into you. If that’s the case, let it go. To do otherwise makes you a weirdo stalker. And possibly a character in the horror novel I plan to write.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Several actual events served as inspiration. The first happened while waiting to pay for gas. 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. That was twenty years ago, and I’ve never forgotten the power of it. I’ve often wondered why I experienced that 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 someone met a soul mate from a past life? Would we recognize him/her? How?

It wasn’t until I learned about Somerled of Argyll (while researching my ancestry) that I decided to write a novel featuring reuniting soul mates. Although much of Somerled’s story has been lost to time, we know he was a hero long before Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. In fact, he’s the progenitor of many of the Highland clans so popular in fiction today. Without him, those clans may have disappeared altogether, since it was Somerled who wrenched western Scotland from the hands of the Vikings.

I combined the “soul mate recognition” idea with Somerled’s story, threw in a little supernatural scenting ability, and SCENT OF THE SOUL was born.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

I can’t say that any books have influenced my life, but plenty have influenced my writing. Laura Ingalls-Wilder awakened my love of historical fiction with her LITTLE HOUSE series, and in my teens, I fell in love with the Bront√ęs.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I love Bernard Cornwell, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, and Stephen King. That’s an odd combination, I know, but truly, I have learned something from each of them.

What book are you reading now?


What books are in your to read pile?

A lot of non-fiction titles about Colonial America. I know, I know...B-O-R-I-N-G. You’ll thank me, though, when you read my next title.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

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 land 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.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Like most writers, I suppose, finding the time. I have a day job, a long commute, and family commitments. Squeezing writing time into my day means getting up early, typing in my car during lunch, and spending every evening/weekend at the keyboard.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve spent a great deal of time in Scotland and Ireland. Google Street View is only good for so much. Sometimes, you have to slide your feet into a pair of wellies and go walking.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

Leah Suttle, cover artist for Soul Mate Publishing.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Run. Unless you are prepared for an uphill climb through a storm of windblown razorblades. Then, by all means, stick with it. But banish the image you have in your head that features you, the published author, strutting around like a pampered celebrity. That’s a complete fantasy. Today’s author is expected to handle at least some of her own marketing, if not all, and that takes time, the one thing you won’t have much of, since most authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs.

Also, you will have to develop a thick skin. You know the book that you ate, slept, and bled out of your very pores for the guts of a year? There will be people who hate it, and some will be downright caustic about it. You’ll have to somehow take it on the chin, allow the good reviews to feed your muse, and ignore the voices in your head that say you suck so much you should do the world a favor and jump off a bridge—with your laptop in hand so there’s no chance more of your horrible work could blight the world.

If, after reading that, you still want to be an author, then get your butt in the chair and start writing. And do like James Scott Bell says and buy a mug. Not just any mug, but one that says, “I’M A WRITER” on it. Of course, you need to study your craft, read extensively, etc., but you must first buy that mug, and you should drink out of it every day. When “I’M A WRITER” is in your face long enough, you’ll start to believe it. Even if you don’t, enough people will ask you about it that you’ll write something just so you aren’t a total fraud. Hold yourself accountable. Few will believe in you until YOU believe in you.

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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