Tag Archives: The Graham Saga series

Visiting with Historical Author Anna Belfrage About Her Eighth and Final Graham Saga Novel + What’s Next?

Today I have an interview with the one-of-a-kind Anna Belfrage. Her eighth book in The Graham Saga series has published, but as it’s the last, we’ve talked about the series as a whole and what’s next. If you missed my review of To Catch a Falling Star yesterday, you can view it HERE. Enjoy!

Hi Anna, welcome back to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s always a pleasure to have you here for conversation, drink, and sweets…and  your characters…oh, how they like to try to come along for some fun too! Alas, though I’m sure this won’t be the last time I have you on my site, it does look like it is the end of the The Graham Saga series for now, with the publishing of the eighth book, To Catch a Falling Star. Let’s chat a bit today about it all. How has it all been going for you?

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Anna: Well, I’ve exceeded my normal annual consumption of Kleenex by now… I had no idea it would be so difficult to say goodbye to Alex and Matthew. My husband tries to comfort me by pointing out there’s nothing stopping me from writing some more about them, and he’s right, of course. But there are other characters calling for my attention, and so…I do think there will be a novella or two. Mainly to dull the edge of abstinence I am presently suffering.

Erin: I better go get my extra box of Kleenex then, I’m sure we’ll need them as we talk. Are we up for a spot of tea today? If so, I’ll put on the tea kettle and brew up whatever you’d like. It’s rainy and humid and chilly here right now. Or we can do iced tea, in fact, if you’d prefer. And I know that you haven’t been allowed sweets in your home lately either, but you do love good cake, so I baked up a celebratory pound cake with raspberries and cream. Name your pleasure and I’ll serve it up!

Anna: I love you. Love you! And your pound cake! (Eagerly extends her plate) And yes, tea would be nice – it’s sunny and freezing cold over here, so I prefer the kettle variety.

Erin: It’s all prepared, so I’m on my way back in to settle beside you in some of my comfy library chairs. Aw, *hugs* Anna, I so enjoy you too! I’m looking forward to chatting, and hopefully, laughing as well. I do think I love your laugh, even if I’ve never heard it in person! Let’s get started.

Anna: My grandmother (a dour person who spent most of her life in a housedress and rollers until my grandfather died when she suddenly lost 20 pounds, bought herself jeans, a leather jacket and let her hair grow long) always said my laugh reminded her of the sound a goat makes if it shits on a tea-tray. Did I mention she wasn’t very nice? Actually, I think both of us have contagious laughs – I can see it in your eyes.

Erin: Hahahaha!! I literally just spit out this nice tea I just made all over my lap. I should know better, you are so very funny. I’m going to have to compose myself to even begin again. I might need to wipe myself up a little as well.

Ah, ok, now that I’ve recovered, let’s see if I can ask some questions. The most general question would be, especially after I’ve had you on my site probably 10 or more times, how does it feel to have accomplished writing and publishing eight books in a successful series? Do you feel content and ready for something new? Will you miss it? Will you keep promoting it?

Anna: Will I miss it? Gah! Yes, of course I will. And yes, I will continue promoting the series – among other things by publishing the odd novella or two as mentioned above. But I have so much other stuff in my head, and for some months Alex and Matthew will have to cede center stage to other characters. (“You can’t be serious!” Alex scowls, arms akimbo. “After all we’ve done for you, and you’re just going to leave us like this? Like this?” She gestures at Matthew’s half-finished little cabin, their private retreat. “Just for some months,” I try. Besides, if we’re going to be honest I’ve already written a couple of chapter sin which the cabin is finished and furnished. “You have?” Alex softens. “Well then.”)

Erin: After reading this eighth book, Alexandra Lind and Matthew Graham certainly, to me, don’t seem like they are finished, or that they’re family is finished. Excuse me if you’ve mentioned anything like above already. Though I know you tease about making them immortal, truly, do they still prod your mind with things they want to say?

Anna: Constantly. That Alex is a chatter-box, let me tell you! (“I am not!” Alex says, glaring at me. Matthew just smiles, draws his wife close and kisses her head. “Aye you are. The miracle is that most of what you say actually makes sense.”)

