Category Archives: Q and A with Authors

Interview: Addie Discusses Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies with Author Bruce Hale

Hi everybody! Today is Addie’s big interview day! After receiving for review from Disney Hyperion A Monstertown Mystery called MUTANT MANTIS LUNCH LADIES, and loving it, she wanted to help me interview the children’s author and illustrator, Bruce Hale. Bruce is an award-winning author of over 40 children’s books and his new series looks set to impress both girls and boys of the third and fourth grade age, especially if they like books like the Goosebumps series.

Addie asked most all the questions and was very excited to read his answers so we hope you all are too. If you have kids reading middle readers, this is a quick, entertaining read sure to get a lot of laughs. Addie said it had her giggling and she finished it in no time flat! I mean she’ll NEVER see her lunch ladies the same again and will always staring at them out the corner of her eye! haha! Enjoy the interview!

Mantis

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! My 9 year old daughter and I really enjoyed your book! She thought it was hilarious. Congratulations on your success as a writer! Because she enjoyed it so much she helped me to come up with some questions.

Q:  Where did you get the idea to make a mantis in to a mutant and how did you create them?

A: Back in the ‘50s, they had lots of scary movies about radiation mutating normal creatures like ants (Them!) and spiders (Beginning of the End) into monsters.  I thought I’d like to pay tribute to those movies in my book.  After some brainstorming and a bit of flipping through my Dorling Kindersley insect guide, I hit upon the praying mantis.  I wanted them to be able to take on human form for extra creepiness, so I decided they’d be more than just mantises; they’d have both human and chameleon DNA in them.

Q: The Monstertown Mystery series is compared to Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. We love Goosebumps (and Stine is a Ohioan like us!). What do you like about the series that inspired your own?

A: I love the way Stine strikes a balance between humor and creepiness, as well as the way he plays with some horror traditions.  And like me, he’s really into inspiring reluctant readers.  Although I haven’t yet met him, I admire his work.

Q: How do you feel fourth graders connect with your books and why? (My daughter says by the way that the humor appeals to her – and would to her friends as well – both boys AND girls.)

A: I’m glad to hear your daughter say that both boys and girls would like my books, because I’m definitely aiming to appeal to both.  For whatever reason, I remember very vividly what it was like to be a fourth grader, so maybe my readers are connecting with that.  Also, I try to keep my stories funny and action-packed, two things that young readers appreciate.

Q: What the best part about getting to go out and speak in schools? How do you motivate and encourage reading?

A: There are so many wonderful benefits I get from speaking in schools.  I love sharing my work with new readers, and I love to see the different ways they connect with it — from doing artwork to writing stories of their own.  During my visits, I let my listeners know that I used to be a reluctant reader (I was much more into TV), but that when I found the right book, I became a reader.  I remind them that if they’re not excited about reading, perhaps they haven’t found their right book yet.

Q: Why do you feel it’s important to continually engage young readers and how can we attract their attention to reading with all the electronics and over-saturation by parents into extra curriculars? (this was a mom question!!)

A: Reading is a foundation for success in life, so anything we can do to engage kids with books and make reading fun contributes to making happier, more successful kids.  For those who are more electronically-minded, sometimes you almost have to force them to read, but if you can help them find a book that interests them, this becomes an easier task.  Tailoring the book to the kid is the key, and with electronically-distracted kids, you’ve got to find books that really grab the reader and don’t let go.  Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy technology as much as the next guy – I just want kids to also spend time enjoying reading.

Q:  You’ve written a lot of other books too of course and received an Edgar. What’s it like to have such a large back list? Do you still love writing kid’s book as much as when you first started?

A: It’s kind of amazing to me to look at my office bookshelf and see how much of it is filled by my own books – 44 and counting!  I remember when publishers rejected every story I wrote, and I yearned to get published.  Of course, having such a large backlist makes it tricky when I visit schools, since that’s far too many books to offer kids (to say nothing of autographing them all)!

I consider myself very fortunate to be making my living doing what I love, and I still love creating stories as much as I did when I first started out.

Q: What is your personal favorite type of monster and why?

A: My favorite has always been the werewolf.  Maybe it’s because wolves are one of my favorite animals, or maybe it’s because I love that whole shapeshifter thing?  I don’t know.  I just know that werewolves rule.

Q: What are your plans for the future – both near and far?

A: For the near future, some hot tea and another scoop of ice cream.  No, I jest (but not entirely).  Right now, I’m working on a new middle-grade series called Class Pets, about all the adventures that classroom pets get into when the students are away.  That comes out in 2018.  I’m also starting to brainstorm the story I’ll work on after those are finished, and I’m about to begin a round of work-related travel that will take me from New York to Tokyo.  For the longer term, I’m looking forward to writing and illustrating books for as long as I have stories to share.

Erin/Addie: Ice cream sounds good!! ha! We look forward to your future books. Thanks so very much for stopping by to see us and sharing your love of writing and reading. We will be on the lookout for the next book!

Bruce: It’s been a pleasure!  Thanks for the fun questions.

bruce-hale-at-beachBruce Hale, Biography –

Raised by wolves just outside Los Angeles, Bruce Hale began his writing career while living in Tokyo, and continued it after moving to Hawaii. He’s too modest to mention his Nobel Peace Prize and his Olympic Gold Medal (in long-distance procrastination), so we won’t mention them. Before entering the world of children’s books, Bruce worked as a magazine editor, toymaker, gardener, actor, corporate lackey, and DJ.

From picture books to novels and graphic novels, Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 40 books for kids. His popular series include the award-winning Chet Gecko Mysteries, School For S.P.I.E.S., and Clark the Shark, among others.

When not writing or illustrating, Bruce loves to perform. He has appeared on stage, on television, and in an independent film called The Ride, where he played a surfer’s agent. Bruce is a popular speaker and storyteller for audiences of all ages, from the lunchroom to the boardroom. In 1998, he won a Fulbright Grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand. (No, he doesn’t speak much Thai, but he loves the food.)

A member of the National Speakers Association, Bruce has presented at colleges, universities, and conferences, both nationally and internationally. On top of that, he has visited schools and libraries from New York to New Delhi. (And yes, he loves to travel.)

These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, his sweet mutt, Riley, and his massive collection of hats. When he’s not at the computer or drawing board, you can find him hiking, kickboxing, watching movies, or bicycling. Bruce also sings with a latin jazz band called Mezcal Martini.

MantisMutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! (A Monstertown Mystery #2), Synopsis –

  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion (March 7, 2017)
  • Publication Date: March 7, 2017
How well do you know the lunch servers at your school? Sure, they seem like nice people, but what if secretly they are something much, much weirder?
Best friends Carlos and Benny, who just saved their teacher from becoming a were-hyena, have been called upon to investigate the strange goings-on in the cafeteria. Why are the lunch ladies suddenly so grumpy? Why are the girls’ meals different from the boys’? And what was that thing seen scuttling around the kitchen wearing an apron?
Purchase –
Or ask for it at your local indie bookstore or public library!

Praise for Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies

Along with trotting in a cast of exemplary diversity, Hale spins the scenario in such wild and hilarious directions that even the climactic release of whole garbage bags full of roaches in the crowded lunchroom isn’t the grossest thing that happens. –Kirkus

Addie, Guest Interviewer –

addieAddie is 9 years old and enjoys reading, writing, singing, dancing, art, baking, laughing, sports, gardening, animals, mysteries, and just about anything else – yep she has a lot of interests, especially when they’re fun.

However, she does take her school work seriously, and also strives for great grades. She really into reading stories of all kinds and interviewing authors for a behind-the-scenes look. She’s very happy to review books and wants to start her own blog soon.

