Thursday, July 21, 2016

ANNA CHANT INTERVIEW

 I am very pleased to present my guest, Anna Chant. She is an author, tutor, and mother of three children. She has one published book and a second one soon to be published. 

1                                      
                                                What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book is called ‘Kenneth’s Queen’ and follows the rise to power of Kenneth (Cinaed) Mac Alpin of Scotland. I stumbled on his story while researching a much later king and queen of Scotland. His wife intrigued me even more, as virtually nothing known about her. It seems wrong that someone who helped to found the dynasty which would rule Scotland should have been written out of history – I wanted to tell her story.
I have found that one story seems to inspire the next. While researching to see whether it was possible or even probably that this woman might have accompanied Cinaed on his military campaigns, I found a list of Dark Age women warriors. One of these formed the basis for my next novel – ‘The Girl from Brittia’.


2                                               How much of the book is realistic?

      I try to make as much as possible of the book realistic, but the Dark Ages was a time of poor record keeping, so there are plenty of gaps to be filled! In ‘Kenneth’s Queen’ some events, such as the disaster of 839 are known to have happened. Other events, for example the births of the children certainly happened but we don’t know the dates. Other parts of the story, including the Viking attack on the fortress of Dunadd happened at some point, but in real life may not have affected the characters in this book or even have happened in their life-time.
The Girl from Brittia has only one source – the Byzantine writer Procopius and I have kept the story fairly faithful to that. However he lived a long way from where the events took place, so it’s impossible to say how true the events are.


3                                            Is there a message that you want your readers to grasp?

The message in ‘Kenneth’s Queen’ is the fairly simple, but inspiring one that unity is better than enmity. ‘The Girl from Brittia’ has a darker message. It’s easy to be a good person when everything is going well. But we can never be sure of what we might be capable of if everything goes wrong.


4                                            When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer!


5                                         Tell us what you like about the main characters of this book.

I like that Baena and Cinaed never give up on their relationship despite the challenges it faces. It’s a dynastic marriage between hereditary enemies, so the challenges are significant. Cinaed is both ruthless and ambitious, but he also genuinely cares about his family and his people. I also like that at times they seem very ordinary. They have toddlers who misbehave at the most inopportune moments, just like us!


6                                 What were the challenges in bringing your story to life? 

The main challenge I found was psychological. Because these are real people I felt a responsibility to do them justice. There were also challenges in reconciling very different attitudes between then and now. It was a brutal age and the characters are involved in some violent deeds. These events needed to be included in the book, but it was a challenge to be true to the historical reality while still keeping these characters sympathetic to a modern audience.


7                           Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I have learnt a lot from writing these books. Some of it is boring, but practical like the amount of time that can be saved by correctly formatting the writing from the start, rather than just ploughing on with the writing and then having to sort out fonts and indents at the end! More interestingly I have vastly increased my historical knowledge and been introduced to some wonderful historical characters that I previously didn’t know existed – Domnall Mac Alpin, Wehha  of East Anglia and the Island Girl to name but a few!


8                     If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

Geoffrey Chaucer because he lived through some interesting times and I’d love to hear about them from someone who was both there and was an exceptional observer.
J R R Tolkien because he created not only books, but a whole world. It would be fascinating to hear how he did it.
Diana Wynne Jones because she created books that appeal to both adults and children alike. I find her characters so well drawn and I’d like to hear more about them, particularly the enigmatic Chrestomanci.


9                                       What books have most influenced your life?
   
     Watership Down is one of the first books that I really fell in love with. I read it about fifteen times before I’d left primary school! A number of historical fiction writers fueled my love of history including Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy, Georgette Heyer and Anya Seton. It would be impossible to pick one book, although Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘The Queen Elizabeth Story’ was one of the first historical novels that I enjoyed.



1                              Please give us an excerpt from your book.
       
Excerpt from Kenneth’s Queen

“Go home, Cinaed,” Drust laughed. “The lands we have taken remain with us. But as a token of my goodwill, here, take your hound.” Drust cut the cord of the excited dog who bounded happily back to Cinaed. “Fare you well, I hope for your sake that our paths do not cross again. She was promised to me, Cinaed. If we meet again I will take back my property,” Drust cried out, as the horses swept out again in a cloud of dust.
Cinaed’s face was white with fury. “Keep packing,” he snapped at the clan. “We march on by midday.”
“Cinaed-,” Baena started.
“How close were you to that man?” Cinaed glared at her.
“You know a marriage was spoken of,” Baena stammered. The rest of the clan had not yet moved very far and many were watching curiously.
“Did you lie with him?” he asked angrily. Baena could see the shock on the faces of the watchers. She stared at him in horror at the question.
“Answer me,” Cinaed hissed. “Did you lie with him?”
Baena went red with mortification. “No! You know I did not. I was a maid the first time I lay with you. You must know that,” she said trying to keep her voice low, although she knew everyone had heard.
“Then what did he mean? Do not lie to me. I was not the only one to see you in his arms.”
“I know,” Baena whispered, close to tears.
Cinaed produced a cross from under his tunic. “Swear by this that an embrace such as I witnessed was all that past between you. Promise me that you did not lie with him. That you did not even kiss him and that you have not lusted after him since our marriage!”
“I can’t,” Baena’s face crumpled. “I did not lie with him, Cinaed. I swear it, but-”
    “Faithless slut!” Cinaed turned away from her and stalked towards Graunt.