Anyway, yes, there are some things that need clearing up: Samuel and his life among the Mohawk, for example. And there’s an infected situation between Daniel and that horrible toad Richard Campbell. Plus Jacob’s unknown daughter in London is dealt a very, very bad hand of cards.

Erin: When you first set out to write a time slip series, and wrote the first book, did you have in mind it would remain set in the past throughout the series and she might never come back to the present to live?

Anna: Yes. I had this terrible premonition that if I allowed Alex to return, she’d never get back to Matthew. There was this horrible line running in my head: “She died just as twilight tinged the skies with tones of purple dusk. It was the 7th of May and it was exactly twenty years since she’d lost him. Him. Her Matthew, the man she’d last seen as he ran towards her, arms open in a futile attempt to grab her as time sucked her back. Him. Twenty years of arid emptiness, of longing for his voice, his touch. Him.  Alex Lind turned her face to the wall and gave up breath.”

Well, as you can guess, that served as a pretty good motivator in never, ever, allowing Alex to slip back through time.

Erin: Oh my, yes. Why did you choose, as an author, to have her slip into the 17th century? Do you feel that only someone with Alex’s robust personality could really be strong enough to “get on with her new life and love?”

Anna: The 17th century was a given. I am fascinated by this period in time, by the people who were brave enough to traverse the oceans in small wooden ships to start up life in the New World, by men and women so committed to their faith they were willing to die for it. And yes, I do believe most of us, if yanked out of our context, would more or less curl up and die, so it takes a determined – and open-minded – person to sort of pull up her socks and get on with it. I also think it helped that Alex came with some deep personal scars, and in some ways being transported backwards in time gave her an opportunity to reinvent herself.

Erin: Obviously Alex falls in love with Matthew and they start a family, so in the course of the series, they travel many places and take on new things with each novel. Though they seem a simple, down-to-earth couple, they are also very revolutionary. How do you, as the author, feel that they, and their family, grew over the course of the series? What did they learn?

Anna: It was difficult for Matthew to recognize just how dependent he was on Alex – as he had to do when they immigrated to Maryland, with him more or less torn apart with the pain of leaving his beloved Scottish manor.

Over time, both Alex and Matthew have learnt to share their emotional burdens with each other, whether it be the painful secrets of their past, or the devastating loss of their children. Theirs is a relationship built on love, respect and trust, on the certainty that no matter what, they’ll be there for each other – and they pass this on to their children, all of whom have successful marriages with partners they respect as well as love.

Erin: Alex and Matthew both are very strong, passionate, and yet emotional. How did you capture their personalities for the page? How do you think they mirror each other and how do you feel they are similar?

Anna: Well, if you ask Alex, she’ll tell you she is nothing like her obstinate, old-fashioned man, and Matthew will let you know he has little in common with his stubborn, opinionated wife.

I think they are similar in their outlook on life – do the right things, speak up for those that can’t speak for themselves.

Matthew is far more devout than Alex is – and initially, his brand or religion has a whiff of intolerance – he is, after all, a man shaped by the events of the English Civil War. Alex may have her doubts about God being a Presbyterian, but over time she is influenced by Matthew’s deep-seated conviction that God exists, and by the end of the series she has regular little chats with God, mostly to make sure He’s doing His job and keeping her family safe.

Passion is something they definitely have in common – for each other, for life, for their children.

Erin: Of all the secondary characters, children, etc., who was your favorite to write? Who did you enjoy creating the most, who had a mind of their own, and who did you not like very much?

Anna: I’m ambivalent to Daniel and Ruth, both of them with a rather narrow-minded approach to things, where things are either black or white. In my experience, life is mostly a jumble of varied greys…

My favourite… Well, Ian is very close to my heart as is Samuel. Both of them go through the harrowing experience as children of being torn in two between people they love, having to choose one over the other, all the while knowing that the person they don’t choose will be very hurt. Children are very perceptive like that, aren’t they?

Erin: Over the course of the saga, as mentioned, many times and places were encountered. Which was your favorite setting and time period? Why? Was there one that was more of a challenge?

Anna: I am a sucker for American Colonial – the courage it must have taken to ride off into the wilds, stake a claim and then set about taming the wilderness into arable lands. So I am very fond of my version of Colonial Maryland, including Providence, this bustling little town that evolved into Annapolis. The time period is consistently 17th century, so I guess that shows this is my favourite time.

