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Posts Tagged ‘Interview’

Today we are fortunate to have with us R.A.Smith who writes in the urban fantasy and paranormal genres. Though we want to hear of his historical work in the Regency.

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1) What moved you to become an author?

I’ve just always enjoyed writing really. But my time at university poked me in that general direction, and spates of unemployment just proved to be a final push.

2) Tell us about your current novel.

Primal Storm PastedGraphic-2014-06-6-06-00.png is the second tale in the Grenshall Manor Chronicles, the follow-up to Oblivion Storm PastedGraphic1-2014-06-6-06-00.png which came out in late 2012. It’s what I like to call an urban fantasy action adventure, an adrenaline-fueled action adventure with plenty of supernatural edge.

The story starts with one of the characters who came off worst in the first part, Jennifer Winter, just trying to get back on her feet. But being the restless type, she doesn’t start slowly. Worse, being Jennifer Winter, she manages to run into trouble really early on. It turns out it’s the type of trouble that she just can’t ignore, and finds herself locking horns with a criminal organisation of a unique variety. Her run-in with them sets her on a dangerous path of self-discovery, but she first of all has to survive…

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

Once Oblivion Storm PastedGraphic1-2014-06-6-06-00.png was just about done, I always had in mind an initial arc of three stories, in which the small trio of friends who call themselves ‘The New Musketeers’ take turns to take the lead. From where we left Oblivion Storm, there were a couple of unresolved issues which were logical to follow on from. The clearest of them being Jennifer’s fate after the first adventure. It seemed natural to put her in the centre of the action and while I was at it, present her back story.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

There were two big challenges to this story for me, both of opposite kinds though. The first was ensuring Jennifer’s story, not a thoroughly pleasant one, did the job of defining her I wanted it to. She has been a fighter from birth, all that changes is what she fights. In Primal Storm PastedGraphic-2014-06-6-06-00.png, her enemies are worthy of her efforts.

That was the other mission, actually; to ensure her opposition had enough about it to be a part of the story. Jennifer has had a lot to do since the early draft, but I almost had to remember the rest of the world carries on around her as well at times.

5) How did you choose your publishing method?

I think I did what a lot of people do. Over time, I fired the story out to a number of publishers and agents and hoped for the best. I’ve got some lovely rejection letters which I kept as souvenirs. One day, a good friend of mine pointed this new place, Xchyler Publishing, at me and I got a great response back. The rest, as they say, is history!

6) Tell us a little about yourself?

Hmm, what to tell? I’m basically a proud warrior-geek. I used to read books by the bucket-load every summer holiday we’d get at school, with a pretty wide range of stuff. It was a good few years until I realised I wanted to have a proper crack at writing one though! I’m sure I have much more I could say, but what people might actually want to know about me is anyone’s guess!


7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

As no doubt those who have reached the end of Primal Storm will know by now, there will definitely be a Grenshall Manor Chronicles: Part 3! At this time, I’m as far as the outlining stage but I can tell you I’m very excited about it even at this stage, even though I’m expecting something very different to the first two. Beyond that, I would one day like to write a full-on fantasy story and have some sci-fi ideas too. However, I already have an idea to continue the Grenshall Manor series with a tale I’m really hoping I get to work on. It’s another that will be set almost entirely in a historical era though, for reasons.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

I’m going to share a relatively early scene, simply because I wouldn’t want you missing anything! I can certainly say I enjoyed almost every minute of making this book happen, and Jennifer was a wonderful character to work with. I hope the readers like her too. Here’s Jennifer being thrown into the thick of it, no time to waste!

She’d been running for longer than she thought—now in unfamiliar territory. She looked up, trying to find a landmark, a street name, anything to tell her where she’d gone. It was probably time to head home.

Against the moonlit sky, she saw a flash of shadow amidst the darkness. It had gone as soon as she picked it up, but there had definitely been something. She looked around, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary elsewhere. There couldn’t have been anything there. She shrugged and continued running.

She made it ten steps before another shadow flitted by. Too late to be birds. Too densely populated and bright—unlikely to be bats. Too big. Wrong movement. It had just leapt across a building. But cameras pervaded the streets of London. The police would rapidly look into it if they deemed it suspicious.
Her hair stood on end. Then, she closed her eyes as a blinding flash sizzled around her. Vehicles stopped and darkness fell. The visual effect was reminiscent of what she had seen of an electromagnetic pulse. But the rest did not follow.

Physically, she had no evidence of a device of suitable power being unleashed around her. But a quick scan around told her nothing new about the situation. The only thing she had seen came from looking up. It was just the one lead. She found a foothold on a nearby building and followed it.

Jennifer started climbing, the stone on the side of the slippery building. But, she fought for every grip, and clung with great strength. She wobbled, the balance awkward. Arms and legs coiled, she forced her way up, finally gathering momentum and gaining her stride.

She reached the top and looked across the rooftop. She was alone, as far as she could tell. But this was a better vantage point than where she had been, and, at least she reinforced her technique in the climb.

Surely the emergency power would kick in before too long? Almost as she had the thought, there were brief flashes from hundreds of lights as far as the eye could see. But, as suddenly as they had come on, they flashed off.

What gives?

She saw several flashes of movement. More shadows, climbing the surrounding the roofs nearby. She heard a whizzing sound behind her. Without thinking, she dashed for the nearest extractor fan and leapt over it, forward rolling as she landed. She dragged herself to the edge of the vent and sat up, peering from behind cover.

Jennifer spotted the hook before an individual clad completely in dark, loose clothing and a face mask reached the top. He retrieved his climbing equipment and moved towards her. An electronic whisper sounded as the climber approached. She slid around the opposite side of the fan and watched. He was armed, but as far as she could see, bore no resemblance to any local police team or military squad. She’d walked right into something else.

“Number Four in place,” he whispered, not beyond her strong hearing. A year ago, she could have leapt the fan and taken him down before he knew she was there. She still had a chance, but she needed to know more. Staying low, she crawled closer, waiting as he positioned himself on the edge of the roof.

There it was again. That flash of shadow. It went past, well before she had any idea what it was. Still a large shadow. Still flowing.

Then again. An adjacent rooftop. Right by the standing guard. The shadow flickered into sight again, then vanished just as soon as it appeared. She got a better look this time. Person-sized. Wings? No. A cloak was more likely. But the vanishing was more difficult to explain.

She could sense a trail. That smell. She had grown accustomed to it. That was why she hadn’t picked up on it faster. It was like . . . distilled death to those with senses as acute as hers had been, but it wasn’t forgettable either. It was the same stench that Grenshall Manor reeked of, if one knew where to check. Not like Mary. The aura around her had changed.

No. This was more like that awful Gate Chamber Mary had told her about, but she had never seen for herself. Mary claimed to be in full control of it now, but Jennifer could still sense it. Jennifer had no reason to doubt her friend, for anything the rightful owner of Grenshall Manor had said to her since they met had been right.

But it—the shadow—had gone again, whatever . . . whoever it was. What she knew: the squad had spread out around the buildings. Yet, she had never checked her exact whereabouts. She intended to do that when she had given up for the day to head home. Time to check the nearest landmarks and work it out.

She recognised one of the buildings, not too far ahead. The British Museum. A useful reference point. And one that the intruder had been staring straight at. They were all pointing in that direction. She guessed that must have been their concern.

As she stared, the shadow returned, right there. It moved quickly, flitting around down there, near other figures. They had dropped to the ground as she stared. This thing was causing harm. It was time to act.

9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like

The end result wasn’t so much influenced by a writer as such. Sebastien Foucan is one of the founders of parkour, and has had a number of acting roles on the back of that. I tried to think of a way Jennifer would look to get herself back into shape (her definition of this is not like yours or mine, I suspect), and something she could really push her physical limits with. After a couple of videos and a TED talk, the chosen activity became very clear to me. This is why he has a quote in the acknowledgements before the story start which sums things up rather nicely.

Who do I write like? I’m not certain it’s for me to say really; I’ll leave that for readers to judge! But some reviews have brought up interesting names I’ve been mentioned in some comparison to, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen there!

10) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

I don’t get to read anywhere near as much as I’d like to these days. However, I’m almost up to date on the Dresden Files PastedGraphic6-2014-06-6-06-00.png by Jim Butcher, and loved the first in the Rivers of London series, PastedGraphic2-2014-06-6-06-00.png (Rivers of London, funny enough, but released as Midnight Riot in the US for some reason) by Ben Aaronovitch. I can also recommend the Shadows of the Apt PastedGraphic4-2014-06-6-06-00.png series by Adrian Tchaikovsky (DWW-I’ve been finding this fascinating as well) and can tell you now that one of the things that set me down the entire path of enjoying reading, writing and the fantasy genre is the fabulous Earthsea PastedGraphic5-2014-06-6-06-00.png (DWW-Always a classic) series from Ursula Le Guin.

