Anna’s books enthrall me, and I am constantly astounded by her ability to move effortlessly between genres and eras. She truly is a time traveller. I caught up with her recently, and loved our chat. Thanks for joining me Anna – and so to begin:
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
One of my more memorable pilgrimages was when I hijacked hubby on our honeymoon to visit all the Welsh sites mentioned in Here be Dragons by Sharon Penman. I am fortunate in that my man has as big an interest in history as I do, albeit he wasn’t quite as emotionally affected as I was.
I also really enjoyed walking in the footsteps of Alatriste and his companions in what remains of 17th c Madrid. If you haven’t read Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s books about this 17th century soldier and his various adventures, I really recommend that you do.
In general, though, I tend to plan my trips round historical events and personages rather than books.
Do you have anywhere closer to home that inspires you? I am fortunate enough to live in an area that carries the marks of the past—in this case a sequence of drystone walls that date back to the 17th century. The land in the area is littered with rocks, and anyone hoping to plant a crop had to start with the back-breaking labour of clearing the fields. In the early mornings when the fog still clings to the ground I sometimes imagine I can see them, those long-gone people who worked so hard to survive in a much harsher world than ours. They inspire me, those silent ghosts.
You have written several series. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections or themes between each book? Interesting question. I tend to fall so in love with my characters I have a problem severing the connection after only one book, hence a tendency to write series. I try to make the books work stand alone—I think I succeeded with that in The Graham Saga, where effectively each book has a unique theme albeit they all have time traveler Alex Graham and her 17th century hubby Matthew as leads, but in my medieval series, The King’s Greatest Enemy a common story arc ties the series together, as is the case with my latest series, The Wanderer. I am working on a new contemporary series where I am attempting to have one “umbrella story” to which each instalment contributes while still being entirely stand alone. Harder than I thought it would be, actually…
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? At the last count, seven. And I have three more in draft stage plus a pile of hand-written notes that need to be organized into draft nr 4.
And specific to your newest release…
What did you edit out of this book?
A Flame through Eternity is the third in my contemporary Romantic Suspense and it is a fast-paced, twisting thing with a lot of steamy scenes and quite a few violent ones. Originally, it contained a very, very dark rape scene which I agonized about for months before deciding I just couldn’t include it. So I rewrote it, dampening down the explicit parts and taking out the sexual violation. It is still pretty dark, though. It had to be. It is probably one of the harder scenes I’ve ever written—up there with those scenes in which I’ve had to kill off characters I’ve created, nurtured and loved…
How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes, this causes me major headaches. In one of my half/finished books the central character is a young girl who grows up with Queen Kristina. She’s had various names along the way, but she would just sulk and shake her head when I tried them out on her. No, she was definitely not an Ulrika. Absolutely not would she go by the name of Charlotta or Cecilia. No, no, no, not Margareta or Artemisia (Ok: I admit that last one was a bit far-fetched, but as she is the daughter of an apothecary I found it rather amusing) And then one day I wrote Sofia Carolina and my hitherto so uncooperative female character shone up like a sun and whispered that his name was Jonathan Crowne.
In the case of my characters in A Flame through Eternity, they sort of plopped up complete with nametags. This may have had something to do that the outline to this complicated love story spanning 3 000 years came to me as I was flying back from Singapore and when I got to the name part we were just above the Hellespont. Hence the female character became Helle, and for those of you who know your Greek mythology you will know the original Helle (who fell into the Hellespont and became a mermaid) had a brother who ended up in Kolchis where he presented his uncle, king of Kolchis, with the Golden Fleece. Several years later, a certain Jason would steal that fleece, and just like that I knew that Helle’s man would be Jason.
What would you want readers to think when they reach “the end”?
A Flame through Eternity is the last instalment in an emotional roller-coaster of a story in which the Happily Ever After seems to constantly slip through Jason’s and Helle’s fingers. So when we finally reach the end, and there is some sort of sunset hovering at the horizon, I want my readers to expel a huge sigh of relief, a smile tugging at their lips as they read those final few sentences. I am a firm believer in somehow seeing my poor characters to a safe harbor at the ends of their travails. My characters tend to point out that I make it very, very hard for them to do so at times. But hey: any novel needs conflict, right?
Quick Q & A
Tea or Coffee. Tea! Black, please. Okay, I do green on occasion, mainly because it’s supposed to be good for you, but I never, ever take cream or sugar.
Dark or Milk Chocolate Dark – a relatively recent change.
When were you the happiest? Every time the midwife placed one of my newborn children in my arms.
Favourite Children’s Book The Lord of the Rings. I know, not really a children’s book, but I was eleven when I got my copy and have read it so many times the covers are held together with an entire roll of scotch tape.
Favourite Adult Novel One novel? Seriously??? Committing hara-kiri over here… On a more serious note, I think that is an almost impossible question to answer, as what is your favourite novel during one phase of your life is not necessarily your favourite ten years later… But if I have to choose I’d go for For Whom the Bells Toll by Hemingway. Or maybe Here be Dragons by Sharon K Penman. Or La Fiesta del Chivo by Manuel Vargas Llosa. Or…Gah!
Thanks so much for visiting! Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. She has recently released A Flame through Eternity, the third in a new series, The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. At present, Anna is working on a new medieval series in which Edward I features prominently as well as a book set in 1715 where magic lockets and Jacobite rebels add quite the twist.
Find out more about Anna on her website or on her Amazon page. You can also follow her on FB or Twitter.
A Flame through Eternity is available on Amazon.
Amazon page, http://Author.to/ABG
A Flame through Eternity: http://myBook.to/AFTE