Erin: Yes, I agree. Colonial America is also one of my favorites in general, and about your series.

Beyond that, what lessons and values do you feel you’ve taught within your book as you went along? Alex and Matthew both seem whole-heartedly like fine examples in regards to love, friendship, loyalty, justice.

Anna: I think my books are about love – the enduring kind, the one that has you sitting up all night when your loved one is ill, just to be able to hold his hand, the one that makes you look at your partner after thirty odd years and still see the person you fell in love with. I also firmly believe that most people strive to be good. Yes, for some it doesn’t work out all that well, but deep down, most of us want to do the right thing. Matthew and Alex are such people, and at times their integrity places them at risk – but some things are worth fighting for. Finally, Alex makes a journey into the unknown and becomes an ambassador for tolerance in an era where people were suspicious of anyone different from them. Sadly, I think we still see that type of behavior in our world of today, and I agree with Alex, that ultimately there’s no difference – we are all creature blessed with a short but priceless span of life.

Erin: So, the question everyone is probably asking, will there be more to this series in some shape and form? Will we ever hear from any of these characters again?

Anna: Well, I think I’ve replied to that question further up. So how about you go up and read it while I serve myself another slice of this fantastic pound cake? 🙂

raspberry-pound-cake

Erin: Yes, when you sat down you did say you might write a novella or two! I can’t wait to hear more about them. I’ll ponder it while I pour you more tea to have with your cake. 🙂

In all of the heartache, turmoil, heartbreak, and yet also joy, in your epic familial saga, do you feel that you’ve wrapped up most of the character arcs in this final book, at least especially with the children? Why or why not?

Anna: Not all of them. Samuel tugs at my heart – a lot. Daniel remains unexplored, and little Adam is growing into a young man of character.

Erin: Samuel is one of my favorites. I’d love to read a book about him. HINT!!!

Have you ever thought of going all the way in the opposite direction and writing a novel or novella that is a prequel? You know, one that tells us about Alex’s upbringing and normal everyday life in modern America before she slips? Something about that intrigues me!

Anna: Oh, I have started a prequel – but it starts much, much earlier than that! “She was born just as a bolt of lightning struck the Giralda, causing the heavy bell to boom out a greeting. That, at least, was what her grandfather said, laughing at the thought of a Catholic bell ringing in the birth of a little Jewish girl.” Welcome to 15th century Seville, and the story of Mercedes.

Erin: Oh, THAT’S exciting, I want to read that already!

I saw an excerpt at the back of To Catch of Falling Star, from a new project you’re working on which is set in 14th century England. I’m excited and want to know more about it! What can you tell us?

Anna: Adam de Guirande is a man who has more than one reason to love his lord, the enigmatic and ambitious Roger Mortimer. In 1321, Adam marries Kit Coucy – except he thinks he’s marrying Katherine de Monmouth, and doesn’t take it all that well when he realises he’s been played the fool. Not that Kit had any choice, but Adam has a hard time believing that.

When the conflict between Baron Mortimer and Edward II explodes into armed conflict, Adam has no choice but to ride with his lord, no matter that treason comes with dishonourable death. With Mortimer in chains, and Adam’s at death’s door, only one person cares enough to come looking – Kit.

This is but a brief introduction to a story that will require at least three novels to tell in full. A story 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.

We first meet Adam as he stands waiting for his bride:

Adam de Guirande approached his impending nuptials with as much enthusiasm as a lamb about to be led to the slaughter. Had it not been for the dowry, further enlarged by the baron’s generous gift, he would have refused the honour, all too aware of the fact that most men viewed his intended wife as used goods. He’d only met Katherine briefly, but rumour had her spending a lot of time alone with the baron – especially during the past winter, when the baron had spent several consecutive weeks at Wigmore – and Adam knew better than most just how carnal a man the baron could be. Not for him the refined love of troubadours and chansons, no, Sir Roger Mortimer preferred his pleasures in the flesh, so to speak.

The first instalment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, is planned for later this year. I rather like the title – what do you think, Erin? 

Erin: I like the title and the book premise. Again, excited! I look forward to it!

I love the subtle humor in your books, within Alex but in many of your other characters as well. I feel like you are like this in real life. I think this makes your books fun to read. Do you always wish to carry an element of humor into your characters or does it just “happen?”

