Zoe Maxwell is our heroine in both Highland Games and Hollywood Games, and appears in almost every other book in the Kinloch series. We meet her at the start of Highland Games with her life in crisis. She’s grown up an only child, doted on by loving parents, Arnold and Mary. However, when she was ten, their life fell apart. Arnold lost his job, Mary was diagnosed with cancer, and their family home was repossessed. Wanting Zoe to have a break, her parents sent her to live with Mary’s uncle Willie over the summer, in his cabin in the highlands of Scotland.
For three months, Zoe ran wild with her great uncle; jumping in the loch, climbing the glen at night to watch the sunrise, cooking on a wood-fired stove, and sleeping under the stars. When Zoe returns home, she returns to a normal life, studying hard, then becoming an accountant. But it’s never been her passion. So, when her great uncle dies and leaves his cabin to her, she decides she’s going to follow her heart and move to Scotland.
So, what else can we find out about Zoe? I decided to ask her a few questions…
How would you describe your physical appearance?
Bonkers. I look like I’ve just put my finger in an electrical socket. I’ve got red curly hair that defies logic, gravity and industrial strength serum. I usually just twist it up and secure it with whatever’s to hand. When I go to bed, I have to search through it for pens, pencils, coffee stirrers, and occasionally the odd toothbrush.
As well as my crazy hair, I’m also covered in freckles. They aren’t organised at all. They’re more like the result of sneezing violently over a teaspoon of cocoa powder. It’s like a dot to dot drawing if you’re a surrealist on acid. I’ve got brown eyes, and I’m tall and gangly. I’ve always felt like I stand out, literally because of my height but also because of my hair. I’ve also never really grown out of my adolescent clumsiness. If I’m tired or hungover, then I’m like a bad tempered bambi with a ginger mop.
How would you describe your personality?
Ugh. I think you’d better ask my friends and family that. I’d like to think that I’ve got a big heart. Yep, they’d agree with that. I’m a bit sweary and loud, but next to my best mate Sam, I look like an introverted nun. I’ve always been someone who follows the rules, and does the right thing. But now I’ve gone a bit nuts. Sam says I’m having a midlife crisis because I’m nearly thirty, but I just think for the first time ever, I’m doing what I want to do, not what other people think I should.
What are you good at?
I’m very, very good at sleeping. Seriously, if it was an Olympic sport I’d be a gold medalist all the way. If I really, really have to get up then I need two alarm clocks. The first by my bed, and the second across the room so I actually have to get out of bed to turn it off. When I lived in London, my neighbours were always complaining about the noise. Sometimes the only way I woke up was when they banged on the floor. I’m good at accounting, but fuck me, that’s a boring thing to be good at. Oh, and I’m very good at taking photos of hot men in kilts. I’d happily do that any day of the week.
Tell us about your family?
My parents are just bloody awesome. My mum is Mary, and was born in Kinloch, and my dad is Arnold. They met when my dad went on a walking holiday in the highlands and got lost (he gets lost going down the shops, so God knows how he thought it would work walking off into the middle of nowhere). He was found by my great uncle Willie, who brought him to my granny’s house where he met mum. It was love at first sight and they ran off together a week later. I always say they used up their lifetime’s quota of crazy when they did that. They love each other and they love me. We’ve been through some really tough times, but we’re out the other side now (fingers crossed), and they mean the world to me.
Who are your best friends?
Sam, who I met at University. She’s an actress and very, very loud. It’s good being friends with her, because she makes me look quiet and relatively normal. And up in Scotland, Fiona and Jamie. I first met them when I was ten, and seeing them again, it’s like no time has passed at all. I think I’d also include their mum, Morag, as one of my best friends, or at least a substitute mum. She’s the best.
What would be your luxury if you were on a desert island?
Prosecco. If I could have another luxury then it would be chocolate. Oh God, do I really have to choose only one? Humph. Okay. Then I’d take chocolate flavoured Prosecco. Is that a thing? Can I make it a thing? Fuck me, I’m a genius. I’m going to patent the idea immediately.
Who is your ideal man?
Someone who’s not a snob, who can take me for who I am. I had a boyfriend, Joe, all through Uni and his parents thought I wasn’t good enough for him. They always made me feel so uncomfortable, and he just went along with it. Ugh. What an arse. Looks-wise, I’m not fussy, although I’ve always gone for tall, dark and handsome.
What’s your morning routine?
Morning? Please don’t use such bad language in my presence. I am not a morning person.
Now I’m up in Scotland, my routine is: Sleep through my alarm. Eventually wake up sometime before noon. Refuse to talk until I’ve had a cup of tea.
What are your favourite smells?
Huh? Oh God, this is going to make me sound like a proper weirdo. In London, I’d say it was the smell of my childhood home on a Sunday (think roast dinners and comfort), and chocolate. But now, my favourite smells are the peaty smell of the glen, woodsmoke, and, erm, the smell of someone ludicrously hot who works with wood for a living.
What makes you happy?
Sleep, friends, family, Prosecco, chocolate, my cabin, taking photos, and (ahem), hot men who work with wood for a living…
Want to know more about Zoe? Pre-order Highland Games now by clicking here, and don’t forget you can read the Prologue and First Chapter for free when you sign up to my newsletter!