Author Interview: Sue-Ellen Welfonder



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Sue-Ellen. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

SEW- Thank you so much for having me. I’m a huge fan of your writing (and you), so the pleasure is all mine. Home is southwest Florida. More specifically, Longboat Key, a barrier island off the coast of Sarasota. 

Fun almost always involves a nature fix. Sunrise beach walks, cycling, visiting local parks, time with my cat, admiring local wildlife. I’m also a sky-watcher, out at night with binoculars to observe anything cool going on in the heavens. And, of course, reading.

A perfect day is one filled with peace and calm. Bonus is a rainy day - ideal for reading or writing.    


JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

SEW- Viking and medieval. Most of my books are set in medieval Scotland and there’s an overlap as the Vikings raided and settled, even ruled, much of northern and coastal Scotland for centuries. But all medieval and ancient history fascinates me. For example, I devour books on archaeology.  The mystical aspect of the past also appeals to me. The legends and lore, especially Nordic and Celtic. The Druids. So much mystery and magic, the old ways that live on to this day if you just scratch the surface, really.  

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

SEW- Robert Bruce, Scotland’s hero king. He won Scotland’s independence from England, and he did so against tremendous odds. His men loved him and his enemies respected him. He must’ve been such a compelling man. His feats, but also his great heart and valor shine brightly all down the centuries and I doubt that light will ever dim. I’ve spent a lot of time in Scotland and have visited many sites that were of importance to him.

Re a question, Robert the Bruce was famed for being fair, forgiving, and even gracious to his enemies. So I would ask how he was able to be so courteous to foes.         

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

SEW- The saying is ‘write what you know.’ Add ‘write what you love,’ and the genre suits me. I’ve loved history since childhood and that interest would still be there, a constant in my life, even if I quit writing. My books do have a lot of magic woven in, though: legend and lore, even ghosts, reincarnation,  and time travel. The mystical is another passion, so such twists slip into the stories. Some say such elements shouldn’t be in historicals, but I only think, well, they should study the era in more depth. Peek closely, and you’ll see paganism thrumming through all ancient cultures, especially Scottish, Irish, Norse, etc. To ignore it is to leave out a fascinating aspect of the past. 

As for becoming a writer, I never wanted to write. My dream job was to be an airline stewardess and see the world. I did that for many years and loved it. My favorite romance author, Becky Lee Weyrich, urged me to write. I’d sent her a fan letter and we became friends. Over the years, I’d send her letters about my adventures in far-flung corners of the globe. One day she said I should write romances. I said no way. No interest. She kept after me, saying that my letters about my trips ‘took her’ to the places I visited. Finally, I wrote a book so she’d stop pushing me. To my amazement, she loved it and introduced me to a few people in the industry, including an agent. The agent loved the book, too, and there you go. She signed me and sold the manuscript to Warner Books, now Hachette/Grand Central Publishing. And suddenly I was an author.  The book was Devil in a Kilt, which I’ve now re-released as an indie title.  (I also wrote for Penguin for years, using the pen name Allie Mackay .. fun, lighthearted time travel and ghost romance)     


JMR-Most of your books involve men in kilts! What is it about a man in a skirt that is so appealing to so many women? Does it make them seem vulnerable? Heighten their masculinity? Thoughts?

SEW- Well, the kilts are on the covers because they sell books. New York publishing houses taught me that. Likewise the bare chests. Of course, such kilts weren’t worn by medieval Scots, so I avoid them in the stories. They are fun, though, so I do use them in my Scottish-set contemporary paranormals. The Penguin books, originally written as Allie Mackay.

I suppose the allure of kilts is the great mystery of what is (or isn’t) under them. Of course, it isn’t really a mystery. They do look sharp, and there’s little as magnificent (or manly) as a true Highlander in full Highland regalia. Personally, I think the accent is sexier than the kilt. Both together? Few women can resist.     

JMR-Have you visited Scotland and the Highlands? Where did you feel closest to your characters? Favorite spot?

SEW- Yes, I’ve many times. I’ve been pretty much everywhere there, including the islands.  I lived in Germany for much of my adult life, so it was an easy skip. In early years, I’d go on organized tours, then later with a rental car. It’s the best way to see Scotland as only so can you get to the best spots.  But driving there isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not the left-driving, but the thread-thin roads. OMG!

My books are usually inspired by a place that captures my heart. Such places become the settings, though I often change the place-name. When I go back to those places, or just remember them, that’s when I feel closest to my characters. Devil in a Kilt was inspired by Scotland’s iconic Eilean Donan Castle in the Highlands and Bride of the Beast came to me at Dunnottar Castle on Scotland’s east coast.

