Guest: Blythe Gifford

Welcome Blythe Gifford to the convertible today!  Blythe will give away a copy of HIS BORDER BRIDE to one lucky commenter.  And don’t forget, all week your comments count toward the big anniversary prize giveaway!

Face-to-beak with the past
First of all, I want to thank you for picking up a hitchhiker.  It’s a treat to share the journey with a few of my favorite writers.
When I tell people I write medieval romance, the first comment is usually “oh, you have to do so much research.”  True, but most of it can be done from the comfort of my computer.
However, for HIS BORDER BRIDE, I stepped outside my comfort zone and come face-to-face, or face-to-beak, with the real thing.
Let me explain. 
My heroine practices falconry.  Her relationship with the birds is integral to her character and carries the theme of the book.  I read books, of course, but I’d never even owned a parakeet.  I needed to do more than read.  I needed to see what my heroine saw. 
Still, I could do a lot sitting at my computer:  even watch baby chicks being born.
Peregrine falcons, like those in my story, are enjoying a resurgence.  They nest on high cliffs, so city skyscrapers offer a perfect perch and several cities now offer “falcon cams.”
In the spring, (like now) you may be able to watch the eggs hatch and see the chicks get their first exposure to the world.  (Check out the San Jose nest cam, for example, at  If you miss the event live, YouTube offers reruns.
But wonderful as it was to watch virtual birds, I needed to get a little closer, so when I visited Charleston I toured the South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey. 
The photo is of the hooded falcon at the Center’s demonstration.  (No, that’s not me holding her.)  The hood, a design in use since the middle ages, keeps the bird from being frightened while going to and from the hunt.
Stephen Schabel, education director at the Center, took time to answer dozens of questions from a writer who had virtually no knowledge of the birds or the sport.  I hope I did justice to the time he spent with me.
The team at the Center is now on standby, expecting to be called in to help treat birds affecting by the Gulf Coast oil spill, a problem my 14th century heroine could never have envisioned.  For more on their work, visit, where I have them in my “favorite pages.” 
Now, your turn:  Do you have a favorite bird or animal that’s been part of your life?  I’ll give a signed copy of HIS BORDER BRIDE to a random commenter.
And thanks again for having me.
BLYTHE GIFFORD is the author of five medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket.  With HIS BORDER BRIDE, she crosses the border and sets a story in Scotland for the first time, where the rules of chivalry don’t always apply.  Her 2009 release, IN THE MASTER’S BED, has just finaled in the Readers Crown contest.  Blythe loves to have visitors at or
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.  All rights reserved. ®and ™ are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2010 Author photo by Jennifer Girard

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54 Responses to Guest: Blythe Gifford

  1. buddyt says:

    Now that is the type of commitment I like to see and author doing for research.I hope you do more of that for your books as the internet can never replace actually being there.Also knowing what you have done makes me even more eager to read your book.Thanks for the giveaway and hope it is open worldwide ?Carol Tbuddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. Betina Krahn says:

    Welcome, Blythe! And kudos on your first-hand research. I am fascinated by the whole falconry thing. I'm not fond of parakeets (a traumatic childhood incident) but I am in awe of the larger birds and of the people who keep and treat them.How cook that your heroine is a falconer! I'll have to pick up that book! Good luck!

  3. lois greiman says:

    Hey Blythe, thanks for joining us. I looove that kind of research. Years ago I wrote a nanny goat into one of my medieval novels so I did a field trip with two of my writer buddies to research them. So fun and interesting. I got more mail about that goat than any other character in the book.Best of luck with your latest. Beautiful cover!

  4. Kirsten says:

    I had a canary which I nick named Bocelli after Andrea Bocelli. He would sing for hours it seemed. A wonderful sound. He loved to fly around my living room, taking a bath and unfortunately he also LOVED my new orchids. I found this out too late. Yes, he ate all the flowers and got sick. He was a lovely bird and we had a great 2 years together, I still feel bad about the orchid being his way to go. But how could I have known he would eat them when I wasn't looking… Never got another bird after Bocelli, I have a cat now and those don't mix so well. He's pretty great too & just to be safe I've removed all potentially poisonous plants.

  5. BuddyT – yes, we'll choose randomly. And I really enjoyed seeing the birds up close and in person. Betina – Thanks for your nice words. I also did a lot of reading about modern day falconers, both male and female. They are a breed apart. Lois – Love your story on the nanny goat!