Anna: It mostly happens – I do believe my characters take after their creator. But I think it is important with humour – it serves to save a scene from too much sentimentality.

Erin: What is one of the funniest things that have happened to you while in the course of researching or writing your books? If not when writing, then in general, because I know you have some of those stories!

Anna: Funniest? Hmm. I was in Cumnock – I felt I had to see this center of the universe in Matthew Graham’s Scottish life – and I must admit to being a tad disappointed. It wasn’t quite as picturesque as I had hoped. It did, however, have a hotel smack bang in the middle, and this hotel offered afternoon teas. The place was deserted. It was my BFF, me, and the waiter. At some point he asked what we’re doing there. I told him and he just blinked. “Write about Cumnock? Whatever for?” He gestured at the window. “There must be thousands of Scottish towns prettier than this.” Absolutely. But only Cumnock had Sandy Peden, that endearing fanatical preacher who livened up the nearby area in the 17th century.

Erin: I know you already live overseas, and you travel some, what is your favorite place nearby where you live? What is your favorite place abroad?

Anna: I suppose whether it is overseas or not depends on perspective. From where I’m standing, it is you who is overseas, while I have my feet firmly planted in Swedish soil. My favourite place here in Sweden is our country house. Situated in the middle of nowhere, it sits on a lake, and there are no sounds other than those of the wind in the trees, the birds, the bees… Like balm or my soul. My favourite place abroad has to be London. Or Istanbul. Yes, Istanbul, historical highway between east and west, between old and new.

Erin: Oh, Anna, I know! I meant overseas from myself, silly. I still sat I was born overseas (England), you know, not that I live overseas now. It’s all relative, you’re right. J  I’d love to go to Istanbul too!

If you could time slip yourself, where would it be? Who would you meet? What would you wear? What would you eat? (I’m sounding like Dr. Suess…)

Anna: There are so many events in history I’d like to peek in on, but if I have to choose one moment, I think I’d have liked to be on the Santa Maria when Columbus saw land – well, when the look-out screeched that he saw land. As this was an all-male venture, I’d be appropriately dressed in scratchy hose, breeches, a short – and too warm – doublet over a long linen shirt. Food would have been boring: fortunately, I’d have brought along a lime or two to ward off scurvy.

Erin: Ha! Somehow, I can see you doing that! My dearest Anna, I hope we meet your characters from The Graham Saga again in some shape or form, but if not, I look forward to your creation of new ones. Thank you for sharing the Graham’s story with the rest of us; the books will be forever treasured and I’ll pass them down to my daughters. I am excited for you to keep writing, as I know you have many more stories to tell. You’re still welcome here anytime!

Anna: Sheesh! Now look what you’ve done – pass me the Kleenex, will you? It’s been my pleasure to visit with you, and I hope to have the opportunity to do so many more times over the coming years. After all, I haven’t even begun telling you about Jason and Helle, have I?

Erin: Big teaser!!!

02_To Catch a Falling Star_CoverTo Catch a Falling Star, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 1, 2015
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: Book Eight, The Graham Saga
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip

GoodReads

To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Some gifts are double-edged swords …

For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.

While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.

All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.

Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

Buy To Catch a Falling Star~

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

About the Author, Anna Belfrage~

03_Anna BelfrageI 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.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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

Hashtags: #ToCatchaFallingStarBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #GrahamSaga

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Anna_Belfrage

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Anna Belfrage Talks about the History of SUGAR production, but of course!

Welcome the amazing Anna Belfrage today to Oh, for the Hook of a Book with a guest article in honor of the release of the seventh book in her Graham Saga Series! If you missed my review yesterday, check it out here. Take it away Anna, let’s eat cake while everyone else reads, eh??

Sugar and Spice and More than Just Things Nice
by Anna Belfrage, Author of The Graham Saga Series

Loading sugar and molasses for shipping to England Barbados 17th 18th century_jpg

Loading sugar and molasses for shipping to England Barbados 17th 18th century / negroartist.com

Say the West Indies, and most of us think of sun and sea, of palm trees and the soft swaying rhythm of calypso music. We don’t automatically think big business – well, beyond the fact that most of us know there are a couple of attractive tax havens in the Caribbean – but once upon a time the West Indies were a fundamental part of the global economy, part of that lucrative triangular trade in which slaves, sugar and rum were the major components.

