Monday, 26 May 2014

The Interview! - with Time-Travelling Anna Belfrage

Today I have the lovely Time-Travelling author Anna Belfrage, who bravely stepped from the whirl of  her time-slip series "The Graham Saga" to answer my questionnaire.
A little about Anna...

Born in Sweden, I was still a baby when my parents decided to move to South America – at the time as distant from Sweden as the moon. My childhood was spent in various South American countries, and as a consequence I grew up tri-lingual and with a fondness for spicy food, Salsa and hammocks.

Had I been allowed to choose, I’d have become a professional timetraveller. As such a profession sadly does not as yet exist, I settled for second best and became a financial professional (I like numbers – AND words) with two absorbing and time-consuming interests, namely British History and writing. These days, I spend almost as much time writing and researching as I do working, which leaves little time for other important pursuits in life such as cooking, baking and buying new rose varieties.

“The Interview”

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

It all began in 1624, when a twelve-year-old boy named John disembarked in Gothenburg. He was a Scot, of noble birth, but something had forced him and his mother to flee their homeland, leaving behind the boy’s father.

Approximately 370 years later, I married the descendant of that boy – yet another John, but with the name’s Swedish version. My husband brought a lot of admirable qualities to our marriage – and as the icing on the cake, he came with this fascinating family history, manna from heaven for a history nerd like me.
As a consequence, I started reading a lot about the 17th century, trying to discover why John and his mother fled in 1624. So far, the precise reasons remain unknown, but John himself cited religious upheaval. Whatever the case, thanks to long dead John, I developed a fascination for the 17th century – and particularly for all those religious conflicts that so plagued the century.
This is the very personal reason for me setting my books in the 17th century – and for having a male protagonist for whom religion is a big thing. Okay, so most people back then considered religion a big thing – especially along the lines of “are you with me or against me?”. Catholics persecuted Protestants, Protestants persecuted Catholics, and Christians persecuted Jews and Muslims – in general a heady brew with not one jot of tolerance in sight. Which was why I was so delighted when I came upon the Colony of Maryland and their innovative Act of Toleration, dated 1649, allowing all Trinitarian faiths to co-habit.
By now, I was starting to see a certain structure to my story: Presbyterian Scotsman must ultimately end up in Colonial Maryland. Said Scotsman is an attractive man, veteran of the English Civil War, a man of integrity and convictions. Borderline staid one could argue – which is why I threw dear Matthew Graham a curve ball by gifting him with a time-traveller wife.
Alex is a woman Matthew is helplessly attracted to, can’t live without, and who challenges his predefined notions over and over again. She is also brave and resilient, willing to risk everything for him, and being a man, Matthew is of course most flattered by her devotion and love.

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

My hero - Matthew Graham – a most untitled Scottish Presbyterian is gifted with magical hazel eyes, a tall physique and a certain similarity to granite – quite recalcitrant in certain matters, principally those that have to do with his faith.

Due to his background as a soldier in the Commonwealth armies, Matthew can hold his own against more or less anyone with a sword. He is an excellent marksman, has a love for horses, but is first and foremost a farmer, in love with that little piece of Scotland he calls home. A man of integrity and convictions, Matthew is a tad too stubborn at times. And should anyone threaten his adored wife – or his beloved bairns – well then God help them, because Matthew Graham will stop at nothing to see his family safe.

At times, Matthew finds his wife somewhat of a challenge. Opinionated and outspoken, Alex ends up in a number of scrapes, and Matthew lives in constant fear that someone will find out she’s a time traveller – or even worse, that the ground will open at her feet and attempt to swallow her back, yank her away from him. To Matthew, Alex is his own, very personal miracle – a gift from God, no less.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description?

Alex Lind is the daughter of a Spanish time travelling witch and a Swedish botanist – not that Alex is aware of her mother’s time travelling background, at least not initially. Her mother has been hop-scotching through time for ages, trying desperately to get back to 15th century Seville, and Alex’s father has his suspicions about his exotic wife but loves her too much to push too hard.