  6. Kristen – it's surprising the things that can be dangerous to pets that seem harmless to us. I once put a goldfish bowl in a sunny window…Big Mistake. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Deb says:

    Blythe, I am so looking forward to reading HBB! I don't have a pet bird. I do think bald eagles are awesome. They are so majestic-looking, sitting in a tree on the banks of a river. My mother has a wren house and the little wren who lives in it loves to come out and chitter away when my mother sits out on her deck. It's funny!

  8. Laurie says:

    I recently read a book by Lindsay McKenna "Dangerous Prey" which featured a falconer. It was a very interesting storyline.No unusual pets in my life. I grew up with a Shetland Sheepdog named Sandie MacGregor.Your book sounds fabulous! I love Scottish historicals!!johnslake at usa dot com

  9. How interesting! Going that extra research mile shows up in the book.I've had cats in the past and am almost grateful the last one died before my husband and I separated because I'm sure we'd have fought over custody of the cat too. I've thought about getting another cat but I'm in an apartment and I'd have to pay the deposit and then find someone to look in on it when I travel to see my kids so…I do, however, have a house finch nest in one of the Boston ferns hanging on my patio. It's been fun to watch them build the nest and I hope the little birdies hatch and thrive. I have a feeder on a tree nearby and love watching all the birds feed. I'm contemplating buying another feeder or two to attract different species. And I want a hummingbird feeder too. Those little guys are so neat.Marilyn

  10. Cindy Gerard says:

    Hey Blythe.Welcome, welcome! great to see you again. It was so much fun getting to chat at RT a while back.Fascinating research. I've been heavily invested in watching and eagle's nest via an 'eagle cam' mounted directly above a nest at a local university. Mom and Dad hatched 3 eggs and each one of those babies is thriving. The camera has provided amazing up close and personal live stream images of them feeding and sleeping and grooming. It's so interesting.Closer to home, I stock at least a dozen bird feeders – many of them right outside my office window. This week so far I've had hummingbirds, Baltimore Oriels, Indigo Buntings, and several varieties of finches(yellow, purple, red) feeding withing 3 to 6 feet of my windows. Love watching them when my blank computer screen gets the best of me.Many congrats on your new release! It sounds amazing.

  11. Keri Ford says:

    very cool! I remember seeing birds handled at something I went to as a kid. it's fascinating. Your book sounds fantastic!

  12. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Blythe and welcome to the convertible! I love doing this kind of research for my books. Definitely one of the reasons I write.I love all birds. Period. Just saw my first Orioles and Bluebirds of the season out at the dog park. I once had a hawk follow me and the dogs, flying from tree to tree, as we walked around the park. I'm not sure if she was simply curious or thought we might scare up a mouse for her!Love your cover!

  13. Deb & Marilyn & Cindy – I love backyard birds. I'm in a city highrise, so I don't get to have a bird feeder. Laurie – I'm a dog lover, so a Sheepdog sounds great! Deb & Cindy – Eagles are coming back, too. Aren't those nestcams amazing? Eagles were also used for "falconry," but less frequently.

  14. My mother-in-law has been watching an owl cam for awhile now. And my daughter likes the panda cams from the zoo. I like watching the animals and birds in our front yard. Since we move a lot it gives me a chance to learn about the local creatures. Since living in VA I have seen my first ever raccoon, which I thought was a very large kitty because I didn't have my glasses on (like that commercial). We also have a fox that I call Spidey Fox because he is our friendly neighborhood fox and he comes by every couple of days. I'd never seen a fox before and they are really cute. I've always liked bats though. In Tucson we had a zillion bats to watch as the sun was setting but here I've only seen a few.

  15. Keri – thanks for stopping by. Helen – I love birds, too. This is actually the third book of mine to have a bird play some kind of role. (Usually a much smaller role.) And thanks to all on the cover compliments. I think it's amazing, too!

  16. Anna – I envy all of you who have yards and critters. But I can't go with you on the bats! Didn't know they flew at sunset, but it makes sense.

  17. CrystalGB says:

    Hi Blythe. What interesting research you did. The falcons are beautiful. I have had parakeets that I enjoyed letting sit on my finger and fly around the house. Their singing and chattering was always nice to listen to.

  18. Well sadly I can't have pets in the apartment complex I live in, but when my daughters were young we had all kinds of pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, you name it. When I was growing up we had a St.Bernard that we raised from 7 weeks old and that crazy dog would drink out of a straw.

