Friday, 16 February 2018

Diana talks to... Sebnem E. Sanders

Hi Sebnem, thank you for agreeing to talk. Have you a question you would like to ask yourself? If so, ask your own question and answer it! 

Why do I write in English although my mother tongue is Turkish? Because my education in English has allowed me to express my freest thoughts in this language, without having to worry about race, nationality or religion. In my opinion, three aspects that separate humanity. I'm a universal person who believes in humanity first. English is spoken by 360 million people in the world, so it has as a wide audience.

What is the genre you are best known for?
Fiction with a touch of fantasy.

If your latest book was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?



My debut book, Ripples on the Pond,  is a collection of short and flash fiction stories. There are many characters, so it's difficult to say who I'd imagine to play the lead role in each tale. I'll give a few examples, hoping I'm not taking up too much space. There are two stories with the character Leila: Fear of Falling and Home. To me she is Meryl Streep, as I imagined her to be in my manuscript The Child of Heaven where she is the leading character. Then there is Isabelle in The Appointment. I think Sharon Stone would fit perfectly into the role. In Amber Street, there is a character called Harry. Young, innocent, and vulnerable. Ryan Gosling would be an ideal choice. I imagine Daniel Day Lewis in the role of the blind columnist in The Leader on the Corner, Jeremy Irons playing the writer in The Muse, and Anne Hathaway, as his muse.  Marvin in Angel's Cove has young Robert Redford's features and sun-streaked hair, and Paul Newman's blue eyes.

What made you choose this genre? The muse?
I don't choose genres, I'm multi-genre, I think. The stories to be told choose me. As well as writing longer work, I've been writing flash fiction for the last four years. Some of my stories have been published in online literary magazines in UK, the US, and Canada. This gave me the courage to publish an anthology containing 70 stories, out of a collection that had close to 130.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
They whisper to me their stories, and I try to keep up with the voices in my head. Sometimes a place tells a story, so the characters evolve with their tales that fit the setting. Two such stories are Selma of Soghut and Laurel Island.

Favourite picture or work of art?
Many. Anything by Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Edward Hopper, Modigliani, Nuri İyem and Avni Arbaş ...

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
Fantasy Fiction, set in parallel universes. I'm working on it. I believe in multi-verses.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
Writing has always been an enjoyable pastime since I was very young. I liked creating stories. I got around to writing longer work after I was 50.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
At the beginning, I hated it because it was so different, foreign. Then I got addicted to it.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
Coffee in the morning to wake up, a drink in the evening to relax. I listen to music and dream. Music inspires me. I also love art. Paintings tell me stories, so do films. And nature, the night sky, the sea, the beach, the mountains, quaint towns, ancient settlements. Books inspire me. I think one must keep reading and observe life to write. Art inspires art.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
My characters and the story that needs to be told.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
Singing. I love it, and dancing.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Coffee and red wine, but I also love champagne.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I have an outline, but it's not strict. I must know the end, otherwise I cannot start. However, the plot usually finds its own way,  according to the actions or moods of the characters. 

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
I'm not fond of Times Roman. I like Calibri or Arial better.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Anything related to Atlantis. Did they exist? Were they aliens? What happened to them?

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
They do all the time. Yesterday, I was working on a new chapter and the MC did something unexpected. It seemed out of context. I'm not sure whether to keep it or not. I've been thinking about it. Maybe, maybe not.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I research all the time. I try to write from firsthand experience, but we forget. So I re-visit on Google images/earth and tours, until I get it right. I haven't written about a setting I haven't been to, unless it's a fantasy where I have created a new world. Regarding facts, sometimes one has to read an entire book to get a statement or a sentence right.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
I don't like dictators, leaders who limit the freedom of thought. So I ignore them. I pretend they don't exist. Ignoring is non-existence. 

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
A story is a story. Fiction is not reality, it's a version/interpretation of  reality. I think it's called poetic licence. So I feel free to manipulate reality. If I were writing non-fiction, I couldn't do that. 

