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Heather McCollum | Giving Birth to Characters

Crimson Heart
Heather McCollum



Barnes & Noble

Highland Hearts #3

June 2014
On Sale: June 24, 2014
Featuring: Elena Seymour; Searc Munro
ISBN: 1622663624
EAN: 9781622663620
Kindle: B00FUWKLHU
Add to Wish List

Also by Heather McCollum:
Highland Surrender, November 2023
Add to review list
The Highlander’s Secret Avenger, August 2023
Highland Beast, May 2023
The Highlander’s Tudor Lass, August 2022


I’m thrilled to be here today on Fresh Fiction in honor of my newly released historical, paranormal romance, CRIMSON HEART! CRIMSON HEART is my ninth completed full-length novel and the third in the Highland Hearts series (which also contains two novellas). The circle of family and friends in the magical world of the Macbains and Munros continues to grow. Every time I turn around a hero and heroine from an earlier book have created another baby (those virile Highland warriors tend to do that) and wa la – I have new characters to raise.

It’s extremely important that all of these characters (both people and animals) are fully colored in with untold (or eventually told) past baggage, oddities, and personal preferences. Otherwise they fall flat as cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes (yawn – close book). So just as our infinitely diverse gene pool stirs up new human beings, we writers must shape our unique characters. Where do all these little persona details come from? My characters are mosaics, built from personality shards of every creature I have encountered mixed with a generous portion of my own vivid imagination and past experiences.

Characters are everywhere. I used to have weekly coffee with a group of ladies. One of them told us that she irons every single piece of daily clothing her family of four wears each morning. I imagine them lining up in their underwear waiting for their crisp, still-warm pants and shirts. Maybe one girl purposely walks through a sprinkler on the way to the bus, wrinkling up her clothes to quietly rebel against her mother’s need for control. What a fabulous detail!

Potential characters stand in bank lines, gossip next to me at the hair dressers, and order the Taj Mahal of vanilla lattes at the coffee house. People are fascinating! Airports, PTA meetings, grocery store deli counters, my characters are everywhere just waiting to be found.

There are specific places where memorable characters leap from every corner. I attend Renaissance fairs and tour museums. I journeyed through England and Scotland last summer to find historical and whimsical details for the Highland Hearts series. Every brogue I deciphered on our trip in the Highlands helped me visualize my Scottish warriors. I even attended an authentic Highland games in the Highlands where large, bearded men hefted tree-trunk poles in their kilts. Tattoos swirled around one competitor’s arms, complementing his biceps as he hoisted the heavy weight. Even though his gut was much bigger than my hero’s middle, those biceps are definitely featured in my books.

But I don’t have to go all the way to Britain to find colorful details. One fun game to play when stuck in traffic anywhere is to look at the people in the cars and trucks around you. A small group of romance writers and I did this on our way to a conference. We were next to a man and woman who were discussing something fairly intense in their BMW. We brainstormed about the issue, where they were headed and if one of them would end up dead within the week. We devised the best romantic suspense story just from sitting in traffic. Plus we laughed our butts off.

So where did Searc and Elena (my hero and heroine in CRIMSON HEART) come from? Searc is a serious version of my own Highland husband, with a dark past that makes him close himself off from his clan. Like my husband, he will never abandon anyone, including an animal. Elena is an amalgamation of ladies from the Tudor period, but she has definite rebel tendencies (much like my teen daughter).

If I get stuck somewhere in the writing process, it is almost always because I haven’t fleshed out my characters enough. Then I take a day and brainstorm with pictures, music and family trees to color them in completely. I feel like a therapist with my characters lying on my couch, but suddenly quirks, stern silences, and rash actions make sense. Motivations become apparent and the characters balloon from two-dimensional depictions to three-dimensional real people, people we can root for, cry with, cheer with and love.

Thank you again for having me on Fresh Fiction to celebrate the release of CRIMSON HEART! For more information on me and my books, please stop by my website. I can also be found on Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest.




34 comments posted.

Re: Heather McCollum | Giving Birth to Characters

Love highlanders can't wait to check these out
(Leanne Jacobson 1:29am June 28, 2014)

I found your posting to be quite interesting. Although I
have yet to read this genre of books, you've made wanting to
read this genre, your books in particular, something to put
on my TBR list!! I've read before how more Authors get
their ideas for books, but your spin, although similar, had
my interest peaked a bit more. Congratulations on your
latest book, and I'll be looking forward to adding something
interesting to my repertoire this Summer!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:45am June 28, 2014)

I love this cover and I love historical romances especially one on highlanders!!!
(Bonnie Capuano 9:53am June 28, 2014)

Hi Leanne, Peggy and Bonnie! Thanks so much for commenting. I know - isn't the cover amazing! Entangled does such a lovely job with their covers.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Highlanders and I love history so the Highland Hearts series was fun to lose myself in. I hope you enjoy them!
Have a fantastic, hot-guy-smiles-at-you-in-the-grocery-store kind of weekend ; ) Heather
(Heather McCollum 11:27am June 28, 2014)

Congratulation on the new release. :) Can't wait to get a
chance to read it.
(Leslie Davis 12:59pm June 28, 2014)

