14 October 2012

Guest Blog: Alison Stuart

This week, we’re welcoming historical fiction author Alison Stuart whose title GATHER THE BONES finds two lovers haunted by the mysteries of the pastAlison is here to talk about the novel and offer an ebook copy to a lucky winner. Here's the blurb:

The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband's reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.

A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul's great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches  out to them from the pages. 

Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen's husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.
**Q&A with Alison Stuart**

A little introduction about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Kenya in the dying days of the British Empire. We moved to Australia when I was ten. When I was in my final year at University, where I was studying History and Law, I did the unthinkable (at least to those who knew me)-I joined the Army Reserve. During a navigation exercise in officer training, a (very!) handsome young man offered to share his pencil with me, our eyes locked...and the rest is history. A long and interesting part time career in a peace time army ensued and  I rose to the rank of Major in the legal services. A move to Singapore in 2000 ended both our military careers. However the shared interest in the military and military history in particular continued and in Singapore we retraced the events leading to the fall of Singapore in 1942 and have gone on to explore battlefields in America and England. In 2005, we finally made it to Belgium and Northern France, a trip that coincided with Anzac day on the Somme. Walking the still visible trenches and craters of the Western Front had an enormous impact on us both and sowed the seeds of GATHER THE BONES.

What type of romance do you write?
I write historical romance but GATHER THE BONES is a departure from my passion (the Stuart era). It is a venture into a more modern time with a bit of a supernatural thrown in for good measure. Great fun to write.

Baddesley Clinton
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration can come from the strangest sources. Most often it is a building. Holdston Hall in GATHER THE BONES is loosely based on Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire just as Harvington Hall was the inspiration for BY THE SWORD. Something about old buildings just makes me want to create the stories around them.  Other times, it can be a snippet of otherwise useless information, such as the woman who hurled a brick at Oliver Cromwell that inspired THE KING’S MAN.

What was the first thing you had published?
At school, my best friend and I dreamed of being writers (something she achieved before me!). We used to sit in the willow tree at lunch with our latest magnum opus…Hers was futuristic sci-fi and mine, yes, historical romance set in the English Civil War. My first real publication came with the short story anthologies published in Singapore (In the Shadow of the Merlion).

Who is your perfect hero and why?
My perfect hero is not ‘perfect’. I particularly dislike alpha heroes who have it all – brains/brawn/success. I like a man who has suffered, who is carrying something from their past which affects their present and gives them a vulnerability at odds with their chosen profession. All my heroes have dark secrets or tormented pasts that have changed their lives irrevocably and which sets them apart from their contemporaries. In Paul Morrow, I have a hero who has survived a terrible war and does not believe he will ever be good enough for the woman he loves.

As an adult, you’ve traveled quite a bit also.  What’s your favorite place?
Tough question! I’ve been so fortunate with my life and every place I’ve visited has something different and special to offer.  In the US, I adored Washington and New Orleans. In Europe, I have a great affection for England, but would love to spend more time in the south of France and Tuscany, and in Asia how do you compare the ruins of Angkor Wat with the marvelous Himalayas?  But you know, of all the places I visit, Australia is still my very favourite place in the world.  When we get a chance to escape into the outback or the bush-that is where both my husband and I feel at peace with the world.

Thank you, Alison, and best of luck with Gather The Bones.

Find Alison at
Twitter:  @AlisonStuart14
Alison Stuart is also on Facebook.

Buy GATHER THE BONES at Amazon or through Lyrical