  19. catslady says:

    Oh your book sounds really wonderful. I've never owned a pet bird but I love hearing about any kind of animal. Last year I did help save a baby bird. My husband cut a bush and exposed a nest. I covered it with branches and leaves because of hot sun and a rainstorm and then had to fix the nest when it tilted drastically. I was even able to put it back in when it fell out and success – it flew away a few days later!!

  20. runner10 says:

    I have a couple of labs that just brighten my day. They are always happy to see me.I would love to read your book. It sounds great.

  21. Crystal – parakeets are so pretty! And seem to be so joyful. Linda – would love to have seen that St. Bernard! What a hoot. Catslady – Good on you for saving the bird.

  22. Runner10 – my first dog was mostly lab and they are still my favorite breed.

  23. Welcome, Blythe!Now that we've got you in our convertible, we'll have to follow WI/ MN state line–basically the Mississippi River–and show you bald eagle country. We'll stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, where you can say hello to Harriet, whose broken wing keeps her grounded, so she's become a high flyer in other ways. Whenever you see an eagle at a national event, it's probably Harriet. She's been on all the talk show, too.The river is the major flyway during migration season, but there are eagles who hang around all year. Spring and fall migration is amazing. We've taken the drive many times. Eagles by the hundred in trees, on ice floes, on the bluffs. Most of the eagle pairs that have been used to bring the population back to their original habitat all over the country were sent from this area. Yikes, girl, you really got me goin'! But the eagle comeback story is SO inspiring.

  24. Oh, and we have hawks nesting in our wooded yard. Have for years. I love it when they circle overhead and call to each other.

  25. Kathleen – thanks for taking us on that ride. I can see why the eagles would speak to you so strongly. Anytime we have the chance to observe nature it puts us in a different – and usually better – place.

  26. LSUReader says:

    Wow, you really did your research. I enjoyed your column. I don't have any bird stories, but a favorite animal would be my dog Suzie. She is a sweet and loveable mixed breed who's been with us for more than 15 years. She's an important part of our family.

  27. Virginia says:

    I have had a few birds over the years, they make really good pet but are messy! I had a little cockatiel one time that would follow me all over the house. If I was washing dishes she would be setting on my foot chirping for me to pick her up. We also had an Amazon parrot one time that would say Chico pretty bird and by, by and wave his foot when he said by, by. Birds make wonderful pets.

  28. Heather says:

    What a great experience, Blythe! I saw a birds of prey show at Reptile Gardens in SD years back, and it is always amazing to see them in flight. As for me, I've developed an affinity for the red-tail hawk, since one landed in front of me on two different occasions (once while walking, the second time in front of my front window). According to animal lore, "a hawk represents a messanger, appearing in our lives when we most need to heed what's going on around us." It's become my animal totem. One seems to appear now whenever something major in life needs my attention.

  29. jeanette8042 says:

    Oooh that sounds like an awesome experience! I don't really have a favorite bird or animal that has been a big part of my life, but I love playing with big dogs to relieve stress.

  30. goalmom says:

    We have a fish, but that's the extent of our pets. We do have a large flock of wild parrots that roam the neighborhood. They like to eat the seed pods from our magnolia trees. We'll have about 30 to 40 of them go from tree to tree down the street. They're very noisy, but beautiful to watch.

  31. Lucy says:

    My favourit animal is a cat. I just love them. We have a crazy one at home.lucybeugelingramos at gmail dot com

  32. Jane says:

    Hi Blythe,We didn't have pets growing up, so I didn't have much interaction with animals. Since this is the time of year for the Triple Crown races, I've been wishing that I knew how to ride. Horses are such beautiful creatures.

  33. LSU reader – There's nothing like hugging your dog to make you feel better. Virginia – I've never had a bird as a pet, but my heroine in THE HARLOT'S DAUGHTER did. Parrots (called popinjays) actually were used as pets in medieval times.

  34. Heather – I LOVE stories like that! I had a similar experience with a mourning dove. (Not sure what they signify, except to me.) Jeanette8042 – I love big dogs, too. Goalmom – a neighborhood with parrots sounds exotic! (Just don't put your fish in the sunshine, like I did.)

  35. Lucy – thanks for putting in a word on behalf of cat lovers. Jane – I don't have any pets at the moment myself. And it's amazing to watch the Triple Crown races, isn't it? Horses were a huge part of medieval life. I don't think we can truly appreciate how important they were.