Alex is tough, agnostic and realistic – all qualities that help her come to terms with the very sudden change in fate she experiences on that momentous August day when she is sent spinning through time to land at Matthew Graham’s feet. She is also spontaneous and warm-hearted, and at times these rather likeable traits land her in all sorts of problems. Fortunately, she has Matthew watching her back (like a hawk).
Rarely does Alex yearn for the life she’s left behind – at least once she is over the initial shock. After all, had she not been dragged back in time, she’d never have met Matthew, and that would have been a major loss. But she is painfully aware of how much more fragile life is in this her new environment, and her man doesn’t exactly make things easier, what with his propensity to go gallivanting about on the moors to protect ousted ministers or his stubborn refusal to kow-tow to the Anglican Church. Alex makes it her own personal mission in life to keep her man safe – no matter what the cost. Matthew is touched and irritated by her protective streak; in his world, the man does the protecting, even when gifted with a wife who has a black belt or two in martial arts.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Oh, yes, there is a whole set of secondary characters, starting with Matthew’s lawyer brother-in-law, Simon Melville and that force of nature, Mrs Gordon (Mrs Parson in the later books – the lady might be somewhat long in the tooth, but she is quite the guy magnet) who is the closest thing Alex has to a mother and best friend rolled into one. As the story develops, the Graham children come to play important roles, as do a number of ministers, some likeable like Julian Allerton, others narrow-minded worms (Alex’s words) such as Richard Campbell and the imposing Gregor Macpherson. Plus, of course, once the Graham family settles in the Colony of Maryland, we have Qaachow, Susquehannock chief, and the very nasty Burley brothers who make Matthew’s life hell on more than one occasion.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – timeframe – country etc.

The saga is set in the second half of the 17th century. It starts off in Scotland, does a most involuntary trip to Virginia (Matthew is sold as bonded labour by his nefarious brother), returns to the Scottish lowlands when His Restored Majesty, Charles II, decides to force all Presbyterians to foreswear their Kirk (and Matthew isn’t about to sit on his hands when the ministers of his kirk are persecuted, leading to a lot of tension), and finally makes for the somewhat safer Colony of Maryland, where Matthew and Alex set about creating a new home for themselves and their family. Not that they’ll remain welded to the ground, as adventure calls them off to Jamaica and Barbados – and back to Scotland, just in time for the Glorious Revolution. See why I need so many books to tell this story?

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

What is there not to enjoy about the 17th century? In many ways, it’s a breaking point between the old and the new, and by the time the century ends, the world has seen its first Bill of Rights, a recognition of every man’s worth (emphasis on man; women didn’t quite count – not yet). Plus,I find the religious strife that plagued the century fascinating –the relatively young Protestant factions facing off against the impressive might of the Holy Church.  Also, this is the century in which the colonies in the New World were established, and I have always admired all those people who were brave enough to cut all ties with their homelands to cross the Atlantic in ridiculously small and fragile ships and then, once they’d made it over, reinvent themselves in an entirely new place.

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

Quite a few, actually, but to pick one from the heap, Matthew has a brother who doesn’t exactly win any brownie points – at least not in the first three books. Luke Graham is violently jealous of his older brother, and when he comes home from the wars to find Matthew wed to Luke’s sweetheart… (This is before Alex shows up. Once she does, Matthew never looks elsewhere again. “Hmph!” Alex snorts. “We both know that isn’t true.” Well, no, but Matthew only turned to pretty Kate because he despaired of ever seeing Alex again. “Hmph,”Alex repeats, but her face softens, and she leans towards her man, resting her hand for an instant against his cheek) Where was I? Oh, yes, Luke comes home, finds Matthew married to his Margaret and is so enraged by this that not only does he woo Margaret back (easily, as Margaret loves Luke, not Matthew. She only married Matthew because she believed Luke would never return) but he also sets Matthew up, having him accused of being a Royalist traitor. Sort of amusing, seeing as the Royalist is Luke

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Gross violence yes. Sex scenes absolutely not – but I try to not be gratuitous about it.

(9) How would you rate your novels – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

Historical fiction with sizeable pinches of romance, emotional drama and swashbuckling adventure (Now didn’t I do an excellent job of using up almost all the options?) Seriously, The Graham Saga follows a family through a tumultuous time in history – the 17th century was no walk in the park, neither in Scotland or in the New World – so there is plenty of room for adventure and drama.

