Congratulations to Beatrice Bradshaw, who just published her Scottish winter romance, Love in the Scottish Winter Highlands!
1. You got your agent and published in another language, and another genre (non-fiction, memoir) before you wrote this novel. Can you tell me a little about your writing journey? How many years, how many books, all that good stuff.
My literary writing journey began in earnest with my blog in 2012, back when blogging still was a thing! I wrote about the world trip I went on after having survived cervical cancer in 2011, visiting all the places I always wanted to visit but never did. A publisher read it and approached me. That's how I published my first book Narbenherz (Heart of Scars) in 2014.
The second book also came about via blogging. This blog was for a German magazine, Stern, and centred around my grandparents' need for care. An important subject in a world where old age, care, and death are still not talked about. Several German publishers were interested, so was an agent. Wir Geben Opa Nicht ins Heim (We Won’t Send Grandpa To A Home) was published in 2016 with the same publisher (Rowohlt), shortly before my grandparents passed away.
At the time, I thought that having a publisher and an agent meant being all set as an author. I was wrong. There was so much I didn't understand about the publishing business. The support for new authors, at least in my experience, is minimal. You're either an instant success or you're not. Which was quite sobering.
2. What was it like writing your first novel in English? As I was editing, I was impressed at your grasp of the finer points of language and your ability to make casual word play jokes!
Aw, thank you, it was a great experience! But it was also daunting. I always thought that English sounds nicer and less kitschy for expressing emotions than German. It's more flexible. That's the main reason I decided to write in English. But it took a while until I mustered up the courage.
What certainly helped was that I've been living in Glasgow for years now, studying history and writing on an academic level. And word plays have always been my thing. They're based on associations and my brain loves those. But the thing with languages is that it takes time to feel comfortable enough to get cocky. I also translate romance novels for HarperCollins from English to German, which helped, too.
My major problem was sometimes not being able to tell whether a certain word truly conveyed the meaning I wanted it to. Those nuances still elude me sometimes. Oh, and prepositions, of course. Prepositions are my arch enemies. Why are people in a tree and not on a tree, but on a bus and not in it? Devilish.
3. What was your favorite or most useful part of the edit we did together?
Getting caught. And I mean that utterly positively. There were a few parts of the story I felt slightly unsure about, but couldn't pin down why, so I brushed it off. You found them all (and more!) and explained in detail what didn't work and how to improve it. Particularly with character arcs. I had a headache from all the nodding while reading your notes!
Most importantly, you also pointed out the things that worked well. Crucial for a debut fiction author. Critique can crush a new writer and destroy their confidence. Putting your imagination into words for others to read makes you vulnerable. That's why sensitivity and building confidence are extremely important. And I also felt you completely understood my story.
In short, not only did your edits improve my novel and made me a better writer, but they also empowered and motivated me. I couldn’t have asked for a better editor for my first fiction book.
4. How has your experience been with self-publishing so far? Do you have any advice to pass on?
Don't do it while working and writing a history dissertation! No, seriously: take your time, read, listen to podcasts, learn as much as you can. Do it step by step.
My first book is doing well and the reviews and feedback have been incredibly generous, I feel very lucky.
To me, self-publishing is much more rewarding than traditional publishing. More freedom, more control. But it's also a hugely complex matrix. It took me almost two years until I felt I could try it. Because it's not self-writing, it's self-publishing, and publishing is a different beast. You're learning a new business, you're a complete corporation trapped inside one meagre human being. That's a steep learning curve, so cut yourself some slack. But I'm only at the beginning, ask me again in two years!
5. You now live in Scotland, where your novel is based and I really loved the immersive setting of your novel. Is there anything you’d like to share with other writers about how to write a setting that FEELS authentic?
Scotland is the best place in the world! Because of its landscapes and its people.
I know that's not always possible, but I think it's helpful to just sit in and with a landscape. Really hang out with those hills, observe and let them speak to you. As humans, we're part of the land and vice versa. So what's the deeper meaning beyond 'oh, that’s a nice view'? To me, it's not just about descriptions and adjectives, it's about feelings. It's great when the outer landscape connects to the inner landscape of the protagonists. The next book is set on a Hebridean island, so there will be wind and water galore.
6. What’s your top tip for other writers?
Get rid of expectations! I spend decades with writer's block because a part of me thought if I ever write fiction, then it must be innovative, elevated, new, and extraordinarily genius-like. Which is why I never wrote a thing.
I overcame my writer's block by choosing a story that has been done thousands of times—woman inherits castle in Scotland. That was freeing as it took the pressure off. Suddenly, I wasn't afraid that I could get it wrong or it wouldn't be unique enough. On the contrary, I had fun playing with the idea. And writing became a joy again.
When Londoner Marla Wilson unexpectedly inherits a crumbling castle in the Scottish Highlands, she's desperate for a fresh start. But her stubborn neighbour Niall McCarron—still haunted by his tragic past—needs her to sell her inherited mansion. And that's never gonna happen.
Marla and the annoyingly attractive widower clash at every corner of their Highland small town. Yet beneath their fiery disputes simmers an increasingly irresistible attraction. Even though he drinks rosé…
A snowy Christmas party in the village pub brings unexpected feelings to the surface. Slowly, Niall and Marla’s enmity turns to friendship. Until during a fierce Highland snowstorm, their last guards come down and they spend an unforgettable night of deep desire and passion.
But Niall still hides a secret, with plans that could demolish Marla's dreams of putting down roots in the Highlands. Will their blossoming love survive when the truth comes out or will their old wounds ruin everything?
Laugh, cry, and fall in love with Marla and Niall in this cosy, heart-warming small-town romance.
Brimming with banter and passionate tension, Love in the Scottish Winter Highlands is a heart-warming holiday romance set in the beautiful landscape of Scotland. Crumbling castle, cute dog, quirky community—it's got it all.
Beatrice Bradshaw is the author of cozy, small-town contemporary romances set in Scotland with a wee bit of heat. Aspiring Scottish Historian/ seasoned German journalist by day and romance author by night, she has escaped from Berlin to Scotland in 2018. And not looked back once. Beatrice Bradshaw is the pen name of Jessica Beatrice Wagener, chosen so as not to have German narrative non-fiction with her English romance books. She loves sharing her love for her adopted home country with others, bringing a pinch of the real Scotland into her books. When she isn’t glued to her desk in Glasgow, buried in baked goods and coffee, she can be found wandering around in Scottish castles and landscapes, finding peace and stories on cemeteries, or binge-watching romance series online.