Interview with Susan McDuffie + Giveaway of Death of a Falcon

It's FRIYAY! Happy Friday, dear reader! Today, author Susan McDuffie stops by to talk about her latest novel, writing, research, and her next projects! I also have a giveaway for 5 paperback copies & 5 eBooks, so be sure to enter below!

Hello Susan and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Death of a Falcon!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and The Death of a Falcon.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Amy, I am so happy to be here with you today! THE DEATH OF A FALCON takes place in Edinburgh in 1375. It’s the fourth in the Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries; the others are A MASS FOR THE DEAD, THE FAERIE HILLS, and THE STUDY OF MURDER. In THE DEATH OF A FALCON Muirteach MacPhee and his wife, Mariota, travel to Edinburgh Castle, where they encounter glamorous courtiers, gyrfalcons, and Nordic tumblers. There’s a murder, of course, and that sad mystery threatens far more than the rule of law. I absolutely loved researching and writing this book and really wanted it to see the light of day; I am thrilled it is now released.

What inspired you to write the Medieval Mysteries Series?

The series was originally sparked by the history of my own Scottish clan, the MacDuffie/MacFie Clan. I had a great-uncle who was a bit of a Scottish nerd, as I am myself, I guess. He founded the MacDuffie Clan Society in the States and as a child I heard stories of the MacDuffies, and their role as Record Keepers for the Lords of the Isles. It all sounded very mysterious and exotic to me. When I was a little older, my own trips to Scotland inspired me; I felt very much at home there.

What drew you to write in the Medieval Era?

The Celtic Lordship of the Isles lasted from the mid 1300s until the late 1400s in Scotland, but little has been written about them in historical fiction. It seemed like a fascinating era to explore; the MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles, wielded a tremendous amount of power and presided over a confederation of clans in the Highlands and Islands that lasted a hundred and fifty years. Once the Lordship fell apart a power vacuum led to the clan feuding in the 1600s. The Lordship of the Isles and life in the Highlands and Islands at that time had quite different flavor from the more feudal Norman-influenced scene in the Lowlands, and I wanted to explore that as well.

What type of research did you do for the books?

I’ve done extensive research for this series and visited Scotland a few times as well, but each book has a particular theme—fairy changeling lore inspired THE FAERIE HILLS, and the Voynich Manuscript, THE STUDY OF MURDER. Research for THE DEATH OF A FALCON led me far, far afield. The original idea was something with the Knights Templar, perhaps missing Templar Treasure. I knew I wanted Henry Sinclair as a character. As the research progressed I blundered on stories of the Norse and the vanished settlements in Greenland. I grew fascinated by that, and it became crucial to the plot. I got very carried away researching the Norse in the North Atlantic and America; there’s some very interesting archaeological work in the High Arctic these days showing there most likely was more contact between the Norse and Native Peoples than was previously thought. There could be another book or two there.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was always a voracious reader but didn’t consider writing until my late 30s. I was feeling a bit burned out at work and picked up a couple of Harlequin romances from the paperback book exchange (this was in the 80s heyday of historical romance) and I thought, “Oh, I could do this!” Little did I know how much hard work was involved.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Procrastination, and everyday is a struggle!

Who are your writing inspirations?

I would say Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Cadfael series, for one. The picture of her at about age eighty sitting in front of her typewriter with her Coke bottle glasses is an inspiration and I hope I’m following in her footsteps in twenty years or so! Other writers I adore are Rosemary Sutcliff, Frank Tallis, Pauline Gedge, and there are many, many others.

What is the first historical novel you read?

I always gravitated to historical fiction, even as a child. I thought I was born in the wrong century. I can’t remember the first historical novel I read; I used to select books based on time period, but the one that undoubtedly had a huge impact was WITCH OF THE GLENS, by Sally Watson. Set in Scotland, of course! I believe it is still in print.

What is the last historical novel you read?

