Creating Dialogue with Characters: Guest Post by Historical Fiction Author Anna Belfrage

Today you have the opportunity to read an excellent guest post by author Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga series, with A Rip in the Veil and Like Chaff in the Wind currently published. I reviewed Life Chaff in the Wind yesterday, and you can see that by clicking HERE.

Anna has an amazing writing voice and you’ll really enjoy this guest post, as it talks about how she came to write her series and how her characters talk to her…..pesky friends in our heads sometimes aren’t they? I hope you enjoy it, I know I did!

How I Have Come to Know My Characters Really, Really Well…..
by Anna Belfrage

Anna BelfrageFirst of all, thank you very much, Erin, for participating in my blog tour and giving me the opportunity to post on your blog. This is the second guest post on the blog tour, and for those of you interested in reading the first, in which I introduced my female lead, I recommend a visit to Bippity Boppity Book.

In retrospect, I suspect my subconscious had been doing its own little things for years before I finally sat down to write the Graham Saga. Since well over a decade, I had nursed an interest for the seventeenth century, and in particular for the religious conflicts that dominated this period in history. Why, you might ask, and the reason for that is quite personal.

My husband comes from a family old as the rocks (most of us do; it’s just that the majority of us spring from families that were illiterate and dirt poor, ergo leaving nary a trace in the historical documents) that emigrated to Sweden in the early seventeenth century. In actual fact, the only ones that emigrated were a twelve-year-old boy called John and his mother Joneta. This woman with her most unusual name was of Stuart blood – albeit a cadet line – but for whatever reason she was compelled to flee Scotland, citing religious persecution as her reason. Hmm. Not entirely sure I buy that… Whatever the case, the interest in my husband’s family sort of lead on to reading more and more and more about this turbulent time in European history.

When I began writing A Rip in the Veil – the first book in the Graham Saga – it therefore had a clear setting in time and place (Scotland, seventeenth century), a dramatic beginning, a number of very detailed scenes that I could recite verbatim should someone wake me at three a.m., and a rather vague ending. Fortunately, as it turned out, because my dear characters decided to have a major say in how things turned out, and so the original plot line (however dotted) did a ninety degree turn at one point, doubled back a couple of chapters later and then set off at full speed in a direction not intended by yours truly.

I mostly blamed it on Alex. Well, no; on Matthew.

“On me?” Matthew protested. “It wasn’t me who came up with that idiotic idea in chapter 11, was it?”

“No,” Alex agreed, “that was you, Anna.” She flexed her arms and grinned. “But I liked it.”

Yeah, sure you did, I smiled. Alex enjoys showcasing herself as a strong woman. Matthew muttered something about it not being seemly, not at all, but the way he smiled at his wife sort of took the edge out of the rebuke. 

Anyway, the consequence of all this re-plotting is that I got to know my characters really, really well. (It was almost like those all night sessions while at University; me, wine, and instead of a lot of partying friends a notebook and my imaginary best friends. Somewhat weird…)

Now and then Alex would wink at me and wonder if I didn’t want to know the rest of their story – oops, stories. Of course I did! For some reason, Matthew seemed discomfited, and it was only through insistent wheedling that I came to understand why. My old-fashioned hero had something of an issue with the leading lady coming to rescue him – as she does in the second book of the series, Like Chaff in the Wind.

“I’m not old-fashioned,” he sort of growled when I pointed this out to him. “But I’m the man, she’s the woman. If anyone’s to do any saving it should be me!”

“You do that all the time,” I replied, “if it hadn’t been for you, poor Alex would have been dead – or worse – days after having dropped through the time chute.” He liked that, I could see, angling his head so that he could throw his wife a look. “She can’t live without you,” I said.

He raised a brow. “Of course she can.” 

“You know what I mean! Something inside of her would shrivel and die without you, and so …” I shrugged. There’s no choice really. In Like Chaff in the Wind Alex has to set out after her husband, the rock on which her entire existence is built on.

Yet again Matthew looked at Alex. “She’s something, isn’t she?”

As if she’d heard him, Alex lifted her face in our direction. She smiled, raised a hand to touch her neck, her hair, in a way that made Matthew fidget.

“She most certainly is,” I agreed, thinking that he wasn’t too bad himself, what with that slow smile that always makes my heart flutter, those large, warm hands that glide so gently down her back.  I turned back to him. He was no longer there, hastening towards Alex.

“It’s not the last book,” he called over his shoulder. “There’s plenty more to tell, aye?”

I can imagine; next time round he’ll be the hero, the order of things properly re-established.

 Like Chaff in the Wind is an adventure, a journey from one end of the world to the other. It is a story that invites you to shut down your computer, turn off your phone and drift off into a time when life was so much simpler than today.

“Simpler?” Alex and Matthew say in unison. Matthew frowns at me, absentmindedly rubbing his shoulder.

Oh dear. “I didn’t mean it like that,” I say. And, dear reader, they’re right. It’s not an easy life they lead those two, not at all. But it does make good stories, let me tell you, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading Like Chaff in the Wind as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 My next post in this blog tour, in which I introduce Matthew Graham in a lot more detail, will be published on March 26 on Flashlight Commentary . I hope you’ll be joining us there.

Anna Belfrage, Biography~

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

Learn more about Anna and her work at:  www.annabelfrage.com. She has some great extras that go with her stories that you’ll love.

Like Chaff in the Wind Synopsis~

Like Chaff in the WindMatthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother’s nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour – a death sentence more or less.

Matthew arrives in Virginia in May of 1661, and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his tale of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything Matthew’s insistence that he is an innocent man leads to him being singled out for the heaviest tasks.

Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear Matthew down. With a sinking feeling he realises no one has ever survived the seven years of service – not on the plantation Suffolk Rose, not under the tender care of the overseer Dominic Jones.

Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife, a God’s gift who has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die, and so Alex Graham sets off on a perilous journey to bring her husband home.

Alex is plagued by nightmares in which her Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. She sits in the prow of the ship and prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, to let her hold him and heal him before it’s too late. God, however, has other things to do and what should have been a two month crossing becomes a yearlong adventure from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

See more on Anna’s Tour at the Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/likechaffinthewindvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ChaffInTheWindVirtualTour

Like Chaff in the Wind Tour Banner FINAL

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