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
Naturally they do. Fact is fact, fiction is fiction. But who says fiction is not another version of reality? A reality in other dimensions, multi-verses, endless possibilities, sliding doors, and a quantum probability?

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
I like the good guys and disapprove of the bad guys, but I know the bad exist as well as the good. So I accept them as they are because they're part of life. Isabelle in The Appointment is a manipulative character, she'll do anything to get what she wants. The character in Shards of Glass has a doppelganger, an evil twin. Both Ivan, in Virginia Creeper, and Bernard, in A Kind of Love, are weird characters with strange obsessions. They represent the dark side of us. Humans are complex creatures, with their weaknesses and strengths.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I like to read paperbacks, not Kindle. I think I like contemporary fiction most, but anything written well will hold my attention, as long as it has a gripping plot. A good book is a good book, regardless of the genre.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
This is a difficult question. Soft: herbal teas, coffee, fizzy mineral water  Hard: Wine, champagne or Scotch

Last but not least... favourite author?
Another difficult question. There are many: Iris Murdoch, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Paul Auster, Yaşar Kemal, Paulo Coelho, Margaret Atwood ...

Thank you Sebnem. Thank you also for telling me the way to pronounce your name: Shebnem ! This has been really interesting and enlightening and I have to tell you how much I LOVE the cover of your book. I could sit and stare at that for hours


© Diana Milne January 2017 © Sebnem E. Sanders January 20th, 2018








Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sharon Reviews Lea Croft by Angela Rigley

Today Sharon Bennett Connolly reviews Lea Croft by Angela Rigley. The author has kindly offered an ebook as a giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous story, simply leave a comment below of on our Facebook Page.
The winner will be drawn on 21st February 2018.
Good luck!





The sleepy village of Lea Croft in Victorian Derbyshire is awoken when the body of the farmer's son, Herbert Grant, is found down a gully. Martha Holloway suspects her husband, Charlie, of killing him in revenge for her being assaulted by him in the past. When Charlie goes missing in a landslide, to make ends meet, Martha has to find a job at the farm, where her younger sisters, Jessica, aged 15, and pregnant by an unknown father, and Charlotte, work as milkmaids. Charlie reappears but tells her not to tell anybody he is still alive. Herbert's brother, Ronald, fancies Charlotte, but will he pluck up the courage to tell her? He is arrested for Herbert's murder. But will he be found guilty, and what happens to Charlie?
If I am honest, I wasn't sure what to expect of Lea Croft, when I picked it from the Review reading list. I certainly wasn't expecting a hard-hitting, down-to-earth murder mystery drama that sucks you in and leaves you guessing to the very last paragraph. Angela Rigley has created a wonderful tale of life in a small, sleepy Derbyshire village, centred around the death of a man, Herbert Grant, who no-one liked. It is not giving away a spoiler to tell you the book opens with Herbert's death - possibly murder - an event which awakens the sleepy village and leads to endless speculation as to what happened and who did it.

Poor Martha Holloway is then drawn into the story, suspecting her husband, a brute of a man it is not easy to like. Martha is a wonderful creation, the lead protagonist and a downtrodden woman trying to balance work, her family and her fears. A 24-year-old mother of two, with two teenage sisters to keep an eye on, too, she tries her hardest to hold everything together.

 Six-year old Tommy Holloway ran into the kitchen where his mother, Martha, stood kneading bread. "Mam, Mama, they've found a body!"
"Really, dear? How nice." She wasn't really listening, as her thoughts were elsewhere.
"But, Mam ... it's a real one."
"A real what, darling?" She looked up, brushing her floury hands over her heart-shaped face.
"A ... real ... body." Hands on hips, defying her to mistake his meaning, he glared, his little uptirned nose twitching.
"A person?"
"Yes, Mam, in the gully. They say it looks like its been there ages."
"A man or a woman?" He finally  had her full attention.
"Um." Screwing up his face, he scratched his nose. "I don't know. It's just a body. I'm going ot see if Jimmy's playing. He always knows everything." He pulled his cap over his long fair hair. MArtha had been intending to cut it for the last week oor so, but had not found the time.
She took off her apron. "I'll come with you. This is something I don't want to miss."
Grabbing her hand, he dragged her out the door. "Come on then. Quick, before they take it away."

