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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Elaine Coffman: Men in Kilts!

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Elaine Coffman and her latest book, the time travel, The Return of Black Douglas. Here she talks about one of our favorite subjects--Men in Kilts!

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one of two copies of The Return of Black Douglas which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Elaine will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winners Elaine selected are Vonnie Davis and Alyssia. Congratulations to you both and thanks to all who came.

Welcome Elaine! And all your heroes in kilts.

What’s the attraction to men in kilts?

This is a difficult question to answer, because I tend to wrap kilt wearing up with all the research I’ve done about Scotland and how the wearing of kilts has been anything but true to the historical facts. But, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because I’m not going there, other than to say the plaid and kilt wearing belonged to the Highlanders (and partly to the Irish), although the wearing of the kilt as we think of it screams Scotland and did not come about until the late 17th or early 18th century. The kilt first appeared as a belted plaid around 1600. The kilt as we think of it did not occur until the mid-1700’s. The term plaid is Gaelic and means a blanket or cloak and doesn’t refer to the pattern or the material. The plaid was 12 to 18 feet long and 5 feet wide, made by sewing two pieces of fabric together. It was worn as a cloak, wrapped around the upper body. It was multi-purpose, for warmth, to roll up in to sleep, as a covering when it rained. The plaid belonged to the Highlander’s, just as the clan system did. It was not in any way connected with the Lowlands until much later, when they adopted it along with the English. Now, it has literally been adopted by people everywhere, whether they have a dollop of Highlander, or any kind of Scots blood or not.

So, what’s the attraction to men in kilts? And why do women love Scottish Highlanders? I’ll deal with the attraction for men in kilts first, and I think the first thing that comes to a woman’s mind when she sees a man in a kilt is, “What is he wearing underneath it?” One cannot see a man in a kilt without being curious! I have to pause here a moment to tell you that there is even a MEN IN KILTS window cleaning company that advertises “No Peeking” on their T-shirts. Seriously! They are even backed by the BBB and there is a video of them in action. Now, if there are any of you left reading this, I will get back to the question.

First off, I think there is a fascination with Scotland in general, for Scotland, tempered by never ending sorrow, calls out to all of us, like echoes from the past . . . secret, mysterious, evocative, and eerily stirring. One cannot help but admire the steadfast strength of a people who have taken the destruction of their clan system, the taking of their land, the eviction and emigration of their families, and the loss of their independence. And yet, something as simple as the genes for red hair and freckles has managed to survive. No other country can match it in sadness, conflict, haunting beauty, and poignancy, or the enigmatic loneliness of the land itself. Theirs is a tale of suffering told in a tragic vein-- passions so naturally manifest, and misfortunes so wrenching, that the very soul is pierced. Simple and yet complex, beautiful and dramatic, Scotland rises out of the cold depths of the North Sea like a clenched fist. Even the rugged uplands that separate it from England seem to suggest separation. You’ve only to listen to the mournful tunes of a bagpipe to feel it, even now. And when the last notes have faded away, a great silence falls over your soul, while the images are still running around in your head, and you are reminded of all they endured, what they lost, and how much the rest of us were spared. In a land ignited by the flame of pageantry that smolders even now, one cannot help but think of Scotland in terms of obelisks and Celtic crosses, the bones of saints, the relics of Vikings, the haunting lilt of a bagpipe and the proud wearing of the plaid and kilt. These are badges that identify Scotland around the world.

I cannot help but recalling these things whenever I go to a wedding or a parade and see men in kilts, for it is symbolic of just what Scotland is and what it means. It is the garment and the tradition that snags us, and part of that tradition is, men wore naught beneath it.

When I think of a man in a kilt, I think of Scotland and manliness, endurance, steadfastness, masculinity, vigor, power, bravery, devotion, resoluteness, pride, suffering, overcoming-- all beautiful, descriptive words that bespeak virility, strength and masculinity. As Gilder said, “Manhood at the most basic level can be validated and expressed only in action.” It is our nature to see men as heroic, and in a kilt we think of them in the most masculine of terms, for isn’t it in our genetic breeding to select the most masculine of alpha males? And doesn’t it take a masculine male to have the nerve to wear a skirt? And, don’t we love it when there is a bit of mystery to it . . . does he or doesn’t he?