  36. Hi, Blythe! We've had birds on an off for years because my dh loves them. Right now we have parakeets and finches (finch babies just born a few weeks ago are now flying in our aviary!). The dh wants homing pigeons because his grandfather had them when he was a kid. Thanks for joining us in the convertible today!

  37. chey says:

    I've only had one pet. She was a mutt and was part of the family. Allergies have since kept me away from animals.

  38. Christie – Wow! I had no idea there were so many bird owners out there. Homing pigeons sound very – cosy. Chey – mutts are the best. But allergies are a pain, I know!

  39. Debra Dixon says:

    Blythe–Welcome to the convertible.The serious hands-on research is one of the perks of the job, I think.No birds here! Had 'keets growing up but nothing since. Oh, we had a quail too.

  40. I am owned by a Golden Retriever, MJ, A German Shorthaired Pointer, Spencer & a crazy cat named CB. Last April I had to help my other Golden to the rainbow bridge. Lady was my heart dog. She got me through the death of my husband and then the death of my boyfriend 5 years later. Letting her go was the hardest but ultimately it was for the best.Love & Hugs,Pam

  41. Andrea I says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. I don't anything unusual, just my favorite cat

  42. Debra – Thanks for the welcome. Yes, research is a job perk. If they would pay me to do the research, I might never write the book…

  43. Wow, what a great post, totally fascinating! That must have been very cool to get to up close and personal. In my small town here in Northern Ontario,Canada, we have a LOT of bald eagles. Gorgeous birds. Never been part of my life though.All the best for your release!

  44. Amy Kathryn says:

    My favorite pet was a beta fish I had in college. He loved to dance and I got hours of entertainment playing music and watching him go. Perhaps thats why my grades suffered that semester….

  45. mbreakfield says:

    Cool! I love falcons. Have you ever seen Ladyhawke? My favorite animals are cats. marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

  46. Previous comment got swallowed. Debra – thanks for the welcome. Yes, research is a perk! Amy – I'm enjoying the picture of you and your dancing fish…

  47. Well I thought I posted this earlier but don't see the post.I am owned by a Golden Retriever, MJ, a German Shorthair Pointer, Spencer & a crazy cat named CB.My heart dog was Lady a Golden who I had to help to the rainbow bridge in April 2009. It was so very hard to let her go but it was the best for her & in the end that's all that matters. Love & Hugs,Pam

  48. Well, Blogger is being persnickity tonight. I know I've posted, and so have some of you, but they aren't showing up for some reason. Hope I remember everyone. Karyn – love that you have eagles near you. We don't all have to have pets of our own. I don't right now. mbreakfield – I haven't seen Ladyhawke and I'll put it on my list. Pamela – "owned by" your pets. That's the right of it, isn't it?If I missed anyone, it's because Blogger ate my comment – or yours! Thanks to everyone for sharing your comments and memories.

  49. this book looks great!we have two cats and they are my sweet babies. our first cat, a birman named cricket, is a lap sitter and very sweet.we adopted a kitten last fall and named him runpleteazer. he is a bundle of energy and has the loudest purr ever. i can't imagine life without either of these kitties!meaghan_koci (at) yahoo (dot) com

  50. robynl says:

    late for this post but entering for the grand prize.I love dogs and haven't gotten one since we had to put down our 14 yr. old toy Apricot poodle; the love of our lives he was.

  51. Virginia C says:

    I am a life long animal lover, but I have had a bird phobia since childhood. It's the fluttering and swooping. However, I used to work for a company that kept a parrot in a large cage in the showroom of the business. I made sure the cage was clean and fresh food and water were always available. The parrot got plenty of attention from the other employees and also from the customers. They handled him, touched him, petted him, all with no fear. The strange thing is, the parrot became very attached to me, becoming very excited whenever I was near. He would dance and whistle and talk and squawk. I trained myself to touch him, let him perch on my hand, and walk up and down my arm. He loved for me to scratch his neck under his feathers! The really weird thing is that the parrot knew my footsteps, even when I was outside and approaching the building. The other employees told me that he would start his song and dance and call my name before I opened the door! Eventually the owner took the parrot home, where I was assured that he was well kept. Miss that ornery buzzard : ) gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  52. Unfortunately I'm allergic to animals, but I am fond of dogs.cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  53. s7anna says:

    I love the pic of the falcon. Looking forward to checking out your books. As for a fave animal…gotta go with a cat…specifically my cat Tigger. *hugs*Anna

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