Growing up in South Yorkshire, close to the Derbyshire, I know the area in which Lea Croft is set. The book does an excellent job of evoking the atmosphere of country life in Victorian England. The locations are beautifully recreated and the language draws the reader back, not only to the era but to the location. Colloquial words are used sparingly, but are all the more noticeable as a result, such as 'snap' for a packed lunch - said to come from when the tin snaps closed - and 'trump' for flatulence.

The novel itself is a wonderful creation; the story of how a community reacts to a suspicious death within its midst, an event that may not have happened before within living memory The simple, tight-knit community is suddenly suspicious and distrusting. How would you feel, knowing that someone in your midst is a murderer?

Despite the subject matter, this is not a dark, scary book. And Angela Rigley pulls off an incredible balance, between telling the  story of a murder, and the everyday lives of the inhabitants, to give us a unique, unmissable novel.



About the author


I am married to Don, have 5 children and eight grandchildren and live in Derbyshire. My hobbies include singing in my church choir; genealogy, having traced ancestors back to 1520; gardening; flower arranging; playing Scrabble; Sudoku; meals out; family gatherings; and, when I have any spare time I love to read. I am the treasurer of Eastwood Writers’ Group. At church I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. In the past I have written hymns, words and music, although I cannot read music. You can find me on Twitter: @angierigley, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my website is www.nunkynoo.yolasite.com



About Sharon Bennett Connolly

Sharon has been fascinated by history for over 30 years.She has studied history at university and worked as a tour guide at several historic sites. She has lived in Paris and London before settling down back in a little village in her native Yorkshire, with husband James and their soon-to-be-teenage son.
Sharon has been writing a blog entitled 'History...the Interesting Bits' for a little over 2 years and has just finished her first non-fiction work, 'Heroines of the Medieval World'. The book looks at the lives of the women – some well known and some almost forgotten to history – who broke the mould; those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history.

Sharon can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Heroines of the Medieval World,  is now available in hardback in the UK from both Amberley Publishing and Amazon UK and worldwide from Book Depository. It is also available on Kindle in both the UK and USA and will be available in Hardback from Amazon US from 1 May 2018.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Diana talks to Clarke W Owens, author of 600ppm: A Novel Of Climate Change



Hi Clarke, your novel,  600ppm, A Novel of Climate Change. was life changing for me. Not only was it the first book I had reviewed at length but the subject matter was presented in such a way to make me sit up and listen. Thank you ...




Q. How old were you when you first started to write seriously?

A. This is an interesting question, because it raises the issue of what one means by “writing seriously.” I suspect that the usual connotations of this phrase would include the intention to write for publication, with one’s understanding informed by serious reading and the study of, or attention to, craft. If that’s what’s intended, I would probably say I was in my early twenties, about the time I applied for a master’s degree program in creative writing at UC Davis, or a year or two before that.

On the other hand, and perhaps you’ll laugh at this, I think one begins “writing seriously” whenever one has found reading to be a profound experience and one tries to imitate the art one admires, paying attention to what happens in the process, and trying to learn something from it. This happened to me when I was eight years old, and I tried to write a “novel,” which turned out to be a 12-chapter narrative. I’m not claiming too much for this experience, but it’s distinct in my mind from other times when, as a child, I dashed off a story to amuse a teacher, or other kids. I would say that was “not serious.”

Q. When you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?

A. I understand this to be a relatively serious question, since we have all those stories about writers who absolutely could not be disturbed by their spouses or children when writing. I remember reading something like that from Jill Faulkner about her pappy.

