Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rosemary Morris: Tangled Love

Historical romance novelist Rosemary Morris is the author of Tangled Love, set in England in 1706, during the reign of Queen Anne. Rosemary has also written two Regency era novels, Sunday’s Child and False Pretences, scheduled for release later this year.

From an early age Rosemary Morris wove stories. At school her favourite subjects were History and English Literature. Since leaving school and college she has immersed herself in reading historical novels and researching history.

She has now reached the point at which she has so many novels and reference books crowding her house that if she wants to buy a new one she is forced to consider getting rid of one. However, her birthday present – a kindle – will help to solve the problem.

In between writing, Rosemary spends time with her family, who live nearby. She enjoys visiting places of historical interest such as St Albans Cathedral and Hatfield House. She also enjoys needlework and knitting as well as her organic garden, in which she grows fruit, herbs and vegetables that she puts to good use in her vegetarian cuisine. Time spent gardening and cooking provides time to plan her novels.

Welcome, Rosemary. Tell us more about yourself.
First of all thank you for inviting me to blog at your site.
My pleasure. Where are you from?
I live in Hertfordshire, England.
What sparked your interest in writing?
Since childhood I have been an avid reader. Blessed with curiosity and an active imagination it was inevitable that one day I would become an author. 
What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
An intriguing plot, an interesting theme, strong characters, good or bad, which the reader can identify with. Emotion, emotion and more emotion, and I do not mean only in romances, emotion can be low key but it needs to be there. Last but not least a good pace which makes the reader want to turn the page to find out what happens next. 
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
I write traditional historical fiction, by which I mean that I do not open the bedroom door wide. 
Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
So far I have my novels are mostly set in London and my home county.
How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
The characters in my novels are fictional, although I sometimes see a face in a crowd, a magazine or a newspaper and jot down a description, which I use in a novel. With regard to events, I read widely and visit places of historical interest to get the facts right.
What inspired you to write Tangled Love?
I was inspired when reading about Charles II, James II, his daughter, Mary, who with her husband William of Orange, usurped the throne, and his second daughter Queen Anne. After Charles II’s death, his brother James became king. Most non Roman Catholic peers did not like the man, his politics or his religion. Eventually, James II was forced to flee to France. Some of the peers of the realm refused to take an oath of allegiance, first to William and Mary, and then to Anne for as long as James II lived, because they had sworn an oath of allegiance to him. What, I asked myself, would be the fate of a daughter left in England by her father followed James to France? 
How did you come up with the title?
As a child, to please her father, who my heroine, Richelda, loved, she swore on the Bible to do her best to regain Field House, the family estate confiscated in the reign of Charles I. Penniless and alone Richelda believes she will marry Dudley, the vicar’s son who she loves. Subsequently she resists everyattempt by her rich aunt to persuade her to marry the new owner of her ancestral home, Field House. Tangled Love suits the various dilemmas in Richelda’s life.
What was the hardest part of the story to write?
Tying up all the loose ends at the end of Tangled Love and bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. 
What was the easiest part of the story to write?
The Prologue, in which Richelda vows to regain Field House. 
Was there much research involved?
Yes, the shelves in the bookcase in my office are slightly bowed with books pertinent to the era in which Tangled Love is set. Books about economic history, fashion, food, furniture, make-up, perfume social history, and much more.
Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
Yes, we experience the same emotions as our ancestors although our life styles are so far removed from theirs. Also, to understand our present it is helpful to understand our past. For example, if the Duke of Marlborough had lost the Wars of Spanish Succession the history of the United Kingdom would have been different.
What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
My ability to recreate the past through the subjects described in my answer to the question about research. 
When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
The amount of time it takes to revise a novel, and then work with editors prior to publication astonished me.
Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
By the time I write The End I’m so exhausted that I need a day off from writing. I don’t have the energy to celebrate unless sleeping late on the following morning can be described as a celebration.
Do you have a set writing routine?
Yes, I usually wake at 6 a.m., make a hot drink and work until 10 or 11 a.m. with a short break to have breakfast and watch the news on television. I then get on with the chores, go shopping, cook, socialize or work in my organic garden in which I grow fruit, herbs and vegetables. At 4 p.m. I’m back at the laptop or computer to work until 8 p.m.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No, but I often have the television tuned into a programme which doesn’t require total concentration. 
What do you like least about writing?
Writing a letter of introduction to a publisher and writing a synopsis of a novel.
Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I have converted the spare bedroom, the smallest room in the house into an office. The soft yellow walls are lined with cupboards and bookcases with ample space to store magazines, files, and non-fiction arranged in alphabetical order according to subject, as well as the Christmas decorations and some treasured photo albums. My large desk, on which is my computer and printer and a jumble of papers, pens, paper clips etc., faces the window through which I can gaze out onto my organic garden beyond which is a green, where children play or train for football at the weekends, and people walk their dogs etc. The green is backed by ancient woodland, and I delight in the vista of the changing seasons from spring to winter when the branches of deciduous trees stand out like black lace.
Sounds idyllic! Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
As a child I read Jeffrey Farnol and Geoffrey Trease’s children’s historical fiction and, at the library, always chose to read historical fiction and non-fiction. Later, I read the classics, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. At around the age of fourteen or fifteen, I borrowed my next door neighbour’s novels by Georgette Heyer that I could not read fast enough. I also read the works of Elizabeth Goudge, Anya Seton, and, I think, in my late teens began reading the Angelique series by Seargeanne Golon, more recently I read and enjoyed Helen Hollick’s novels. These authors and many more invoked my wish to become a published historical novelist. 
Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
You would find The Bhagavita, The Song of God by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the great Indian classics The Mahabharat and the Ramayan, which rival The Odyssey and the Illiad, which I own as well as The St James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.

