Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Interview with Anna Belfrage, the author of In The Shadow of The Storm

Hi guys! So, a while ago (in December), I had the utmost pleasure of being on of the blog tour stops for In The Shadow of the Storm! I reviewed the book then (gave it 5 glowing starts, check out my review HERE), but the answers to my interview questions didn't make it on time (let's just blame it on the crazy Holiday season, shall we?). But Amy and Anna made sure they did get to me eventually, so that I can share the interview with you guys! I am so very excited to welcome Anna to the blog today!

Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, 
Publication.Date  November 1st 2015
Published By:  SilverWood Books
AuthorAnna Belfrage

In The Shadow of the Storm on Amazon
My review copy:Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly good, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Sir Roger thinks she is. So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his baron, his king, and his wife.

"Where am I?" Kit asked.
"Where you are doesn't matter. It is what you are that is important." The lady gave her an icy smile. "You are soon-to-be bride. At noon, you will wed Adam de Guirande."

About the Author

Had 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, will be published in the autumn of 2015.

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.


1. Hello Anna! Welcome to Bookish Lifestyle! I am so thrilled to have you over for a little discussion about your latest release, In The Shadow of The Storm. Could you tell us a bit about the The King’s Greatest Enemy series (beyond the synopsis)? What inspired you to explore this particular time period (England 1321)? 

Roger Mortimer did, I suppose. I’ve always been fascinated by that man – and the enmity between him and Hugh Despenser. Plus I find Queen Isabella intriguing – by all accounts she was pious and righteous (she was one of the people who pointed finger at her adulterous sisters-in-law, thereby having them condemned to imprisonment) so how did she square her passionate love affair with Mortimer with her conscience? 

2. Did you have to do a lot of research for your new series? Any particularly interesting (exciting/hot/shocking) bits and pieces of information that you managed to dig up?

I’d already read extensively about the period, but yes, I had to do some re-reading. I like it that Mortimer was such a peacock, with quite the gaudy wardrobe. A medieval knight who wafts about in tunics embroidered with colourful butterflies is intriguing, somehow. And already back then the experienced seducer knew the value of good bedlinen. Mortimer had red silk sheets – I imagine Isabella liked that :)

3. How long did it take you to write the first draft of In The Shadow of The Storm?

About three months. But since then, it has been subjected to various rewrites. I’d say I spend 20% on the first draft, 80% on rewrites. 

4. Do you ever suffer from "writer's block"? If so, how do you deal with it? Any tips for fellow writers? 

Yes. I find that it helps to just sit down and write anyway. Chances are that most of what you write will have to be binned, but as I sit and tap away usually my mojo returns. Often by suggesting I work on an entirely different scene than the one I’m slogging through…

5. Is there a character in your book that you feel particularly close to? 

Adam. He is a complex combination of man of action and man of reflection. And I like it that he can admit to himself how vulnerable he is in various situations. 

6. Do you have a specific writing ritual / schedule? Could you tell us about (or show us a picture of) your writing space?

My writing involves tea. Lots of it :) I will generally jot down ideas/bursts of inspiration on whatever I have at hand, and then based on these little notes I start building a scene. I write crucial scenes first and then build the bridges between one  scene to the next. Also, I find that I rarely write in more than one POV per writing session. If I start writing from Kit’s POV, I will stick with it for the coming hours. 

Quite often I will then go back, look at something and say “no, that will be better in Adam’s POV” which means I have to rewrite it all :)

7. Are there any literary works or movies that inspired you as a writer?

Writers? Tons! In no particular order: Sharon K Penman, Barbara Erskine, Ellis Pargetter, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece, Antonia Fraser, Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sigrid Undset…

Movies? Hmm… I’m a major LOTR fan, but I’m not so sure they’ve inspired my writing. I used to be an avid fan of Errol Flynn movies, and I love the Three Musketeers with Michael York. And Fatal Attractions. 

8. I know you've always dreamed of becoming a professional time-traveler (me too!), so let me ask you this: if you could really travel in time, which place and time period would you visit first and why?

Okay, so I’m assuming I can come back – not so sure I’d want to get stuck in the past… Anyway: assuming I could come back, I’d like to start in 1066 and be a silent spectator at the Battle of Hastings. I worry I might meddle. Rephrase: I probably WOULD meddle – I could bring along a gun and shoot Duke William, and what would happen then, hey? 

9. What are some of the books on your Winter TBR pile? Any upcoming releases you are excited about? 

On my present TBR I have Stephanie Thornton’s The Conqueror’s Wife – but I must admit to being somewhat torn: Alexander is one of my historical favourites since I read Mary Renault’s excellent trilogy about him. I also have Elizabeth Chadwick’s books about Eleanor of Aquitaine on my pile and a book about Oliver Cromwell’s head. 

As to upcoming releases, well, I’ve been waiting for Helen Hollick’s next book in her Seawitch series for ages. I hope it sees the light of the day in 2016... And I’m very anxious to read the last of the Crossfire series – I have a thing about Gideon Cross. (Yes, I do read other stuff than historical fiction. Quite a lot actually…)

10. I have heard rumors about your sweet tooth (I admit, I might have been stalking your excellent blog a bit *wink*), and since I am one to always go for the sweets myself, I thought this was something we absolutely should discuss in detail! I firmly believe that chocolate and books go together like fish and chips. Would you agree? What sweets are your absolute favorites? 

The rumours about my sweet tooth are not in any way overstated…Well, I would never eat fish and chips while reading a book – but a piece of chocolate always goes down well, no matter what genre. I don’t have any favourite sweets, I like dark chocolate, preferably with nuts. Should there be none about, I will make do with chocolate, full stop. Or Cadbury’s Chocolate eclairs. 

11. Finally, may I ask what you're working on right now? Are the next books in The King's Greatest Enemy series already completed or are you working on them right now? And what is next in line for you? 

No, they’re not all completed, and I am working on the first draft of the fourth book. 
After that, I need to re-edit the second book prior to planned publication next summer. Plus I have a building urge to drop in and see how things are going for Alex and Matthew Graham (protagonists of The Graham Saga) They seem very upset lately… And then I have a story about a young woman in Queen Kristina’s court rattling about, and a contemporary trilogy that I’m rather excited about, and… Sometimes, I make myself tired :)

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