Story Behind The Story: The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden by Anna Campbell

How many times have you been inspired by a photograph, maybe of a place that made you wonder about its history? In Anna Campbell’s novel, a place was the inspiration, and she included photos of Coroghan Castle to demonstrate (and you’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful, though forbidding spot!). 

What’s the theme behind your story?

True love can come unexpectedly, but when it does, it’s worth any risk. 

What’s the logline?

The Highlands just got hotter!

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

In the spring of 2019, I visited the gorgeous Hebridean island of Canna in Scotland and found myself intrigued by what I thought was a ruined castle on the coast looking straight out across at the Isle of Skye. When I asked about it, I was told that it was called Coroghan Castle, and it was originally a jail! In the 17th century, a jealous husband locked his beautiful wife up in this small cell to keep her out of her lover’s reach. As you can imagine, this got my writer’s imagination working overtime. 

So my Rapunzel story was born. I changed the jealous husband to a tyrannical father and the beautiful wife became a lovely maiden, banished from her clan. The rather grim castle on Canna turned into a luxurious tower on a tiny islet out in the ocean. The guesthouse where I stayed looked out over the Atlantic toward an isolated lighthouse called Hyskeir, which became the basis for my heroine Ellen’s world.

You can read more about Coroghan Castle and the events that inspired the original idea for my story here:

I’ve included a couple of pictures of Coroghan Castle that I took on Canna. While the setting is beautiful, it’s a rather sad and forbidding place and not really a setting for romance. You can see why I turned Ellen’s lonely tower into a haven of luxury! 

How did the original idea change as you went along?

My original concept for the story was as a grand adventure with much derring-do and swashbuckling, but when I sat down to write it, it ended up becoming something much more intimate and sensual. For most of the story, it’s just Will and Ellen learning how to trust each other and falling in love. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

My heroine, Ellen Cameron, was always a strong and intelligent woman who was a victim of unspeakable injustice. As I wrote her, the effects of ten years of lonely exile became clearer, so the final product is more complex and rounded than my original idea (that always happens!). I first thought of my hero as a dashing, cynical rogue who stumbled into true love much against his will. On the page, though, Will Mackinnon was much more emotionally aware than I’d planned. He’d scoff at the idea of anyone calling him a hero, but he definitely ended up being one! 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

The story ended up being more of a poignant emotional journey than I originally thought it would be, and I’m pleased with that. There’s an intensity between these two characters that I hope readers will like. The love story is always front and center. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to follow the flow of the characters and events, even if that takes you a long way from your original idea. The good stuff is what comes up unexpectedly! 

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal? 

Oh, I’d love this to be a movie! For Will Mackinnon, the dashing hero, I think I’d go for a younger Ewan MacGregor (although he’s still pretty appealing now!). He’s got that combination of humor and intelligence that would suit the character. I must say as I was writing it, Errol Flynn was in my mind, so if they invent time travel, there’s my hero! For my heroine, I had Michelle Pfeiffer in mind when I wrote her. She has the intelligence and beauty. Out of the current crop of actresses, perhaps Emilia Clarke in one of her blond incarnations. 

What else do you want readers to know?

This is the last of my Lairds Most Likely books (there’s a tenth coming out, but it’s already been part of an anthology). While The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden can be read as a standalone, it ties up themes and characters in The Highlander’s Defiant Captive (currently only 99 cents!) and The Highlander’s Christmas Quest


Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 27 bestselling stories, including 10 in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers’ favorite historical romance (five times). 

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