The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge, all of Elizabeth Chadwick’s mediaeval novels, Benita Brown’s novels, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub and other novels by Georgette Heyer, the works of Jane Austen, The Far Pavilions, The Shadow of the Moon and Trade Winds by M.M.Kaye, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scot, and many others by much appreciated authors such as Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel series and the novels of Francis Parkinson Keyes.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a favorite of mine. If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
Well, I would like to chat with A.C.Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada but like me he did not drink wine or alcohol, so it would be out of the question. 
You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
The translation of The Bhagavad-Gita, purported to be spoken by God to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, by A.C. Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada because every time I read it I find something new.
Have any new authors caught your interest?
Yes, to name a few, Maggie Coleman, Jen Black, Mirella Patzer and Christine Courtenay.
What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
My novel Sunday’s Child, set in the Regency era, will be published in June and will be followed in October by False Pretences, set in the same era.
Who supports your writing activities most?
The members of the online critique groups which I belong to. 
What does your family think of your writing?
They are happy for me. My youngest sons were surprised because they enjoyed Tangled Love, as it’s hard for them to view me as anything other than their mum. 
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Never be discouraged by rejection, persevere, and while doing so learn as much as you can about the craft of writing through books on How To Write, constructive on line writers’ groups, workshops, and writers’ groups at which you can read extracts from your work and receive helpful comments. 
Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
Spending time with my family, organic gardening, knitting and other crafts, cooking vegetarian food, reading, researching and visiting places of historical interest. 
Thank you, Rosemary. And now, how about a preview of Tangled Love?

* * * * * 
Prologue
1693

Nine year-old Richelda Shaw sat on the floor in her nursery. She pulled a quilt over her head to block out the thunder pealing outside the ancient manor house while an even fiercer storm raged deep within. Eyes closed, she remained as motionless as a marble statue.

Elsie, her mother’s personal maid, pulled the quilt from her head. ‘Stand up child, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Come, your father’s waiting for you.’

Richelda trembled. Until now Father’s short visits from France meant gifts and laughter. This one made Mother cry while servants spoke in hushed tones.

