15 March 2009

Book Party: Anna C. Bowling

This week we're talking with long-time contributor Anna C. Bowling about her latest release from Awe-Struck Press, ORPHANS IN THE STORM. Welcome!

The Hidden Countess:
A black robe brought Jonnet Killey to the Isle of Man and a black robe would take her away to the noble English family she has never known.

The King's Man:
All Simon Burke wants is to carry out his mission to return Jonnet to her birth mother and secure the funds to help finance Charles Stuart's return to British soil.

An Adventure in Exile:
A new life awaits Jonnet, with a mother on the brink of madness and a treacherous uncle who will stop at nothing to keep Jonnet's inheritance to himself. While the end of exile nears, danger mounts. Can Simon and Jonnet depend on their new found love to sustain them while the storm of treachery rages around them?

So, how did you get started with this latest project?

Every novel has a story of how it came to be, and ORPHANS IN THE STORM does owe a tip of the hat to a roleplaying game that didn't work. A friend had been wanting me to play for a while, and gave me some parameters for the game. My character had to be a native of the British Isles, but not English, Scots or Irish. Hmm, that would mostly leave Welsh or Manx. I'd never done much research on the Isle of Man, but what the heck, it was for a game...only it wasn't.

Due to various vicissitudes of life, the game, which had a fantasy element, didn't pan out, but my character, who introduced herself right off as Jonnet, wasn't quite done with me. She was, however, done with the fantasy element, and by this time, the Isle of Man had begun to pull me in like the yellow fog known as Mananan's Cloak. Which is how Jonnet first sets eyes on Simon Burke, a hero who definitely made an impression on me. Though I borrowed his family name from a favorite character in a classic old school romance, Simon is very much his own man, driven by an unflagging sense of right and wrong, and weighed down by regret. When these two met, I knew I'd found my next couple and they would lead me somewhere special.

What is different about the research for this book?

British Isles historicals have always been my first love, but another project with a collaborator fanned the flame of my interest in Dutch history, and as things would have it, British and Dutch history met in a very convenient time and place for Jonnet and Simon to begin their journey. I've always loved English Civil War historicals by authors such as Bertrice Small and Valerie Sherwood, so the chance to write one of my own was too good to pass up. I wanted to do something different, though, and so Jonnet and Simon's view of the conflict is from a special seat on the fringes.

The impoverished Charles II took refuge during his exile in the Low Countries, where his sister was queen, sometimes in her good graces, sometimes not. Loyal British subjects like my Simon Burke marshaled all the resources they could to fund Charles' return to British soil, and that sparked the perfect way for Simon and Jonnet to meet.

You have a special connection to your heroine in this story, yes? What is it?

Yes, Jonnet has a rather personal connection to me, because we are both adopted. While I have met a birth relative (Hi, Sally!)I know it's likely I may not meet others, and I wanted to explore something we don't often see in fictional depictions of reunions of birth parent and child; when things don't go well. Jonnet has always longed to meet her birth family, but her mother, Jacoba, trapped by grief and madness in a world of her own, can't see Jonnet for the fantasy she's woven of her ideal child. Not to mention an uncle who will stop at nothing to get what he believes is his.

Many of my stories deal with themes of identity, and of course a story dealing with the English Restoration is a natural for themes of, well, restoration. Here, Jonnet grapples with the question of what makes her, her. Is it nature or nurture or a bit of both, and how will she deal with receiving a birthright she didn't know she had? Simon must learn to let crippling guilt go if he is to accomplish anything of value, and the rest of their families in Dutch exile face the prospect of returning to an England vastly different from the one they left. I hope you will consider joining Jonnet, Simon and company on their adventure.


Thanks, Anna! ORPHANS IN THE STORM is available now through Awe-Struck Press, but leave a comment or question for Anna and you'll be entered in a drawing for a free copy. We'll pick a winner next Sunday. Good luck!