11) When writing, what is your routine?

Routine??

Just kidding. Er, well, at the moment, I just try and get some time together to get on with it. Ideal surroundings include snacks within reach and a relevant playlist. But barring that, I can actually get on with the TV on as long as I’ve got a bit of a flow going. It really does depend.

The main thing is that I ensure however much time I set aside to sit down and write, I get on and do at least some. These days, I’ve actually been hitting a rhythm a lot better during the late evening. I suppose it’s the lack of surrounding activity and a brain only having to do one thing.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

See, there’s an argument that the two are one and the same when it comes to writing. Both imply hard work. Which is good, because it is. Whether it’s something that can be labelled as art? Now how do we judge that? I like to think it’s a blend of both in my case, but to make a piece of work which leaves a positive, profound and lasting impression? Now that’s a tricky mission. 


13) Where should we look for your work.

The usual spots, really…

Oblivion Storm PastedGraphic1-2014-06-6-06-00.png

Primal Storm PastedGraphic-2014-06-6-06-00.png

Goodreads

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As we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us Nancy Jardine who writes in both contemporary and historical genres. Though we want to hear of her historical work today.

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1) What moved you to become an author?
My profession until 2011 was primary teaching, my pupils generally aged 11-12 years, and for many years I didn’t envisage doing any writing beyond what was needed for my class preparations. However, I was approached in 1999 and asked to voluntarily write a set of non-fiction local history related photo-copiable (copyright free) materials for classroom use in my school authority area. 50 copies of a 100 page booklet were personally produced by me and distributed to local schools. A few years later, in 2005, I wrote another non-fiction full length book about the history of the school in which I was teaching, which also happens to be in my home village of Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The first recorded ‘schoolroom and dominie (teacher)’ dates back to the early 1500s so the research was extensive for that project, especially as I was not born and bred in the area. ‘a sqweel at kintore fir monie a year’ was also voluntary and all profits went to the school coffers. Strangely enough, I didn’t consider either of those ‘proper’ writing. The school ‘history book’ was being written because we were moving from an old Victorian school building to a brand new school complex, to be built directly behind the Victorian building on what was the school playing fields. From late Victorian times those fields had been identified as the site of an Agricolan Roman Marching Camp during his ‘northern campaigns’ in Britannia AD 84. No building work could commence till excavations were made. The archaeological results in the dig of 2002-2004 were so impressive that the earlier estimate of some 4,000 Roman soldiers inhabiting the area was revised to something like 10,000 soldiers. My class and I worked on a Celtic Roman project that year and my kids wrote such great stories about the arrival of the Roman usurpers that I just had to begin penning my own fiction. Every summer holidays (generally 6 weeks), from 2005 onwards, I spent time writing for myself.

2) Tell us about your current novel.
My most recent release is Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks. Books 1 & 2 largely follow the adventures of a Celtic family of warriors from the hillfort of Garrigill as they find ways to thwart Roman expansion in their territory during the period AD 71-74. These first two books are mostly set in the tribal areas of the Brigantes, in northern Britannia (Yorkshire, England).

However, when Gnaeus Julius Agricola became Governor of Britannia in AD 78 he was determined to conquer the whole island for Rome, and for the Emperor Vespasian. The plot in Book 3, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, 10172311_657187177663919_365922795_o-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg gradually takes my Brigantian warriors all the way to the north-east of Scotland, to Bennachie – 9 miles from my home village of Kintore. The range of hills named Bennachie are a prime contender site for what was named The Battle of Mons Graupius.

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about the exploits of his father-in-law, Agricola, and referred to an unnamed battle between Rome and northern Celtic tribes: this important battle gaining Agricola triumphal honors when he returned to Rome in approximately AD 84. (DWW-You’d think that something that garnered you a Triumph would have a name) From the description of the distinctive peak shape and other topographical information Bennachie is a good choice of battle site. I’ve used the area for a battle scene between Rome’s legions and Celtic warriors led by the Caledon leader, Calgach (named Calgacus in the annals of Tacitus, meaning the swordsman).

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks
is a continuation of the story of Brennus of Garrigill who was a strong secondary character in Book 1:The Beltane Choice, The_Beltane_Choice__Nancy_Jardine__9781908910486__Amazon_com__Books-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg and who became a main character in Book 2:Bran Reborn. Bran Reborn After_Whorl__Bran_Reborn__Nancy_Jardine__9781909841321__Amazon_com__Books-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg also introduces the new female character Ineda of Marske, and a Roman tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius. Ineda and Brennus, Brigante Celts who are spies collecting information about Roman troop movements, are separated when they are set upon by a Roman patrol near the end of Book 2. Book 3 continues their separate lives for approximately a decade spanning AD 74 – AD 84. Brennus becomes the main pivot of the spy network against Rome and gradually moves from northern England to north-east Scotland. Ineda, as the personal slave to Roman tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius, is forced northwards when her master becomes responsible for supplying the forward troops of Agricola as they claim more and more territory on Britannia’s northern soil.

Though each of the three books is intended to be able to be read as a stand alone novel, the series of books are interlinked in that they deal with members of an extended family of warriors from the hillfort of Garrigill, and as such can also be regarded as follow-on novels. Some of the protagonists in Book 1 reappear at the end of Book 3, and most of the characters from Books 1, 2 & 3 are in Book 4 which is currently on the writing table

My aims for Book 3 were different from the first two books. For Book 3, I wanted to increase the military strategy in a broad sense, largely using the accounts of Tacitus as a loose basis for the Roman campaigns in northern Britannia. I still wanted as much historical accuracy as in the first books, but I was also desperate to involve my characters in bloody battle against Rome. Book 3 has more of the danger, gory battle, death, military strategy than the other books, yet the romantic elements also build again. The balance of Roman and Celtic viewpoint is about even in Book 3.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?
Some of the recorded historical data available to me didn’t seem to ‘fit’ the timelines I created for the events in my novel. After a lot of deliberating, and many changes, I decided that I was writing fiction and would work around dates for events which seemed more sensible to me. (DWW-As long as an author note explains the changes from history. We don’t want to have our readers think that we state a historical point as a fact when the fact is different.)

This was mainly regarding the record of when Roman forces settled in forts and fortresses rather than in temporary marching camps in Scotland. In my earliest planning for the novel I was using what was termed as being up-to-date in the 1970s. However, as I wrote in 2013, new evidence from excavations and non-invasive explorations of Roman settlements was appearing on the internet, almost on a daily basis. New theories altered the earlier dates which were much more in keeping with my timelines. A few rewrites meant I was much happier with my first interpretations – I had a ‘better fit’ for Roman legion movement in north-east Scotland.

5) How did you choose your publishing method?
I had two contemporary romance mysteries already published by the Wild Rose Press, a New York Basin ebook publisher. Via one of those colleagues I heard of a new publishing house which has started in Edinburgh, Scotland called Crooked Cat Publishing. I submitted to them and they accepted a much revised version of Book 1- The Beltane Choice.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?
I gave up teaching in 2011, my hearing causing me problems in class, even with the use of an aid. That coincided with my first grandchild needing child minding, which I now do for my grandson as well on a regular basis. This means welcome interruptions to my writing and gardening. Apart from reading for leisure, and to review for other authors, I don’t seem to have much time for anything else apart from occasional ancestral researching. It’s just as well that my retired husband does most of the cooking for us. (DWW-Hope he is a good cook!)

7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on?
I’ve started Book 4 of the Series and have another project that gets occasional attention paid to it. A family saga based loosely on exploits of a black sheep from my family. We all have them if we delve deep and go far enough back, though my husband claims his side of the family is squeaky clean! The plans for that indicate a trilogy might be the result-eventually. I’ve also got a vague plan in mind for a follow–on to my ancestral based contemporary mystery thriller Topaz Eyes which is a finalist for The People’s Book Prize, 2014.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.
Excerpt from After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, 10172311_657187177663919_365922795_o-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg

Gaius was furious, the urge to lash out with his fists immense. A fight with Agricola would go a long way to improve his temper as he barged into his tented quarters.

“We are breaking off from the main legion.”

Ineda gaped at him, curiosity rising in her gaze as he stripped off his breastplate and let it slip with a noisy clank to the ground, not his usual practice since he was extremely careful of his armour. Shrugging and writhing his shoulders to free them from the weight of the metal he strutted around the small space inside the tent as he yanked off his tunic, the smell of his own sweat strong at his nostrils. The day had been long and difficult, his tension at odds the whole time. He balled the garment in his hands. Dropping it would be too easy, so instead he sent it sailing onto the leather door flap where it made contact with a resounding smack before slithering to the ground. He wanted to rant but knew that a poor choice since it would awaken Dubv whose small cot was behind a low partition at the side of the tent.