My family means my wife. She is also a writer, and we have an understanding not to disturb the other when the other is writing. I am less strict about this than Deborah. If she comes into my office when I’m writing, she will apologize and start to leave, and I will usually insist that she come back and tell me what was on her mind. So I guess family is more important to me. She knows not to prolong the interruption for light and transient causes, though.

When Deborah’s office doors are closed, I don’t go near. I usually don’t even announce if I go out to the store, because she is very sensitive to interruptions when in the “zone.”

In sum, the reason for the interruption governs.

Q. How much of your work is planned before you start?

A. Again, it depends on what is meant by “planned.” I do seem to recall, when I was very young, sitting down with a blank page and simply trying to come up with something out of nowhere. I can do that now, with a poem, but not with prose.

I don’t work from an outline, but for fiction there has to be some sense of what the task is, where the beginning and ending points are expected to be, or in other words a clear sense of subject and possible arc. I’ve only written and published two measly books, so I don’t want to be pretentious about this, but in both cases there was a weight of subject matter in my mind before beginning. The subject had either been percolating for some time, or (with the novel) seemed so serious and important that by the time the writing began the arc was there and the urgency was coming out in the words. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have fun; I did.

I also knew the technique I wanted, which was very short chapters. The purpose of this was to control the language, not to let it get out of control, to give punch to the phrasing and the chapter endings. I thought that if the chapter lengths were short, like a poem (I’ve had more publishing success with poems than with fiction), I could keep a watchful eye over this. Lately, I’ve been writing longer, more “normal” chapter lengths, so I guess I’ve lost some of my insecurity about this issue. Sentences are the crucial component of a novel. They have to be fresh.

Q. What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

A. Everything I read is read for pleasure, because if there is no pleasure, I put it down. Life is too short. I read mostly literary fiction, history, and poetry. Everything else in smaller doses.

About the book:

It's the year 2051, twenty-five years after the U.S. Congress, at the behest of corporate oligarchs, has deliberately stifled scientific information warning of the catastrophes of global warming which have now come to pass: flooded southern and eastern U.S. coastal cities, a desertified West, northward-migrating refugees, rationed food and water, endless distractive war. 26-year-old naif, Jeff Claymarker, watches extinct species on Wild Beast World and listens to right wing broadcasts until his best friend is wrongly convicted of murder. Unwillingly involved in the effects of a National Security plot, he must search for clues to the truth. The only one comes from a stash of flash drives belonging to Jeff's late uncle, a Washington climate scientist. 

About the author: 

Clarke W Owens writes fiction, poems and assorted prose. His work has appeared in a number of literary journals. He lives in Ohio.




You may read more at www.clarkewowens.com, which has buy links.


The book is also available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Please read my review here: http://thereview2014.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/600ppm-life-changing-novel-by-clarke-w.html

© Diana Milne 2018 © Clarke W Owens 2018

.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Nicky Moxey reviews Perception and Illusions by Catherine Kullman

 Today at The Review, Nicky Moxey reviews Catherine Kullman's Perception and Illusions. The author is giving away a paperback copy - to anywhere in the world - as a prize. To win your very own copy, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. The winner will be drawn on 14th February 2018. Good luck!



 
Perception and Illlusions by Catherine Kullman –.

“England 1814: Brought up by her late grandparents after the death of her mother, Lallie Grey is unaware that she is their heiress. When her father realises that he will soon lose control of his daughter’s income, he conspires to marry her off to his crony, Frederick Malvin in exchange for a share of her capital. But Lallie has fallen in love with Hugo Tamrisk, heir to one of the oldest titles in England. When Hugo not only comes to her aid as she flees the arranged marriage, but later proposes to her, all Lallie’s dreams have come true.”

This book – Catherine’s second – was published in March 2017, and I was delighted to have been given a copy of this book.