Thanks, Leslie : ) I hope you enjoy it! Have a lovely, find-a-four-leaf-clover kind of day! Heather
(Heather McCollum 3:21pm June 28, 2014)

Elaine - I visited the Highlands last summer. The people were great and their accents fabulous. I was able to go to an actual Highland Games in the Highlands on the Isle of Mull. There were some magnificent biceps throwing cabers, etc. Although the real Highlanders looked a bit like the Highlanders may have really been(not exactly romance bk cover material) ; ) But it was so much fun! Heather
(Heather McCollum 4:36pm June 28, 2014)

great cover congrats on the release the book sounds really
(Denise Smith 4:45pm June 28, 2014)

Thanks, Denise! I love the cover. The way the Highlander is turned to the side so represents Searc and how he feels he must leave his clan. Entangled did such a great job with it. I hope you enjoy the series : ) Heather
(Heather McCollum 6:28pm June 28, 2014)

The book sounds great! I had to laugh about you checking out people in other cars and brainstorming their stories. LOL
(Marcy Shuler 9:33pm June 28, 2014)

I do love that cover! Thanks for the insights I loved the
bit about making up stories about people in traffic.:-)
Totally (or mostly totally) unrelated I was in REI today
getting hiking boots and saw a guy wearing a denim kilt and
those toe shoes that are so popular.... he also had on black
socks. I'm sure there's a good story behind it.
(Glenda Martillotti 10:05pm June 28, 2014)

Interesting process of finding and fleshing out your
(Janie McGaugh 10:48pm June 28, 2014)

It is such fun to people watch and fantasize about their stories...until they catch you and call you on it. Oops! Can't wait to read Crimson Heart. There are few things I like better than a hunky Highlander in a kilt except maybe one with a dark past. ;)
(Debbie Kelly 9:13am June 29, 2014)

What an interesting way to create characters. I have heard of
music and pictures or photos. I saw a castle on a hill one
time when I was in Europe (I think Spain) and said that would
make a good setting for a book.
(Leona Olson 9:42am June 29, 2014)

You are new to me. I watch people regularly and it is amazing what you learn
about people in general. My maternal grandfather was a Scot. I can only dream
about everything he saw in his lifetime.
(Sandra Spilecki 10:31am June 29, 2014)

just love men in kilts!!!
would LOVE to win and read
(Pamela Faye Howell 11:08am June 29, 2014)

and you got me with the cover
looking forward to your world
(Pamela Faye Howell 11:09am June 29, 2014)

hey its only $1 for kindle
(Pamela Faye Howell 11:12am June 29, 2014)

I love highlanders. I'm looking forward to reading this book.
(Kerry Shaw 12:29pm June 29, 2014)

I like how you fold what's happening nowadays into the
characters of your stories. You had me at highlander and I am
wanting to know what plaids are associated with specific
(Alyson Widen 1:50pm June 29, 2014)

Love those highlanders! Does my Scottish husbnd have
anything to do with it?
(Mary Hay 2:51pm June 29, 2014)

Hi, Heather! I really enjoyed your blog post. I a anxious to read your wonderful books.
(Cathy Phillips 3:43pm June 29, 2014)

Enjoyed the post. You will be a new author for me. Thanks for the
(Michelle Anderson 4:08pm June 29, 2014)

I love reading stories involving highlanders! I have not read
these books, but I am adding them to my TBR list right now.
Thanks for the giveaway.
(Tina Rucci 4:16pm June 29, 2014)

I can't wait to read your book. I lived in Scotland for two
years and really loved it. This book would bring back a lot of
those memories for me. I wish everyone could experience a
Highland game they are truly exciting.
(Denise Austin 5:02pm June 29, 2014)

There's nothing I love more than a man in a kilt. I'm really
looking forward to reading your books and I have to tell you
that I LOVE your bookcovers!!!
(Jane Frisch 7:22pm June 29, 2014)

Love the Highlander's!!!
(Patricia Meyer 7:35pm June 29, 2014)

Thank you for fleshing out your characters (so to speak)...
It's well worth the effort from this side of the page :-)
(Lori Howe 7:48pm June 29, 2014)

Love the cover of your book. I would love to read it.
(Yaritza Santana 8:37pm June 29, 2014)

Nice cover! Love the red! Thanks for the chance.
(Sue Galuska 9:42pm June 29, 2014)

I have read the other 2 books and can't wait to read this
one.. Love your stories and the characters are just wonderful.
thanks for giving us something to follow along with you on
this journey while you give a new places and people to meet
and enjoy... Best wishes on another spectacular book
(Tina Ullrich 10:07pm June 29, 2014)

Oh my! It must be crazy in your head all the time as different scenarios hit you about characters and scenes from the people around you. Fascinating though! Thanks for sharing, Heather! Congrats on the latest release!
(Sophia Rose 10:19pm June 29, 2014)

I would love a chance to win! Thank you for making it possible!
(Paula Weekley 11:49pm June 29, 2014)

Love hignlander books. Yours sound great. I will check them
out as soon as I can.
(Dale Kirk 11:53pm June 29, 2014)

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