Ineda went to the small bed and tucked the blanket around Dubv. She did not even attempt to lift his discarded uniform and only looked a tiny bit wary as he strutted around the restricted interior. She knew well how to avoid confrontation with him; though he guessed she was probably itching to know what was angering him so much. She always wanted to know everything. Her eventual words were soft into the heavy silence, treading as warily as her eyes.

“Breaking off?”

“New orders.”

It was rare that Gaius felt so angry he could not speak. Agricola had often made changes to plans which had disappointed and annoyed him but they had never made him livid like those he had just received.

“You are returning to Eboracum?”

“No, Ineda. Not Eboracum. Agricola has decided that I need to remain at the old fortress near Easg when the column arrives there on the morrow.”

9) When writing, what is your routine?
I’d love to have one but I don’t. My family needs always take priority so shutting myself away at my desk in the dining room doesn’t work. I fit in my new writing whenever I am not doing writing for promotional work -like writing blog posts – or marketing my books.

All of that is sandwiched in between being a child minding grandmother, gardener and general housewife. That said I need to do better than writing late at night when all are in bed or early in the morning before they get up since, I find the middle of the day is very tiring!

10) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?
Being an ex- teacher, I’m quite picky about grammar and consistency, though that doesn’t mean my own work is error free. I am quite anal in that like Mr. Gradgrind in the Charles Dickens novel ‘Hard Times’ I’m all about ‘fact, facts, facts’ being as perfect as possible and as well presented as possible. I guess I’d have to veer towards the craftsman, rather than the intuitive artist.

11) Where should we look for your work.

After Whorl: Donning Double cloaks
Amazon USA,
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Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1dOlmoM
Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/422379
Barnes and Noble P/B http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-whorl-nancy-jardine/1118872607?ean=9781909841574
Crooked Cat Books http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=128

After Whorl: Bran Reborn
Bran Reborn
After_Whorl__Bran_Reborn__Nancy_Jardine__9781909841321__Amazon_com__Books-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg

The Beltane Choice
The Beltane Choice
, The_Beltane_Choice__Nancy_Jardine__9781908910486__Amazon_com__Books-2014-04-11-06-00.jpg

Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found in paperback and ebook formats from:
Amazon UK author page   
Amazon US author page
Crooked Cat Bookstore; Waterstones; Barnes & Noble; Smashwords; W. H. Smith; and other book retailers.

Nancy can be found at the following places:  
 Blog 
Website  
Facebook
Goodreads  
About Me  
LinkedIn 
Twitter @nansjar

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As we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us us Barbara Gaskell Denvil who writes in the genres of historical fiction and occasional fantasy.

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1)What moved you to become an author?

I come from a family of writers and artists. Almost all my father’s friends were painters, and as a child my evenings were often spent amongst a group of loudly arguing adults, all animated as they discussed the latest book or some specific quality of writing. I grew up thinking that art and books were the most important things in the world, and yearned to be an author myself. My Christmas presents were all books rather than toys, and I accepted that standards of good writing were what ruled the world. I wrote my first daft fairy stories when I was about four years old. (DWW-Is it available in print?)

2) Tell us about your current novel.

Although the next book I publish will be produced in Australia only (my publisher has the ANZ rights) I am at present writing the first of a quartet, which will be available worldwide. This is historical fiction again, and covers the lives, separations and misfortunes of two people through the dramatic years 1471 to 1490. The scale is large – giving me plenty of opportunity to include all the historical events of those times, while also building up the fictional story and the extended romance.

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

Over a couple of years, actually. I have a great fascination for that era, and have been researching it for many years. This covers the monarchs Edward IV, Richard III and the first years of the Tudor dynasty – fantastic material for any book. So I began to plan a series, where my hero and heroine would experience many adventures and disasters against the background of these tumultuous historical events. I often walk those medieval lanes in my dreams – so writing about them seems almost obligatory.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

I suppose it is the discipline necessary for turning imagination into actual identity and finding the time to fit everything in. I suffer from failing eyesight and I’m also a technological idiot. I can write a hundred books in my head – but actually producing them on the computer is always inspirational but also sometimes exhausting. It’s so satisfying at the end of each day when I see what I have written and my characters begin to come to life – but it’s challenging in a practical sense.

5) How did you choose your publishing method?

I began a couple of years ago by self-publishing on Amazon. That was a great experience but I needed a lot of help so my daughter took over the formatting and my granddaughter produced my book covers. Both those books, Satin Cinnabar Amazon_com__Satin_Cinnabar_eBook__Barbara_Gaskell_Denvil__Books-2014-02-14-06-00.jpg and Fair Weather Amazon_com__Fair_Weather_eBook__Barbara_Gaskell_Denvil__Books-2014-02-14-06-00.jpg have sold well, but I am not great at publicity or using the internet for self-promotion so I’ve never found self-publishing an easy option. My next book Sumerford’s Autumn PastedGraphic1-2014-02-14-06-00.png has been traditionally published in Australia by Simon & Schuster. (DWW-I’ve done a search for it here in America and can’t find it for sale, but 4 stars on Goodreads!) I have to say, I am now more comfortable leaving the business side and the marketing to the professionals.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in England and when young I began to develop a career in publishing, journalism, creative editing and short story writing. But I’ve had a somewhat erratic life – and my roots seem spread a little around the world. I am half English and half Australian and I lived many years on a boat cruising the Mediterranean and in half a dozen European countries until my partner became very ill and finally died of cancer. After this emotional devastation, I deeded change and so moved to rural Australia, where I began writing full time. A little late in life, perhaps, to reclaim my original career – but I find it wonderfully fulfilling.

7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

I have a long list of books in my head that I’d love to write. Although I have concentrated mainly on writing historical fiction, I also love to write fantasy and aim to delve a little more into that genre at some time in the future. Inspirational ideas arrive too frequently to follow up. My next book is once again a historical novel set in the late 15th century, which will be published in Australia this coming June. Meanwhile I am busy writing the first of the quartet I mentioned – historical adventure again.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

I researched the plague, which was a common threat in the 15th century, for the book I am currently writing (Cornucopia, Book One – Prime) and found the particular horrors of that disease quite appalling. I think many authors who choose to write about this, have failed to realize just how dreadful it was. The myth that the nursery rhyme “Ring a Ring a Roses’ referred to the plague, has distracted many. The truth was far, far worse. A short excerpt from that passage, where my hero contracts this disease – is as follows:-

My hand was cool and Jack’s brow was fire. I thought he opened his eyes and saw me but when I leaned closer I saw he was still in sleep and only the nightmare of delirium moved his lashes. All his skin was slick with sweat which glowed in the moonlight but his face was flushed and his jaw tight as though gripped in pain. Around his nose was caked with dry blood, and where the quilt was pulled right up to his chin, its edging was wet, all dark sour stained with sweat and vomit. I pulled it back a little and Jack moved, fretful, as if disturbed by my touch. But he did not open his eyes and neither did he speak, though his forced breathing gurgled shallow in his throat. I looked around for something to clean his face and soothe his fever. There were pillows on the floorboards around the bed, as if he had thrown them off in tremor or convulsion. I piled them back onto the bed and pushed some behind Jack’s shoulders and over the bolster, supporting him so he would not gag on his own vomit. There was a jug of water and a basin on a chest in front of the window, and I found a tangle of bandages and rags to bathe him, cooling his face and head and then his neck and upper chest. I dried him with my own skirt, and kissed his cheek. He did not wake.

9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like

I suppose in a way, everything I have ever done, heard or read has influenced my writing a little. However, I’m not actually conscious of any one specific influence and I don’t think my writing actually follows anyone else’s style in particular. Many years ago it was probably the breadth of plot and characterization of Dickens and Dorothy Dunnett Amazon_com__The_Game_of_Kings__First_in_the_Legendary_Lymond_Chronicles__Vintage__eBook__Dorothy_Dunnett__Kindle_Store-2014-02-14-06-00.jpg (DWW-While Dorothy Dunnett has not changed my life as a writer, her books have fascinated me as well, keeping me involved in her heroes who so often act anti-heroically that I recommend these as well to our fellow and future historical novel enthusiasts) which impressed me most, but I have loved so many different authors and read a multitude of memorable books over the years, so I could site anyone from Tolkien, George MacDonald Fraser, S. Fowler Wright – on to Italo Calvino, Mary Stewart, Mary Renault, Shakespeare of course and even the Regency glitter of Georgette Heyer.

10) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

I read a little less now and I put more effort into writing. However, there are some new young authors who I love, and I very much enjoy the historical fiction I have found amongst the English Historical Fiction group to which I belong online. Apart from that I tend to concentrate on non-fiction, since research is a passion of mine besides being essential for my books. I am painstaking about getting all historical details and backgrounds absolutely accurate.

11) When writing, what is your routine?

Sitting at the computer – probably 9 to 5, and usually 5 or 6 days a week. Of course I’m my own boss so I’m free to change this routine depending on my health, family visits, and a host of other reasons. But I do adore writing in spite of the challenges, so this is a routine I’m usually only too pleased to keep up.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

I hope I’m a bit of both. I don’t think anyone can be an artist without a solid grounding in the relevant craft. Perhaps some abstract artists can paint without learning anatomy or technique – but no author can write well without some grammar, vocabulary and serious word-craft. Reading widely is the author’s best schooling in the craft. The artistry cannot be learned – it comes from inspiration and practice.

13) Where should we look for your work.

On Amazon Kindle for the first two published books SATIN CINNABAR and FAIR WEATHER and in all bookshops in Australia as well as online for my third book SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN.

Satin Cinnabar Amazon_com__Satin_Cinnabar_eBook__Barbara_Gaskell_Denvil__Books-2014-02-14-06-00.jpg

Fair Weather Amazon_com__Fair_Weather_eBook__Barbara_Gaskell_Denvil__Books-2014-02-14-06-00.jpg

Link to my bloghttp://www.bgdenvil.com/

Thanks so much, David, for inviting me. I’m not usually very keen to talk about myself, but this has been fun.

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As we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us A. F. Stewart who writes in the fantasy and horror genres. Today we also want to talk about her work in the Regency arena.

1)What moved you to become an author?

The voices in my head.
Seriously though, I’ve always been a storyteller, so it seemed logical to fling those stories out into the world for people to read. Of course, my logic has always been a bit flawed.

2) Tell us about your current novel.

My current novel is a departure from history, a mix of dark fairy tales and detective fiction, so I thought I’d talk instead about my Georgian era fantasy, Chronicles of the Undead. Regency_Interview_doc__Compatibility_Mode_-2014-02-7-06-00.jpg It’s an older work, and slightly different than the norm. The epistolary novella—set for the most part in London, England—spans the years from 1793 to 1826 and narrates the story of the Harrington family as their lives intersect with two vampires, Eleanor and Henri. The entire book consists of diary entries, told from three different points of view: Samuel Harrington, his son Edmund Harrington, and Edmund’s daughter, Charlotte. The book details each person’s experience with Eleanor and Henri, and how each Harrington deals with the knowledge that vampires exist. (DWW-Sounds very interesting, I have a good part of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence as letters to and from the Colonel as he fights the French on the Peninsula.)

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

It all started with the notion of how someone would react if they found out a neighbor had a strange secret. From there came the idea of the secret: the neighbours being vampires. The idea of secrets led to the thought of diaries and the book was born. It seem more interesting to set the story within a historic era, and I chose the Georgian/Regency period.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

Writing the format was definitely challenging, keeping the dates, years, and different time periods straight could get confusing, especially since I tend to bounce around within a book when I write scenes. Also the middle section, where I write from Edmund Harrington’s point of view, gave me no end of trouble. He was one character that stubbornly refused to cooperate. I learned a good lesson from it though: never argue with your characters. (DWW-I find keeping track of dates, once they become integral to the story difficult as well. I have one work in progress, that the date sequence weighs heavy on my mind and it must be the first thing I look at when I start the 2nd draft, else the story will not work at all.)

5) How did you choose your publishing method?

I felt the unusual nature of the book, an epistolary novella written as a series of diary entries, did not lend itself well to the traditional publishers, so I went with self-publishing.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a quiet type, who’d rather curl up with a good book than go out on the town. I’m a sci-fi and fantasy geek, and proud of it, with a small assortment of collectables to prove it. I love movies (especially action films), music, chocolate, have a thing for scarves, but not for shoes, I prefer to write death scenes than romance scenes, hate dusting, like cooking, and I love to write poetry.

7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

I’m working on a couple of Victorian era steampunk books at the moment, as well as two sequels to previous books, one of which, Killers and Demons II 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__Regency_Interview_doc__Compatibility_Mode_-2014-02-7-06-00.jpg, will have a Regency Era story. I’d also like to get some time to continue my online sequel to Chronicles of the Undead, called
The Elite of the Blood PastedGraphic3-2014-02-7-06-00.png; it’s a novel that alternates the point-of-view from modern day to Georgian England.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

Here’s a snippet from Chronicles of the Undead:

Samuel Harrington’s Diaries
1793-1795
London, England

December 12, 1793.
Eliza is in a better mood these days, with Edmund home for the Christmas season. She has even promised to have Eleanor and Henri over for Christmas dinner.

December 14, 1793.
What a shame. Henri informed me this morning they are leaving London for Christmas, to visit some friends in the country. I hope they have decent weather; trips this time of year can be unpleasant.

December 20, 1793.
The house is certainly festive, with the holly wreaths and the festooned greenery. Cook made a toothsome cake yesterday that was most palatable. No doubt she has more such delicacies to come.
It will be wonderful to spend a genial Christmas with family, to hear Edmund’s tales of Oxford and to hear Flora sing the carols.
However, I do miss Henri.

January 10, 1794.
The holidays are over, and Edmund shall be returning to Oxford soon. It was a pleasantly adequate Christmas.
The house is now far more tranquil than during the celebrations. I suppose we shall all have to return to our routines.

January 16, 1794.
Henri has returned at last. I shall again have some stimulating conversation and companionship. I am looking forward to our next outing.

9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like?

Ray Bradbury PastedGraphic-2014-02-7-06-00.png influenced my writing quite a bit, as have Neil GaimanPastedGraphic2-2014-02-7-06-00.png and Canadian writer, Guy Gavriel Kay (DWW-read Kay once, and though I have friends who praise him as well, I could not get past some of the tropes in The Summer Tree 25+ years ago). I personally don’t like making comparisons to other writers, but a few people have said my style is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.

10) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

I read many, many authors and books, but some of my favourites are the aforementioned Ray Bradbury PastedGraphic-2014-02-7-06-00.png, Neil Gaiman PastedGraphic2-2014-02-7-06-00.png (David W Wilkin-have to love the cover)and Guy Gavriel Kay, as well as Agatha Christie, Morgan Llywelyn, Jennifer Roberson, Edward Marston, and J. A. Clement.

I would hope readers can identify with my characters, I try to keep them realistic, even in the midst of fantastic situations. I like writing from an emotional and psychological base for characters, so readers can relate; everyone gets angry, sad, excited, etc. The fun part is then taking those emotions to extremes, like revenge, murder, jealousy, and playing with that to create motivation and plot.

11) When writing, what is your routine?

I’m not sure routine is a good name for it, since I’m terribly haphazard in my writing. I try to write something most days, not always successfully. On good days I manage a couple of paragraphs, or a page or two for a book, a flash fiction story, or a poem. But quite often an idea or a line will pop into my head out of the blue and I’m off scribbling. Sessions like that can last a few minutes, or hours. It’s messy, but it works for me.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

I’d say a blend of both, since the artistry drives the story and the characters, and the craftsmanship polishes the prose to turn it into a finished book.

13) Where should we look for your work.

You can find my books listed at my Amazon Page
Or over at Smashwords (where you’ll find some freebies)
Or you can check out my website: http://afallon.bravesites.com/

You can also get some of my work with these links
Chronicles of the Undead. Regency_Interview_doc__Compatibility_Mode_-2014-02-7-06-00.jpg

Killers and Demons I 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__Regency_Interview_doc__Compatibility_Mode_-2014-02-7-06-00.jpg

(Note AF and I both have stories in Mechanized Masterpieces a Steampunk Anthology 2__%252524%252521%252540%252521__Regency_Interview_doc__Compatibility_Mode_-2014-02-7-06-00.jpg)

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Over at my friend and fellow author, RM Ridley’s blog, I announce more details about Beggar’s Can’t Be Choosier. Stop on over and see what is happening

 

Guest Author Blog – Beggar’s Can’t Be Choosier.

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As we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us us J F Ridgley who writes Historical Fiction during Ancient Roman.

1)What moved you to become an author?
Actually, my eighth grade students. I shared stories of King Arthur and the characters they had never heard and said, “Ms Ridgley, DWWillis_blog__finish_docx-2014-01-24-06-00.jpg you should write a book about that.” So I did and, bingo, once the stories began to fly out of my fingertips and onto the computer, I was captivated. Oh, I’ve written stories in my head all my life, but to see that story come to life on a page was unbelievable. Now, I consider myself as the first reader and nothing else happens until I write the next line. I can’t stop. I want to know what happens next.