I love the wild places best, so my favorite part of Scotland is the far north. My favorite Scottish city is Aberdeen.         


JMR-Sue-Ellen, tell us about your latest book.

SEW- Bride of the Beast, book two in my Clan MacKenzie series. It follows Devil in a Kilt, but can be read alone. It’s a re-release and re-edited, likewise with a new cover. I’ve received the rights back to all my Clan MacKenzie books and am re-releasing them as they’re ready. Bride of the Beast is a very romantic story, its hero, Sir Marmaduke, one of my favorites. He makes appearances in all the Clan MacKenzie books.

Unlike most of my heroes, he’s English. He’s also badly scarred, hence the title. His heroine is also damaged and bringing them together, letting them triumph in a world that hadn’t been kind, well, it was a moving tale to write and the ending still makes me cry.

Bride of the Beast’s greatest claim to fame is that it launched Hachette’s Forever romance line. That was many years ago, but I remain grateful that the book was given such an honor. Sir M, as I think of the hero, is a good guy and it’s nice when they win now and then.      


JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

SEW- Next up is a spin-off to my Ravenscraig Legacy series, Scottish-set contemporary paranormals originally written under my Allie Mackay pen name. This book will release with my real name and launches a new series set in that world. I have so enjoyed returning to the Ravenscraig world. I have a Christmas novella to release in October.  But I’m mainly focused on the upcoming new contemporary paranormal series.                    


JMR- Animals and the natural world are very important to you. How has this aspect of your personality influenced your writing?

SEW- Greatly. All my stories have animal characters. Dogs and cats, but also more unusual animals such as wild birds, a squirrel, a mythic white stag, creatures I call stone dragons, and more. A Regency heroine rescues aged coach/carriage horses. Another saved washed-ashore seahorses. No animal is ever harmed in my books, and they also never die. Real life is brutal enough for animals. I hold the pen in my books and so they all thrive and live forever. Hah!

 My love for the natural world can also be found in the books. I have enchanted stones, trees, springs, etc. I hope to give a sense of respect for the land as well. 

I always say that if you know the writer, you’ll see them in their books. Or, read the books, know the writer. Our stories, the words and thematic and everything, can only come from deep in the writer’s soul. Our psyche. So, those two passions are strong elements of my work.    

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

Sue-Ellen's Mailing List     Twitter  Facebook Author Page 

 Facebook Personal Page  

My website is outdated, but can be viewed here: Website

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

SEW- Which author, past or present, would I love to meet? Answer would’ve been Daphne du Maurier.  She was master of atmosphere, something that’s incredibly important to me. That’s why I loved your book, The Heron, so much. It has such power of place. Anyway, Daphne du Maurier was devoted to Cornwall, drawn to the sea, wild places, and the mystical. I would love to walk with her through such landscapes, then have dinner in a remote and ancient inn, a place right out of one of her books. Swoon!   

JMR- Hey, I'm coming along with you! Daphne du Maurier is my writing hero. I fell in love with historical fiction reading her books. Frenchman's Creek is my all time favorite. I even made my husband drive all over Cornwall looking for it!    

JMR- Thank you, Sue-Ellen, for stopping by today. It was wonderful to chat with you. Readers, I know you’re going to want to see more on Sue-Ellen’s books, I’ve included a link to her Amazon Author page where you can find all her books.


  1. Thank you so much, Jean, for having me here today. It was a pleasure to your interview - great and thoughtful questions. Also really loved discovering that, too, love Daphne du Maurier so much. Can well imagine the tremendous thrill of visiting Frenchman's Creek. Wow, wow, wow. I'm now going to re-read it again, such a wonderful story.

  2. Lovely interview, ladies. Daphne du Maurier has been a huge influence on me too. And my favourite of her books is also Frenchman's Greek. Good to learn a wee bit more about you and your books Sue-Ellen and how your writing career developed.

    1. Evening, Maggie. Thank you so much for dropping in here. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. Yes, I was a reluctant writer. Fought every step of the way. Stomach actually dropped when the first one sold because it meant having to write more. Love seeing that you, too, love Daphne du Maurier. And Frenchman's Creek as your favorite, too. It's such an amazing story, the ending so powerful. Second fave of hers is Jamaica Inn. The wildness of the moors and all the rain and mist... perfect! Did make it to the real inn once, on holiday. Such a thrill. Sadly never made it to Frenchman's Creek as Jean did. That's a true pilgrimage.


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