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Interview: Featuring Co-Authors of Shadow Run, the YA Sci-Fi Thriller

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

“A grand space adventure, chock-full of action, battles of good and evil, love, and betrayal. The world-building is excellent…Fans of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman will especially enjoy this strong debut in the YA space opera genre.” —School Library Journal

Hi friends! Random House Children’s Book imprint Delcorte Press contacted me about reviewing their new YA sci-fi SHADOW RUN and interviewing its co-authors AdriAnne  Strickland and Michael Miller in a limited online promotion. Many people know I’m a lover of all types of books, and generally with a couple of teenagers, I gather additional insight now too! As a lover of sci-fi myself in all the ways the book described I was sold on featuring it. I’ll be reviewing the copy they sent me once I get it read too. Today, I have a great interview with the authors – I’m quite impressed that AdriAnne is a commercial fisherwoman in Alaska! The concept of co-authors is also interesting. The book can be for adults or for a young adult in your life, so check it out! Enjoy the interview below and I love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments.

Shadow Run

 

Hi AdriAnne and Michael! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am a huge fan of DUNE and FIREFLY both, and yet, my teen daughter had caught me on to books like LEGEND and SIX OF CROWS so your book, SHADOW RUN, just popped at me when I read the synopsis. Where did the inspiration come from for this book?

AdriAnne: The usual sci-fi classics like Star Wars, Firefly, and DUNE were definitely inspirations, but also Alaska. I’m a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and that definitely worked its way into the book in the form of harvesting a dangerous energy source, a.k.a. “fishing” for Shadow. And also, we wanted to capture that “found family” feeling that doesn’t just exist on ships like the Kaitan and Serenity, but up here, where the wilderness and the low population really make for tight knit groups of friends that essentially become your family.

As I mentioned, you’re hitting all sort of decades and age groups with the comparisons. Did you keep that in mind when writing it or have you just happened to be able to target not only teens but their moms or dads into sci-fi as well?

Michael: We targeted ourselves, I think, and it turns out we love the stories as much as the age they were intended for! I don’t think we’re alone in that. I firmly believe is a good story is a good story, even if the struggles might refer more to one stage of life than another. Qole and Nev are dealing with issues of identity we typically ascribe to younger ages, but they are also grappling with intergalactic intrigue. It beats C-SPAN, what can I say.  

You’re getting some rave reviews so far! That must make you so excited. What is some of your favorite lines of praise so far from readers or reviewers?

A: That people who don’t like traditional hard sci-fi love our book. That we’ve gotten people more excited to read other sci-fi. That we’ve written characters that people can root for. Also, I think someone called Basra “Our Lord and Savior,” so that’s just hilarious/the best.

This is part of a bigger series called Kaitan Chronicles, and is book one, so when are the next books scheduled to be out? How many to do you think you’ll write? What are some of the vague ideas of where you’ll take the readers with this series?

M: The Kaitan Chronicles are intended to be about four books, although I think I’d be perfectly happy to write forty—the story ideas in this universe don’t stop coming. The next book is already written, actually, and going through copyedits right now—it should be out in spring of next year!

I really hate it when people just say, “I can’t spoil anything!” but now I see why they do––it’s tricky to provide anything of substance without giving away the good bits! We do have a definite story arc in mind, and I’m really looking forward to people realizing that story threads are getting laid now that will be important later.

How difficult has it been or is currently to write a book/series as a duo? What does that involve? Positive take aways? Challenges?

A: It’s been remarkably easy. We work together well, and also having dual POVs really allows us to run with our own voices for our characters without sounding out of sync. We generally brainstorm a lot in person, where we can gesticulate wildly, cackle fiendishly, and scribble things down, but we also do a lot of writing apart, using Google docs on smaller files and the latest MS Word for the full manuscript, which lets people edit simultaneously from the cloud. It’s been a mostly positive experience—when you’re stuck, you have a sounding board and can usually brainstorm a way out of a sticky situation in moments, when it would have taken me days and days on my own. Of course we have our disagreements on how to resolve issues or plot points, but meeting challenges like that honestly led to some of the stronger bits of the book.

What are some words of advice you have for teen writers?

A: Keep writing! Everyone wants to be a massive success the first go around but really, it’s such an accomplishment to just finish something. And don’t stop there. Keep writing, keep practicing. I know it’s cliché, but practice makes perfect. Even if you need to write two, three, four or more novels to get published, you’ll make it so long as you keep writing.

AdriAnne, you do commercial fishing you mentioned in the summer season. Does that give you plenty of time to be creative in your head with your writing? What’s it like living in Alaska?

A: I don’t have much time to do anything more than work and sleep in the summer (and sometimes not even sleep), but it gives me plenty of time to be creative during the rest of the year. It’s what let me really dive into writing full time—I’d make my living for the rest of the year in the summer, and have the rest of the year to devote to something that would take a while before it made me any money. And living in Alaska is incomparable. The wilderness, the towering, craggy mountains and raging rivers, the long, brutally cold winters and endlessly sunny summers—this place works in extremes, and I love it.

Michael, what are your hobbies? Tell us about yourself.

M: I grew up in the woods on an off-the grid homestead, which definitely led to a profound love of reading. We would go to town every few weeks and I would load up on books to last me the month. They lasted about half that. My Mom was also a big influence in instilling a love of reading in me—she spent a lot of time researching high-quality books to recommend that both fell into my interest range but were more challenging. In retrospect, I see she was very crafty.

I later became an Apple consultant. As you might guess, that means I’m a giant nerd, so my hobbies include things like board gaming, video gaming, and attempting to game the system (not that last one). But growing up in the woods also made me love hiking and horseback riding and being on the water, so I’m basically a hiking, typing contradiction.

Where can everyone find you both online?

A: As for websites, we each have personal sites (adriannestrickland.com, michaelmiller.website), but we also have a site just for the series, to which we’ll be regularly adding more nerdy content about the world—or galaxy, rather! You’ll find it at kaitanchronicles.com.

We’re also both on Twitter (@AdriAnneMS and @begemotike), and AdriAnne is on Instagram at adrianne.strickland.

Thanks so much to you for stopping by and telling us about your book and yourselves! Best of luck with SHADOW RUN and the rest of the series. 

Shadow RunShadow Run
(Book One – Kaitan Chronicles)

Delacorte Press
Random House Children’s Books
402 pages
March 21, 2017

Synopsis –

Her ship. His plan. Their survival.

 Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she tolerates no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. As for Nev, he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

Before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her. To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

Praise –

“An entertaining intergalactic ride.” —Bulletin

“[A] well-executed sci-fi caper…full of intriguing commentary about wealth inequality and exploitation.” —Booklist

“Readers will want to join Qole’s crew.” —Kirkus Reviews

An explosive debut! Shadow Run is a high-octane space tale that brings back everything there is to love about classic science fiction—I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next!”—Lindsay Cummings, author of NYT bestseller Zenith

Purchase at Amazon and other online retailers and stores. Ask your indie bookstore and library to carry too!

Amazon

AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller Coauthor photo credit Lukas StricklandADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together.

AdriAnne spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing.

Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech.

This is their first book together. Visit them on Twitter, AdriAnne at @AdriAnneMS and Michael at @begemotike.

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My First Video Interview with Historical Author Elaine Cougler

Today, I have my first ever You Tube interview of sorts! It wasn’t in person, or with me speaking in it, but I sent Elaine Cougler, historical authors of The Loyalist Legacy, my questions and she answered them in a video. It turned out great – she’s an elegant speaker and I enjoyed listening to her verbalizing her answers.

She wanted me to note that the first few seconds are a little wavering but then it picks up just fine! I really appreciate the nice words she left for me at the end of the interview as well.

Elaine is a marvelous person and wonderful writer and if you like anything surrounding the American Revolution time period, I would check her out.

Here is the video interview, click to head to You Tube: 

As mentioned previously, Elaine Cougler has written a wonderful trilogy, The Loyalist Trilogy, and the third book, The Loyalist Legacy recently released just in time for the holidays. This trilogy follows the stories of a family over generations who are Ontario-area Canadian loyalists to the Crown during the time of the American Revolution. You can read my review of the third book HERE. For the reviews and interviews previously done, scroll below.

the-loyalist-legacy_web

The Loyalist Legacy, Synopsis –

After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans.

William knows he cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children, he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting.

With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastrophes in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.

I’ve featured Elaine many times before: you can read a review of her first book, The Loyalist’s Wife, HERE, which beings the story of John and Lucy; you can read my review of her second book, The Loyalist’s Luck, HERE, which continues their war torn story in Niagara area; you can read an interview I did with Elaine after book two came out HERE. This can all give you a great idea about this exciting trilogy if you’d not yet read any of them.

Praise for Elaine Cougler and The Loyalist Trilogy of Books –

“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.” – Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.

“….an intriguing story” – A Bookish Affair

“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.” – Book Lovers Paradise

“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.” – Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Purchase The Loyalist Legacy

BUY THE BOOK LINK –UK

BUY THE BOOK LINK –US

03_Elaine CouglerElaine Cougler, Biography

Elaine Cougler is the author of historical novels about the lives of settlers in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution.

Cougler uses the backdrop of the conflict for page-turning fictional tales where the main characters face torn loyalties, danger and personal conflicts.

Her Loyalist trilogy: The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck and The Loyalist Legacy coming in 2016. The Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair selected The Loyalist’s Wife as a finalist in its Self-Publishing Awards. The Middlesex County Library selected the book as its choice for book club suggestions. The Writers Community of Durham Region presented Elaine with a Pay-It-Forward Award.

Elaine has led several writing workshops and has been called on to speak about the Loyalists to many groups. She writes the blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, about the journey to publication and beyond. She lives in Woodstock with her husband. They have two grown children.

Elaine Cougler can be found on Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn and on her blog.

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE for The Loyalist Legacy

book-tour-logo-final

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Interview: Julie K. Rose Talks about Writing, Research, Tunisian Cake, and More!

I’m pleased today to have Julie K. Rose drop by for tea and cookies (and bringing a cake recipe by too that sounds lovely) and to talk about her newest book, Dido’s Crown, as well her life and writing! I hope you enjoy our conversation. If you missed my exciting review of Dido’s Crown earlier this week, you can see it HERE. It’s a wonderful story, set in 1935, of a woman caught up in espionage in Tunisia!

02_dido%27s-crown

Hi Julie! Welcome back to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so excited about your newest fictional endeavor, Dido’s Crown. As I prepare our seats and refreshment, tell me, what’s behind that name?

Julie: Hi! I’m so excited to be back. You always have the best refreshments, and conversation! In terms of the name, it’s tied to an important plot point in the book, so I don’t want to say too much. That said, it ties nicely to Tunisia – Dido was the founder and first queen of Carthage, modern-day Tunis. And I like the suggestion of Dido’s complicated and melancholy story.

Erin: Yay!! Yes, it does. 🙂 We will let them all find out by reading the book! How exciting has this been for you to release another book? It’s so hot here in Ohio – I mean it’s not autumn weather at all that we are used this time of year. We will be wearing swimsuits for Halloween. And with a serial killer being arrested here it’s been a bit stressful. So I’m up for relaxing in my comfy library chairs with you while we talk about Dido’s Crown. And I’m thinking mojitos today – they are my favorite. We can do mint and other assorted flavors…..blueberry…cherry…. You’ve packed for a weekend stay right?

Julie: Of course I did! Sitting together, chatting about books sounds just like the antidote to the world that I need this week.This world is completely nuts, so art is more important than ever. It helps us remember how to be human, you know? I’d actually love a cup of hot, sweet mint tea if you don’t mind. Puts me in a North Africa kind of mood.

