26 January 2014

Author Interview: Alison Stuart

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Alison Stuart again with her latest novel, CLAIMING OF THE REBEL'S HEART. The author will offer a free copy of Claiming of the Rebel's Heart to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's  author interview for a chance to win. Here's the blurb.
War divides families…love unites hearts…

Herefordshire, England 1643

As the English Civil War divides England and tears families apart, Kinton Lacey castle is one of the brave few loyal to the roundhead cause.

With her father away, Deliverance Felton will do whatever it takes to defend her family home against the royalist forces ranged against it. She can shoot and wield a sword as well as any man and anything she needs to know about siege warfare she has learned from a book...but no book can prepare her for what is to come.

Captain Luke Collyer, soldier of fortune and a man with his own reasons for loyalty to the parliamentary cause, is sent to relieve the castle. Everything he knows about siege warfare in general and women in particular he has learned from experience, but when it comes to Deliverance Felton has he met his match?

Deliverance will not give up her command lightly and Luke will have to face a challenge to his authority as fierce as the cavalier foe outside the walls. He will do whatever it takes to win Deliverance’s trust but will he run the risk of losing his own, well guarded, heart?

**Author Interview with Alison Stuart**

What inspired you to write this book?

Hi Lisa… it is great to be here and I particularly appreciate that this is blog is for “unusual historicals”. My historical passion is the period of the English Civil War 1642-1660 - cavaliers and roundheads. Like the American Civil War, this was a dark period that pitted brother against brother, father against son and ... feisty women who were often left alone to protect their family home and assets.  One such woman is the heroine of Claiming the Rebel’s Heart, Deliverance Felton. She is a composite character of two real life heroines who stoutly defended their husband’s castles – one against the royalists and one against the parliamentarians. I was particularly taken with the story of Brilliana Harley and her stout defence of Brampton Bryan Castle which, if you are interested, you can read about on one of my Hoydens and Firebrands blogs…click HERE

When did you first become interested in the English Civil War?

My father had a deep and abiding love of English history and he used to read to me every Sunday afternoon. One of the books he chose was The King’s General by Daphne duMaurier which is about the royalist cause in the west country during the English Civil War. I’m not sure what it was about that book (which was based on real events and characters) but I just fell into the period and devoured any information I could lay my hands on. I still have a scrap book somewhere in the loft with articles I cut from magazines. There was a family legend (long since disproved) that our family was descended from one of the men who signed the death warrant of Charles I. True or not, it probably spurred me on!

What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
Having lived and breathed the English Civil War since I was young, the historical research is now just part of my cellular structure. Antonia Fraser’s wonderful book on women’s lives in the seventeenth century… “The Weaker Vessel”… first introduced me to the story of Brilliana and the other women, such as Charlotte, the Countess of Derby who stoutly resisted Fairfax’s attempts to take her home, Lathom House. This story took me little more work in tracking down information about siege tactics and weaponry of that period, but that’s half the fun! And if you want to know the origin of the phrase “hoist on his own petard” you will have to read the book.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I dislocated a shoulder in a skiing accident and found myself stuck in a ski chalet with nothing but a notebook computer for company. With a view of snow gums and crystal white snow, I started writing the book that is BY THE SWORD. As the desire to finish it gripped me, I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.  Of course it took me over ten years to become published. My first two books (which are part of the uncompleted  “King’s Men” series – Book 3 coming soon!), were set in the English Civil War, of course, but in the days before epublishing, mainstream publishers were just not prepared to take a risk on an ‘unusual’ period of history, however much they like the story. I had editors who loved the stories, only to have the book rejected by the marketing department. Thank heavens for the digital world that has opened up opportunities for books set in different periods of history to find readers and for readers, like me, who are actively looking for books set in specific periods to find the books!

Do you write full-time?

A few years ago I was deep into the corporate world, at the expense of my writing. I am a lawyer by trade and I had achieved the level of senior executive. A particularly nasty corporate restructure saw me hurled sideways off the “treadmill” and I took advantage of the opportunity it gave me to write full time for about 15 months.

However I am probably better with a little discipline in my life and I have returned to a quieter, gentler and much more rewarding job for 2 days a week working for a charity as their company secretary.

I travel quite a bit and I do find the “business” of writing and life in general very distracting so finding time to actually write is a problematical (and one of my New Year’s resolutions)! However last time I travelled I put “writer” on my immigration form and found it provokes interesting discussions (of the positive kind) with customs officials.

What’s next?

Currently on the desk top I am venturing into the world of the “series” and Claiming the Rebel’s Heart is intended as the first of three books about the Harcourt family. The second (currently untitled and in its infancy) will focus on Luke’s brother, Nicholas and the third, their sister, Elizabeth. I am looking forward to extending this story across three critical years of the English Civil War.

Just for something completely different, in May I have a Regency romantic suspense, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, coming out with Escape Publishing.

Learn more about author Alison Stuart at:

Twitter: @AlisonStuart14