“Perception and Illusions” is a lovely, gentle love story, using the classic girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy-back theme – but it’s very cleverly done. I pretty much devoured this book, in 3 sittings, I think; and given that neither romantic novels, nor this period, are my usual fare, that gives you an impression of the quality of the writing! The central character, Lallie, is sympathetically drawn, and her character arc is believable and engaging. The secondary characters are well-rounded and appealing too; in particular Hugo’s thoughts and motivations make you like him very much.
I loved the language and the way the book is structured- both very much of the period. There’s a clever device for introducing the chapters, which was a particular favourite of mine; it both sets the tone of the chapter, gives you a hint of the content, and added together describes quite neatly the course and hazards involved in falling in love!

Here’s Chapter Sixteen’s:
“The Island of Perseverance, on the opposite side, is good if the travellers be on a right course; further lies the Island of Obstinacy.” Should be part of every divorce counsellor’s toolkit…
The author has the knack of allowing you inside first one character’s head, then another – so it was possible to follow along with every twist of the all-too-familiar comedy of errors that the lovers managed to achieve – and then to sigh with relief as they finally managed to start unpicking all the things unsaid and assumed, and get their relationship back on course! I was very impressed with the delicacy of the love scenes. Poor old Lallie has had the worst kind of birds-and-bees advice – and this is Hugo’s thoughts on the matter…
“Lallie vielded sweetly to him in bed, it was true, but, in the depths of his heart, he must admit that she did not respond as ardently as he would like and always at the end there was that little sigh, as if she was glad that he had finished. So what have you to complain about, he asked himself savagely. That your wife is not as fond as you would wish? You can hardly tell her you wish she were less inanimate…”

As well as the bedchamber, we are transported to some sumptuous Regency feasts and balls. The author’s descriptions of each, along with the complicated rules of politesse involved, are delightful, and add a great deal to the atmosphere of the book. It’s here that the quality of Ms Kullman’s research is clearest – but never heavy. She concludes the book with one of my favourite things – a Historical Note that clearly explains what is real and what is not, and what accommodations have been made to the story.

Very few, it turns out!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, for a number of reasons; I loved the period accuracy, the skill with which the author engages the reader, and the delicacy of the love story itself. I’d definitely recommend it - having finished this one, I’ve bought her first – this is an author with an effortlessly beautiful voice, and I want to read more.



About the authorCatherine Kullman was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for over twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. She has a keen sense of history and of connection with the past which so often determines the present. Fascinated by people, she loves a good story, especially when characters come to life in a book.
She has always enjoyed writing, loves the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. She enjoys plotting and revels in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. In addition, she is fanatical about language, especially using the right language as it would have been used during the period about which she is writing. But rewarding as all this craft is, she says there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.
Catherine's novels are set in the newly created United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the extended Regency period. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and more than a decade of war that ended in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 are all events that continue to shape our modern world. It was a time of revolution and inspiration, still a patriarchal world where women had few or no rights, but they lived and loved and died, making the best lives they could for themselves and their children. And they began to raise their voices, demanding equality and emancipation.
At the same time, the aristocracy-led society was under attack from those who demanded social and political reform, while the industrial revolution saw the beginning of the transfer of wealth and ultimately power to those who knew how to exploit the new technologies.
Links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Facebook; website.


About the reviewer: Nicky Moxey lives in the middle of rural Suffolk, UK, and is owned by a slinky black cat who's far too clever for her own good. In her spare time, she is an amateur historian/archaeologist, and in non-work daylight hours is usually out on a field somewhere with a metal detector and/or a trowel. She has added quite a few things to the Heritage England Record and the Portable Antiquities Scheme; but what really fascinates her is the stories behind the artefacts. Her first historical novel is about the story of a local boy made good - Wimer the Chaplain was born in Dodnash in Suffolk of a poor Saxon family, but made it to be a confidant of Henry ll, holding down the job of High Sheriff for all Norfolk and Suffolk. Then he gave it all up and came home to found a Priory... finding the original site of that Priory (not where it's shown on the map) is still one of Nicky's proudest discoveries. This should be published in the second half of 2017, touch wood. She also has a self-published series of children’s’ short stories about Henry Baker, a boy who finds a magic pencil on the way to school - she has no idea where these come from, but enjoys writing them immensely! 
Nicky's website can be found at nickymoxey.com

