Michele Young’s interview with Rosemary Morris.
MY: Chocolate or Chips? (crisps)
I have a sweet tooth that I battle with to keep my weight down so chocolate, preferably Belgian chocolate, is my preference.
MY: Tell us about your book. You must be so happy.
I am thrilled by the publication of my novel Tangled Hearts, set in the reign of Queen Anne, Charles II's niece.
My heroine, Richelda Shaw's privileged life changes for the worse after James II's daughter, Mary and his son-in-law usurped his throne. When her parents die, she is left penniless and alone, holding on to the oath she gave her father to reclaim their ancestral home.
Richelda entrusts her heart to the parson's son, Dudley, but he is not all that he seems. Her wealthy aunt saves her from poverty and wishes to arrange her marriage to a dashing Viscount, whose care and attentions make Richelda think and feel against her wishes.
However, as she travels a new path in Queen Anne's London, she never forgets her oath. Only, hidden danger lurks and when she tries to find a legendary treasure trove she also finds herself fighting not only for her life but for true love.
MY: What do you think was the biggest secret you learned to making it in this industry?
Applying everything I learned about writing a novel through reading books on How to Write, joining Writer's circles in which members discuss their work and joining on line critique groups, as well as becoming a member of The Romantic Novelists Association of Great Britain and receiving reports on my novel from a reader who is a published novelist.
MY: How much and what kind of plotting, outlining and other prep-work do you do before you write a book and what is your writing routine like?
First, I need to name my hero and heroine. I then need to know them 'inside out and back to front'. I construct a family tree, describe their appearance, make notes on their lives prior to the beginning of the novel and list their likes and dislikes.
While doing this, I decide on the plot and theme. At the moment I am planning a new novel The plot revolves around an arranged marriage.
As a rule I work from 6 a.m. to 10 or 11 a.m. First I chekck my e-mails then I get on with the current novel. Later I work from 4 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m.
At some time during the day or after I leave my office, I read for pleasure and research for at least a couple of hours.
MY: What is your writing space like, tidy or messy?
I work in an office converted from a small bedroom painted a restful primrose yellow. It is lined with bookcases crowded with magazines, novels and non-fiction for research.
My desk becomes cluttered, but every once in a while I file useful cuttings, letters etc., and shred everything I don't need.
The shreddings are added to the compost bin in my organic garden.
When I open the venetian blinds, I can look out of the window at the effect the changing seasons have on my garden filled with stone fruit, soft fruit, vegetables and herbs as well as ornatmental plants. This year I planted another 200 daffodils, narcissi and tulips.
The garden soothes me and is a source of inspiration. This morning, as dawn broke, I saw a thick layer of frost covering the lawn, the garden shed and everything else in sight. Immediately, I placed my characters in an 18th century garden.
MY: What can writers do to learn the business efficiently?
Learn how to present their work. Meticulously revise and edit before attempting to secure an agent or publisher.
In order to target their work, writers should study the market. I live in the U.K. so I study Publishing News which contains articles and news items on the book publishing and bookselling industry. I also subscribe to Writers Forum and Writers Magazine.
It is also important to read as widely. I subscribe to the Historical Novel Society and read as many of the reviewed novels.
MY: What is one of your lowest moments during your career, and one of your highest moments and how did you deal with them?
The lowest moment was when the publisher of the second novel I wrote reneged on the contract. The highest moments were the acceptance of my first published short story and the acceptance of my debut novel, Tangled Hearts.
MY: You write in a fairly unusual historical era. Can you tell us about it, what special challenges do you face and any thoughts on the future of this genre?
I wanted to explore a lesser know period and delved into books about English history. I live not far from Blenheim Palace built after Marlborough's spectacular defeat of the French.
Next, I read as much as possible about Queen Anne and her reign. The more I read, the more intrigued I became.
The challenge is to present the history and culture of the period to readers who might be unfamiliar with it. I want to create characters of their time. On a recent visit to Ham House near Richmond near the bank of the River Thames, I imagined my characters breathing the air and treading the boards over 300 years ago.
MY: Favorite books/movies/tv serials and why?
Since childhood I have enjoyed reading historical fiction and this progressed to my enjoyment of historical, movies and t.v. dramas.
There are too many for me to list. Some of my favourite novels are:
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Ivanho by Sir Walter Scott
The historical novels of Georgette Heyer, particularly These Old Shades.
The Thorn Birds by Collen Mc Cullough.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien,
The works of Rosalind Miles.
The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory.
The works of Anna Jacobs.
The works of Benita Brown
The works of Anne Whitfield
The Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon which I am re-reading with as much enjoyment as I did years ago.
As for films:
The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Gone with the Wind
Pride and Prejudice
T V serials
Too many to mention but I enjoy impeccably researched historical series and series such as The Thorn Birds
MY: Anything you'd like to add - news of the next book?
My new novel is Tangled Lives set in Queen Anne's period.
32 year old Kate, Countess Sinclair, has a fortune and all the material comforts to make her happy.
22 year old Edward, Captain Howard on half pay from Her Majesty's navy.
When Edward, who is an artist as well as a naval man, meets her in his grandmother's salon he is attracted to and intrigued by the countess whose sobriquet is 'the Fatal Widow'. With his artist's eye he is the only person to see the pain behind Kate's public mask and wants to discover its cause.
Little by little, Kate's story unfolds and arouses the gallant captain's fervent desire to help Kate.
All the best,
Tangled Hearts available from Enspiren Press,amazon.com,amazon.co.uk,Barnes and Noble and soon in bookshops.