Join me in welcoming Anna Markland, best selling historical romance writer and a personal friend as well as fellow member of our local RWA chapter. Today she answers questions about the best and worst of writing and who her favorite characters are. Then there’s an excerpt from her latest book, the Rover Defiant.
1. What do you like best about writing?
I am constantly amazed at where the ideas flow from as I write. I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly creative person, so it’s gratifying to re-read my books and marvel at the creativity of the plot lines.
2. What’s the worst part?
I am a person who likes to do things once, and that’s it. However, a manuscript has to be edited and I find that both useful and tedious.
3. What made you go medieval with your writing?
I’ve always enjoyed medieval romance, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of the research.
4. How do you come up with your characters?
The hero and heroine of my first book were loosely based on a couple that did exist in the Middle Ages. From there I simply followed the members of their family and its offshoot branches. My interest in genealogy led me along that path. Ancestry, roots and family traditions are basic.
5. Who’s your favorite character and why?
Caedmon FitzRam, hero of A Man of Value. His world falls apart when he discovers he’s the bastard son of a Norman Earl. He has always thought himself a Saxon and despises Normans. He goes off on Crusade where he rediscovers his worth. One of the difficult things about following a family through successive generations is that you have to kill people off. I still cry buckets when I re-read about Caedmon’s final moments in Sweet Taste of Love.
6. How does your family influence your writing?
My husband is very supportive of my spending hours locked away in my writing cave. He probably hands out more of my business cards than I do!
8. Do real life people ever become characters in your books?
There are many historical figures in my books; William the Conqueror, King Henry I to name just two. However, I have used events from my own family’s life. As an example, I dedicated Hearts and Crowns to my granddaughter, Peri who was very badly scalded when she was 2 years old. The heroine of Hearts and Crowns, Peridotte, is also badly scalded while trying to save her husband’s life.
In Haunted Knights, the hero, Adam, is deaf. My grandson, Adam, is deaf. In that same book, the heroes rescue the heroines from a devastating fire. My own home burned to the ground in 1998. I’ve used the names of many of my children and grandchildren for characters in my books.
9. Your latest book is?
My next book will be The Rover Defiant, a sequel to The Rover Bold. It will be available for preorder in the next few days. These are the first two books in a series entitled Viking Roots Medieval Romance Saga. Most of my books follow the lives and loves of a family of Normans after 1066, but this series is an attempt to trace the 10th century Viking roots of those Normans.
Here’s an excerpt:
(Torstein is a freed slave, but the Viking nobility will never forgive or forget his past, and the woman he loves is completely out of his reach.)
Torstein was astonished Sonja had ventured in search of him. Her willingness to risk much gave him courage to take hold of her trembling hands. “You’re cold,” he said with a smile.
“You can warm me,” she replied huskily, her eyelids half hooded.
Her sultry voice freed him of his fear she might reject him. “You know of my past, yet still came to me.”
She nodded, smiling, though her nervousness was evident in the rigid set of her shoulders.
It struck him in an instant of blinding clarity that Freyja had destined him to be this woman’s protector. “Do not be afraid, Sonja. I believe the gods have decreed we be together. I will move mountains to make you mine.”
She tightened her grip on his hands as a tear trickled down her cheek. “How can it be, Torstein? My father will punish us both if he thinks I have spoken your name.”
He pulled her closer. “What will he do if I kiss you?”
Her lips parted, her eyes fixed on his mouth. “It would be folly,” she murmured.
He put his arms around her waist, pinning her hands behind her back, drawing her against him. The scent of freshness and purity that clung to her filled his nostrils. “My kiss will be my pledge to you,” he whispered, lowering his head to touch his lips to hers.
She sagged back against the wall of the house, pulling him to her body. A throaty moan escaped her lips as his tongue coaxed her mouth open and she melted into him, welcoming his invasion into her warm mouth. His body responded fiercely, but it wasn’t simply lust filling his senses. He’d never shared the taste of another’s saliva, nor savored the tang of salt on another person’s skin.
Her kiss was life giving. He would never give her up. “This is my first kiss,” he rasped when their lips reluctantly parted.
She smiled, her dark eyes full of longing. “Your mother must have kissed you.”
He shook his head. “My mother called herself a lost soul. She was an Irish princess stolen from her land by my grandfather, Magnus Gardbruker. It seems my grandmother was a jealous woman who allowed him no concubines. He gave his prize to his son, Gunnar, my father.”
“She must have loved you,” she said, cupping his face with both hands. Her loving touch, the first he’d ever experienced, evoked a memory of the Archbishop preaching of the coming of the Holy Spirit and how it had filled the fearful apostles with peace.
He shrugged his shoulders, struggling to force the words from his dry throat. “My mother had seen twelve summers when she bore me. I remember she cried a lot. Gunnar quickly tired of her and she never learned to speak Norse properly. Her one pleasure came from speaking the Gaelig with Padraig, an Irish monk who was one of Poppa’s slaves. She wanted to teach it to me, but Gunnar forbade it.”
“What happened to Padraig?”
“The Franks killed him near Chartres, but I believe his heart died when my mother was sold off in the market at Ribe. There was nothing physical between them. They provided an anchor to the past for each other, a reminder of who they truly were.”
He hoped his anger at the cruelty of fate wouldn’t repulse her.
“You have noble Irish blood in your veins,” she said with a sly smile. “They say Irishmen are stubborn.”
He clenched his fists. “You will see how stubborn I can be if anyone tries to part us.”
She frowned and pulled away from him as the sound of a door creaking open came to their ears. “They’re coming,” she whispered.
He gripped her hand. “I must be assured you are with me in this, Sonja. It will be our secret for the time being, but I want your pledge now.”
She stared at her feet. “I don’t have your courage, but I promise myself to you.” She lifted an amulet on a long cord from around her neck and thrust it into his hands, then hurried to the door as her mother appeared.
“There you are, silly girl. Come and say goodbye to our guests. What are you doing out here?”
She yanked Sonja inside, eyed Torstein then slammed the door.
“She was trysting with her future husband,” he said under his breath. He fingered the amulet of hammered copper, then pressed it to his lips. Padraig had secretly taught him to decipher runes. A name stood out on one side as he’d expected. “Sonja,” he whispered, smoothing his thumb over the symbols.
He turned the amulet over, choking out the words engraved into the green metal. “The brightest star shines in the darkest sky.”
If you’d like to read The Rover Bold before The Rover Defiant becomes available so you’re all caught up, here is the Amazon link.