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Diana talks to Toni Mount, creator of the inimitable Sebastian Foxley



Hi Toni. I am really happy that you agreed to pop in and talk on this leg of your Blog Tour. I enjoyed reading and reviewing you latest book, The Colour of Murder, so much. For people who want to follow Toni's blog tour, here are the remaining dates:
3/2/18 Author Interview www.thereview2014.blogspot.com 
7/2/18 The Tower of London - www.medievalists.net 
10/2/18 Royal Witchcraft www.onthetudortrail.com 
17/2/18 George Duke of Clarence – www.historytheinterestingbits.com 
24/2/18 Bedlam Hospital www.theanneboleynfiles.com

First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked, so now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it! 

How and why did you choose the name Sebastian Foxley for your hero of ‘The Colour of ...’ series of medieval whodunits?
I saw a medieval painting of poor St Sebastian stuck with arrows like a pin-cushion. The expression on his face was of long-suffering but determination and I knew that’s how my hero should be so he became Sebastian. I invented the surname – I think foxes are clever, ingenious creatures and just added ‘ley’. Realising there might be a place called Foxley, I checked maps and found there are at least three villages with that name: in Wiltshire, Northamptonshire and Norfolk. I chose the last county for my hero’s place of origin because East Anglia was known for producing scribes of high standard in medieval times, so that gave me his family background.

What is the genre you are best known for?
Medieval whodunits, obviously, but my first publications were all non-fiction ‘popular’ history books with an academic slant.

If your latest book (The Colour of Murder, available on Amazon, published by MadeGlobal) was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
Eddie Redmaine would be great – if it happens soon before he grows too old as Seb is only 25.

What made you choose this genre?
As a reader, crime novels set in any era or location are my favourite. My passion and my work concern medieval history, so it seemed obvious to combine my research with a crime story.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
In my research, I use original documents known as Court Rolls. These are records of court cases, often incomplete, so we know the crime alleged and who stands accused but maybe not the verdict. Sometimes we are told the verdict and the punishment but not the crime. It’s fun to be able to fill in the gaps. Coroners’ records also give me ideas for ‘unusual’ means of dispatching a victim.


Favourite picture or work of art?
Not just one picture but a whole series and certainly a work of art: ‘The Hastings Book of Hours’ with its exquisite miniatures and marginalia that are so well observed from nature. Secretly, I know Seb Foxley probably produced it or one just like it. 

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
Always loads of ideas... one already almost complete is a Victorian crime thriller: ‘The Death Collector’.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I won a school prize for a story I wrote at Junior School when I was 11. Never really stopped since.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Love it.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
No rituals or routines – never a creature of habit (too boring) but I do have a favourite mug with guinea pigs on it.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Family – except when I’m on a roll at my PC, then my characters take over.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I’m doing all of them already – teaching and telling people and writing about history in a way that makes it fun.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Coffee and Pink – I discovered White Zinfandel on holiday in California long before it became fashionable in England.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I don’t do much planning but often start with a few disparate ideas for situations and characters I want to combine. A couple of pages of notes are my preliminary starting point. I’m of the ‘Stephen King School of Seat-of-the Pants Method’. That’s what he calls it: put a character in a situation and see what they do. The only ‘plan’ I use is a chapter by chapter note of what’s happening so I can refer back to earlier incidents and keep track but I write this up after a chapter has been written.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
Nothing fancy but quite large and well spaced to make it pleasurable and easier to read, as well as less daunting to look at than vast swathes of text.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
One that explains how King Richard III shipped the little ‘Princes in the Tower’ to safety in Burgundy – if such a thing exists.

