– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Victoria to Vikings’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
I am an Australian author born in Brisbane, Queensland now living in Hong Kong. My writing career began 18 years ago with my best-selling autobiography ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ published by Pan MacMillan Australia. Over the past 8 years, I have been researching and writing a historical fiction trilogy based on British Monarchy throughout the ages beginning with the Vikings. Originally meant to be a single book, as facts accumulated the material gradually filled three books. I call this series my V2V trilogy.
At the heart of our present are the stories of our past. In ages gone by, many monarchs died while they were still young. There were battles and diseases and many were simply overthrown. But the days of regal engagement in hand-to-hand combat are over and the line of succession has a good ageing prospect these days.
One of the most famous monarchs in history is Queen Victoria and her passing brought an end to an amazing era. She could be demanding, rude and she frequently fled public duties for the solitude of Scotland. But she loved fiercely, and her people loved her fiercely in return. Under her reign, England achieved greatness it had never known before.
‘VICTORIA TO VIKINGS – The Circle of Blood’ spans from this great queen to another one: Queen Elizabeth II. Ours is the era of the longest living monarch in history and her ancestry is incredible. But walking two steps behind her, stalwart and loyal, stands Prince Philip, the strawberry to her champagne, and with him comes his own amazing Viking heritage.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for history?
This passion I have for British history began many years ago while I was pregnant with my first child. I spent endless days in the library consuming everything I could and writing it all in my notebook. Over the years, through moving house, raising children and everyday life, the notebook disappeared but the interest in British Monarchy didn’t.
Five years ago, the interest turned into a passion.
I remember that day. I was talking to my grandson about his interests. I even did what every grandparent does…I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and I asked what subjects he was taking at school. And it turned out that history was one of them. Brightened that we had something to talk about to take his mind off his Facebook page, I said to him “So you know all about Henry VIII.”
It was a statement not a question and I fully expected him to say ‘of course’. Because everyone knows who Henry VIII is. Right? I was greeted with a blank look. I turned to him amazed. “You DO know who Henry VIII is, don’t you?” Apparently not.
We sat and I talked for more than an hour on the subject and I told him the whole sordid story of Henry and his wives, the beheadings, the urgent need for a male heir and the transformation from charismatic eighteen year old to an obese tyrant. I told him the story in a way he would understand and I tried to bring Henry back to life, not just as a character from a boring history book, but as a real life person. And he was rapt. His reaction revived my interest and here I am, more passionate than ever before.
Pan MacMillan Australia had published my best-selling autobiography ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ so I felt confident that I could write a book on British Monarchy. With so much information, this book turned into a trilogy I call my ‘V2V’ trilogy, and the last in the series, ‘Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood’ is due for release in a little over a month.
As a writer, what would make your day?
The pleasure of creating something that satisfies the merciless demon inside me is my joy. More often than not, I find myself metaphorically wringing my hands in dismay if I don’t sit down and write every day. Even if it means just picking my manuscript apart in an effort to bring it closer to the flawless product I want. Having said that, nothing makes a writer’s day like a good review.
What is your standard routine when writing a book?
Some people think that writers sit alone in a quiet private office and the ideas just pour out, rushing from the brain to the computer keys. Maybe there’s some writers out there who do that but it isn’t me. Just beyond my office door is my home and the heart of my life. My husband is out there and my dog, Scarlet. They are always waiting for me with a smile when the words don’t come. I work every day but I don’t push myself to produce work. I find that when I do that, they end up in the trash bin the next day.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing your latest book?
It’s funny you should ask that. While writing this latest historical fiction, I’ve done research for years…collecting names and information, pieces of this and bits of that, writing and jotting everything down. After completing the first book and after having finally sent it away to the publisher, I thought my work was done. The most surprising thing is, you never really finish. Even now, with this last book of the trilogy due for release, I’m still finding bits of information that I would love to have included in the books. I guess with history, there is so much information tucked away, there will always be new items that pop up all the time.
Is there any character in your book that you especially dislike? Any you especially like? Why?
Most definitely yes. It goes back to my love of Scotland. William Wallace is my definite passion, and not just because of Braveheart and Mel Gibson (although…….). William Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the leaders at the Battle of Falkirk during the war for Scottish Independence in 1298. He’s a Scottish hero who desperately wanted to rid Scotland from the oppression of the English king Edward I. His bravery is well documented, both romantically and heroically, but he came to a rather grizzly end. King Edward I had him captured near Glasgow and Wallace was butchered terribly (hung, drawn and quartered) for his crimes against the English. So my ‘dislike’ and ‘like’ are from this era.
What is the best part of being a writer?
I get to spend all day with my imaginary friends! It’s quite liberating–a perfect no-judgment zone. I can be completely myself, and I can also be these other people when I need to be, to get in their heads and be true to their voices. All the oddities and quirks that are part of me have an outlet in my books. In writing, and in exploring all these many and varied characters, I feel more like the real me than anywhere else.
As a writer, you probably do a lot of reading too. What’s your favourite media?
Anything with words on it. I like the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of books, the shushing sound of pages turning. But I can appreciate the virtues of electronic reading too. You can’t disregard the inconvenience of carrying lots of books in a little space. With a tablet, my bag doesn’t get bogged down while traveling and my shelves aren’t overflowing with books I may never read again. It also lets me stay awake late reading in bed without a light on so I don’t disturb my husband. For books that I really love, I buy the print book even if I have it in electronic form.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I try to squeeze my writing in here or there when I can, and how diligent I am about that varies wildly with where I am in a project. At the beginning, I do a lot of thinking about how to plot each story out and I can do boring household chores in this time. Once I have that organised in my head, I can’t wait to sit down and write.
Any last message for your readers?
The best pieces of advice I received at the very start of my writing career were:
1. Write. Read. Write more. Read more.
2. When you’ve finished your first manuscript–novel, short story, essay, whatever it is–stuff it in a drawer and forget about it for a month. Then come back and look at it with fresh eyes, as a reader, not a writer. Then rewrite it, only better. Revise. Edit. Revise more. Edit more.
3. And those two together make this third one clear: Don’t be in a rush to publish. Be in a slow, long, tedious marathon to publish the best piece of writing you can.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds