Review: Anna Belfrage Days of Sun and Glory Glorious Work of Medieval Fiction

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Review

In writing this review for Anna Belfrage’s Days of Sun and Glory (the second book in her new The King’s Greatest Enemy medieval history series), I am tasked with deciding how much more can I really say about Anna’s writing since I’ve reviewed her gaining on 10 times now. Her writing is always fast-paced enough to keep a reader turning the page, her pacing and plot(s) flawless, her dialogue authentic and witty, her characters fully dimensional and her research dynamic. It’s still the case in Days of Sun Glory, with the characters who carried over from In the Shadow of the Storm growing in depth and connectivity with me as a reader.

As I longed to read more of Alex and Matthew Graham in The Graham Saga each time a new book arrived, her first historical time travel series, I also was happy to meet again Kit and Adam in The King’s Greatest Enemy series, which is not time travel related but takes us back to medieval times during the reign of Edward II.

There is a lot in common in the relationship between Kit and Adam as in the relationship between the main protagonists in her first series. They are both stubborn, bicker and love both with abandon, and are determined and kind people. However, they are forging their own way now with their supporting cast of characters. Many authors have a difficult time with fully creating supporting characters, but Anna does not. She always seems to produce just the right amount who are all crucial for varying reasons and we get to know and love them just the same. We see Kit and Adam now as survivors at the hands of the “villain” of the book, Hugh Dispenser, who is a favorite of Edward II.We see how they have grown from this and how they gather those around them and continue with their life during this tumultuous time.

I am not one to give too much plot away in reviews, but I will say that while the first book set up a lot of background knowledge for us in regards to characters and the situations of the times, as well as locale, and introduced us to the personalities of main players, this second book is able to take off into a more moving story. Though you can read them stand alone, I think with these  you’ll want to start with book one for a full immersive read. If you really want to start with book two you can, but you won’t have the depth of the characters or what they’ve been through. They fight against the odds of this frantic time in history, but yet we also see much of their own romance unfold.

Beyond Kit and Adam and their supporting cast, Anna also does a good job on presenting Edward II, Isabella, and Hugh Despenser as well. Such a triangle those three present! She brings history to life with her research and with her deductions of characters and actions that she then applies to the page. She knows a great deal about the 14th century and rebellion. With this foundation, she inserts her fictional characters of Adam and Kit and weaves them seamlessly into the landscape of turmoil.

This is quick read, as in it keeps making your turn the pages, but it is about 500 pages in actual length. It seems daunting to start, but in reality you’ll be lost in it and not think about it. She propels you through the pages.

Overall, I think Days of Sun and Glory as a second book offer great growth to the series as we learn with characters and, also, due to its immersion into historical detail and action. The intrigue and internal and external struggles will make you not able to sleep a wink because you won’t put the book down.

02_days-of-sun-and-gloryDays of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2)

by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Matador
eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages

Series: The King’s Greatest Enemy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.

Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.

Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.

Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_annna_belfrage-2015Anna Belfrage, Biography

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, published in July 2016.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/daysofsunandgloryblogtour/

Hashtags: #DaysofSunandGloryBlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Giveaway #HFVBTBlogTour

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Anna_Belfrage

 

 

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Interview: Author Anna Belfrage Sits Down to Discuss Writing

Author Anna Belfrage is no stranger to this site. She’s been here numerous times for her beloved series – the time travel historical novels of The Graham Saga – and now, she’s been back already a few times for her new medieval series, The King’s Greatest Enemy. The second book in that series, Days of Sun and Glory, released this year and we talk about that among other new and upcoming adventures she has under her sleeve. Enjoy our discussion below her magnificent cover…..

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Hi Anna! Welcome back to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It seems we were just talking about gingerbread and tea and Christmas traditions when your first The King’s Greatest Enemy novel, In the Shadow of the Storm, came out this past December 2015. Time has flown since then, and it’s already September of 2016 and time for another book by you! What have you been up to? What’s some good news for the year?

Anna: Hi Erin – and it is so nice to be back here in your cozy corner of the blogosphere. Yes, time does fly, doesn’t it, and this wonderful, warm summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. As to what I’ve been doing, well, I guess it comes as no surprise that I’ve been writing. A lot. As to good news, I am rather chuffed that Days of Sun and Glory has already been named a Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice – and that I have mastered the art of making mojitos.

Mojitos are my absolute favorite so I probably should have had you make our drinks today! Your “Anna” chair is still here for you, so have a seat so we can talk about the second book, Days of Sun and Glory. You’re visiting me so it’s about 99 degrees and humid in Ohio. I don’t even think I shall turn on the oven! Shall we have some sort of iced tea or lemonade – I have sun tea with mint leaves on the porch or freshly squeezed lemonade with fruit? What’s your pleasure?