2) Tell us about your current novel.
My latest book is Threatened Loyalties Friday_Interviews-J_F__Ridgley_author_of_Roman_Historicals_—_The_Things_That_Catch_My_Eye set in Herculaneum, the summer Vesuvius erupts. August 24 AD 79. It deals with the dirty underbelly of Rome’s politics and slavery vs love. While young Marcus Galerius Alexius has been gone, his betrothed, whom he nicknamed Medusa while they grew up together, has turned in to a beautiful swan. Now he will do anything to regain her affections. However, Messalina isn’t making this easy. Messi draws Alexius into a love affair between the most powerful citizen of Herculaneum’s daughter who has fallen in love with a slave and is now pregnant. This unveils an even more sinister plot that lurks the streets of this rich city, threatens the emperor, and even the future of the Empire. Alexius risks everything to save Rome. Then Vesuvius erupts and changes everything.

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?
In my research, I discovered a picture of a slave girl’s body protecting a patrician’s baby in the boathouses where many people were boiled alive during the eruption of Vesuvius. She fascinated me. Why was this slave girl protecting this patrician’s child? Then I discovered a centurion’s body who was found face down and buried by the volcanic vomit. Then there was a man who was found face down in a back cell of a temple who was locked in with a chair shoved beneath the outside handle of the door.

Who were these people? What was it like living in this city of the rich who vacationed there? What was it like when what they thought was a mountain blows up before their eyes–that same volcanic eruption that was TOTALLY different in Pompeii? I had no choice. I had to bring all these people and this eruption to life. And did, in Threatened Loyalties.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?
What challenged me most were these people who walked the streets of this city and this fascinating and horrifying eruption. What helped me understand what they faced was visiting Herculaneum and walking the actual streets, visiting the real homes of my characters, and actually seeing the skeleton of the man trapped in the temple. It all became so real. This really happened!

Then there is the challenge of understanding the Roman legal system, the politics, the expectations put on the children of Romans. You think DC politics are bad. That is nothing compared to Ancient Rome.

5) How did you choose your publishing method?
I don’t think I chose my path to publishing. I think God chose it for me. I started writing what seems a thousand years ago and endured the trail of rejections with traditional publishers. And I can’t disagree that my work need—what shall I say—a little work. However, as my stories evolved, the opportunity of self-publishing emerged and I knew it was the right path for me. I love the challenge of working together with Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphic.org, the best cover designer out there in my book as well as working edits with Cindy Vallar.com who I value beyond measure. I love the entire process.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been learning this craft of writing for fifteen years and I don’t see it stopping. I love bringing the ancient world to life. What got me here, as I said, was the legend of King Arthur. However, you quickly learn that Arthur was not a king but a Celtic chief. Then I discovered easily enough that you don’t deal with the Celts without running smack into a Roman’s shield or gladius. When this happened, I was hooked. I never want to leave this world where these two conflict somehow be it ‘Celt vs Roman’ or ‘Patrician vs plebeian’ or ‘dominus vs domina’. I don’t care. I love it. Outside of that, God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, two fantastic kids, and a beautiful granddaughter and so much more.

7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.
My next book coming out this year is The Revolt, which is the first book in my Red Fury series on Julius Agricola. It is a story of a fathers’ love for one son. That isn’t a typo. Two fathers. One son. Revolt starts with Julius being present during the entire revolt by Boudica in her attempt to run the Romans out of Britannia. Were both daughters were raped? Don’t be so sure.

After that, I want to get back to Pompeii’s Plague that takes you back to Pompeii right before Vesuvius erupts. If you think that breaking through a glass ceiling is hard for a woman today, imagine trying to break through Rome’s concrete ceiling as Faustina must do to keep her father’s estates.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

This is the scene in Threatened Loyalties Friday_Interviews-J_F__Ridgley_author_of_Roman_Historicals_—_The_Things_That_Catch_My_Eyewhere the hero Marcus Galerius Alexius finally realizes what he has gotten into. He has risked everything: his family’s name, his father’s reputation, Messalina’s life and her family’s reputation and even his own life. What the hell has he done and should he continue on with this cover-up.

“Come with us, you filthy fool.”


Guards jerked Alexius’s hands forward and clamped the iron cuffs around his wrists. Another shoved from behind, making him stumble outside his house and onto the stone street filled with onlookers.


“Didn’t your father tell you, you idiot fool, that helping a slave escape made you a slave?” someone barked.
Another laughed. “And you thought you would get elected you, you filthy piece of shit.”


“I didn’t. I didn’t.”


A soldier’s laughter rang in his ears. “Not what I heard. Throw the cur in the wagon.”


Crowds threw garbage at him as the donkey pulled the wagon through the torch lit streets of Rome.


“He is the stench of a low-life latrine.”


“And we almost voted for the filthy leech.”


“Yeah, you filthy leech, you deserve to be a slave.”


“I didn’t. I didn’t.”


The wagon jolted toward the Circus Maximus where a man screamed. “Alexius! He helped me! He knew all about it!”


Alexius knew that voice, but he could not place it. His mind searched helplessly for answers.


The gates opened, allowing the donkey onto the sandy track. Black shadows of the guards lined the way to three lashing posts buried at the nearest end of the spina. The stands were filled with senators cheering, laughing, and pointing at him.


“He is the one. He helped me! He helped me!”


The voice. It came from the lacerated man hanging from one of the lashing poles.


Zeno!


“No. No. I didn’t. I didn’t.”


His father’s shredded body hung limp on second lashing post where three senators waited. Sulla. Pomponius. Balbus.


The three turned, and in one voice, announced, “You are a liar, Marcus Galerius Alexius. The Senate and the people of Rome have found you guilty.”


Balbus pointed a barbed whip toward the remaining empty post. “Tie my new slave, so I may show him, I am his dominus now.”


Alexius burst from his bed and raced to the bedroom window. He threw it open to the cool night air that did little to soothe his mind as the nightmare replayed all too clearly. He saw Balbus, the whip, Pomponius’s jowls bouncing with laughter, and Sulla’s clever smile oozing across the man’s face.

And his father’s torn, mutilated body.

Somewhere in his mind, he heard his own voice. I didn’t. I didn’t.

However, he did know.

Alexius grabbed the pitcher from the nearby table and attempted to pour water into the small glass. His hand shook most of it out. He splashed some over his face and fell back against the wall. Tears choked through him at the image of his father, suffering for what he was responsible for doing.

9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work?
Colleen McCullough and her PastedGraphic2-2014-01-24-06-00.png Grass Crown series encouraged me to venture into Rome’s captivating world. Steven Saylor, Steven Pressfield… as well as the many members of organizations as Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America who have helped me understand this craft. I have to also mention Dr Murochick, professor of geology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who explained so many things about volcanos as well as telling me about the buried centurion found in Herculaneum.

and who do you think you write like?
I really don’t think a writer can write like another even if we are telling the same story. Each voice is different. Each perspective unique. That’s the fun of this craft.

10) Who do you read?
The list is way too long because I have been a reader all my life. However, I love any well-written story during any period that starts with action that never stops as well as falling in love with new characters and having them become lifelong friends.

What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in. The women of Rome.—these dominas were the strong women who influenced the world nearly as much as the men did. They were the first women-libists. They were like the American pioneer woman…basic farmwomen who supported their husbands, tried to please them, but defied them when the society ‘got it all wrong.’ When Rome took on the Greek ideal, that demanded wives cover themselves totally and submit to their father’s then husband’s will. The Roman domina managed to change that over time. They brought fashion to the Roman Empire that included modern France, when it was simply known as Gaul, where fashion still dictates from. They were the model of the Victorian world. They brought the simple wisdoms of practicality as ‘everything in moderation.” Okay, I simply love these women as other women of all cultures.

Another thing… throughout history mankind has not been very nice to each other. Many think Romans and their legions were the worst. This is wrong. Romans brought Pax Romana or Roman Peace too many societies that warred each spring, all summer and stopped in fall. War was constant until Rome came. Then came taxes and government control. And Rome shows us the dangers of that in our world even today.

11) When writing, what is your routine?
My ideal routine is to get up in the morning and do what needs to be done in a normal life and at noon, I become a writer and start writing/editing. That worked ‘once upon a time.’ Now, with publishing and marketing added to the mix of editing and writing….it’s turning into a full time job. This remains a big challenge to this long-time housewife and mother.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?
I see an artist as a pantser–writing by the seat of your pants–and a craftsman as a plotter–plot out the story and then write it. I’m a blend of both. I discover the story, find the fact to the story, then write the story as it comes to me. Invariably the plot goes off in another direction and I have to follow it. That is the joy of writing for me. I never know what’s going to happen. You know the old saying from Shakespeare…’Best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” But that’s the fun of writing.