                        
                          A review from Amazon.com:

5 stars: A delightful read. A beautiful romance skillfully interwoven into historical events. Looking forward to reading other books by this very talented author.


For more information on new releases, offers or all things Dark Ages please
Or on Twitter: @anna_chant
Check my Goodreads Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Check my Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01E46V162 or             http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01E46V162




           




Friday, July 15, 2016

A PERFECT DAY

                                  What makes a perfect day for me?

                    Warm sunshine at about 75 degrees...     
                                A comfortable chair...    
                     A glass of iced tea (unsweetened)...  
     And most important...a very good book...one you cannot 
                 put down...but keep turning the pages...
                     wanting to know how it will end...
                      but not wanting the story to end!    

I had a day like that about 40 years ago. My sons had left for school that early fall morning. The sun was shining brightly lighting up the house and giving it a special glow and warmth.

I poured my final cup of coffee, picked up my recently acquired book, and snuggled into my giant leather chair. I opened the book and read non-stop except to get iced tea, lunch, or take care of some private matters! The next thing I knew I heard the boys running up the steps and around the porch to the back door. "We're home, Mom."

       
  The title of the book was Hawaii by James Michener!   

I kept reading the book while making supper, gave up any television viewing, and read in bed until my eyes became too heavy.

Can you guess what I did the next day? Yes, I was able to finish what turned out to be one of my favorite books. 

So, is this your way of spending a perfect day? What would be your favorite book?      

Thursday, July 7, 2016

ELAINE STOCK, AUTHOR INTERVIEW



 It is my pleasure to introduce, Elaine Stock author of Always With You. Elaine and I "met" several years ago on the Internet and a friendship has developed. We lost track of one another for a period of time but are now happily reconnected. 
                         Sit back and relax and meet Elaine through this interview.

1.    What inspired you to write your first book? How did you come up with the title?

I have a funny and a too serious answer. First, as part of a writing workshop in Saratoga, NY (a horse racing Mecca), I was given a horse’s name and assigned to develop a story idea. Racehorses have long names! My horse was named Don’t-Tell-Isabelle, which became my story’s original title because so many people have kept family secrets from Isabelle. Throughout her childhood Isabelle had always heard her dad and grandmother whispering Don’t Tell Isabelle. A BTW: I don’t go to the track or gamble on horses!

Then, 9-11 happened. I felt compelled to write a story of how love and faith could conquer horror, and how we all need to love each other no matter our races or faiths.

Always With You was slowly written and re-written a few years after these two influences.



2.    What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing this book to life?

My greatest challenge was the researching and studying the manipulative power of evil. Aware it has always existed, painfully so, throughout day one of human life since man’s fall in the Garden, I needed to answer the why part of its coexistence with peace and love. My research took me into the minds of not only evil leaders throughout history, but also every day people that permitted the spread of evil. The why-part discovery was a fascinating concept into the human mind and the power of survival. Yet, the answers I found were not easily digestible.


3.    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Always With You is a story of hope and love in the face of evil. Out of loneliness and desperation, any one of us can latch onto the first seemingly good thing that comes along. I hope this story makes others think twice about their action and responsibilities to loved ones. And even greater than this premise is the theme throughout the story that God is always with each of us and, with us grasping His hand, we do not have to be defeated by evil.


4.    When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In addition to always being hooked on stories, whether listening to them as a child or then reading, I’ve admired movies and theatrical productions that fall into two categories: musical shows and comedy. When I was a tween, then teen, I fancied myself a playwright such as Neil Simon or Mel Brooks. But a funny thing happened on the road to writing comedy: I veered back toward a combination of suspense fused with family drama. It’s what I love to read and write, and a literary venue where I see myself staying.


5.    What books have most influenced your life?

There have been many! One particular book though, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, a children’s book about a boy who ran away from home and self-learned how to survive in the mountains, plus the Biblical stories of Noah and Joseph, were/are inspirations for me to continue forward in life despite adversity.


6.    Do you see writing as a career?

I’ve dreamed of writing as a career since I was ten. These days I’ve come to accept that I did not break out in published fiction in my early twenties, as I’d once hoped. God evidently had other plans for me and I’ve since stopped questioning why it took me as long as it has to see my first novel debut. That said, I’m hoping to one day sooner than later retire from my day job and be a full time writer.


7.    What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Is there anything else to do but write? LOL. I love to take walks, kick back with a book, and watch movie musicals and dance flicks. If there’s extra play money around I also enjoy meeting friends for lunch, getting in a car with my husband to explore some quaint town and its shops, or seeing a touring Broadway show. But truthfully, these days I have very little extra time between working a day job and writing.