The cultivation of sugar was a jealously guarded secret. The Spanish – and Portuguese – colonists wanted to retain some sort of monopoly on this cash crop (Pernambuco in Brazil was the world’s largest sugar producer), but the commercial forces were having none of it, and so sugarcane arrived to Barbados in the 1650’s, where it went on to become the dominant crop.

Interestingly enough, sugar was brought to Barbados by a group of Sephardic Jews, since several years established in Brazil but increasingly dissatisfied with their lot in life. As some of you may know, the Jews had been expulsed from England by Edward I in 1290, and since then the Jews had stayed well away from England and its dominions. But in 1655, a representative of the Jews approached Cromwell and asked that they be allowed to settle in London. Cromwell readily agreed – the man had a grudge the size of an elephant when it came to Catholics, but was substantially more tolerant towards the Jews. Plus, of course, he may have realised the benefits a strong Jewish community would bring to England as a trading nation. And in Barbados, the Sephardic Jews and their extensive knowledge of sugar cultivation were received with enthusiasm.

Sugar is a labour intensive crop. The Sephardic Jews brought with them the technological knowledge of how to crush and prepare the cane, but the actual work needed to be done by someone else. In Pernambuco, sugar had been grown by a multitude of small free-holders, resulting in low yields and too much administration. On Barbados, a slave-based approach was implemented. The economic results were fantastic. The resulting human suffering was inexcusable.

Not all slaves were black – at least not initially. Cromwell, that model of toleration vis-à-vis the Jews, had over 30 000 Irish men carried over the seas to work themselves to death under the Caribbean sun. Why? Because they were papists. Some years later, the officials of the restored monarch, Charles II, sent off boatloads of vociferous Scottish Presbyterians, condemned to servitude on the Barbadian plantations – a harsh and inevitable march towards death, very far from the country and people they loved.

By the time the Monmouth rebels were deposited on Barbados, the sugar production was fuelled by black slaves, brought over en masse from Africa. The pale, undernourished prisoners of the Crown who arrived in 1686 carried little economic value. The men were there to be punished for their rebellion, the Crown hoping to recoup on some of their costs by selling them off as slaves. None of the rebels were expected to live long – in fact, the idea was that they should expire, worked to their limits and beyond.

So who were these Monmouth rebels? Well, in 1685 the Duke of Monmouth decided to claim the English crown for himself, this based on the fact that he was the eldest son of the recently departed Charles II. Problem was, the Duke of Monmouth (James Scott in more informal circles) was illegitimate, even if he maintained that his parents had been secretly married. Hmm. Whatever the case, the flamboyant duke launched an invasion with the aim of overthrowing James II, the new king (and brother of Charles II). The duke hoped that his countrymen would rise in spontaneous rebellion when he landed, this due to James II being Catholic while the duke was a stout Protestant. Didn’t happen, and so the rebellion failed, with several thousands of young men being either executed or transported to the West Indies.

Charlie Graham, the Monmouth rebel depicted in Whither Thou Goest, was a young man with more passion than sense – which is how he ended up as a rebel to begin with. He had no understanding of the complex trading triangle he indirectly became a part of, all he could think about was surviving.

He had no idea that his endless days on the cane fieldsresulted in barrels packed with raw sugar, nor did he know that these barrels ended up on Rhode Island or in England where some of them were converted to rum. Good rum, far more sophisticated than the cane liquor produced by the various  stills on Barbados. That rum would travel the world, was traded for beads and for textiles that were carried to Africa by the slave traders. In Africa, the slavers loaded their holds with men and women who were born free but ended up enslaved – casualties of local wars and local greed.

By the time the slavers returned to the Caribbean with their human cargo, almost a year had passed since the sugar left the island. By then, many of the slaves brought over the previous year were dead, and the off-loaded cargo was easily disposed of, angry, bewildered and frightened people subjected to being sold like animals before they were dragged off to a life that quickly became a vicious circle of too much work, too little food.

No, Charlie knew nothing about the triangular trade, but he knew everything about that vicious circle. He stole, he bullied, hecrawled – all to ensure he survived. There were days when he didn’t want to, when he no longer knew why he struggled so hard to stay alive.

Occasionally, there were things that reminded Charlie of what it was like to be a man. Like when Mr Brown stepped from his house with a book in his hands, and Charlie recalled that he had once read for pleasure, or when the overseer sat smoking a pipe and drinking beer, and Charlie was transported back to evenings in a Dutch inn, with his friends and his hero, the now dead Duke of Monmouth. And then a sharp word would be thrown at him, and he would remember: he was a slave, a branded man, and his life was no longer his own nor would it ever be again. In such moments, he vehemently wished he could die, that the sky would open and fling a bolt of lightning to obliterate his sorry existence. But every morning he woke to yet another day of drudgery, and his heart was far too strong, his body far too young, to allow him to give up on living.

Fortunately for Charlie, he had an uncle named Matthew Graham, a man with his own bitter memories from his time as an indentured servant. Together with his wife, Alex, Matthew set off on an expedition to find Charlie – if nothing else to accord him a decent burial. That made Charlie an exception. Most of the Monmouth rebels had no one who came looking. Most of them would have died before the ten year sentence expired – except, of course, that James II was ousted and replaced by a Protestant king. The surviving rebels were pardoned, even if their new owners were reluctant to let them go. By 1691, more than half of the rebels had been freed, but with no money they remained stuck very far away from home. Maybe they consoled themselves with cane liquor.

These days, the best rum is mostly produced locally. These days, there is no triangular trade in which sugar becomes rum becomes slaves becomes sugar and so on. These days, Barbados is an island of golden sands and blue seas, a little slice of paradise. But if you leave the beaches and go exploring, if you take the time to visit the interior where the cane fields rustle like carpets of giant grass, chances are you may hear them, the whispered voices of the unfortunates who were yanked away from homes and loved ones, to end their days as slaves.

Anna Belgrage, Biography~

03_Anna BelfrageAnna Belfrage combines an exciting day job as the CEO of a multinational listed group with her writing endeavours. When she isn’t writing a novel, she is probably working on a post or catching up on her reading.

Other than work and writing, Anna finds time to bake and drink copious amounts of tea, preferably with a chocolaty nibble on the side. And yes, now and then she is known to visit a gym as a consequence…

For more info about Anna, visit her website or her Amazon page. You can also find her on her blog. Whither Thou Goest is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Whither Thou Goest, Synopsis~

01_Whither Thou GoestPublication Date: November 1, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
Series: The Graham Saga

Whither Thou Goest is the seventh book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

In their rural home in the Colony of Maryland, Matthew and Alex Graham are still recovering from the awful events of the previous years when Luke Graham, Matthew’s estranged brother, asks them for a favour.

Alex has no problems whatsoever ignoring Luke’s sad plea for help. In her opinion Matthew’s brother is an evil excuse of a man who deserves whatever nasty stuff fate throws at him. Except, as Matthew points out, Luke is begging them to save his son – his misled Charlie, one of the Monmouth rebels – and can Charlie Graham be held responsible for his father’s ill deeds?

So off they go on yet another adventure, this time to the West Indies to find a young man neither of them knows but who faces imminent death on a sugar plantation, condemned to slavery for treason. The journey is hazardous and along the way Alex comes face to face with a most disturbing ghost from her previous life, a man she would much have preferred never to have met.

Time is running out for Charlie Graham, Matthew is haunted by reawakened memories of his days as an indentured servant, and then there’s the eerie Mr Brown, Charlie’s new owner, who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, anything at all.

Will Matthew deliver his nephew from imminent death? And will they ever make it back home?

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)

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

Hashtags: #WhitherThouGoestBlogTour #GrahamSaga #Historical #TimeSlip

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @anna_belfrage

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The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage Continues The Graham Saga with Love and Hope in the Midst of Harsh Times

The Prodigal SonThe Prodigal Son is Anna Belfrage’s third book in her Graham Saga series, a story about a time shifted Alexandra (Alex) Lind and her husband, Matthew Graham, whom she marries in the seventeenth century.  In this installment, Anna continues to give us the same well-developed characters, cherished love story, conflicts and resolution, and her usual amazing feelings of hope.

Starting the series with A Rip in the Veil, we meet Alex who is caught in a thunderstorm that suddenly transports her from 2002 to 1658 Scotland where she lands near the feet of Matthew and is thrown into the adventure of adjusting to an entirely new set of circumstances. Even as she is independent and strong, Matthew is stubborn and protective and they fall in love quickly as well as a whole host of other situations.  As we read the second book, Like Chaff in the Wind, Alex and Matthew sail to the New World.  You can read my review of that HERE.

This third book, The Prodigal Son, sets them back in Scotland during a time of much upheaval due to politics and religion, both intertwined at the time. With many people standing up and almost risking their lives to be able to have religious freedom and not conform to the Church of England under Charles II, Matthew puts his life, as well as his family’s in danger, by helping ministers and the cause. One of those ministers he assists is Sandy Peden (who actually existed and was on the run for his religious beliefs almost his whole life), much to Alex’s disdain as she didn’t want her family to suffer for the antics of these people’s fervent beliefs (she doesn’t quite always understand Matthew’s desires and would prefer he stay out of it!). 

Though not a religious novel, due to the time period itself being racked with religious zeal and war, it really seeped into every life during this time period following England’s restoration as well as the settling of the American colonies. Men like Anna’s character of Matthew would have felt strongly about holding onto his personal rights at that time, even if it meant hiding “on the run” ministers who were upholding freedom of religion and speech, even as others threatened their lives and chased them down. I enjoyed the times in Anna’s story when Matthew and Alex would discuss religion or actions, even theology with alternate and proposed ideas of God, all as if they were discussing the price of tea, then they’d kiss and declare their love for one another. THAT is the best part of this book for me, by the way, the never-ending, undying love that Matthew and Alex have for one another that knows no bounds.

The worst part for me is that Matthew’s devotion to the freedom of religion cause and helping others does leave a disastrous mark on their family and their life together. It was a chapter of weeping, but I won’t share and spoil the novel. However, it’s sooo sad!!!  It truly tugged at the heart-strings. Again though, it didn’t change their love for one another and there is a chance for rebirth of hope and family.

Another plot point in Anna’s third book has to do with the title (The Prodigal Son), as Matthew’s ex-wife, who was always in love with Matthew’s egotistical brother Luke, comes to their country residence saying she needs to run from the plague, but when she has to leave the son that Luke has declared his, even though it most likely has always been Matthew’s son, Matthew and Ian grow close, only to be torn apart and brought together in an ebb and flow of sorts. It’s up to you to read and see if they are reunited permanently. But you’ll love how Anna’s writes so much emotion into all of the characters; you’ll feel what they feel. She does a phenomenal job of developing characters and she handles, and has Alex handle, the situation with grace and understanding.

Overall, I love the LOVE that spills forth through this novel. I love Alex’s independence, strength, devotion, will, endurance, understanding, plus she learns and adapts quickly! Living in the late 1600s is not easy when you are from the 2000s. I also enjoy her humor quite a bit, her bluntness, and her wit.

I’ve loved Anna’s series so far, and especially The Prodigal Son, and I look forward (not very patiently) for the next novel in The Graham Saga.  I highly recommend this historical series and I personally can’t wait to see where Anna will take the series.  Matthew and Alex are the perfect couple who fit together as two parts of an apple, which really shows us as readers that nothing can stand in the way of love (even 300 years)!

THE PRODIGAL SON, Synopsis~

The Prodigal SonPublication Date: July 1, 2013
Matador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN-10: 1780885741

Safely returned from an involuntary stay on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, Matthew Graham finds the Scottish Lowlands torn asunder by religious strife. The government of His Restored Majesty, Charles II, requires all his subjects to swear fealty to him and the Church of England, riding roughshod over any opposition.

In Ayrshire, the people close ranks around their evicted ministers, stubbornly clinging to their Presbyterian faith. But disobedience comes at a price – a very steep price – and as neighbours and friends are driven from hearth and home, Alex becomes increasingly more nervous as to what her Matthew is risking by his continued support of the clandestine ministers – foremost amongst them the charismatic Sandy Peden.

Privately, Alex considers Sandy an enervating fanatic and all this religious fervour is totally incomprehensible to her. So when Matthew repeatedly sets his faith and minister before his own safety and therefore per extension her safety and the safety of their children, he puts their marriage under severe strain.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of Ian, the son Matthew was cruelly duped into disowning several years ago. Now Matthew wants Ian back and Alex isn’t entirely sure this is a good thing, watching from a distance as her husband dances round his lost boy.