13) Where should we look for your work.

Threatened Loyalties Friday_Interviews-J_F__Ridgley_author_of_Roman_Historicals_—_The_Things_That_Catch_My_Eye

Messalina Claudia wants nothing to do with her parents’ arranged marriage with Marcus Galerius Alexius, but her need to find her missing friend requires his help. Their perilous pursuit uncovers the political underbelly of the first citizens in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum.

In order to regain Messalina’s loyalties, Alexius must risk everything– his family’s reputation, future as a Roman senator, and even his life beneath the shadows of a very restless volcano…Vesuvius, where Vulcan’s wrath simmers.

Vows of Revenge PastedGraphic3-2014-01-24-06-00.png

Amid pirates, godfathers, and forbidden love, vows of revenge are made in the unforgiving world of ancient Rome. Aelia Sabina, a patrician’s daughter, and Martino Lucianus Drusus- a simple plebe rise like phoenixes from the ashes of their lives. Aelia’s abusive husband vows to finally destroy this plebe in Rome’s court where patricians rule and plebeians grovel. But will Lucianus grovel? Don’t count on it.
For the Family Screenshot_1_20_14__10_56_AM-2014-01-24-06-00.jpg

Viciria actually lived. In Herculaneum…before this city was buried by Vesuvius in A.D. 79. She was Marcus Nonius Balbus’s mother. But she is known in my novel as The Witch. At title well earned for sure. But why? What can can change such a gentle woman?

This short story is based on the novel Threatened Loyalties.

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As we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us Rie Sheridan Rose who writes in almost every genre. Her favorites at the moment are Horror and Steampunk. And, of course, Poetry.

1) What moved you to become an author?

It’s the only thing I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child. No matter what other occupation I considered, it was always “…and a writer.”

2) Tell us about your current novel.

My most recent novel, The Marvelous Mechanical ManScreenshot_1_21_14__10_59_AM-2014-01-24-06-00.jpg, is the first volume in a Steampunk series called The Conn-Mann Chronicles. It is set in New York in 1874.

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

It all started with a challenge from my writing partner to try a new genre. It was a lot of fun to explore something new.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

The most challenging thing about this book was the fact that I used first person POV. I’ve never tried to sustain that style for an entire novel, and it really made me stretch.

5) How did you choose your publishing method?

I’ve always published with small presses. The only exception to that is my poetry, which I self-publish because it is so hard to find a press for that. I would love to sell to a big publisher, but I’m still working on that.

6) Tell us a little about yourself?

I have worked toward being a writer since childhood in one way or another, and now I get to be one fulltime. I love learning, and have two completely unrelated Bachelor’s degrees as well as a Teaching Certificate. My husband and I have four fur babies.

7) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

My next novel is supposed to be the sequel to The Marvelous Mechanical Man. It’s a little scary, because it is the first time I’ve ever tried to do a sequel, and it is more work than I thought! I’m also working on several short pieces at any given time. I had forgotten how much fun short stories were for awhile, but now I have more than doubled how many I’ve written.

8) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

Here’s a sample. I really enjoy writing my leading lady, Josephine Mann. She’s a lot of fun:

I stepped into the cool interior of the post office and made my way to the counter.

“May I help you?” asked the gentleman behind the grille.

“I would like to post this letter, please.” I handed him Ma’s envelope.

He weighed it on his scale. “That will be seven cents.”

Ma must be mailing a book! With postage at three cents a half ounce, the letter had to be six or seven pages. I wish I had paid more attention to it. Now I was curious to whom it might be addressed.

I handed over a dime, and he gave me back the change.

“Do you live near this return address, Miss?”

“Yes, I’m mailing it for my landlady.”

“Wonderful!” He reached behind the counter and pulled out a letter. “This didn’t get in the carrier’s pack this morning. I would have sent it out in the afternoon mail, but since you are here, could you deliver it?”

I shrugged. “Why not?”

He handed a letter through the grille.

I took it from him and blinked in astonishment. The letter was addressed to me. The address of my old boarding house had been scratched out and Ma’s address added. I wondered how long it had been looking for me.

I didn’t want to have to explain why I was opening the envelope in front of him, so I walked back out into the sunlight. The sending address was a hotel catering to recent immigrants. I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, so it was with slight trepidation that I opened the envelope.

The letter inside was one sheet of coarse, rough paper. It had been written several weeks ago. The contents were stunning, to say the least:

Dearest Cousin,

It is with a full heart that I write you this letter. I have only recently been made aware of your survival. It was the best news I could have hoped for.

Mere words cannot express how I feel at this moment. First, I must relay the distressing news our grandfather has succumbed to a debilitating illness after several years of battling the same. It was as a result of this sad loss I began to search for surviving family members and learned of your parents’ immigration to America.

I am sending you this missive to show you that you are not forgotten or unloved. I am in New York to discuss with you the ramifications of Grand-father’s death. I hope to meet with you at your earliest convenience.

My sincere regards—

Seamus O’Leary

I didn’t know what to make of this. As far as I knew, my family had all been dead for years. I couldn’t remember my parents ever mentioning any surviving relations in the Old Country. Was this Seamus telling the truth, or merely trying to involve me in some strange design of his own?

I tucked the letter into my reticule. I really could use a cold drink more than ever right now. Even if it was only lemonade.

9) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like?

My writing has probably been influenced by almost every book I’ve ever read. I learn a little from everyone. This work in particular was influenced by the writing of Gail Carriger,Soulless__The_Parasol_Protectorate___Gail_Carriger__9780316056632__Amazon_com__Books-2014-01-24-06-00.jpg because she is one of my favorite Steampunk authors. I try very hard not to write like anyone specifically, but I do owe a lot of my style to Anne Rice, CJ Cherryh, and Lynn Flewelling. From them I learned a lot about description, characterization, and plotting.

10) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

I read a little of everything. Besides the ones I mentioned above, my favorite writers are Elizabeth Peters and Anne Perry. I’ve also read a lot of Piers Anthony, Robert Aspirin, Anne McCaffery, Tolkien… I’ve grounded myself mostly in Fairy Tales from all over the world. Some of my favorite stories have come from rewriting them.

11) When writing, what is your routine?

I’m not terribly good at routine. I usually have something playing on Netflix or the TV in the background, my laptop open with my husband sending me links on chat, and two or three files going at any given time. I like to mix things up and work a little bit on a lot of things rather than buckle down to one project unless there is a tight deadline.

12) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

It depends on what I am writing, but most of the time, I consider myself an artist. I feel that creating new worlds and people from scratch is a very artistic thing to do. But I still wish I could draw.

13) Where should we look for your work.

The Marvelous Mechanical ManScreenshot_1_21_14__10_59_AM-2014-01-24-06-00.jpg

Josephine Mann is down to her last two dollars when she bumps into Professor Alistair Conn. The professor is in need of a lab assistant, and Jo desperately needs a job. Obviously, it’s the Hand of Fate. Professor Conn has created a wonder–a 9-foot-tall automaton Jo dubs Phaeton. When an evil villain steals the marvelous mechanical man, Jo and Alistair track him down and get Phaeton back. Unfortunately, it’s a given the evil Bessant won’t give up without a fight, and Jo’s longing for adventure suddenly becomes much too real…and deadly.

I try to keep my website fairly up to date as far as the current news goes: www.RieWriter.com.

I also post acceptance news on my Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rie-Sheridan-Rose/38814481714.

Finally, people can see what is available on Amazon on my author page there.

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UntitledAs we do on Fridays, when we schedule an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us Diane Scott Lewis who writes in the historical fiction with romantic elements genres. She prefers the Georgian era, the prelude to the Regency.

What moved you to become an author?

I’ve always loved to tell stories. Imaginative scenarios spin in my mind constantly, and I need to put them out on paper…or in this case, cyber-space. Since I was a child, I’ve pondered what it was like to live in an earlier time, with the struggles they faced bereft of the convenience of modern medicine, speedy transportation, or even a phone to call for help.

Tell us about your current novel.

