Please welcome Victoria Zak, internationally best selling author in Scottish Historical Paranormal Romance. Her first book, Highland Burn, won honorable mention at the 2015 InD’Tale RONE Awards for best paranormal romance.
Tell us a little about yourself, Victoria.
Growing up in the sister city to Stirling, Scotland, Scottish flare was abundant throughout Dunedin. From my High School band to the annual Highland Games that took place right across the street from my childhood home, the bagpipes beckoned me. It seemed only natural to write in the Scottish historical romance genre. Add to the fact, I was also a paranormal romance junkie, there was no doubt that my influences would be the driving force behind my stories.
Today, I live in the sunshine state with my husband, two beautiful children, and two furry friends. Living in paradise, being a stay at home, and to be able to share my stories has been a blessing.
Tell us about something you are really proud of.
I extremely proud of my first book, Highland Burn. It was the first book I wrote and continues to do very well even after over a year of being published. HB, was an honorable mention at the 2015 InD’Tale RONE awards and is nominated for a Paranormal Romance Guild reviewers choice award for best shifter romance.
Do you like animals?
Oh my gosh, yes, love animals. I spent fifteen years in the veterinary and pet rescue business. I rode and showed horses in High School. At one point, I had three dogs and four cats. Now, I have a Pit Bull mix and a sixteen-year-old cat.
What do you enjoy most about being a published author?
This is a great question, Anna. What I enjoy most is working with other authors. I have learned a lot from amazing, inspiring women in this business. Truly blessed to be in this industry.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I’ve been lucky and haven’t experienced this yet. If I do get stuck with a plot line, I call my best friend, who happens to be a writer, and talk to her. She can usually talk me away from the edge. lol
To what do you attribute your success as a writer?
Oh gee, never in a million years would I have thought I would become a writer. In the fourth grade I hated to read. I actually got into trouble when I failed to present my book report to the class. My teacher wasn’t impressed with me faking through the report and sent me out of the classroom. I was so embarrassed. So, from that point on I hated to read. It wasn’t until I was thirty and had my first child when I read my first romance novel. At that time, I would use any excuse to have some free mommy time. After I read my first romance novel, I picked up a paranormal romance book and was hooked ever since.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I started thinking that I could write my own stories so, I read books on plotting, character development and so on until I felt confident enough to give it a try. This was also a time when authors could independently publish their work. I gave it a try and I’m glad that I did.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
I find inspiration everywhere I go. It could be a song on the radio, an article I have read, or just allowing my mind to wonder.
Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release in The Guardians of Scotland is Highland Fate. This is Hawk and Sister Kate’s story. I love writing series. In my books, all of my characters show up in each book one way or another. I hate saying goodbye when I’m done with a character’s story. Here’s the blurb:
She was his saving grace.
The Red Hawk, warrior chieftain of Helmfirth, is an over bearing, dominating dragon who strikes fear in his enemies, until one day a nemesis dares to test his limits and attacks Hawk and all that he holds dear. With one foot in the grave, Hawk finds himself inside the walls of Dunfermline Abbey and his life at the mercy of Sister Kate. In repaying a debt for saving his life, Hawk accepts Kate’s proposal. Will her proposal be the death of him or save him from a terrible mistake?
He was her fall from grace.
Growing up in Dunfermline Abbey, boundaries and vows have kept Sister Kate safe until a wounded red-headed Highlander in desperate need of her help turns her guarded life upside down. The lure of this man brings out a side of Kate long suppressed, she now yearns to leave the Abbey in search of her true self. There’s one problem, she can’t make the daunting journey through the Highlands alone. She needs a Highlander with exceptional skills and she has her eyes set on one, Hawk.
Heavy footfalls thundered on the ground as Red Hawk strode through the village, infuriated. His broad shoulders twitched and his spine tingled as he immersed himself in thought. He palmed his sgian-dubh, throwing the damn thing up into the air and catching it by its hilt. How could someone take his generosity for granted?
The land of Helmfirth thrived with rolling fields of oats, properly equipped with healthy oxen to plow the earth. He’d made sure that the butcher in the village had a never-ending supply of the best meats and poultry and the finest equipment to do his job properly. In fact, Hawk had hunted game himself on several occasions in order to feed his people when times were hard.
There were men-at-arms who defended this land and fought for Hawk with vigor, putting their country before their own lives. And Helmfirth flourished.
In return all Hawk wanted was order in his village. The townsfolk had jobs to do and they did them well or suffered the consequences of disobedience. It was an eye-for-an-eye way of ruling over his people. It became personal when someone stole, cheated, or killed on his land. Not that it happened often, but when it did, he’d show no mercy. He was the Justiciar of Helmfirth, well respected and feared.
There was good reason why Red Hawk led with a tight fist. He didn’t trust humans. Nay, he had learned long ago, when a human murdered his father, to keep his enemies close at hand. If it wasn’t for his two sisters, he wouldn’t give a rat’s arse about these people. His sisters needed peace and to live normal human lives. He owed them that.
Undoubtedly the warrior protected this village with his life, making sure Helmfirth thrived for these people and this is how they repaid him? With thievery?
Hawk passed several townsfolk, never once sparing a glance at them. Every last one of them made his gut lurch. The folks knew better than to cross the brooding Highlander’s path and scurried out of his way, bowing their heads so as not to meet his eyes.
As he heatedly treaded through the village, Hawk came across an auld woman who was selling fish. Because Helmfirth bordered the sea, it had a busy port for trade and was known for the freshest fish around. He sheathed his sgian-dubh and stopped in front of her. She was no stranger. Once, sometimes twice a day he would buy a bucket of fish from her, before making his way to visit his ferocious friends.
He threw the coins down on the table and snatched a pail. The woman knew better than to make small talk with the warrior today and nodded her head of graying hair, thanking him kindly for his purchase. Hawk humphed and strode off.
Reaching a small stone-fronted building with a thatch roof, he sharply came to a stop before he entered. He slammed the bucket down into the dirt and paced, resolving to calm the rage ripping through his body. This was his sanctuary and he needed to calm his backside down before he entered.
Taking a deep breath in through his nose, his jaw ticked and he exhaled. His dragon stirred relentlessly, begging to be released. His blood pulsed as he tamped down the urge to shift. Looking at the blue skies above him, the Highlander ran his fingers over his short red hair and composed himself, little by little. Once calm, he opened the door and with two strides he entered, bringing the bucket of fish with him.
Dust specks danced in the air as the sun shined through five of the windows lining the opposite wall. Feathers ruffled and talons pranced on perches as the raptors waited in their mews for their food. However, it wasn’t entirely the provisions that made the birds of prey excitable; it was their master’s presence.
One raptor in particular stood quietly as Hawk approached. The massive goshawk was unhooded and uncaged, perched alone on its jesses, showing remarkable patience as it waited for its master to prepare and tie a leather band around his forearm for the hawk to perch on.
It was illegal to own such prestigious animals, but Hawk cared naught. If caught the punishment was the severing of one’s hands. Try as the mighty may, Hawk welcomed a confrontation with the sheriff or even the bloody king himself. If fact, slaying King Robert would right the wrong the king had done to his family years ago. Justice would finally be served.
Hawk worked his jaw back and forth as he tightened the leather strap. “Humans,” he spat.