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ by Frank Tallis--I gobbled that book up like one of the Viennese pastries he so splendidly describes. I’ve also recently enjoyed THE MERMAID AND MRS. HANCOCK by Imogen Hermes Gowar, and am currently reading THE SEA ROAD by Margaret Elphinstone.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I often review books for the Historical Novels Review. Besides my cats I consider my garden snails “pets”. My “virtual husband” (we’ve been “dating” for twenty five years) is from the Pueblo of Cochiti and has six dogs; he carves old-style animal carvings, called fetishes, and also paints.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the opportunity to travel mentally to different locales and time periods. I’m fascinated by how culture and environment shapes people’s characters and worldviews, and like to have that accurately reflected in the books I read and write.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

It depends on how good the writing is; if the writing is good it doesn’t matter so much what the period is, although I hardly ever read contemporary settings.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love my flamenco dance classes; we’re getting ready for a recital and practicing a “Columbianas”, a dance that is seldom taught, as well as castanets. I also enjoy cooking, knitting, sometimes sewing.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Currently I am editing a new spin-off of the Muirteach books, set about twenty years later, in 1390 or so. The working title is THE SUICIDE SKULL. Also I’m working on a new series set in the 1940s Southwest—quite a change of pace. Muirteach needs another story, too—he’s in hot water at the end of THE DEATH OF A FALCON--so there’s a lot to do these days!

Sounds exciting! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today!

The Death of a Falcon: A Muirteach MacPhee Mystery by Susan McDuffie

Publication Date: March 2, 2018
Liafinn Press
eBook & Paperback; 310 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Muirteach MacPhee Mystery, Book 4

Scotland, 1375: Muirteach MacPhee and his wife Mariota visit Edinburgh Castle, assisting the Lord of the Isles in his negotiations with King Robert II. A trading vessel arrives at the nearby port of Leith from the far away Norse settlement in Greenland. The ship brings unexpected diversion and carries coveted wares: gyrfalcons, unicorn's horns, and fine furs. Both King Robert and the Lord of the Isles desire the rare birds, easily worth a king's ransom.

Muirteach and Mariota, unaccustomed to the sophistication of castle life, initially find pleasure in the heady and flirtatious glamor of the royal court. Then sudden and unexpected cruelty, followed by the senseless death of a beautiful young girl, plunge the couple into a murky sea of alliances and intrigue that stretches from Scotland across the icy western ocean to the far northern lands of the Norse, leaving trails of treachery and murder in its wake.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for the Award-Winning Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries

“McDuffie brings. this period to life in such a way that the reader is transported. Her characters are rich and multi-faceted. . . the perfect blend of history, rich in historical detail, and a mysterious investigation.” -The Most Happy Reader

“A superb mystery, and historically correct in every aspect. McDuffie knows her Scottish history and this period intimately and is a powerful storyteller.” -Reading the Ages

“Well-paced and engrossing.” -Kirkus Reviews

“A good choice.” -Library Journal

“Well worth reading.” -CelticLady’s Reviews

About the Author

A fan of historical fiction since childhood, Susan McDuffie spent such vast amounts of time reading stories set in the past that she wondered if she had mistakenly been born in the wrong century. As an adult her discovery that Clorox was not marketed prior to 1922 reconciled her to life in this era. Susan’s childhood interest in Scotland was fueled by family stories of the McDuffie clan’s ancestral lands on Colonsay and their traditional role as “Keeper of the Records” for the Lords of the Isles. On her first visit to Scotland she hitchhiked her way through the Hebrides, and her initial visit to Colonsay and the Oronsay Priory ruins planted the seeds for her medieval mysteries. Those seeds have grown into the Muirteach MacPhee mysteries, set in medieval Scotland during the Celtic Lordship of the Isles. The series includes A MASS FOR THE DEAD, THE FAERIE HILLS (2011 New Mexico Book Awards “Best Historical Novel”), THE STUDY OF MURDER (New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards Finalist 2014), and THE DEATH OF A FALCON. Susan frequently presents at workshops and conferences and regularly reviews historical fiction books for the Historical Novel Society’s “Historical Novels Review.

Susan lives in New Mexico and shares her life with a Native American artist and four cosseted cats. She enjoys taking flamenco dance classes in her spare time. Susan loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via Facebook or through her website.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 16
Excerpt at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Wednesday, April 18
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, April 20
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, April 23
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, April 25
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, April 28
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, April 30
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 1
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Thursday, May 3
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, May 7
Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, May 8
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, May 10
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, May 11
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 paperback copies & 5 eBooks of The Death of a Falcon! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Death of a Falcon

1 comment:

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed the newest adventures of Muirteach, riveting from start to finish. Well drawn characters, and a murder mystery that kept me guessing almost all the way through. A look at Edinburgh's medieval past, with elements of some unlikely travelers - including a lad with (for the period) very unusual ancestry. Highly recommend!


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