Things are brought to a head when Matthew yet again places all their lives in the balance to save his dear friend and preacher from the dragoons that chase him over the moor.

How much is Matthew willing to risk? How much will he ultimately lose?

Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI 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.

www.annabelfrage.com

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theprodigalsontour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ProdigalSonTour

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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

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Like Chaff in the Wind Continues Romantic Historical Time Travel Saga by Anna Belfrage

Like Chaff in the WindFirst of all, isn’t this cover completely gorgeous??

I was hooked on Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage from the moment I opened its pages! Usually it takes me some time to warm up to a new book, but this one caught me from the start and had me hooked. It wasn’t due to action-packed suspense scenes though, as most people might generalize with that type of statement. It did move smoothly, and there was action, but more so it was her style of writing that kept me reading. It was quick and emotional, with characters as quick-witted as the movement of her words, and was detailed in just the right measure!

For instance, one of my favorite characters was the housekeeper, Mrs. Gordon, who partners with Alex on her adventure across the sea to find her husband Matthew. She was hilarious, just like a 1600-era Mrs. Doubtfire! Who doesn’t love jovial, tell-it-like-it-is English housekeepers, right? Belfrage had some really well-developed characters. 

Alex, her protagonist of the series, had the determination of the strong women characters I’ve grown to admire. To give up something most dear in order to take to such a perilous journey is commendable.  Sailing across the sea to the New World in the 17th century was not an easy task to endure, but she did it for love. What a romantic undertaking! It made my heart sing.

I was surprised when the element of time shifting appeared at the beginning, but I also got very excited as I love books with this element. I had to go read more on A Rip in the Veil (I hadn’t read the first book in the series) and I was then throughly hooked. I realized as I read on that Belfrage was juxtapositioning between present day characters in Alex’s life and her current saga with Matthew. It led to an air of mystery as the parallel world continued to move alongside the past.

In this book there was just the right amount of turmoil, without dwelling on it; challenges, without weighing the book down. There were struggles, but each time she pulled it back around to focus the characters in their journey in a calm manner that really set the book’s tone and made me want to enjoy more of the book. Times were hard, and as a history lover, I know that. But the book certainly presented it in way that was also enjoyable for me to read.

I love the sweeping romance in this epic travel series so far, with Alex time shifting to meet her soul mate, then traveling across the seas to find him again in Like Chaff in the Wind, all while continually finding her true self along the way too. Belfrage’s cast of characters is delightful!

This is the second novel in her The Graham Saga series, the first novel being A Rip in the Veil.  I didn’t have the chance to read A Rip in the Veil and I am sure there is more great background to the characters I didn’t know. The book started out quickly, probably due to there being a previous book, but I wasn’t missing anything except for another great read!!  It just made me want to go back and read the first novel due to my love of the characters in Like Chaff in the Wind, especially when I find out that Alex actually appeared in 1658 after landing back in time from her real time in 2002. I love time travel back through history!

If you haven’t read A Rip in the Veil, I urge you to also buy and read that book too for the full story. Here is some info on A Rip in the Veil: http://www.annabelfrage.com/My-Books-The-Graham-Saga/A-Rip-in-the-Veil/

I do like this section on Belfrage’s website that explains overall The Graham Saga:  http://www.annabelfrage.com/My-Books-The-Graham-Saga/.  She says there will be several more books in the future, all with GORGEOUS covers I see, that continue the tale of Alex and Matthew. I can’t wait to read them all!

Stop back by tomorrow for a wonderful guest post by Anna Belfrage on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

 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?

Publication Date:  December 17, 2012
Troubador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN: 1780884702

Giveaway~

You can have a chance to win one (1) print copy of Like Chaff in the Wind, which is open internationally!! Please just comment below, on my Facebook link, or send me an email to hookofabook@hotmail.com. No strings attached, I just need your email to contact you!

You may received an extra entry for following my blog, just let me know you did. If you already do, you can follow me on Twitter at @ErinAlMehairi.

Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 3, 2013!

Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI 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.

Find more about Belfrage and about the series at:  www.annabelfrage.com.

For more Like Chaff in the Wind reviews, interviews and guest posts, click on the tour schedule here:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/likechaffinthewindvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ChaffInTheWindVirtualTour

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