A Shining welcome to the wonderfully versatile Rosemary Gemmell, here to talk about her latest release, a tween action fantasy entitled Summer of the Eagles.
Ros Gemmell has always lived in the beautiful but rainy west coast of Scotland. Summer of the Eagles, which is set on a Scottish island, is her first tween book and is now released from MuseItUp Publishing in Canada. Writing as Romy Gemmell, her first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, set in Regency England, was published by Champagne Books in Canada in May 2011.
Many of her short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in the US, and Online, under her full name, Rosemary, and children’s short stories are in three different anthologies. One of her short stories was included in the fundraising book, 100 Stories for Haiti in 2010. A historical short story was published in The Waterloo Collection, launched by the late professor Richard Holmes in April 2011. She has won a few competitions and was a short story adjudicator at the annual Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference in March 2012.
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My pleasure, Rosemary. Tell us more about yourself. Where are you from?
I’m from Scotland where I was born and bred. I live on the beautiful west coast, half an hour from Glasgow and about twenty minutes from Loch Lomond. Although I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve never lived anywhere else apart from two summers in the Isle of Man.What sparked your interest in writing?
I’d always loved English at school, especially poetry and literature. I began writing my own angst-filled and romantic poetry in my teens. It wasn’t until my children started growing up that I turned to fiction and articles. Joining a local writing group was the major turning point in developing that interest.What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
Briefly: An intriguing beginning that asks a question or provides some kind of conflict, an interesting middle that builds towards a major event or turning point, and a satisfying resolution.How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
At the moment I’m flitting between historical romance for adults and tween fiction for young middle grade readers. But I also write general short stories and contemporary fiction!Versatile indeed! Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
I like a bit of both. My first historical, Dangerous Deceit, is a Regency set in England, while Summer of the Eagles is set on a Scottish island. I also have two mainstream novels set in Scotland (currently seeking an agent). But I do sometimes use a location I’ve visited, such as Cyprus and Venice, and I plan to use more European locations.Travel for research. I like that idea. How did you come up with the title for Summer of the Eagles?
I love thinking up titles and can’t move on with a story unless I know it’s the right one for a particular book. Summer of the Eagles was relatively easy as it’s set during the summer holidays. And one of the main elements in the story is the relationship between Stevie and the strange boy in the hills, Karig, who has some connection with the eagles. The eagles also have a certain symbolism inspired by various Biblical verses.The concept of this story is truly intriguing. Was there much research involved?
Not too much, as I already knew the island that inspired the setting for the story, and much of the plot it is from my imagination. But I did need to know a little more about birds because of the fictional bird sanctuary, and I learned most of that from the website of the Royal Society for Protection of Birds and from the island’s own leaflets.Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
Not a message as such, but I hope young readers will feel Stevie’s hope for the future even after being orphaned. And the importance of friendship, family, and perhaps faith in something bigger than ourselves.I suspect readers of all ages will feel Stevie’s hope after reading this story. Do you listen to music when you write?
I often enjoy listening to music while I write, and try to choose an appropriate style for the book I’m working on. I listened to a lot of my favourite Vivaldi, Bach and Albinoni for the Regency book, and it’s usually some kind of Celtic music (Scottish and Irish) if it’s a story set in Scotland. Music often inspires me with other ideas too!A nurturing range of selections. What do you like least about writing?
Actually having to be disciplined enough to sit on the chair and type! I’m a terrible procrastinator and find lots of reasons to put off getting started. But I do enjoy it when I’m really into a work. Sometimes having too many ideas or projects on the go holds me back from concentrating on only one at a time.Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I write in an extension we built on to our modern house, which we loosely call the library or study because of all the books lining the walls on one side. We live in a village bordering on countryside and from my window at the back of the house, I look on to the tree-bordered sloping garden, and the hills beyond dotted with sheep and occasionally cows.Such an idyllic setting! Inspiring too. What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
I’ve just submitted another tween book, set in the Scottish countryside but with a slightly scary fantasy this time, so I’ll need to wait and see if it’s accepted. I’ve also submitted a short contemporary novella and I’m almost finished another Regency romance. Then I have at least two other books to finish, as well as some short stories to redraft. I really have too much on the go at the one time!Who supports your writing activities most?
My family, friends, and writing group colleagues. I’m very lucky to have so many writer contacts and friends and my grown-up daughter is one of my biggest fans. It helps a great deal that she also writes, in between her full-time day job, and we often discuss writing-related things. My husband has always been supportive and is just waiting for the ‘big’ success! One of my non-writing friends (although she’s now trying a few stories!) is a great support and never minds me talking about writing.What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Spend more time writing than reading about how to do it. But read lots of published work in whatever genre you hope to write. The more we read, the more we absorb how it’s done and then we can do it our own way. And please send completed work out!Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
Reading, dancing, film and travelling.Thank you so much for so generously sharing your writing adventures and thoughts. Now, let's have a look at Summer of the Eagles!
Thirteen year old Stephanie (Stevie) loses her parents in a terrible accident, leaving her slightly lame. Stevie’s dreams of running for Scotland are over. No longer able to cope with Stevie’s moods, Gran sends her to an aunt on a Scottish island.
Although Stevie gradually makes new friends and discovers an interest in the bird sanctuary, she soon falls into danger from two bird poachers intent on harming the eagles.
A strange boy in the hills helps Stevie to heal. Could he have anything to do with the eagles or the painted rocks and legends of the island?
As the boy watched, he knew those two were trouble. He understood people, with an unfailing instinct for their character. Even from this distance, he suspected they came for only one purpose. One that could mean danger for his kind. He’d need to keep a close watch on them.
Then his attention shifted to a girl and an old woman who stepped from the gangway. Something in the way the girl dragged along, almost behind the woman, suggested deep unhappiness. One leg seemed slightly shorter than the other, emphasised in the way she limped.
The old woman looked kind but worried. She stopped now and then to speak to the girl, who only shrugged.
Her behaviour peaked his interested despite himself. There seemed so much sadness between them. He wondered what caused it.
As the two arguing men walked toward the bus, he noticed the younger one turn and wave to the girl. She stared right through him before walking closer to the old woman. Someone met the females. Another woman—older than the girl, younger than the other.
He thought about the drama now beginning, when these people stepped on to the island. It would unfold over these next weeks and he would be a part of it. He was ready. A movement in the air above caught his eye and he smiled. Turning his back on the people below, he raised his arms and called out a greeting to the eagles swooping toward him.
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Summer of the Eagles / E-book Available from