Three Things I learned… Valentine’s Day edition

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1. Write the Ending First

I wrote the ending to ‘Handfasted to the Bear’ before I wrote the beginning. For me, knowing how a book ends provides an anchor for my story and everything else is a towline attached to my characters. I can throw in conflicts, turning points and twists if I guide my protagonists to that end point.

When I conceptualised this book, I only had a brief backstory to work with. My heroine Orla is a mixed-race woman of colour living in a Scottish clan during the eleventh century. Abandoned as a child on the doorstep of the Clan healer, her earliest memory is of a golden-haired man carrying her on his shoulders. I mention this in the first book of the series, where she plays a minor secondary character.

Even though I did not have all her details, I already knew the ending. With that ending in mind, I created a medieval adventure from Abyssinia to the Orkney Isles to Alba.

2. Medieval Kingdoms Existed Outside Europe and Great Britain

In the past, when I researched medieval romance, my default position would be to start with warriors and knights from Europe and Great Britain. This is not uncommon, seeing as we define the Middle Ages in terms of European history. However, for this book I had to broaden my scope to include the entire world during the medieval period. It was a real eye-opener to discover great medieval Empires that existed outside Europe. I was fascinated with the history of warrior queens of Abyssinia, Cush, and Axum. These women ruled vast Kingdoms. They lead great armies into battle against empires larger than their own.

It was a timely reminder that people of colour existed during this period. It would be remiss of me to constrain my storytelling to just one region of the world. It has also inspired me to write medieval romance set in different empires.

3. Never Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Romance

‘Handfasted to the Bear’ contains a plethora of historical inaccuracies in timeline and character depictions. At first, I lost sleep over it. Worrying because certain facts about the Earls of Orkney were not aligning with my plot. One day I was obsessing about it with a family member when he asked, ‘Who’s telling the story? You or the Earls?’ It was a Book of Revelations moment. I am the storyteller and the love story between my protagonists, trumps everything else, even historical facts.

About Handfasted to the Bear

Handfasted to the Bear by Elina Emerald

Brodie ‘The Bear’ Fletcher is a ladies’ man through and through. A Legendary Warrior on the battlefield, his conquests in the bedchamber are equally renowned. He is his own man. He belongs to no one. But a trauma from his past has him questioning his life trajectory. As Head Guardsman of the War Band to Chieftain Beiste MacGregor (Book 1), Brodie is often in the company of an infuriating mixed-race bowyer named Orla who challenges him at every turn. With the threat of Viking raiders from the North, Brodie finds himself at the mercy of the very woman who threatens to steal his heart.

Orla ‘the Orphan’ has loved Brodie Fletcher for as long as she can remember, but he never once noticed her. Abandoned on the doorstep of ‘Morag the Oracle’ she was raised with the MacGregor clan. A master huntress and trusted advisor to the Chieftain’s wife, Orla is a constant thorn in Brodie’s side, with her razor-sharp wit and waspish tongue. Everything changes when Jarls from the North and an Abyssinian Warrior Queen stake their claim. They will all discover firsthand what happens when you poke the Bear.

About Elina Emerald

Author Elina Emerald

Elina Emerald is a new indie author. Born in the South Pacific, she grew up in a small Australian country town. After graduating from University, she embarked on a legal career in Criminal Law before writing love songs and touring with an indie band.  

Elina now writes Romantic Suspense in Historical, Contemporary and Sci-fantasy genres. She has written and published three medieval romance novels in the past year with a spin-off series in the works.

Handfasted to the Bear is available (ebook/paperback) on Books2Read, Amazon and Google Play. For relevant store links visit

Relevant Links

Books are available through Books2Read, Amazon and Google Play

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