Anna: The lemonade! Throws me back to my childhood in Colombia, where every day when I came home after school there was lemonade and “morenitas” (chocolate-dipped thin cookies) waiting for me.

Erin: I will get the pitcher and pour us some drinks as we cool off in the corner of my library. I baked muffins early morning, peach and blueberry, so I will pull some of those out for us. We can get started to chat a little about your new series and new book once one of us doesn’t have our mouth full. We can look at your beautiful cover until then. How important to you are these beautiful covers? Do you think they assist you in selling your books?

Anna: I do. I actually start the cover production relatively early in my creative process, as I find the effort of defining the visual presentation of my book acts as an inspiration for the writing as such. I want the cover to hint at the content of the book, so it is important for me to have a “medieval” flavor on this cover. I hope I – or rather my fabulous cover artist, Oliver Bennett at MoreVisual – have succeeded in delivering that.

Erin: We explained last time that you ended your time slip The Graham Saga series (Waaaaa!!! Readers – if you haven’t read this, get it NOW!) and started a new series which is not time slip at all, but medieval historical fiction surrounding Edward II and his wife Isabella of France, set in the 1320s! We had a great interview on the start of your new series and the first book, as I stated, back in December. It’s still a good read for new readers, so they can get to that from this link HERE.

 

As you began writing the second book in this series, did you intentionally write it so it could be read as a standalone or did you intend have it join one book to the next? Of course either way your characters carry over….

Anna: I think it is important the various books in a series can be read as standalones. A new reader should not groan and put it down after fifty pages, thinking it is too much of an effort to catch up with the characters. Having said that, I believe the books are enhanced by being read in order.

Erin: Because I’ve had you on so often, I believe I’ve asked you this before, but let’s look into this again. Did you write all of these books at one time, then split them up and stagger out their release dates? Or do you write each one between the other?

Anna: Ha! Not a question I recall you having asked before. In general, I write all the books in a series before I start publishing them. But I write them as separate books, not as one long story I then have to go back and split up.

Erin: I have asked it, but I always like to bring that up. It’s a unique of doing it I think most authors writing a series of books should try! Why did you choose to do it this way and was it easier that way or more difficult?

Anna: Well, as a reader I hate it when I start a series and it takes several years between installments. So, by having all the books written, I can release them at adequate intervals. Also, by writing the complete series, I can ensure I have consistency throughout – and I also have a major problem in leaving my characters hanging, so I have to find out what happens to them, all the way.  Having said all this, the fact that the books are written does not mean they’re finished. Book 3 in the Kit and Adam series is now on its way into the next editing phase which culminates with an external editor taking over.

Erin: Did you do your research all at one time? What did you do for research? Go to libraries? Read? Travel? Tell us some of your best research stories…

Anna: For The King’s Greatest Enemy (in which Days of Sun and Glory is number 2 of 4) I’d done most of my general research prior to writing. Once into the writing, I have a drafted timeline of “real” events to consider as I develop the novel, but there are frequent examples of me highlighting a paragraph or a word in yellow, which means I must revert and research further. I do this after the first draft, so as not to interrupt the flow. I read a lot on line, but I also buy nice, heavy books I can spend hours reading (very distracting at times).  And I do travel to the various locations – I find it important to have a feel for the general lay of the land.

Best research stories – hmm… I must admit I was rather surprised when I read Ian Mortimer’s meticulous descriptions of items confiscated from Roger Mortimer (and no, they are NOT related) when Roger was attained, only to realise this particular baron had a thing about butterflies – he even had a tunic embroidered with them. Whimsical – but also very humanizing.

Erin: You had to form to new characters with this series, and we talked on that the last time, but as you went further into your series, did you hear them conversing with you and each other as you did the Grahams? Were you as connected to them? Why or why not?

Anna: Poof! Do they talk? OMG! My head is full of them. Not only Kit and Adam, Roger Mortimer and Isabella, but also Matthew and Alex (Matthew and Adam have bonded over several mugs of good ale) and various other Graham family members. Unfortunately, these my beloved chatterboxes are at their most active just after midnight, which has a detrimental impact on sleep.

Erin: How accurate did you strive to make your historical accounts and characters in the book? The guest post you wrote for my readers the other day, which they can read HERE, talked about forming Isabella. Do you think overall you captured close to their character of record, or did they take you in new directions?

Anna: I think it is more or less impossible to know what my “real” historical characters were truly like as people. In some cases, we know what they did and when they did it, but human beings are so much more than the sum of their actions, and from a distance of seven centuries, how are we to assess their motivations, their fears and hopes? I do try to stick to the known events, and often a sequence of events reveals a lot about the person – but it is my interpretation of the facts that colour the characters. As a specific example, take Roger Mortimer, who until relatively recently was mostly depicted as hungry for power, harsh and domineering. I am quite sure he was all of those, but he was also a father of twelve, a devoted husband – at least for the first twenty years or so of his marriage – and, by all accounts, initially a capable and loyal servant to his king, Edward II. I write the story mainly from Adam’s perspective, and he owes everything he has – including his life – to Mortimer, so obviously his take on Mortimer will be somewhat rose-tinted. Not, necessarily, a correct interpretation of Mortimer when applying a holistic approach, but neither can we say it is wrong. Mortimer inspired strong loyalties, and in my experience men who do so have quite a few redeeming qualities. However, as the story progresses, Adam is forced to confront the fact that the hero of his youth is not always a hero, and this causes quite some tension.

Once my characters begin to take shape, I take a step back to allow them to develop as per their own inclinations. Sometimes, they surprise me – Isabella most definitely does so in book four – and while there are no historical records proving this is what they did or said, neither are there records to disprove it. Perfect, IMO.

Erin: What has been your favorite character to write so far? Why?

Anna: In all my books? Alex Graham in The Graham Saga sits very close to my heart – but so do Matthew and Adam – and Kit, especially as she grows into her full potential. And Jason &Helle (whom you haven’t met yet) But if I have to choose, it’s Alex, probably because she gets to time travel – lucky her! (“Lucky?” Alex snorts. Yeah, yeah…we’ve heard it all before, and seriously, honey, if I hadn’t dragged you back in time, someone else would have ended up as Matthew’s very happy wife.)

Erin: What theme(s) do you hope readers take away from The Days of Sun and Glory? What could they ponder as they await the third book?

Anna: This is very much a book about a child caught up in the conflict between his parents. In Days of Sun and Glory, the future Edward III takes up a lot of space, angrily defending his slighted mother to his father, helplessly standing to the side when his mother and her lover bring war to his father’s kingdom. Adam does his best to protect his young lord from all this emotional turmoil and pain, but he can’t shield the boy as much as he would want to. Being torn apart by your parents is, sadly, not uncommon in this day and age either, and it always makes me very angry when adults use their children as weapons against each other. Edward, just like any child caught in such a conflict, has little say over what happens – but shoulders a huge portion of guilt.

Erin: What will the next book in the series be about and when can we expect it?

Anna: The next book covers the first few years of Edward III’s reign. Isabella and Mortimer are in control, and not everyone is delighted at this turn of events, putting it mildly. Edward is as yet a boy, but in the fourth book the boy has become a man – a very young man, but definitely a man. God help Isabella and Mortimer then…

The third book, Under the Approaching Dark, will be out in April 2017.

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Erin: If you aren’t writing about Scotland or England, what else catches your fancy to write about? Will it always be historical fiction or do you think you have more genres up your sleeve?

Anna: Oooo, I definitely have more genres up my sleeve. I hope to release the first in a new trilogy early next year, and the preliminary blurb goes something like this:

*************************

In the long lost ancient past, two men fought over the girl with the golden hair and eyes like the Bosporus under a summer sky. It ended badly. She died. They died.

Since then, they have tumbled through time, reborn over and over again. Now they are all in the same place, the same time. It is time to end that which began 3 000 years ago. Time to lay old ghosts to rest, time to finish what was started in distant fogs of time.

This is the story of Jason and his Helle. He betrayed her in their first life – he wants to make amends and has lived through a sequence of lives in a desperate attempt to find her again. He remembers all his lives, she does not – but when she sees him, she knows him, which scares her silly. What also scares her is Sam Woolf, yet another visitor from her distant past – and where Jason wants to make amends, Sam wants revenge…

*************************

 

As to my historical fiction, I am working on a story set in 17th century Sweden. And one set late in 13th century England. And a book featuring a certain Matthew and Alex…

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Erin: Do you have more time to write now and what have you been working on? How do you write? Do you outline and plot extensively or do you write as the muse takes you?

Anna: My personal muse, Ms Inspiration, would tell you I am incorrigible & have the attention span of a gnat. A new idea pops up, and off I go to explore it, even if I’m in the midst of something else. I tell Ms Inspiration to remember it is all her fault – she’s the one who distracts me by introducing new characters, new settings, new everything…So no, I generally do not outline or plot extensively – beyond a detailed timeline of actual events.

I’ve had more time to write lately, but I’m back to working again – too much time spent mostly with me and my imaginary friends was actually having a negative effect on my output (And how strange is that, huh? I’ve concluded that when I write as a treat at the end of a working day, the time is more precious and I go all wild and crazy with joy, while when I can do it all the time, some of the glow fades)

Erin: If you didn’t already answer this in the question about research, did you do any traveling this year? If so, what were some of the favorite things you saw?

Anna: I did answer it in passing, but I’ve been fortunate enough to do two research trips to the UK this year. My highlights are Tewkesbury (I could move there tomorrow) and Lincoln (I could move there like right now). Lincoln Cathedral is probably one of the most “soul-touching” experiences in my life. I still haven’t quite recovered from the awe it inspired.