He’ll Help a Woman in Need No Matter Where She Came From…

Alysandir Mackinnon rules his clan with a fair but iron fist. He has not time for softness or, as he sees it, weakness. But when he encounters a bewitching young beauty who may or may not be a dangerous spy, but surely is in mortal danger, he’s compelled to help…

She’s Always Wondered if She Was Born in the Wrong Time…

Thrown back in time to the tumultuous, dangerous Scottish Highlands of the sixteenth century, Isobella Douglas has a lot to learn about her ancestors, herself, and her place in the world. Especially when she encounters a Highland laird who puts modern men to shame…

Each one has secrets to keep, until they begin to strike a chord in each other’s hearts that’s never been touched before…

Since her first publication in 1988, New York Times Bestselling author Elaine Coffman’s books have been on the NYT, USA Today Top 50, and Ingram’s Romance bestsellers lists, and won four nominations for Best Historical Romance of the Year, Reviewers Choice, Best Western Historical, and The Maggie. Elaine lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next book! For more information, please visit


Alyssia said...

Elaine! What a post! I must tell you, I quite literally teared up while reading your colorful description of the Highland and its people. What beautiful, beautiful prose! And, hello! I so want the MEN IN KILTS to come wash our sky-high work windows! Ha-ha... Seriously, Scotland and its powerful history has always appealed to me -- hey, I'm a redhead! And to read it written, brought to life, with so much conviction tugged hard at my heartstrings.

I cannot wait to read your novel, my dear. One post here, and I'm already hooked.

Cheers and blessings,
Alyssia Kirkhart

Linda Banche said...

I think we should also remember the Scots as triumphant in their survival. They turned their devastating losses into a ferocious drive to succeed in this new world not of their choosing. In the latter 18th and the 19th centuries they made themselves into leaders in the new technologies in science, engineering and medicine, leaving the English who had "defeated" them in the dust.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Excellent post! I agree that we have a fascination with men in kilts for all of the reasons you listed. There is just something irresistible about a man who is so secure in his masculinity that he can wear a skirt - and enticing to wonder about what he possesses beneath it. Your new book sounds fascinating, can't wait to read it.

Best wishes!
Julie L. Hayes

Vonnie Davis said...

I love it when I read a blog post and learn something. I learned a lot here today. Thank you! Your description of Scotland rising out of the sea like a fist was super. I agree with Alyssia, your prose is quite stirring and visual--simply put, beautiful. Much luck to you.

susied said...

Wonderful post, agree with all you said about Scotland and it's tragic history and ability to rise above. Ditto to the men in kilts - they are "manliness, endurance, steadfastness, masculinity, vigor, power, bravery, devotion, resoluteness, pride, suffering, overcoming", Gerard Butler...oops..

That one slipped out! I do have my shallow side :)

Amanda said...

I really enjoyed this. I didn't realize that kilts were not really used until the 1600's. Lord knows the movies always have them in kilts no matter what era. I must admit if I see a book and it has a man in a kilt on it I have to buy it. I have always loved books that have anything Scottish or celtic really. Really enjoyed the article!

Charlotte McClain said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! If I don't win, I'll have to go looking for it.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Well I'm a Scot, still living in the west coast of Scotland and I loved your description of my country! Well done for putting it so beautifully and making me appreciate its romance.

And my son is getting married in his kilt on one of our small Scottish islands at the beginning of July (and his fiancee is called Elaine!)

Emery Lee said...

Wonderful post- beautiful and evocative.
Warmest regards,

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Loved reading about Scotland. I'd love to go there one day.

Gotta love a man in a kilt. :)

info at kmnbooks dot com

hotcha12 said...


Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

ELAINE! I am so thrilled to see you writing again. Your books were always on my TBR list and now will be again. You and I (under my real name and Other Life) have done many conferences and dinners together. I look forward to seeing you again...and reading this.