I am pleased to announce my third novel, Highland Whirl, is scheduled for release in December 2021 from Bold Strokes Books and is now available to pre-order.
“When city girl about town Roxanne Barns reluctantly accepts a holiday invite to her best friend Eve’s birthday party in the Scottish Highlands, the last thing she expects is to fall for the very person she’s been dreading seeing again—the feisty Highlander, Alice Campbell.
The moment Alice learns that Roxanne is visiting her home hamlet of Newland, she couldn’t be more suspicious or defensive. A warm welcome is certainly not the plan, let alone falling in love.
Despite Eve’s warnings that Roxanne is not relationship material, Alice can’t ignore her growing attraction. She absolutely trusts Eve’s judgment, but taking her advice just might break Alice’s heart.
Highland Whirl reunites readers with the characters and landscape of Highland Fling in an emotionally enthralling story of trust, friendship, family, and love.”
“Any emotional border that had been briefly opened was now closed, and guards likely patrolled its perimeter. The country of Alice was once again an island with sharks in its seas and canons aimed at those who dared to trespass”. Highland Whirl by Anna Larner
A story is not an inanimate thing, is it? It is alive. Beyond the last full stop, a story continues to stir and develop in our minds. In fact, you could say that a story never finishes. We simply choose to turn away from the what comes next or what might be.
Some stories, however, cannot be so easily ignored. They pester with whispered words of dialogue or fleeting images of scenes playing out somewhere unfixed between the known and unknown. They create an insistent momentum for us to want to know more and to read the unwritten. My 2017 debut novel Highland Fling is one of those stories. And my new release Highland Whirl is the sequel that insisted to be brought to life.
Whenever I heard the weather forecast for the Highlands, I would think of Eve and Moira and their life amongst the snow-topped mountains and the brooding waters of Loch Ness. Had Moira’s wounds from her troubled past healed? Had Eve found her one in Moira? Have they found the lasting love together that the closing scene of Highland Fling promised…?
Beginning four years on from the ending of Highland Fling, Highland Whirl answers these questions for the curious. (The answers are yes, yes, and yes!)
It seems unbelievable now that I never considered a sequel at the point of writing Highland Fling, for everything about Highland Whirl feels anticipated and inevitable. I mean, how could I not return to Eve and Roxanne’s friendship? How was Roxanne coping without Eve, her best mate in the whole wide universe world? Could they maintain that vital childhood bond from so far apart?
In the years following the publication of Highland Fling, I kept hearing the repeated question rising to the surface whenever my thoughts wandered off—it was Eve asking Roxanne, “Alice? Moira’s Alice?” Like an approaching flurry of Highland snow, Roxanne and Alice’s love was forecast from the start…
The wee eejit Roxanne Barns and feisty Alice Campbell are so well matched in their differences and their surprising similarities that there is a palpable sense of meant to be. Their love is the story that demanded to be told, as they become the main characters, front and center, in Highland Whirl.
“Why Alice? What makes her different to all the others?”
Could Roxanne say everything? “Well, she’s kind and compassionate and smart, with bags of common sense. And she’s funny and sharp-witted and feisty— I can’t bloody well get away with anything.”
Eve laughed. “True. You’ve certainly met your match.”
“But most of all, maybe, she looks at me like no one else has ever done. As if she sees through the bullshit and…”
For me, writing a sequel is all about the art of seeing through to the potential of that which is already there. A key additional narrative asking to be seen is found in the supporting characters of Elizabeth and Angus McAlister, the much-loved elderly couple who provided the emotional bedrock in Highland Fling. What would happen if the stability they provided began to crumble? That question sparked the inspiration for the narrative thread that would poignantly resonate in Highland Whirl and bring everything and everyone together. In many ways, the McAlisters’ story provides a measure and a context of what a lifetime of love can be. We come to understand that lasting love is not boisterous or seeking of limelight. It is constant and has the breathtaking strength to weather life’s storms.
“You are my beginning and my end. Thank you for being my love, my Elizabeth, and for receiving these carrots every year, when I know you would rather have a bunch of roses.”
Elizabeth took the soil smudged offering into her lap and rested her palm against his rosy cheek. “No, my sweetheart. What other wife has such a unique gift? And what other wife could ask for more than a life lived with you? I love you, Angus McAlister, with all my heart. Now please get off that cold floor with that knee of yours.”
Only time will tell if I can turn away and move on from the stories of Highland Fling and Highland Whirl now that another full stop has been placed. But I promise I will be listening for that next story, be it in the Highland series or otherwise, that will no doubt pester itself into life.
‘Highland Whirl’ by Anna Larner is the third book I’ve read by this particular author and I’ve loved every one. Although this is a follow up to ‘Highland Fling’, there is no need to have read the previous story as it works as a standalone too. In this novel we spend time with Roxanne Barns, […]
For me, writing a sequel brought with it two distinct challenges:
Challenge one. The sequel should seamlessly and fittingly develop the primary story.
I knew that to meet this first challenge Highland Whirl would need to evoke the world of my debut novel Highland Fling. I loved taking the reader back with me to the breath-taking setting of the Highlands of Scotland, my favourite holiday destination, and having the opportunity to describe each exquisite detail once more.
“…winter with its consuming whiteness had at last relinquished its icy grip on the woods, heath, and moorland of Newland. Only the mountaintops, glinting white on the distant horizon, hinted at winter’s recent brooding retreat.”
And it was immense fun to return to the buzz of The Brewer’s Arms, the fictional gay bar in the heart of the city of Leicester. The Brewer’s reflects so much of my own early experiences of the…
Today I shaved my hair off To see me, to know me, to own me, to free me. To be me.
Today I shaved my hair off To breathe, to seethe fermenting the fuck you I should have said long ago To every fucker who kept me small. And fuck me for letting you all.
Today I shaved my hair off Is this what confidence is? Is self-esteem the glance you give that says get your hands off my soul. The tone of voice that holds steady and loud and clear, I’m speaking now you’ll damn well hear.
Today I shaved my hair off You see me now don’t you? You hear me now don’t you? You’ll feel me now won’t you?
Today I shaved my hair off – you might want to, too.
“Make no mistake, this was in every way a late night hold up as she robbed me of my breath and wounded my heart with her smile.”
LesFic Eclectic Volume Two – Open your hearts and minds to new experiences and new writers, and you might well find your next new favourite author. This anthology unabashedly genre hops from romance to fantasy, and erotica to romantic comedy, so that there really is a little something for everyone.
My story Worry-Free Windows, is all about chance encounters and the chemistry and sparks of connection that can happen when strangers chat over the phone, as they discover not only a mutual rapport but eventually love.
This gem of a book is available for free on bookfunnel.
(And while you’re at it why not check out LesFic Eclectic Volume One.)
Did you know Bold Strokes Books has a YouTube channel with lots of fabulous authors showcasing their books?
Why not checkout the panel discussions from this year’s Bold Strokes Books Bookathon UK – June 6, 2020 starting with Love Changes Things: What We Love About Love Stories.Moderator: Nell Stark Panelists: MA Binfield, Kris Bryant, Charlie Cochrane, Anna Larner, Anne Shade.