Erin: Where do you hope to go in the future? I just love how big and bright your eyes are always for learning and doing new things!

Anna: I like the BIG part. Recently, my eyes have looked very small🙂 As to the future, it’s a great start just having one. Obviously, I want to see my book babies “born”, and I would really, really like to master a yoga stance or two. And I’d like to relearn how to ride – preferably on a very small horse so that it won’t hurt as much when I hit the ground (I stopped riding when I was thrown by a thoroughbred and dislocated my shoulder).

Erin: Sweden seems like an amazing place to live. We are always so busy talking I rarely get to ask you about it. For a vicarious traveler, what are some sites that are must views?

Anna: Stockholm. In summer, this must be among the most beautiful capital cities in the world. Sigtuna, a very, very old city where some of the first Swedish coins were produced. Lund, just as old, where some of the first Danish coins were produced (Lund was Danish until mid 17th century) Ironically, both the mint in Sigtuna and in Lund were started by the same Anglo-Saxon mint-master – or so it seems. Malmö, where I live, so that I can have you over for tea, coffee, lemonade, elderberry cordial or whatever else you may want.🙂 (and that invite includes your family)

Erin: Yay! That would be amazing to visit you. Do you have anything fun planned for the rest of the year?

Anna: Other than writing and working? No, not much.  But I am thinking a week or two somewhere very warm and sunny in March or so would be nice.

Erin: Thanks so much Anna for stopping by and hanging out with me again! It’s always fun to have you by to drink, eat, and be merry with me as we talk about your fabulous books, my friend. Be sure to come back soon ( I bet you will, right?)! Best of luck with this new series, but you don’t need it, it’s terrific!

Anna: Thank you for having me! I am more than delighted to stop by and talk to you whenever you want me to.Actually, I can come back and just eat your muffins. :) 

Erin: See you again soon, Anna!

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Days of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2)
by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Matador
eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages

Series: The King’s Greatest Enemy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.

Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.

Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.

Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Anna Belfrage, Biography

03_annna_belfrage-2015Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, published in July 2016.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter below.

Enter via the Gleam Direct Link

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 

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Follow along with the Tour Schedule!

Hashtags: #DaysofSunandGloryBlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Giveaway #HFVBTBlogTour

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Review: Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen

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Review

I have to admit I am a huge fan of Lynn Cullen; she’s an awesome person and a wonderfully talented writer. Her novel, Mrs. Poe (a national bestseller that has been named a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, and an Indie Next List selection) is one of my favorite all time historical fiction books. I was very excited to secure her next novel, Twain’s End, for review once it came out in paperback this summer. I had followed its substantial and positive hardcover run with delight so I dove right in not longer after receiving it. I enjoy historical fiction novels that take on writers and artists of the past and bring to light some of the central support characters in their lives and uncover mysteries about them.

In Twain’s End we meet Isabel Lyons, a secretary who was damned through all history for her alleged misdoings to Mark Twain (pen name of Sam Clemens). We learn her true story uncovered exquisitely by Lynn. We also get a closer look at the man who was Mark Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens.

Studying English in college, many classic authors and poets were read and studied. Twain was never a favorite of mine. However, that doesn’t matter to me in reading about his life or times, as the writer and humorist’s lifestyle and person still intrigues me even if his stories aren’t on the top on my list. His ingenious quotes and humor still amuse me to this day.

Lynn’s writing is exceptional. Compared against other authors, it’s fairly obvious to me why she is a national best-seller. Once you pick up the book because the synopsis intrigues you, you’ll be captivated and stay because her talent is that good. That’s what happened to me. Her sentence structure, character and plot development, dialogue, and her ability to make your visualize the story is enough to make me as a writer and editor glow and be in awe of her ability. It’s a book I don’t think twice about getting hiccuped on for writing structure, but can actually enjoy as a reader! She’s one of those writers you can get lost in quickly and be entertained, no matter the content.

Her research is pristine (using journals and letters from the characters), seemingly accurate, and she’s very good at tying ends together to create a story and sense of place that presents her characters much redeeming, in fact even, setting records straight for those long lost. Her investigative reporting is an added touch to her books, but with dripping descriptions and details she weaves her uncoverings into chapters that will hold you hostage and compel you to turn without ceasing. She gives us a glimpse easily into life in the early 20th century and creates for us a setting as if we’ve just walked in the front door and it’s unfolding before our eyes.

Into the characters, we are dove deep into their dysfunction and drama – their social, societal, and intimate details all placed on the page with their somewhat even, quite mental, personalities. We are shown the faults and cracks of Twain, possibly his split personas, as well as the malice of her daughter, but yet, also Lynn takes care not to paint Twain as a complete villain or tarnish his name either. I believe her only quest is write a thrilling book that offers as solution to the question why and what if? And it’s very entertaining.

Twain’s End is a dramatic read that delves into the chaos of the life of an important historical icon and reminds us the intriguing lifestyles many in the arts led during this time period. It’s complete with romance, mystery, dark suspicions, mental illness, and family dysfunction and a snapshot of the final few years of Twain’s life.

The occurrences of the life of Isabel as it pertained to Twain only led to silence on a mystery once she left him and he wrote the defaming letter about her, and while Lynn takes a crack at hypothesizing what may have happened, it may never be answered with finality.However, the book was a thrilling peek into the past that gave me a few hours of much needed reading enjoyment this summer.It will have a permanent place on my bookshelf. Anyone who is a fan of dramatic, and even scandalous, historical fiction, and even or biographies, should check this one out!

02_twains-endTwain’s End, Synopsis

by Lynn Cullen

Paperback Publication Date: June 7, 2016

Gallery Books
Paperback; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1476758978

Genre: Historical Fiction

From the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of the “page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) Mrs. Poe comes a fictionalized imagining of the personal life of America’s most iconic writer: Mark Twain.

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel “a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction.” Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to their family. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain’s life to a woman he was determined to destroy?

In Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen “cleverly spins a mysterious, dark tale” (Booklist) about the tangled relationships between Twain, Lyon, and Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband, John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter.

Based on Isabel Lyon’s extant diary, Twain’s writings, letters, photographs, and events in Twain’s boyhood that may have altered his ability to love, Twain’s End triumphs as “a tender evocation of a vain, complicated man’s twilight years and a last chance at love” (People).

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Praise

“Reputation-squaring novel. Cullen splashes a surplus of fuel onto her incendiary raw material.” (New York Times Book Review)

“The extraordinary relationship between…Mark Twain, and his longtime secretary Isabel Lyon is wonderfully reimagined in this absorbing novel…[a] fascinating interpretation of this early 20th century literary immortal, distinguished by incisive character portrayals and no-holds-barred scrutiny.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Cullen brings a formidable and fascinating novel of thwarted love. Readers will be enthralled by the story.” (RT Book Reviews, four-star review)

“Intelligently drawn…Cullen expertly portrays both Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain… fans of historical fiction and biographies will enjoy.” (Library Journal)

“Twain’s End remains a book that is a joy to read. Ms. Cullen is the Bronte of our day.” (Huffington Post)

“A tender evocation of a vain, complicated man’s twilight years and last chance at love.” (People)

“Twain’s End is a well-researched love story and history…readers will savor this accessible view of the enigmatic Mark Twain.” (Shelf Awareness)

“[Cullen is] a wonderful writer…Twain’s End should be on your reading list.” (Bookreporter.com)

“Cullen has a knack for weaving in small details to create rich fictional portraits of real-life figures.” (Atlanta Magazine)

“A fascinating book about a complicated writer.” (The Missourian)

“We’re riveted as Twain comes alive—faults and all—but in the end we’re captured and captivated by him. Heartbreaking, passionate, profoundly interesting and readable. Cullen has once again jettisoned herself to another time and place and delivered historical fiction fans with an utterly fascinating read.” (New York Times bestseller M.J. Rose)

“Every room radiates withd eliciously calibrated tension and hidden desires in Twain’s End. It is in its psychological truths that the novel succeeds most brilliantly, revealing the inevitable wounds in a relationship between a famous person and an ordinary one, and what happens when the balance of power changes. A riveting read.” (Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CHALICE)

“The breadth of research and faithfulness to the subjects is evident in Twain’s End. With clarity and honesty, Cullen resurrects one of America’s most complicated and well-known writers and his intimates in vivid, fascinating, and sometimes shocking ways. Twain’s End is more than a study in character; it is a cautionary tale of the spoils of fame and power, and those intoxicated by it. Captivating.” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL)

“The utterly fascinating and heartbreaking story of the aging literary lion Mark Twain and his intelligent, beautiful devoted secretary Isabel who loved and understood him… a rich novel which will sweep you into a remarkable world.” (Stephanie Cowell, author of CLAUDE AND CAMILLE)

“Mark Twain’s last decade roars with intrigue and yearning as Lynn Cullen brings our attention to his complicated relationship with Isabel Lyon, his personal secretary who has been long overlooked. A great read for fans of Z and The Paris Wife. Cullen illuminates the darker, outermost corners of Samuel Clemens’s later years, the caged lives of his daughters, his dying wife, and a woman ‘Mark Twain’ was never meant to love.” (Suzanne Rindell, author of THE OTHER TYPIST)

“Twain’s End is an unflinching, clear-eyed view into the last years of one of American’s most beloved authors. Ms. Cullen delves deep and gives us a glimpse into the pain that shaped the mask worn by Samuel Clemens. Brilliant and insightful. I hated to reach the end.” (Susan Crandall, bestselling author of THE FLYING CIRCUS and WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD)

“Lynn Cullen is both a masterful writer and literary detective. Meticulous research and keen curiosity led her to piece together a fascinating account of the last seven years of Mark Twain’s life. Though the story of Isabel and Sam took place over a hundred years ago, its concerns remain with us today: the corrupting nature of power and fame, the corroding legacy of slavery in America, the ways in which childhood wounds continue to cripple us throughout our adult lives, the fact that love is sometimes not enough when it comes to the relationships between women and men. To the public, Twain might have been ‘Known to Everyone, Liked by All,’ but to those closest to him, he was a troubled and difficult man. Cullen shows Mark Twain ‘warts and all,’ yet we—and the utterly sympathetic Isabel Lyon—still love his irascible spirit, a spirit that nearly leaps off the page. In short: Twain’s End is a fabulous read; I loved this book.” (Susan Rebecca White, author of A PLACE AT THE TABLE)

“Twain’s End is an exquisitely nuanced portrayal of the American icon and the woman who dared to love him. With superb attention to detail, and deep understanding and care for her protagonists, Lynn Cullen brings this deliciously complex story to life, delivering everything we expect in a modern masterpiece.” (Anne Girard, author of MADAME PICASSO)

“With Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen has once again proven herself a master of historical fiction. This remarkable book explores the life of Mark Twain as seen through the eyes of the women in his household. As each interacts with the legendary Twain, the reader is allowed glimpses of the man—Samuel Clemens—living behind the well-known persona who rode in on a comet’s coattails and made the entire world laugh. Lynn Cullen is an outstanding writer, and Twain’s End is an exceptional book.” (Raymond Atkins, author of SWEETWATER BLUES)

03_lynn-cullenLynn Cullen, Biography

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection.

She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Mrs. Poe, a national bestseller, has been named a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, and an Indie Next List selection.

Her newest novel is Twain’s End. She lives in Atlanta surrounded by her large family, and, like Mark Twain, enjoys being bossed around by cats.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Breathing Life Into the Long Dead: Article by Historical Fiction Author Anna Belfrage

The one and only Anna Belfrage, who has graced the confines of this blog many many times over the years, is here once again with a stellar post about the marriage of Isabella and Edward II, of whom take residence as characters in her latest series – and well more than that, I suppose it is how Isabella takes her independence, or maybe claims it is a better word? Or maybe she earned it as well…but either way, you’ll find out about that in this post and in the pages of Anna’s books.

The second book in the series, Days of Sun and Glory, just released in July of this year and I’ll not only be featuring Anna with her guest article, but a review soon as well as an interview next week. That’s always a glorious time, as Anna is rip-roaring fun to say the least.

Enjoy!

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Breathing life into the long dead – something only historical fiction writers get to do. (One hopes…)

by Anna Belfrage, Historical Fiction Author

When I began writing The Graham Saga very many years ago, I very much on purpose ensured my main protagonists were fictional characters, the historical events that defined their times relegated to the background. Yes, their lives were very affected by what was happening in the world around them, but they weren’t in the eye of the storm, so to speak, no matter just how flung about they were by the winds that blew.

Obviously, my reluctant time travelling Alex Graham is not much impressed by all this. As she is prone to pointing out ad nauseam, I plunged her back into an excessively exciting life in the 17th century, and albeit that I offered some compensation (a lot, in my biased opinion) in the shape of Matthew Graham, she would have me know she’d have preferred a somewhat quieter life. Boring, I tell her. Not something people want to read about.

Anyway, in my new series, I took a couple of deep breaths and decided that this time I’d move my fictional characters right into the midst of things. Adam de Guirande may be an invented man, but he interacts on a daily basis with people who definitely lived and breathed back then, in the 14th century. His wife, Kit, is a reluctant lady-in-waiting to the very real Queen Isabella, and Adam himself was originally sworn to serve Roger Mortimer, but has recently become Prince Edward’s man, which at times puts him in the difficult position of balancing his loyalties and feelings for his former lord (and Adam loves Roger, warts and all. After all, Roger saved his life) with those his new young lord engenders.

Obviously, for there to be some nerve in this narrative, the real characters with which Adam and Kit interact had to come across as breathing, living creatures. More importantly, they had to do so while still remaining relatively true to what we actually know about them.

Now, I write historical fiction which means…wait for it, wait for it…that I invent stuff – that’s what writers of fiction do. When writing as far back as the 14th century, not all events are recorded, and what we definitely don’t have are personalised diaries or videotapes expressing how the main protagonists thought and felt. We can extrapolate some of their character from their actions, but even then, what we have is the tip of an iceberg, and as any writer knows, if you want to engage your readers, you need the whole iceberg – i.e. characters have to be well-rounded and, preferably, complex.

Take, for example, Queen Isabella. Throughout history, she has been variably portrayed as a victim or as a full-blooded bitch. No middle ground there, people. Either she is somewhat vacuous, incapable of tearing free from the alpha male dominance of Roger Mortimer, or she is one of those notorious she-wolves, potentially into ripping people apart for her own enjoyment. Umm…

First of all, Queen Isabella was described by her contemporaries as being not only the most beautiful woman around, but also as very well-educated and intelligent. In an age where very few were literate, Isabella not only read and wrote, she read for enjoyment – as did most of the ladies of the French court.

Also, Isabella was educated to be a royal consort, which involved more than sitting about looking adequately pretty and birthing heirs to the throne. A good royal consort should be capable of advising her husband, and to do so the lady in question needed to be up to date with what was happening from a political perspective – and have a conceptual framework to apply to whatever information she gathered. Not something a pretty air-head could do…

Isabella was more than eager to shoulder the full responsibility of being a good consort to her husband, albeit that she was only twelve to his twenty-four when they wed. Problem was, Edward wasn’t as keen on seeking her advice as she was to give it – which initially wasn’t a problem, because Isabella was young and had enough of a challenge adapting to her new homeland.

During those first few years of their marriage, Edward II preferred the company of Piers Gaveston to all others – including his wife. Piers was charming and witty, he was daring and brave, and Edward was quite besotted with this the first in the string of his royal favourites. Don’t get me wrong: while Edward would much rather spend time with Piers, he did not ignore or mistreat his wife – in fact, he was quite fond of her and she of him.

By 1312, Piers was history, murdered (or executed, depending on who you talked to) by Edward’s rebellious barons. Edward was devastated, Isabella offered comfort, and late in that year, their eldest child – a son – was born. Maybe Isabella hoped that this would be the beginning of a closer relationship between her and her husband, an opportunity to become a true influence at court. If so, she was to be disappointed – Edward soon had another young man to go crazy about. However, he still found the time to act the husband, testament to which is the fact that there were three more children. (Before we go on, I think it’s important to clarify that the fact that Edward II had a fondness for the company of young men – even sharing his bed with them – does not in itself mean he was homosexual. Men shared beds frequently in medieval times, if nothing else to keep warm)

As she grew up, Isabella would have chafed at her restricted role. I imagine her as vain – being told repeatedly you’re drop-dead can foster such traits – and increasingly frustrated by being relegated to the fringes of things, appreciated for her decorative value rather than her intellectual acuity. But she was young and hopeful – besides, she liked her handsome husband. And then Hugh Despenser burst onto the stage, and Isabella must have realised that as long as he was around, there was no chance in hell she’d be allowed to play the role of mover and shaker she so aspired to.

Frustration turned to irritation, turned to concern. She didn’t like just how much influence Despenser had over her husband, and while Edward ignored the rising malcontent, Isabella must have been worried – for herself, for her man, but also for their children. Did she try and talk to Edward? I imagine she did – but I also imagine she was fobbed off. Edward was too dependent on Despenser to listen to any criticism of his favourite and his voracious greed for more power, more land, more wealth (quite often at the expense of Edward’s other barons).

Come 1325, Isabella had moved firmly into the camp of the opposition. Not surprising, seeing as she had every reason to be pissed off with her husband, staring by his confiscation of her dower lands. One day, she had her own income, managed her own affairs, the next, Edward had appropriated all that and gave her an allowance, severely curtailing her freedom. Did not go down well, one could say. Our elegant queen was no longer a child, she was an adult woman of poise and intelligence, and she was used to handling her own money – wanted to handle her own money. She must have seethed at Edward’s high-handedness, even more so when he went on to exile her entire household, stating as his reason that as England was at war with France, he didn’t want any foreign nationals skulking about court. Hmm. Isabella herself was one such foreigner, and devoid of means and loyal servants, she was further relegated to the background.

By now, my Isabella had taken on form. Willowy and dark, she simmered with resentment, most of it directed at Despenser – easier to blame him than her husband. Intelligent and literate, I imagine she found ways to communicate with her brother, the king of France, and with other members of the baronial opposition. Problem was, as long as she remained in England, she also remained firmly under the thumb of her husband – and his favourite.

Testament to her capacity for strategic thinking is that she somehow managed to hide her resentment and repair the fences with her husband – at least sufficiently for him to send her to France as his envoy in the peace negotiations. Once there, it soon became evident she had no intention of returning to a kingdom where she had little influence. She’d had it with Hugh Despenser monopolising Edward II’s ear. And his time. And, some would say, his bed & body.

We know for a fact she refused to return home unless her marriage was rid of this invasive third party. She said as much, before the entire French court, when the Bishop of Exeter, representing Edward, told her to be a good girl and go home. The bishop was somewhat flabbergasted by her acid response and turned to her brother, Charles IV, and asked him to talk sense into the woman. To his credit, Charles told the bishop his sister was welcome to stay – for as long as she liked.

So, when Isabella returned to England in 1326, accompanied by her lover Roger Mortimer (and how Edward II must have hated it, that of all the men in all the world, his wife should choose to cuckold him with the man he labelled his greatest traitor) she had her own axe to grind against Despenser – and her husband. She had income to reclaim, a throne to secure for her son, and, most importantly from the perspective of my Isabella, a role to fill as chief advisor to the future king, her young son. No more being shoved aside by young male upstarts, no more being dependent on her husband’s goodwill. No, Isabella had every intention of claiming her prize, and if this caused her son anguish, tough.

A woman – or man – who wields huge power is easily corrupted by it. Isabella during the years of Edward III’s minority is one such woman, as greedy for wealth and power as Despenser ever was. A victim? Nope, not in my book. A clinging vine, utterly dependent on Roger? Absolutely not. My Isabella had the strength and determination to forge her own future. She was given an opportunity and she took it, revelling in her power, in her status. Unfortunately for Isabella, for all her intelligence and astuteness, she made one major error: she underestimated her son. But that, as they say, is another story entirely – and one I’ll address in the coming two books of my series.

02_days-of-sun-and-gloryDays of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2)
by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Matador
eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages

Series: The King’s Greatest Enemy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.

Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.

Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.

Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_Annna_Belfrage 2015.jpgAnna Belfrage, Biography

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, published in July 2016.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/oVmiR/days-of-sun-and-glory

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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Researching Japan Present to Relive 16th Century in Mystery Novel: Susan Spann

In the last few weeks, I’ve reviewed The Ninja’s Daughter by one of my favorite people, and historical mystery authors, Susan Spann. I also had a really interesting interview with her too, in which we talked about her books and the Japanese culture. Today, I have a guest article she wrote in which she talks about traveling to Japan for her research and shares some of her personal photos with us. Enjoy!

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In the Footsteps of Samurai: A Research Trip to Japan

by Susan Spann, author of The Ninja’s Daughter

Last summer I took a trip to Japan to research the locations and historical details that appear in my newest mystery, The Ninja’s Daughter, and the 2017 sequel, Betrayal at Iga. When writing my Hiro Hattori novels, I normally do the book-based research early—before I write the initial outline—and then conduct on-site research to ensure the geography and other details match my plans for the plot.

For The Ninja’s Daughter, that meant a trip to Kyoto and visits to the major historical sites that feature in the novel. Although my books are set in the 16th century, many of the major sites I mention still exist (some in original condition, and others as historically accurate reconstructions). Japanese museums and cultural sites also display a wealth of artifacts from that period—everything from teapots and kimono to entire houses—allowing me to experience many of the places and objects I mention in my novels.

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Caption: Traditional homes in Kyoto

The Ninja’s Daughter opens with the victim’s body lying on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, and my detectives often walk along the river while traveling from place to place, so I spent some time photographing the river and its bridges from different locations.

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Caption: Bridge over Kamo River

Emi, the victim, is the daughter of an actor who is also secretly a ninja spy. The acting troupe to which they belong performs both nō, a form of traditional Japanese drama, and also kyogen, which was used as a comedic interlude between nō plays in the 16th century. During my trip to Kyoto, I spent an evening watching performances of traditional Japanese drama, including this kyogen:

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Caption: Kyogen Performance in Japan

In addition to walking where my characters walked, I use my research trips to experience as much traditional Japanese culture as possible. To that end, I spent the night in a ryokan (a traditional inn) on Miyajima Island, across the strait from Hiroshima. Although The Ninja’s Daughter takes place entirely in Kyoto, Ryokan Iwaso was constructed in 1854 and offers a highly traditional experience, including tatami-floored rooms and futon, rather than beds, for sleeping.

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Caption: Futons for sleeping at Iwaso (above) and bedroom (below)

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It’s also a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit (this photo shows Itsukushima Jinja at high tide, when the water surrounds the shrine):

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Experiences like this make it easier for me to understand my characters and to describe their lives in a more realistic way. The fusion of book research, consulting experts, and visiting the locations in person helps me infuse my books with details that enable readers to experience the beauty and vibrant culture of 16th century Japan—and, hopefully, to love it as much as I do.

02_The Ninja%27s DaughterThe Ninja’s Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Novel by Susan Spann

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Seventh Street Books
eBook & Paperback; 230 Pages

Series: Hiro Hattori Novels/Shinobi Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

In The Ninja’s Daughter, Susan Spann’s poetic voice brilliantly captures the societal disparities, political intrigues, and martial conflicts of sixteenth-century Japan through the persevering efforts of ninja detective Hiro Hattori to solve a murder authorities consider of no consequence.” -JEFFREY SIGER, International Bestselling Author

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About the Author: Susan Spann

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master.

She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law, and raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.

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