Continuing our Sunday Series
of taking a look at some fabulous authors!
Hello, Marian 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. I’m 62, and I’ve been writing all my life, in stolen moments from my previous two careers as a plant scientist and an educator. I’m also a birder, an avocation that has taken me to all seven continents and some fairly remote places, and, a wannabe landscape historian (which is all Time Team’s fault, of course.) A child of English post-war immigrants to Canada, I grew up with English children’s books and an amateur historian father, and somewhere in there my love of history, landscape archaeology, Arthurian legend and writing coalesced into the creation of a pseudo-post-Roman European world, with a lot of very familiar aspects, and some very speculative ones as well.
Other than that, I’ve been married to the same man for 39 years, currently have one cat, and have been retired from salaried work for five years.
Q. Where do you live?
A. Well, my Twitter bio says Canada/UK…but it’s mostly Canada. All Canada, until the pandemic’s done, but we used to spend our winters in Norfolk, and hope to again. For those of you who are rolling your eyes at the idea of winter in England, I don’t like heat, I don’t like snow, I like walking, big skies, and space, and I’m a birder. Norfolk is perfect.
Q. If you had a choice to live anywhere – where would it be?
A. Norfolk, in a perfect, no Brexit, no pandemic world.
Q. Modern house, old cottage, castle or something else?
A. Modernish house. We’ve renovated an old cottage and an old house, and I’m too old myself now to do it again.
Q. Cat, dog or budgie?
A. Cat. I’ve spent a lot of my life travelling, and that’s just more difficult with a dog.
Q. Are you a ‘dining room for dinner’, or a ‘tray on your lap in front of the TV’ person?
A. For the sake of my clothes, I do better sitting at a table, otherwise dinner tends to decorate my jumper. [Helen... Oh I'm glad I'm not the only one!]
Q. TV preferences – documentary, drama, comedy, soap or thriller?
A. Any except soaps. But it must be British comedy.
Q. What was your first published novel about?
A. A young fisherwoman whose land is threatened by invasion, and the consequences of her decision to heed her leader’s call and learn to fight.
Q. What was your last novel about?
A. Seventeen years later, the daughter of that young fisherwoman is learning there are reasons for secrets, while the man explaining that to her is reliving a painful period in his own past.
Q. Do you write in one genre or several?
A. All my novels to date are historical fantasy (albeit without magic); I have a couple of published urban fantasy short stories, and some poetry.
Q. Have you ever considered exploring a totally different genre?
A. Yes. I’m half-seriously writing a cozy mystery with a friend.
Q. If you could, which two of your characters would you like to invite to spend an afternoon with you?
A. Only two? Then it has to be Lena, my original MC…and Sorley, the male MC of my last novel.
Q. Where would you go / what would you do?
Well, first off, they both love the same man, so I want to hear about how they handle that ‘off-page’ (I know how they do ‘on-page’, after all.) Sorley’s a musician, so I want to hear him really sing the song I wrote for him, instead of someone else’s interpretation. Lena’s not good at sitting around just talking, so perhaps we’d go riding. And share some wine, somewhere.
Q. How do you prefer to travel? Plane, boat, car?
A. Planes are necessary to get across oceans, but I love road trips. We’ve spent thousands of hours and thousands of kilometres in a car, throughout North America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and a dozen other countries.
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. He is short, and his feet are bare, large and hairy. In that moment I realize I am looking at a hobbit. I blink in disbelief, and he vanishes. I will spend the rest of my life wondering if I saw what I thought I saw – and did he vanish simply because Tolkien said hobbits were very good at avoiding humans, or was there a timeslip, and I saw Bilbo before he gave up the ring?
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 Lord of the Rings
2. The Divine Comedy
3. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
4. The complete works of Homer
5. A Latin grammar, so perhaps I would finally learn the language.
6. A very fat blank book (with a pen that never runs out tucked inside) so I can write.
7. A bird book covering wherever this island is.
8. The complete works of Tennyson.
Q. What sort of island would you prefer, and why? (e.g. Desert Island… Hebridian Island…)
A. Somewhere like Fair Isle or one of the Shetlands…space, solitude, and very good birds.
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. My binoculars, please.
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