18 October 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Shauna Roberts on CLAIMED BY THE ENEMY

This week, we're pleased to welcome author SHAUNA ROBERTS with her latest release, CLAIMED BY THE ENEMY, set in ancient times. One lucky visitor will get a free copy  of Claimed by the EnemyBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Crown Princess Nindalla knows the terrifying power of Sargon of Akkad's army: Ten years ago, it destroyed her home city and killed her parents. Now the nightmare is happening again. The Akkadians conquer her new home, Susa; make her a widow; and strip her of her rank. Nindalla vows to protect her children from her enemies by any means necessary, including marrying whoever can shield them best. With plots swirling around her, can she trust her instincts to tell friends from foes?

Farm boy Ur-sag-enki was forced to become a soldier in the Akkadian army ten years ago after it destroyed his home and left him with nothing. When the Akkadians conquer Susa, he is awarded its governorship. He looks forward to settling down to the normal family life he craves. First, though, he must keep control of Susa despite enemies who exploit his inexperience, and he must gain legitimacy by persuading beautiful former princess Nindalla to marry him. But can he win her heart when it was his hand that struck down her husband? 

Winner of the 2014 National Readers Choice Award for "Novel with Romantic Elements."

Winner of the 2015 Romancing the Novel Published Author Contest in the "Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance" category.

**Q&A with Shauna Roberts**

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a baseball player—I rejected sexually stereotyped behavior from an early age, much to the despair of my mother—or a missionary. In sixth or seventh grade, I was interested in joining a time-travel agency. I figured it would be based in NASA, so I wrote to NASA and asked to be put on a list to be one of their time travelers. They sent back some nice color brochures on space travel.

What are some jobs you have held?

I have worked as a store clerk, receptionist, secretary, playground supervisor, switchboard operator, archaeologist, production person at a newspaper, production person at a magazine, data entry person, magazine writer, magazine editor, copyeditor, teacher, and now fiction writer.

Where did your love of books come from?

Everyone is born loving stories, I believe. What separates humans from other species is the arts: storytelling, music, painting, personal adornment, sculpture; perhaps religious ritual should be put in the category of art as well. We’ve been telling stories and making music and wearing jewelry at least since our beginnings as a species. Scientists have collected evidence that our brains are hardwired to understand the world as a series of stories.

Our society provides stories in many forms, and people get siphoned away from reading books to exchanging gossip and watching television series, movies, baseball games, and boxing. I stayed a book reader for several reasons. The quality of stories was usually better; my aunt, a librarian, gave me many wonderful books for birthdays and Christmas; and I advanced quickly as a reader, so by second grade I checking out the much more interesting books from the sixth-grade section of the library.

What do you read in your spare time?

I’m one of those people who loves to read so much that I’ll read the sides of cereal boxes. But given a choice, my favorite genres of books (listed in no particular order) are historical mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, ancient and Medieval history, biography, and gardening.

Are there underrepresented ideas in your books?

As an anthropologist, I find that speculative fiction and historical fiction often give short shrift to the parts of life that through most of human existence have been most important. Religion, for example: Religious observance shaped the course of the day, week, month, and year, and religious belief underlay cultural practices and personal moral choices, yet in most historical fiction, religion plays a minor role or no role at all.

Knowledge of and closeness to the natural world is another example. In almost every era and place, people worked outside, even doing chores outside that could have been done in the home. People knew the names of trees, animals, plants, etc., and their uses. The positions of the sun, moon, and stars had meaning. People knew they were part of nature; every dead relative’s decaying body they washed and dressed was a stark reminder. Yet characters in historical fiction and fantasy set in unindustrialized societies too often have the same lack of awareness of the natural world that characterizes modern Americans who spend their days inside.

The arts, of course, form the core of human personality and organize the world, yet are missing from most fiction.

To me, a book is much less interesting if it isn’t accurate to the time period and technology level. So I try to plan my own stories with my anthropologist glasses on, making sure the society is consistent with the geology and geography, that the multifold parts of the culture mesh together believably, and that people’s beliefs are consistent with their knowledge of the world. I spend a lot of time worldbuilding before I start to write.

Why did you choose to write in your genres?

When I first tried my hand at fiction, it seemed logical to write in one of the fictional genres I read most at the time: historical mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. How to put together a mystery was a mystery to me; fantasy and science fiction seemed much easier. 

I started writing historical fiction because nobody was writing the historical fiction I most wanted to read.

Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, definitely. When I come back from Europe or Canada, my suitcase has lots of the dark chocolate bars we can’t get here.

 Learn more about author Shauna Roberts

Website and blog:  http://www.ShaunaRoberts.com

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