I would like to welcome Susanna Kearsley to Royal Reviews!
Hi, Angela! Thanks for having me here at Royal Reviews.
1. Tell us something about yourself, so that we can get to know you a bit better…
I’m very ordinary. I live in the suburbs with two kids, a dog, and a husband I met back when we were in high school. I drive a mini-van, I’m a terrible housekeeper, and my favourite way to spend a day—apart from sitting all day in my writing room in my pyjamas, with coffee—is sitting all day in a comfy chair, with a good book, and a blanket, and no interruptions. With two kids, a dog, and a husband, I’ll leave you to speculate how often either scenario actually happens…
2. Your novel, The Shadowy Horses, is out now—congrats! Could you tell us about it?
The Shadowy Horses is set in the Scottish borders, on an archaeological dig being led by a man who’s been looking his whole life for the final resting place of the “lost” Ninth Legion, and who’s certain he’s found it at last, thanks to a local 8-year-old boy with second sight who claims he’s seen a Roman soldier walking on the hills above his house. My heroine, Verity, isn’t sure what she believes when she comes north from London to join the dig, and her summer is filled with adventures and challenges, both professional and personal, as the excavations start to reveal many things, not just about the legionary soldiers, but about her fellow field crew members, and about her feelings for one of them.
3. What inspired you to write The Shadowy Horses?
When I was a young girl I read Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, an adventure novel that imagines a possible fate for the lost legion, and through that book I learned about the wild and brutal history of Roman Britain and the mystery of the Ninth Legion, thousands of men who marched north from their fortress of York and simply disappeared from the history books. So that story was sitting at the back of my mind when, years later, I read travel writer H.V. Morton’s In Scotland Again, in which Morton visited, among other places, the fishing village of Eyemouth and learned about the East Coast Fishing Disaster that happened there in the late 19th century, when nearly all of the men and boys of the village were lost at sea in an unexpected storm. Two separate centuries, two very different groups of men, but it was the idea of this place where men were lost that got me thinking about what kind of a story I could set in Eyemouth. Archaeology seemed like a natural fit for the Ninth legion, and the book just developed from there.
4. Your novels combine history, romance, and a touch of paranormal, how do you find that perfect balance?
I think it’s just a natural balance, for me. It’s not something I do consciously, but it’s also what I like to read. I love history best when it’s brought to life through personal stories, and romance—looking for it, finding it, keeping it, and remembering it—is really at the center of all our lives, whether people want to admit it or not. As for the paranormal, I look for things that we don’t understand too well and can’t explain with modern science, and I try to learn as much as I can about what we do know—usually by hunting down the current research being done in universities, if possible—and then I try to make the paranormal seem as normal as I can, if that makes any sense at all.
5. Everyone from fellow bloggers to my local librarians is asking if there will be a follow up to The Winter Sea. Can you tell us anything about it?
You can tell them all yes, my sort-of-sequel to The Winter Sea is finished now, and it will be out in the spring of 2013. It’s called The Firebird, and it continues to follow the lives of many of the historical characters from The Winter Sea, centering on Anna Moray, John and Sophia’s daughter, as she grows up and gets a romance of her own. As with The Winter Sea, I was able to use actual historical events and people to drive the plot, which takes Anna from Scotland into Russia, to St. Petersburg, where the Jacobite community was surprisingly active and successful under the leadership of men like Captain (later Admiral) Thomas Gordon. And as with The Winter Sea, the past story is wrapped in a modern-day one, but with new characters this time, including as the hero Rob McMorran, who first made his appearance as little Robbie in The Shadowy Horses, and whose psychic abilities are put to good use in The Firebird.
6. What can readers expect next?
I’m just starting work on the next novel, but since I don’t really plan my novels out before I write them I can’t tell you much beyond the fact it interweaves stories set in present-day Paris and 18th-century France and, again, deals with a little-known Jacobite intrigue that has me intrigued. I’ll be writing it for the next year or so, and will keep readers updated via my website (which I promise I’ll be updating soon, honestly—it’s been stuck at April, complete with a picture of the Easter bunny on it, for months now, while I’ve been finishing work on The Firebird).
7. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
I’m not sure about words of wisdom, but one of the best pieces of advice I ever read was in Phyllis A. Whitney’s Guide to Fiction Writing, and I’m happy to pass it on: don’t think of yourself as an “aspiring” writer. You’re a writer, plain and simple, published or not, and you have to believe that, before anybody else will. Once you start calling yourself a writer, and allowing yourself to believe it, you’ll have taken the first major step towards reaching your goals. Beyond that, the best tools are stubborn persistence and faith in yourself and your stories—and wine, to reward yourself each time you finish a chapter! I wish you the best.
Thanks again, for inviting me here. It’s been fun.
About the book:
THE INVINCIBLE NINTH ROMAN LEGION MARCHES FROM YORK TO FIGHT THE NORTHERN TRIBES. AND THEN VANISHES FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY.
Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.
Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason. (from the publishers website)
I have 1 copy to giveaway courtesy of Sourcebooks.
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Best Wishes & Good Luck,
Visit Angela @ Simply Angela