Jennifer Lamont Leo is one of the authors of The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. Her story, The Violinist, the last story in the collection.
I’ve always loved reading and writing, but I didn’t start writing fiction in earnest until we moved to Idaho about thirteen years ago. My first novel started out as Nanowrimo project (National Novel Writing Month), where participants are challenged to write a 50K word novel in a month. By the time the story was published it was almost unrecognizable from that early attempt, but I still recommend Nanowrimo to new writers as a way to light a fire under an idea and get the words flowing.
It’s my second novella. I found it as challenging to write as a novel, but in a different way. In a novel, the action has to be sustained over a longer span, but there’s room to explore different characters and ideas. A novella, being shorter, needs to be more concise and focused, which presents its own set of challenges.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’m very much a plotter. While some things may change as I go along, I need to start out with a pretty detailed road map. (Which is the way I drive, too, so at least I’m consistent.)
Was there anything that surprised you about writing this story?
As a child I was given violin lessons and played in the school orchestra, but I didn’t love it. So I was surprised that the violin played such a central role in the story.
Did you determine the storyline first or the era?
I knew I wanted to set it against the backdrop of the early 20th century, my favorite time period to write about. It was an era of great change and drama in the U.S. and elsewhere, with two world wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and all sorts of social upheaval. But for the novella, of course, I had to narrow it down. When I chose to bring my Highlander to Idaho as a logger, I set the story in 1915 since that was the heyday of logging here in the Northwest and fit with other events I wanted to include.
Please tell us what the story is about.
In 1915, Scotsman Callan MacTavish is working as a logger in northern Idaho. Beneath his rough plaid flannel shirt beats a homesick heart –a heart soothed only by the sweet violin of the local music teacher, Rose Marchmont. In order to spend time with Rose under the watchful eye of her disapproving family, Callan signs up for music lessons, with a surprising outcome that will tug at readers’ heartstrings.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
People are not always what they seem at first glance. We shouldn’t be too quick to judge based on outward appearances. Everyone has a story.
What are your social media sites?
Jennifer Lamont Leo captures readers’ hearts through stories set in times gone by. She’s the author of You’re the Cream in My Coffee (winner of an ACFW Carol Award) and Ain’t Misbehavin’, both set in Roaring Twenties Chicago. In addition to historical fiction, she writes magazine articles on history-related topics and hosts two podcasts, “A Sparkling Vintage Life” and “North Idaho Nuggets.” She is also a copywriter, editor, and playwright. The Chicago-area native now writes from her mountain home in northern Idaho, which she shares with her husband, cat, and abundant wildlife.