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
Oh, yes. That happens when the writing is really going well. They often surprise or occasionally shock me. If they do that to me then they’ll probably do it to the reader too, so I try to allow them their freedom and adjust the story as I go. It’s great fun.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I’ve got folders and folders – both hard copy and on computer – of research that was done for teaching courses and writing non-fiction. And it’s not unknown for me to ‘google’ stuff as well. In the past, I’ve visited museums, libraries and countless historic venues in England and on the Continent. Last summer, we visited Foxley village in Norfolk to research the background for a forthcoming novella ‘The Colour of Death’ when the hero returns to his roots. Next summer, we’re off to Iceland where I have it in mind to set a story about medieval explorers – maybe.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
No. Real characters can’t be erased from history just to suit me. I might reduce their role or tamper a bit with their personality. For example, in some of ‘The Colour of’ series, Sir Robert Percy plays an important part. He really was a friend to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but not so well known. There is no description of him, so I made one up and also gave him a knighthood earlier in his career than actually was the case. In general, I like to keep to the facts and work them into the story.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
I prefer not to.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
I do have to be careful after a long stint of fiction writing to ‘switch over’ if I have a magazine article to write. For example, I’ve written about witchcraft and alchemy in my latest novel and also had a couple of articles about the same subject to produce. I had to forget any of the ‘invented’ facts I included in the novel. Mind you, the real story was whacky enough to be all fictitious.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
Love Seb – obviously. Came to loath Lord Lovell in ‘The Colour of Poison’, much to the distress of fans of Richard III since Lovell – the real person – was a close friend of Richard and in their opinion the beloved king could never have been friends with such a nasty piece of work. Sorry guys. This was one of those occasions when the character took over the story – nothing to do with me! (Lovell surprised me! but whilst his character in the book is not based on fact, it has made me reappraise my view of him. I will be looking at him again in depth with a different eye as soon as I have time. Diana.)

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Apart from crime thrillers etc. I enjoy reading recipe books, especially very old ones with quirky ingredients and, preferably, in modern books, ones with full colour pictures to tempt me. I never cook anything like them but it’s fun to imagine.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
A soothing hot chocolate since the story is set in snowy February and perhaps a brandy to restore the reader towards the end. Better not say more than that.

Last but not least... favourite author?
Lee Child – brilliant. What’s not to love about footloose Jack Reacher but Child doesn’t write fast enough so I supplement with Scott Mariani’s Ben Hope action thrillers always with a historical element. Still never enough though so Conan Doyle, J.D. Robb, C.J. Sansom, Ann Swinfen, Edward Marston and James Patterson are all high on my list and any other who catches my eye.

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Hello! I'm Toni,

I'm a writer, history teacher and speaker, based in south-east England. I bring history alive with my books, courses and talks, based on thirty years of personal and academic study. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for history and have academic, research and teaching qualifications - please browse these pages to find out how I can share our history with you...
To get updates on my Seb Foxley books copy and follow this link .My series of murder mysteries is set in the stinking streets of medieval London and features the talented yet humble artist, Seb Foxley.  

My first novel "The Colour of Poison" was a huge success and continues to receive praise from around the world. Readers asked for more stories, so now there are now short stories to read, such as "The Colour of Gold" and "The Colour of Betrayal" between the full length books "The Colour of Cold Blood" and the forthcoming "The Colour of Murder". You can now also follow Seb's adventures at his own website www.SebastianFoxley.com and download a free bonus book "The Foxley Letters".
My latest non-fiction book "A Year in the Life of Medieval England" looks at real events that occurred on everyday of a medieval year.

"Medieval Medicine" is the paperback version of my highly successful hardback "Dragon's Blood and Willow Bark..."

"Everyday Life in Medieval London" is my most popular non-fiction and made it to No.1 at www.goodreads.com, and "Medieval Housewives" was voted a "Favourite book" of that year.
I can sign your ebook at https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/tonihistorian.

After many years of teaching history to adults, several of my courses are now available online at www.medievalcourses.com

Please visit my website www.tonimount.com or follow me at www.twitter.com/tonihistorian or www.facebook.com/toni.mount.10




© Diana Milne January 2017 © Toni Mount, 11th Dec 2017