Continuing our Sunday Series
of taking a look at some fabulous authors!
Hello Mercedes, welcome to our Discovering Diamonds Guest Spot. Along with my readers and visitors I love to hear from authors who write wonderful stories. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book, box of chocs and glass of wine to hand!
Q. Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself...
A. Well, I'm a bit of a recluse these days (who isn't?) having reached my 65th year. I'm nicely settled into our log home that my husband and I designed and built almost twenty years ago. Writing has been my vocation ever since my college years, about the same time I fell in love with medieval history.
Q. Where do you live?
A. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and moved to New York when I was twenty-six to see the world—not a bad idea, as it turned out! Now I live in New Jersey near the Delaware River just ten miles north of where Washington crossed, so this region is deliciously quaint and it suits me very well.
Q. If you had a choice to live anywhere – where would it be?
A. I really love the Delaware River Valley, so I've found my ideal place. Although I think I'd love to have a weekender in Paris!
Q. Modern house, old cottage, castle or something else?
A. Old cottage or old stone house! Because this area sits between New York and Philadelphia, there was a lot of traffic in the colonial days between the two cities. Because of this, stone houses abound here and in my profession as a Realtor, I get to see the insides of these lovely properties.
Q. Cat, dog or budgie?
A. I love dogs but my lifestyle demands that I serve my cats (humans are staff, you know).
Q. Are you a ‘dining room for dinner’, or a ‘tray on your lap in front of the TV’ person?
A. I eat my formal meal at lunchtime, and this frees me up to indulge myself in cheese, crackers, and wine in the evening before my television—all over my lap. Oh, and pistachios.
Q. TV preferences – documentary, drama, comedy, soap or thriller?
A. We watch documentaries every night. It's ironic that YouTube has become our channel of choice. Though I will throw in an occasional drama series like Crown, or the Vikings.
Q. What was your first published novel about?
A. I followed my obsession about Macbeth, though my novel was actually about what happened to Banquo's heir. I had no idea that I was going to write historical fiction, but the story dragged me through the Norman Conquest and into Post-conquest Scotland. By the end I had left Macbeth far behind!
Q. What was your last novel about?
A. My most recent published novel was about the last days of Richard II's reign and his usurpation by Henry Bolingbroke. I just finished the first draft of the next book in the series about Henry IV and the first years of his troublesome reign.
Q. Do you write in one genre or several?
A. So far I have only written historical fiction in the Middle Ages. I may eventually jump forward a few more centuries, but I can't see writing in any other genre.
Q. Have you ever considered exploring a totally different genre?
A. Not at all. I have a very linear thought process and it seems that I can only interest myself in people that actually lived and events that actually took place. I'm not interested in made-up stuff. I know this is a limitation, but that's how I am wired!
Q. If you could, which two of your characters would you like to invite to spend an afternoon with you?
A. I would love to get to know Harold and Tostig Godwineson—especially Tostig. It's possible that a long afternoon together might precipitate an argument between them, but I have so many questions!
Q. Where would you go / what would you do?
A. I had planned to visit Rome this year, but that was pre-empted by you-know-what. It's still at the top of my list. I spent three days there in 1999, and needless to say it wasn't nearly enough. I would want to wear my feet out visiting all the archaeological sites. Ancient Rome is endlessly fascinating and I may end up there one day in my writing.
Q. How do you prefer to travel? Plane, boat, car?
A. I do enjoy a long car trip but you can't drive to Europe from here! Although America has tremendous vistas and wonderful parks, my interest in history is mainly European, so a plane ride will take me where I want to go!
Q. You are out for a walk. You see a chap sitting on a wall, looking right fed up – but there’s something odd about him... What? And what do you do?
A. In my younger days I would have had more self-assurance to approach him and strike up a conversation—see if I could make a distraction. Anymore, I'm sorry to say I'm much less confident of my "charm", and I would probably make a wide berth. I'm much more aware of my age these days, and I don't think I can come across the same way.
We have a long-running Radio programme here in the UK called Desert Island Discs on which celebrities talk about their life and select eight of their favourite discs... so changing that slightly...
Q. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what eight books would you want to find left in an abandoned hut? (There’s already a Bible, the Quran, and the complete works of Shakespeare)
1. The Three Musketeers
2. The Lord of the Rings (can I count that as one? If not, The Fellowship of the Ring)
3. The Vampire Lestat
4. The First Man in Rome (Colleen McCullough)
5. The Complete Sherlock Holmes
6. The White Company (Arthur Conan Doyle)
7. The Christmas Carol
8. Robinson Crusoe
Q. What sort of island would you prefer, and why? (e.g. Desert Island... Hebridian Island...)
A. A tropical island. I prefer warmth, and I love foliage. I can live with the insects.
Q. And you would be allowed one luxury item – what would you want it to be? (a boat or something to escape on isn’t allowed.)
A. A nice comfortable bed. I would spend a lot of time sleeping!