The Graham Saga (published so far: A Rip in the Veil, Like Chaff in the Wind, The Prodigal Son, A Newfound Land, Serpents in the Garden. Coming soon: Revenge and Retribution)

Blurb: The Graham Saga: This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met - not when she was born three hundred years after him.


It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World - and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex's opinion.
It isn't always easy. At times Alex thinks Matthew is an overbearing bastard, at others he's sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and ... She is his woman, he is her man. That's how it is, that's how it always will be.



Thank you...

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Interview - Marie Laval

Today I have the lovely Marie Laval, talking about her historical romance


Although THE LION'S EMBRACE is a stand alone novel, it follows on from ANGEL HEART, my debut historical romance. I have just completed the third and last part of the story.

Originally from Lyon in France, I studied History and Law at university there before moving to Lancashire where I am still trying to get used to the damp weather! I worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher in adult education and secondary schools. Writing, however, was always my passion and I spend most of my free time dreaming about plots and characters and making up stories, mostly historical romances. I have however recently strayed from historical fiction and signed a contact with Accent Press for a contemporary romantic suspense set in Provence.

The Questions:

    1. What actually inspired the writing of your novel?

The setting mostly. THE LION'S EMBRACE is set in the 1840s in North Africa, a part of the world that always fascinated me. My mother was born and grew up in Algeria and the stories she told my sisters and I about her childhood really captured my imagination. I was particularly attracted to the natural beauty of Saharan oases and the Hoggar mountains, but the architecture of palaces in the Algiers Kasbah, with their carved doors, intricate mosaics and secret gardens, and that of the ksars, fortified villages of the Sahara is breathtaking too.

I must also mention the rich history of the country and its people. From the rock art, which depicts a Sahara teeming with wildlife and people in the Neolithic period, to the tales of the Garamantes' lost kingdom and the tomb of legendary Tuareg Queen Tin Hinan near Abalessa, the setting just lends itself to endless romantic adventures. I just wanted to set a novel there!  

    2. Alpha or beta hero – profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Lucas Saintclair is definitely an Alpha hero. Dark-haired, with eyes as pale and clear as a dawn sky, he is harsh and reckless, and only thinks about making his fortune...or does he? Even if his motivations and his true character are unclear at the beginning of the novel, one thing is certain however. He is the best scout in the Barbary States, and even if she profoundly dislikes his selfishness and arrogance, Harriet Montague needs him to rescue her father.

    3. Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description? 

I do love my heroine, Harriet Montague. She is quiet and unassuming, but also very determined and brave. The daughter of a British Museum archaeologist abducted in the Sahara, she isn't afraid of braving conventions and dangers and ride across the country to go and find him. Her ambition is to pursue a life of learning and historical research and follow in her father's footsteps.

    4. Are there secondary lead characters with important roles? 

Several characters are important for the plot, but the main focus of the novel is really on Lucas Sainclair and Harriet Montague and their relationship.

    5. Where is the novel set? – timeframe – country etc.

THE LION'S EMBRACE is set in the 1840s, mostly in North Africa.

    6. What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?
I chose the 1840s for this particular novel because it fitted in with my plot and the historical context of the novel when the French had already established their presence in the North of the country but their progression into the South was being fought by gangs of rebels. 

    7. Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why? 

I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I can say that Harriet's friend and protector Archibald Drake is not what he seems to be...but actually neither is Lucas Saintclair.

    8. Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works? 

I don't write erotica or scenes of violence, but I do think scenes of passion have their place in romantic fiction. I only write what I am comfortable with. I once convinced myself my novel wasn't 'steamy' enough and added a few very hot scenes, only to delete everything again a few days later. It just wasn't me...
    9. How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...? 

It is definitely a historical romance!

Back cover blurb:

Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb?


Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?


THE LION'S EMBRACE is available from:

Also from Amazon US
And Amazon UK
You can find me at my blog.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Interview - Sandra Schwab...

Please Welcome the lovely Sandra Schwab, my first guest on The Interview. Sandra is here to talk about her novel:

“The Interview”


Sandra Schwab

Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.