Here’s the blurb for Amazon.com__The_Defiant_Lady_Pencavel_eBook__Diane_Scott_Lewis__Kindle_Store-2013-10-4-08-00.jpgThe Defiant Lady Pencavel: In 1796, Lady Melwyn Pencavel has been betrothed to Griffin Lambrick since she was a child—and she hasn’t seen him since. Now almost one and twenty, she defies being forced into an arranged marriage. She aspires to be an archeologist and travel to Italy during the upheaval of the Napoleonic Wars. Griffin Lambrick, Viscount of Merther, resents these forced nuptials as well, as he desires no simpering bride and wants no one in his business. For the thrill of it, he smuggles artifacts from Italy at his Cornish estate. Two reckless and stubborn people will meet—with chaos and humor—in this romantic satire, and face their fears. (DWW-I don’t know who the model inspiration is for the cover image, but I fell instantly in love…)

How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

I was tired of reading the formula of Romance novels, (though there are many talented Romance authors) and wanted to exploit every cliché that genre represents by writing a humorous farce. I chose the Georgian era, which I’ve studied for my more serious novels, and threw in historical tidbits for my characters to deal with as their avoidance of their relationship heats up.

What did you find most challenging about this book?

My biggest challenge was making the characters lovable and fully-rounded, since they’d spend most of the novel hurling snarky comments at one another. But once I got to know them, I brought out their gentler sides, and explored their insecurities, the experiences and struggles that made them who they are.

How did you choose your publishing method?

I tried to go the traditional publishing route, but never found an agent, so I chose ebook publishing—since I wanted publication during my lifetime. A good friend of mine recommended me to her publisher, who is by “invitation only,” and they offered me a contract.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I joined the navy at nineteen and was stationed in Greece, where I met my husband. We have two sons. I now live in Pennsylvania. I worked as a historical editor for an on-line press, currently write book reviews for The Historical Novel Society, and have four published historical novels. (PastedGraphic-2013-10-4-08-00.pngBetrayed Countess, PastedGraphic1-2013-10-4-08-00.pngElysium, PastedGraphic2-2013-10-4-08-00.pngWithout Refuge, PastedGraphic3-2013-10-4-08-00.pngMiss Grey’s Shady Lover)

In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

 

Here’s a scene from the Vauxhall Garden: At first startled, she didn’t scream and composed herself quickly; he had to admire that.

“How is your sojourn in London, my lady? A sudden urge to travel, had you?” Griffin smiled at the rising anger in her blue eyes.

“How dare you follow me, sir. And drag me into bushes.” Miss Pencavel pulled away from him, chin jutted out. “I told you my wishes in Cornwall. You have wasted your time if you’re here to change my mind.”

“Truth is, I did have business in town, so it’s not a total waste.” He rocked back on his heels, arms now behind his back. His actions were irrational, and totally alien to his usual demeanor. “You intrigue me, Miss Pencavel, such as a wasp might intrigue one. You wonder how close you may hover before being stung.”

He baited her, and enjoyed it. This slip of a girl provoked him, and that was disconcerting. Most females he understood as connivers or simpletons. Miss Pencavel appeared to be neither. Her eyes shone with an innate intelligence. Why had he followed her into the garden—while he had to admit that he’d searched for any sign of her in town—when he had little use for marriage? A wife like her would only get in his way.

“I assure you, you will feel my sting.” She backed up a step and took another bite of her dessert. Then she shoved the cold spoon down his shirtfront.

Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.

I read a lot of non-fiction about the Georgian era so I get my history correct. I also read all, and own most, of Winston Graham’s Poldark PastedGraphic4-2013-10-4-08-00.png series, as most of my novels are set in Cornwall, and he wrote so well of the late eighteenth century in north Cornwall. I also read the mid-century non-fiction works of Rosamond Bayne-Powell, who wrote several books on the eighteenth century.

When writing, what is your routine?

I’m up early, or rather the dog jumps out of bed and demands to go out. Then I grab a cup of coffee and discourage my husband—who recently retired—from talking to me, sit at my computer and trawl through my numerous emails and social networks. Answer emails from my friends, promote my current novels, then I critique, and apply critiques, and finally, I get around to working on my own novels.

Where should we look for your work?

I’m on Amazon, under Diane Scott Lewis. Here is the link to my current release: Amazon.com__The_Defiant_Lady_Pencavel_eBook__Diane_Scott_Lewis__Kindle_Store-2013-10-4-08-00.jpgThe Defiant Lady Pencavel

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As we do on Fridays, when we have an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us Margaret Skea who writes Historical Fiction set in 16th century Scotland.

What moved you to become an author?
I’ve always wanted to write ever since at age 8 my 4-page story about a family of mice was turned down by a publisher! I spent years writing short stories and though I had some success with them – winning competitions, having them published etc, it didn’t take away my longing to have a full length book published.

Tell us about your current novel.
It is the story of a fictional family trapped in the ‘Ayrshire Vendetta’ – a notorious and long-running feud between two Lowland Scots clans. The main character, Munro, owes allegiance to the Cunninghames, but following his involvement in a massacre battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – to age-old clan obligations, to his wife and family and, most dangerous of all, to a growing friendship with the rival Montgomerie clan. The choices he makes put at risk his home, his family, even his life.

How did the story begin to develop in your mind?
Many years ago when I was researching the Ulster-Scots I found a footnote reference to the Ayrshire Vendetta and that lodged in the back of my mind, re-surfacing when I was looking for an historical event to provide the backdrop to a novel.

What did you find most challenging about this book?
Deciding on how much dialect to put in. I wanted to give a definite Scottish ‘flavour’ to the book, but without making it difficult for people unfamiliar with the Scots dialect to read. I chose in the end to reflect 16th c speech and language in the sentence structure and Scots vocabulary (glossary provided), but I removed ‘accent’ from speech – I don’t use forms such as ‘canna’ or ‘dinna’. I hope I got the balance right!

How did you choose your publishing method?
I’m not at all technologically savvy, so knew it would be very hard for me to navigate the minefield of self-publishing, though there are lots of things, not least the amount of control the author has over marketing etc that make SP very tempting. However I tried the traditional route and was fortunate in that my novel was the HF winner in a Harper Collins competition for unpublished authors, and following that I was offered a deal by a small Scottish publisher.

Tell us a little about yourself?
Although I have lived in Scotland for 30 years – I came to St Andrews University to study – I grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’ and so knew something of what it was like to live with an ever-present danger. Each day I went out not expecting to be killed, but knowing that it could happen at any time. So it was maybe inevitable that I would write about the pressures and dilemmas of living with conflict.

I am a descendant of Scots who came to Ulster as part of the Ulster Plantation, and so writing about the Montgomeries who became major players in the plantation of Co. Down is in a sense writing about my own history, and therefore endlessly fascinating to me. I love transporting myself to a distant time and hope that I can take my readers there too.

(Oh and I’m a grannie with two lovely little grandsons who live in the north of Scotland and who are going to Gaelic schools, so I shall soon have to cope with English, Scots and Gaelic!)

What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.
I am at present ½ way through the sequel to Turn of the Tide, which follows the fortunes of the Munros, the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries into the 17th century and is set in Scotland and beyond. The series is intended as a trilogy, so eventually I will be following my main characters to Ulster. I have so many stories I’d like to write about once I have finished this series, but a current favourite concerns a family (local to where I live) who emigrated to New Zealand with tragic consequences.

In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

Munro returned home, wearied and with a conscience and stomach alike uneasy; even the sight of the sheep pens prepared for lambing and the fresh thatch on the stable roof failing to raise his spirits. To be met with stony silence and a chill in the atmosphere, indicating that a whisper of some sort had beaten him. The presence of the twins protected him from immediate censure, but alone in their chamber Kate rounded on him.

‘A day or two only? It may not signify?’

He reached out, but she twisted away as if his touch would soil her.

‘The Cunninghames have lost much.’ It was an unconscious echo of William.

‘The half of Ayrshire has lost much, and over many years.’ She sucked in air as if to fan a flame. ‘Indeed all of Scotland is salted with old rivalries that erupt, in season and out of it, like boils, which, doctored or not, leave scars aplenty to mar the landscape of our lives. Must we have part in it?’ She took a handful of twigs from the basket by the hearth, snapped them into kindling. ‘It is a dirty business, and no-one the winner, save perhaps the clothiers and coffin-makers who aye make good money of men’s folly. Cunninghame or Montgomerie, it makes no odds…Dear God to think more of obligation than our children.’

He wanted to protest that it had been their children he thought of, and her…and her…for to refuse Glencairn…but risked only, ‘I did but as I was bid, as I was bound to do.’

‘No-one is bound – save by the laws of God.’ Turning her back, Kate unpinned her hair, snuffed the candle, spoke into the darkness, ‘There is always a choice. If this is yours, do not look to me to share it.’

Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like.
I read widely, so hope that my voice is my own, but I really admire Daphne Du Maurier, Winston Graham and Sharon Penman PastedGraphic1-2013-09-20-06-00.png (DWW-Penman’s Sunne in Splendour is IMHO one of the top 5 of Historical Novels of all time!) and would be thrilled if readers considered my writing of a similar quality to theirs.