8.    Please give us an excerpt from your book.

                         From Always With You, Elaine Stock, Elk Lake Publishing

Chapter One
Isabelle
The right moment had finally arrived.
I had to speak up for myself.
At dinner tonight, I’d tell them both.
A strong breeze rocked the wind chime hanging on the porch. The ceramic black bears and pinecones clanked and tinkled, the sound floating through the open kitchen window where I stood beside the copper sink. Before me, sugar maple, poplar, and oak trees, still full of orange, yellow, and red leaves swayed with each gust. They sparkled in the late afternoon sun. Nature had movement, the opposite of stagnancy. If I continued living this way, my life was destined to seep away. I had no choice but to be honest with them.
“Isa?”
I gasped.
“Didn’t mean to scare you,” Dad said.
When I turned, Dad’s brows were pinched together.
My heart still raced. “The breeze is picking up. I never heard you enter the kitchen.”
Dressed in business casual tan slacks and a white shirt for an approaching evening meeting, my father appeared as he always did, prioritizing work before pleasure. “Have you seen my silver and blue tie?”
With a tease poised to roll off my tongue, I slipped his necktie out from my pants pocket. “Here you go. I found it draped across the doorknob to the cellar. You know, for a scientist you have the worst record of losing things.”
He looped the tie around his neck. “That’s a secret between us, okay?”
“You’re funny.” I stepped toward him and proceeded to tie it Windsor style. “There you go, à la James Bond.”
“You’re full of surprises. Where did you learn to do that?”
I did have a whopper of a surprise for him. He wasn’t going to like it, though. Neither would my grandmother. “Picked that little trick up online.”
His smile faded. “You sure it’s not a boy you’re keeping from me, one who taught you to master a tie?”
“Right, Dad. So many guys tie Windsor knots nowadays.” My mouth turned dry. Secrets—which I’d never kept. That family trait belonged to Dad and Grandmother. “No, Dad. No guy.” I straightened and looked him in the eye, an action Dad always remarked made for a mature adult. “I’m old enough to see who I want. You need to trust my choice.”
His moon-gray eyes narrowed. He leaned against the counter and loosened the tie I’d worked hard at fastening. “Things are changing around town. I’m concerned about you.”
“I’m fine.” I stared at the now limp tie that drooped like the last of my resolve. “I’m ready for college. Not a little girl anymore.”
“College for you begins the spring semester. You’re still living under my—”
I held up my hand to stop him. “I’ll meet you and Grandmother shortly for dinner—as planned—at Slice of Pie.” I grabbed my knapsack from the table and started for the back door.
“Where are you going?”

**For a fuller excerpt, viewers may enjoy this Goodreads preview.


                                                               Book jacket blurb:

Can she move forward without knowing her past?

Will he enjoy his present if he can’t free himself from what he left behind?

In the heart of the Adirondacks, Isabelle lives in the shadow of a dark family secret whose silent burden strips her family of emotional warmth and faith in God. Tyler belongs to the religious sect called The Faithful, which Isabelle’s father dislikes immensely. Yet, because Tyler belongs to this group, Isabelle sees only a man devoted to his family and faith.

She wants it; she gets it; they marry.

And when the truth comes out, Isabelle faces two choices:

Staying could endanger her child.

Leaving could cost her life.


Bio:

A former Brooklyn gal, Elaine Stock lives in the Northeast with her husband where she enjoys spring, summer, autumn, and puts up with the winter. A member of ACFW and Women’s Fiction Writers Association she also is a contributing author to the international “Happy Sis Magazine.” In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.


Links:
website/blog: Everyone's Story  http://elainestock.com
Barnes & Noble   http://bit.ly/1PfRyXX

Elaine Stock--Fusing Family Drama and Psychological Suspense.
Out now: ALWAYS WITH YOU from Elk Lake Publishing
Goodreads  www.goodreads.com/ElaineStock

                               Rejoice in the good stuff. Ignore any discouragement. 



Sunday, July 3, 2016

PATRIOTIC BOOKS

Here in the United States we celebrate our independence on the 4th of July. The history is well known, the fireworks are traditional, and celebrating our freedom is important.

                      Here are some patriotic or historical 
                          books to read this weekend:


1776, David McCullough

This massive book will provide in-depth information about the events leading up to the momentous moment of the Declaration of Independence being signed. Battles, military leaders, and how close it came to our country losing the war.

 Lincoln, Carl Sandburg

Three parts to this famous poet's biography of one of our most well-known and beloved Presidents: Lincoln: The Prairie Years and Lincoln: The War Years. A must read for this Pulitzer Prize winner.

My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams

The letters between these two famous people during the early years of our country are historical, personal, and very special. These letters cover over 40 years of their marriage.



              Enjoy, celebrate, relax, and be grateful on this special 
                                           July 4, 2016