       1. What actually inspired the writing of your novel (s)

While I was working on my PhD thesis, I stumbled across a mention of the Eglinton Tournament and did some further research on it: The Eglinton Tournament was the most talked-about event of 1839. That summer ten thousands of people — ultra-conservative members of the British aristocracy and the gentry as well as people from all around the world — flocked to Ayrshire in Scotland in order to watch young Lord Eglinton’s medieval spectacle. He and some of his friends were to don medieval armor (commissioned from Messrs. Pratt in Bond Street, London) and joust like medieval knights. You know, just like the characters in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe!(Only with less murderous intentions!)

The Eglinton Tournament is exactly the kind of quirky, historical tidbit I love, so of course, I simply had to use it as the backdrop for one of my stories!

     2. Alpha or beta hero - profession, title or rank
Definitely a beta hero: at one point in the story, Robbie Beaton is described as "the kindest man you could ever meet — and such a sweet smile!"(Indeed, his endearing smile is the first thing that the heroine notices about him.) He works as a writer and artist for ALLAN'S MISCELLANY, the magazine he has co-founded with his friends William MacNeil and Jonathan Allan.

      3. Can you describe your heroine's personality - title, rank - description.

Like Robbie, Miss Florence Marsh is middle class, and like Robbie, she is a very sweet person. There is a hint of mischief about her, which our hero finds very intriguing. Flo might not be particularly impressed with the magazine he is working for, but she is rather enchanted by his illustrations (and by his smile, of course!).


    4 Are there secondary lead characters with important roles.

William MacNeil — "Mac" — is the charismatic editor of ALLAN'S MISCELLANY. It is his sharp, sarcastic wit which has made the magazine notorious during the first few months of its existence.


      5 Where is the novel (s) set, timeframe, country etc.

THE BRIDE PRIZE is set in London / England and Ayrshire / Scotland in 1839. The next installments in the series will all be set in England in the 1840s.

      6. What is it about your chosen era, periods that you most enjoy.

The 1830s and 1840s are such a fascinating time: so many things were changing, not just in regard to everyday life (e.g., think of the expansion of the railway network!), but also in regard to the publishing world. The upheavals that shook the publishing world in the early Victorian period were just as momentous as the changes that are happening in our own time. Thanks to the rise of the middle classes, of technological improvements, and higher literacy rates, the market for periodicals grew exponentially. Publishers and authors experimented with new forms and formats, and readers could choose from a huge variety of different reading material. ALLAN'S MISCELLANY allows me to explore this exciting era more thoroughly.


      7. Which if any of your  characters do you dislike, and why.


There are no real villains in THE BRIDE PRIZE, and nobody I really dislike.

       8. Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works.



While my Regency novels all contain explicit love scenes, the novellas and novels in the ALLAN'S MISCELLANY series will not contain any such scenes. There won't be any graphic violence either, except for the beginning of the second story in the series, FALLING FOR A SCOUNDREL, where the heroine finds the body of a brutally murdered gamekeeper (and even that scene is not particularly graphic).


    9. How would you rate your novel: historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or. . .

THE BRIDE PRIZE is a historical romance, and a relatively light-hearted one at that (but what else would you except when your Victorian characters attend a medieval tournament that ends in mayhem?)


  Back cover blurb:

It's 1839, and Lord Eglinton's tournament in Scotland is the most anticipated event of the year: he and some of his noble friends will don medieval armor and joust like knights of old.

Does this mean a revival of true chivalry? Miss Florence Marsh thinks it might.

Or is the tournament mere tomfoolery and the greatest folly of the century? Mr. Robert Beaton thinks it is.

But when Flo and Robbie meet at Eglinton Park, they'll soon learn that a dash of romance can make the greatest differences look rather small and that true love might find you in the most unlikely place.

If only Robbie wasn't working for that scandalous new magazine Allan's Miscellany! If only Flo's father didn't detest the periodical press!

And if only they had remembered to bring an umbrella!




Thank you, Sandra
Eglinton Castle

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Weekly Author Interviews!

Are there any Authors of Historical Fiction/Biographies or Historical Romance Novelists who are interested in being featured as Author of the Week - The Interview?
Each post will be advertised on Facebook/Twitter et al.
email me for the questionnaire!

May is now booked! June filling up...

This feature is associated with the 17th-18th century Facebook Group: here. But all novelists of historical novels are welcome to engage with The Interview.