Erin: Okay, mint tea is one of my faves for Fall and Winter and since the air conditioning is on late for this time of year I’ll make some and it won’t make me too hot. My ex-husband was from Egypt and hot tea was a must drink (or Turkish coffee). We can save the mojitos for another day since you’ll be staying awhile. I’ve baked up some spice cookies in the Dutch tradition though! I suppose that is not very North African.. They just sound good today and I think you’ll like them. They smell like Fall or Christmas and I’m anticipating those seasons. I’ll pour the tea and we’ll get started! Oh –I always ask you to share a recipe when you come too! Do you have one you’d like to share on this trip? May I can make that for us for later.

Julie:  Oooh spice cookies are the BEST.

I do have a recipe! This is for Tunisian Orange and Almond cake. Tunisia is a country of real contrast, and the northern climes are home to vineyards and orchards – very similar to the climate here in the Bay Area. Orange cake plays an important role right in the first chapter of Dido’s Crown.

This is adapted from Reza Mahammad’s recipe, found here: http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/tunisian-orange-almond-cake.html

tunisian cake.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 cupsuperfine sugar (not powdered)
  • ¾ cup ground almond
  • ¼ cup panko crumbs, slightly stale breadcrumbs or cake crumb
  • Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed oranges
  • Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • For the syrup:
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ tbsp orange blossom water
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Line and grease an 8″ spring-form cake tin.
  2. Mix together the sugar, almonds, panko crumbs, both zests and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and the oil.
  4. Pour onto the almond mixture and mix.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and place into a cold oven. (At this point make the syrup)
  6. Turn on to 355°F and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a plate.
  8. While the cake is warm, pierce it all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and pour on some of the syrup.
  9. Keep spooning over more syrup every now and then until it’s all been absorbed.

For the syrup:

  1. Make the syrup by adding all the ingredients except the orange blossom water into a saucepan. Bring gently to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar whilst allowing the liquid to thicken to a syrupy consistency.
  2. Add the orange blossom water and remove the spices which can be used to decorate the cake.
  3. Set aside till cake ready. To serve, dust with icing sugar and serve on a cake stand with Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche and summer berries.

Erin: Yum!! Yes I’ll definitely make that for us for tomorrow! Thanks for sharing that!

Dido’s Crown is a 1930s novel of intrigue that you describe as being inspired by Indiana Jones and John Le Carré. Two of my favorite things! Plus The Thin Man! I was thrilled when I found out your wrote a story about a woman who takes on a mystery during the political international landscape of 1935! Where did you come up with this idea?

Julie: I’m not sure if I can pinpoint how and where I came up with the concept. I knew I wanted to set a book in Tunisia; I’ve always been fascinated by North Africa, and Tunisia has an amazing history. So I knew I would set at least some of the book there. The plot itself definitely took more time and evolved over the years that I wrote it. It was initially going to be focused on Tom and Will and their time just before WWI, and at that point, the British Secret Service angle hadn’t appeared – it was initially about these two scholars at Oxford. I wish I could remember the moment that Mary showed up, because she of course changed everything.

Erin: Your novel travels around the globe with Mary. How did you research the locations during these time periods and bring them with such vivid description to the page?

Julie:Modern travel guidebooks were actually incredibly useful as a starting point, as I’ve not yet had the chance to visit Tunisia. YouTube was also great – lots of videos of modern Tunisia helped me understand the lay of the land. YouTube was also surprisingly helpful in terms of films of Tunisia at the time. And of course, the normal research you’d expect – contemporary and scholarly sources.

Erin: What background research on the history of this time period did you do and how factual is the foundation your fictional story rest upon?

Julie: Ahhhhh research! The 1930s was a really interesting time for Tunisia, politically speaking, so there was a lot of great scholarly research to tap into. As a matter of fact, I’ve posted a bibliography at my website with a small set of the books and articles I consulted. In terms of the 1930s, there were quite a few great resources, including The Thirties by Juliet Gardiner. The research on the British Secret Intelligence Service was a load of fun, and I particularly loved The Secret History of MI6 by Keith Jeffery.