When writing, what is your routine?
I try to get up at 6.00am and work on my computer before breakfast, perhaps editing what I wrote the day before, or writing emails / checking on FB etc. Once breakfast is over I have my Bible quiet time, do some (not much!) housework and then go back to writing. My aim is to add to my word count by c 5000 words per week, but I don’t always manage…sometimes life intervenes…

Where should we look for your work.

Turn of the Tide is available in bookshops in the UK and at Amazon UK

and on Amazon as both a PB and an e-book. It is also available at Amazon US PastedGraphic-2013-09-20-06-00.png in Paperback and for your Kindle

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As we do on Fridays, when we have an interview, we take a break from the Regency Personality series. It shall of course return. As early as tomorrow.

Today we are fortunate to have with us us Prue Batten a medieval historical romance writer.

What moved you to become an author?

It’s such a clichéd answer but I have written since I was in Grade 3, experiencing great joy in the activity. Once my life had become my own and children had grown, it was the only thing I wanted to do – write a story. I completed a creative writing course and wrote a YA trilogy which is my bottom drawer piece but which is the piece one writes to begin but will never publish. Then I wrote a real story, The Stumpwork Robe, Amazon.com__The_Stumpwork_Robe__The_Chronicles_of_Eirie__eBook__Prue_Batten__Kindle_Store-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg a historical fantasy, and with the help of a London Consultancy called Cornerstones, that book was given wings.

Tell us about your current novel.

I’m currently working on the third and final book in a historical romance trilogy – The Gisborne Saga Inbox__62_messages_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__Inbox__62_messages_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg. It is entitled Gisborne: Book of Kings.

How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

It flowed naturally from the previous two – the continuing story of Guy of Gisborne, legendary knight whom we know from the Ballad of Robin Hood. I wondered, after watching the BBC Robin Hood series, what kind of life Gisborne would have had if the cards had fallen another way and so I decided to re-write his history, excluding Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Maid Marian entirely.

What did you find most challenging about this book?

I’m finding that there is part of me that wants to kill Gisborne off at the end of the novel. Hopefully I can resist that urge.

How did you choose your publishing method?

My first book, the afore-mentioned The Stumpwork Robe, Amazon.com__The_Stumpwork_Robe__The_Chronicles_of_Eirie__eBook__Prue_Batten__Kindle_Store-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg, was touted as a part of Cornerstones Hot 24 in 2008. But whilst hot, it was niche and therein lay the problem. Like so many other books that find their way to independent publishing, the story was lauded but never taken up and so I opted to take it to the market myself. Now, 6 books later, I am published by a boutique Australian press (DWW-Darlington Press–Note just a page to contact them) and supported by an ever-expanding readership whom I appreciate beyond measure.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Australia and studied history and politics at the University of Tasmania. I’ve worked as a hotel cleaner, a cosmetician in a major department store, a bookseller but most properly as a journalist/researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where I met my husband, also a journalist.

We now farm in Tasmania, growing the superfine wool for which Australia is famous. I spent almost ten years as a coordinator for the cancer therapy program Look Good Feel Better and time as a walker for Riding for the Disabled and for the local Dogs’ Home. I write historical fiction for which Gisborne: Book of Pawns Inbox__62_messages_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg received Honourable Mentions in the 2012 Golden Claddagh Writing Contest and in the RONE Awards of 2013. I also write historical fantasy. A Thousand Glass Flowers Inbox__63_messages__1_unread_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg
(Book 4 in the Chronicles of Eirie) received a silver medallion in the 2012 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.

The WIP, Gisborne: Book of Kings, will keep me occupied for a year. After that, I have two books I would like to write about minor characters who are shouting to be major characters. Again, medieval stories.

In the current work, is there an excerpt to share?

Can I just say that this is part of the unedited opening chapter of Book of Kings…

 

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother to thee I do come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

The Memore

by

Bernard of Clairvaux (12th Century)

 

Chapter One

1194 A.D.

The body balanced on the gunwale, wrapped in a worn and stained canvas sail – nothing grand for someone I considered more noble than any nobleman I knew.

Except one.

Eli and Davey held it firm whilst a small prayer of committal was spoken by Sir Guy of Gisborne. I could read nothing in his face, the angles as sharp as ever and the eyes inscrutable. But his hands? They clenched as he nodded to the ship’s master. The body fell feet first, the attached rocks breaking the water with a hard splash that served to hide my one and only wracking sob. The man I had called my father-brother, my friend, Ulric of Camden, sank below the surface of the sea, leagues north of Cyprus and I watched him disappear forever. The speed with which he vanished was too frightening because now I had nothing left but memories and the most recent so sad and pointless.

‘Ysabel,’ Gisborne’s voice was hoarse, cracked with disappointment and guilt as he reached to touch me.
We had left behind a blood-soaked house and an enemy that had been vanquished but the price had been too high because we had lost our friend as well and hated the manner in which it was done.

Gisborne had lost someone he called his brother and who had been the most trusted man in his life – his second in command, and he had also misplaced his faith in himself. Always able to judge a man, he had completely misread the direction of Ulric’s emotions and it disturbed his equilibrium to think he could have been so blind. For myself – my selfishness, my need to lean so heavily on Ulric – it had fanned an affection within him that flamed into blind love, a love far greater than I was at liberty to return. And the awful thing was I didn’t even see it happening. Now, my little son had only to say ‘Oowic’th gone, Mama. I mith him,’ and guilt would choke me, deathly fingers that squeezed my throat.

Mehmet counselled in his wise physician’s way as he re-splinted and bound my arm. ‘It is no one’s fault. Ulric was his own man. He made decisions built on false assumptions. He paid the price.’

He did. I killed him.

‘And Ysabel,’ he continued, clucking at the fact that I would be in a splint for so much longer, ‘if you hadn’t done what you did, William would not have his father nor you the man you love. Instead, Gisborne would be pinned by the length of sword to a fig tree. What price your affection for your friend Ulric then?’

Who do you think influenced your writing?

I’m influenced daily by the great Dorothy Dunnett. Her lack of fear in writing is unparalleled. But I don’t believe I write like her. I would like to, have no doubt. But she is unique and represents the apogee of perfect hist.fict writing. I have no doubt that it will remain that way.

Who do you read?

I read many authors. In no particular order: Dorothy Dunnett, Jane Austen, Tinney. S. Heath, SJA Turney, Angus Donald, Rosamunde Pilcher, Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Chadwick, Ann Swinfen, Anna Elliott, LM. Montgomery – to name just a few of those to whom I return repeatedly. They constantly educate me as well as entertain me. I would like to think my narrative has a basic elegance, that my love of words is evident, that I am unafraid to make my characters redundant if it serves the story. Nor am I afraid to make my protagonists dysfunctional and emotionally challenged on many levels. On the most basic level, I hope that I write in a way that encourages the reader to turn the page. I owe all those authors above (and many others besides) for such things.

When writing, what is your routine?

My husband and I are farmers and in addition we have over an acre of gardens and I have two dogs, so I do have another life that requires a great deal of attention during the day.

2013-06-2512.22.40-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg

A large part of my non-fiction reading is done in the evening and my writing, heaven help me, is done in longhand after the house is sleeping. It’s quiet and I am very much a part of my story at that point. When I have slabs of 3000 words of longhand (which has been read and re-read, crossed through and re-written), I transcribe to the computer in the daytime when I have a moment. A further edit takes place at that point. When the novel is finished as far as I believe I can take it and having been read by two trusted beta-readers, it then goes to my UK editor and of course more work begins.

Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

Either/or. They are both creative after all. Actually, I’m not sure I see a difference. Writing is a creative art and the work one creates is crafted as it is put together.

Where should we look for your work.

Inbox__62_messages_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg Gisborne: Book of Pawns is available at the following locations:

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/LrzO8l
Kindle USA: http://amzn.to/JFLNh8
Nook: http://bit.ly/1aBknrz
Kobo: http://bit.ly/16VMeie
i-Book: http://bit.ly/1ca5Pkp

1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__Inbox__62_messages_-2013-08-30-06-00.jpg Gisborne: Book of Knights is available at the following locations:

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/13F2im9
Kindle USA: http://amzn.to/1awRZ9Z
i-Book: http://bit.ly/13F2Bxl
Nook: http://bit.ly/16NWf0P
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1aXkktI

In addition, my blog http://pruebatten.wordpress.com/ is currently doubling as a website as my new one is designed and rebuilt and I would love readers to visit and comment. And if readers wish to see some wonderful images that have inspired me during my writing, they can visit http://pinterest.com/pruebatten

***

David, may I thank you so much for interviewing me? I think when a writer is asked such questions, it helps them pinpoint things about themselves and their writing that they may never have realised before. Cheers and best

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