Followed by Elsie, Richelda hurried down broad oak stairs. For a moment, she paused to admire lilies of the valley in a Delft bowl. Only yesterday, she picked the flowers to welcome Father home then arranged them with tender care. Now, the bowl stood on a chest, which stood beneath a pair of crossed broadswords hanging on the wall.

Elsie opened the great massive door of the great hall where Father stood to one side of an enormous hearth. Richelda hesitated. Her eyes searched for her mother before she walked across the floor, spread her skirts wide and knelt before him.

Father placed his right hand on her bent head. ‘Bless you, daughter, may God keep you safe.’ He smiled. ‘Stand up, child. Upon my word, sweetheart, your hair reminds me of a golden rose. How glad I am to see roses bloom in these troubled times.’

Richelda stood but dared not speak for she did not know him well.

Putting an arm round her waist, he drew her to him. ‘Come, do not be nervous of your father, child. Tell me if you know King James II holds court in France while his daughter, Mary, and William, his son-in-law, rule after seizing his throne?’

‘Yes, Mother told me we are well rid of King James and his Papist wife,’ she piped up, proud of her knowledge.

With a sigh, Father lifted her onto his knee. ‘Richelda, I must follow His Majesty for I swore an oath of allegiance to him. Tell me, child, while King James lives how can I with honour swear allegiance to his disloyal daughter and her husband?’

Unable to think of a reply, she lowered her head breathing in his spicy perfume.

Father held her closer. ‘Your mother pleads with me to declare myself for William and Mary. She begs me not to return to France, but I am obliged to serve King James. Do you understand?’

As she nodded her cheek brushed against his velvet coat. ‘Yes, I understand, my tutor told me why many gentlemen will not serve the new king and queen.’

‘If you remain in England, you will be safe. Bellemont is part of your mother’s dowry so I doubt it will be confiscated.’

If she remained in England! Startled, she stared at him.

Smiling, he popped her onto her feet. ‘We shall ride. I have something to show you.’

* * * * *
Before long, they drew rein on the brow of a hill. Father pointed at a manor house in the valley.

‘Look at our ancestral home, Field House. The Roundheads confiscated it soon after the first King Charles’ execution. Richelda, I promised my father to do all in my power to regain the property.’ Grey-faced, he pressed his hand to his chest. ‘Alas, I have failed to keep my oath,’ he wheezed.

Richelda not only yearned to help him keep his promise to her grandfather, she also yearned to find the gold and jewels legend said her buccaneer ancestor, Sir Nicholas, hid.

She waited for her father to breathe easy before she spoke. ‘If we found the treasure trove you could buy Field House.’

‘Ah, you believe Sir Nicholas did not give all his plunder to Good Queen Bess,’ he teased.

‘Elsie told me legend says he hid some of his booty in Field House.’ The thought of it excited her. In his old age, when Sir Nicholas retired from seafaring, is it true that he put his ship’s figurehead, Lady Luck, in the great hall?’

‘Yes, for all I know she is still above a mighty fireplace carved with pomegranates, our family’s device.’

‘I would like to see it.’

‘One day, perhaps you will. Now, tell me if you know our family motto.’

‘Fortune favours the brave.’

‘Are you brave, my little lady? Will you swear on the Bible to do all in your power to regain Field House?’

To please him and excited by the possibility of discovering treasure she nodded.
* * * * *
Tangled Love / Available from

Rosemary’s Blog / Writer in a Garrett


The Video for Tangled Love:


5 comments:

  1. Lovely interview, ladies. I enjoyed reading more about you and your work methods, Rosemary.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Rosemary. Thank you for visiting!

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  2. What a great interview, Rosemary. I'll bet you do tons of research for your stories. They sound very good.

    Pat, thanks for sharing Rosemary with all of us...nice site!!

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    1. My pleasure, Penny. I too sense that Rosemary goes above and beyond with her research, and her readers reap the benefits. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Hi Rosemary,
    Great blog. Loved the excerpt. You sound so organized, I really envy you, and sleeping in is a just reward for all your hard work.

    Regards

    Margaret

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