The foundational information is factual – the SIS, the different stations, the influence of the Deuxième Bureau in colonial life, the Tunisian independence movement, etc. The origin story I created for numbers stations, while based on research into espionage techniques and what we know of numbers station history (which is very little), is pure fiction.

Erin: How did you learn to pace your novel in order to keep the action moving but yet also create your characters with dimension and depth?

Julie: Well, I hope I accomplished that…and if I did, I’m not quite sure how! To be very honest, this book was a bear for me to write. I had to devise ways to keep myself on track, not only with chronologies but also with motivations both at a macro (Secret Intelligence Service) level and a micro level (individual characters). Ultimately the action is accomplished by character, so those personalities and desires were the primary focus.

Erin: Talk about your cover a little bit and the thought behind it?

Julie: I was initially interested in using a painting called Olga by David Jagger (1935), because the subject is so very much like the Mary in my mind.

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Olga by David Jagger / Submitted by Julie K. Rose

Unfortunately, I couldn’t obtain the rights for the painting, and I think in the end, it worked out better. I did a search at Bridgeman Art for “photograph” and “1935” and found the gorgeous photo I ended up using, which is held by a museum in New Zealand. I love the look of the woman – she feels self-contained, a little wistful, and a little mysterious. My brother had the genius idea of overlaying the map of Tunis, which gives the cover an interesting weathered look from afar, and a second layer of mystery when you see it up close.

Erin: The cover is amazing!! And your brother had a great idea. How long have you been working on the novel? What kind of steps do you put into the process?

Julie: I started working on the novel in 2011, when I was blocked in the midst of trying to finish my last book, Oleanna. That book was published in 2012 and I picked at Dido’s Crown for a bit, but then went through a period of depression and didn’t come back to the book again until the summer of 2015. The steps are pretty much the same as most writers: a very rough first draft, set it aside and percolate on it for a bit, do another draft, lather, rinse, repeat.

Erin: What did you find out about yourself through the process of writing Dido’s Crown?

Julie: I learned that droughts end, dark times pass, and the creative spark will still be there when you come back to it. It’s a very reassuring thing.

Erin: What did you learn about your writing and your process from the publication of Oleanna in 2012 to the your current release?

Julie:I learned to finally not just embrace the rewriting process, but actually enjoy it. I also learned to respect my creative rhythms more. And I knew this, but it was an important reminder: good critique partners and editors are worth their weight in gold.

Erin: You’ll always an inspiration to me, Julie. I really enjoy your motivational YouTube videos. Can you talk about why you prompted to do those, how they help you, and how you hope they help others? Will you keep doing them?

Julie: Oh my goodness, thank you! There are a couple of motivations behind the videos. The first is that I really wanted to try something that scared me. I had taken a public speaking training at work, in which everything we did was filmed. It was both scary and eye opening, and it gave me confidence. But presenting to a group of your colleagues is one thing; filming a video and posting it where any random stranger could see it was initially terrifying. Who the hell am I to take up space? Who the hell am I to have a voice? But there’s something that feels revolutionary and empowering about being seen, as a middle-aged woman, you know? And once I started doing the videos, I found I enjoyed the hell out of them. I like the whole process – writing the script, setting up the shot, filming, editing, etc.

As to the content: I feel like I just recovered my own creativity last year, and realized what a precious and important thing it is. This year has been absolutely insane, on a cultural and political front, and art and creativity are an important bulwark against the horror. I know it can be hard for people, especially women, to embrace their creativity and give themselves permission to do art and be creative. But it’s more important than ever.

I will definitely continue to do videos; I’m kind of addicted now. I may add to the Courage & Creativity series, and I have ideas for other series that could be a lot of fun.

Erin: I look forward to more videos. They truly help me!

What is the best snack you can eat when working your “second job” of writing, editing, promo, etc.? I want to see what’s in your secret snack drawer….

Julie: Oh gosh. I used to have a terrible bubble gum habit, which I’ve finally broken myself of. I don’t snack when I write, because I’m usually writing first thing in the morning before my day job, so if it’s anything, it’s some oatmeal or toast. But I always need to have something to drink – coffee (with sugar-free peppermint syrup!) or hot tea.

Erin: You must be a morning person! I find so many writers tell me they don’t snack when writing. I feel all I do is type five words – snack – type five words -snack. haha!

What do you think you want to write in the future? Do you have any plans or thoughts for topics?

Julie: I’m working on my next book now. It’s set in my home town of San José in 1906, right at the time of the great earthquake. The history of the Santa Clara Valley (now known as the Silicon Valley) is fascinating, and little known outside California, so I’m hoping to shed some light there.

Erin: If you could write a book about a woman in history, who would it be? If you could have 5 critique partners for the book, who would they be?

Julie:This is so tough. I love stories about regular folks, so I’d love to write something about what it was like to live through the troubles in Northumbria in the 6th and 7th centuries. If pressed to write about a famous woman, my first instinct is Boudicca, though I’d love to write someday about Princess Kristina of Norway. She was married to Philip of Castile in 1258, only to die four years later at the age of 28. She had wished a church honoring St. Olav be built, and her wish was finally granted 750 years later in Covarrubias in 2011.

Erin: Yes, now you must write of Princess Kristina!  Okay – a fun question. Your favorite coffee mug is….?

Julie: Is it sad that I have more than one? The “Please do not annoy the writer” mug is from a friend and is both funny and true. The Sons of Heptarchy Northumbria mug is via the British History Podcast and references the sons of Ida, the king of Bernicia. It makes me laugh every time I look at it. And the Good Mythical Morning mug is from my favorite morning show. 

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Erin: So cool! I love to see people’s coffee/tea mugs. Give good insight!

If people dedicated a weekend to your book and wanted to throw in a movie to make the event complete, what would they watch? Feel free to give more than one suggestion.

Julie: Oh gosh! Well, pop some popcorn and settle in. Of course, I’d start with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Did you know the scenes that are set in Cairo were actually filmed in Tunis? Beyond that connection, it’s just a great adventure and I love the action, and of course Harrison Ford. I’d follow it up with The Thin Man (1934) with Myrna Loy and William Powell. The dialog is to die for, and it’s a great Hollywood version of the mid-1930s. Finally, if you’re still awake, definitely watch Design for Living (1933). Though based on Noël Coward’s 1932 play, it diverged quite a bit and I think it’s delightful. Plus: Gary Cooper and Frederic March. Come on.

Erin: It’s always a joy to have you on my site, dear friend. As always, I wish you the best of luck with your newest book. I’m so happy and excited for you! Cheers to another cup of hot tea (and mojitos tomorrow) – stay awhile and chat.

Julie: It is always such a pleasure to sit with you, my dear! Thank you always for your support and friendship, you’re such a delight! And yes, let’s keep chatting. These cookies are delicious!

02_dido%27s-crownDido’s Crown by Julie K. Rose

Publication Date: September 29, 2016
Paperback; 340 Pages
ISBN13: 9781365316333

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary

Set in Tunisia and France in 1935, Dido’s Crown is a taut literary-historical adventure influenced by Indiana Jones, The Thin Man, and John le Carré.

Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father’s death, her sister’s disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will. But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well.

When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband’s world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary’s beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_julie-k-roseAuthor Julie K. Rose, Biography

A member of the Historical Novel Society and former reviewer for the Historical Novels Review, Julie lives in the Bay Area with her husband and rescue cats, and loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.

Her historical adventure novel, Dido’s Crown, has released in September 2016.

Oleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, is her second novel. The Pilgrim Glass, a finalist in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, was published in 2010.

For more information, please visit Julie K. Rose’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

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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:

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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…

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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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