Author, Paula Martin, has invited me, and a group of British authors, to take part in ‘A Very British Blog Tour’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors who are involved in the tour, and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today. Each author, named at the bottom of the page, has been asked the same questions, but their answers will obviously all be different. You merely click on the author’s link at the bottom of the page to see how they have answered the same questions.
So here are the questions from Paula, together with my answers:
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
A. I was born in Glasgow, and I now live in a large village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
A. I have lived in Scotland most of my life, apart from about three years when I lived in Holland.
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
A. I really like living in Aberdeenshire, having lived there almost twenty-five years, but there are so many beautiful places in Britain. I love visiting cities like York, Edinburgh and Oxford, to name only a few but there are lots of unspoiled places that have a different kind of beauty as well. I love the massive castles of Wales and the tinier ones in Scotland. I love the Scottish islands too; Aran for example is so green and different from Orkney. You can see I can name no one particular place.
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
A. The short answer is, yes! But to explain is longer. My historical novel-The Beltane Choice- is set in Celtic/Roman Britain of AD 71 and takes place in the border country between Scotland and England. I have a time-travel Celtic/Roman historical written for early teens that’s based in the Aberdeenshire of AD 210. My debut novel-Monogamy Twist – an ancestral mystery romance is set in an old ‘mansion’ property in Yorkshire. My fun contemporary corporate mystery- Take Me Now- is based in a Scottish island castle with the two main characters flying down to Glasgow, and on to London and many places beyond. My second ancestral mystery – Topaz Eyes – visits many European and US Locations but I sneaked in Edinburgh as well, as the home of the heroine, Keira Drummond. So, although my contemporary characters fly around the globe, there is a part of each story set in the UK, as well.
Q. There is an illusion - or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
A. I think that might depend on the interpretation of 'stiff upper lip'! I believe a notion still survives among many who have been brought up with the practice that emotions are private, and not for airing in public- though I’d tend to categorise them as largely the older generations. Younger people are much more relaxed and more prone to ‘airing’ themselves. Social networking, like facebook and blogging, has given some people a ‘stepping stone’ or a ‘crutch’ in that respect. They post things publicly, but because it’s virtual it ‘seems’ easier to unbutton themselves. I'm personally from a family that was not demonstrative and know many people who are much the same. They find effusive hugging and kissing difficult to cope with and are sometimes suspicious of the genuiness of 'automatic' greeting gestures. Another fairly Scottish trait I have is to 'grin and bear it'! Something happens? I deal with it, but with no drama, and generally independently when possible. I'd say my daughters are much the same. That sort of 'stiff upper lip' prevails.
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
A. Tricky question. My male characters have a certain arrogance, and are definitely independent, but not really in what I'd call a 'stiff upper lip' fashion. I think of that as when someone carries on regardless of whether it's the correct hing to do, or perhaps even not thinking through the consequences properly. In my contemporaries the men are rich but are not royalty, or of the upper classes. I like to think my characters have a ‘sense of self’ and yet can accept help and guidance when necessary.
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books?
A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.
Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.
Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota? Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?
As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?
Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I’m mainly working on a sequel to my historical The Beltane Choice which takes on one of the characters into a story of his own. The Beltane Choice is set in Celtic/Roman Britain AD 71. The sequel is set from AD 71 through to AD 84 and moves the action from Brigantia (North England) into the lands of the Caledonian tribes (Scotland). I've also started a family saga set in Scotland, beginning in the 1850s.
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
A. I don’t find I have much of that. When not writing, or childminding my granddaughter 2 very full days a week, I’m generally to be found reading, watching BBC serials (historical), or gardening. I go to a Jazz club approx once a month. I love weekend get-togethers with the whole family, or a mini holiday away from home with them. We try to do that as often as we can. I don’t think getting on to my exercise bike every now and then, when I remember, would count as leisure? Of course, I spend far too much time on Facebook, so that probably should count as leisure!
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
A. I’d like to hope global, but I think there's a 'Britishness' about my stories that might make them seem more 'local to the UK'. I had a couple of rejections before getting my historical novel published in the UK, and decided in the interim to write a contemporary romance to send to a US e-book publisher, to see if that had a better uptake. I wrote Monogamy Twist, sent it to The Wild Rose Press (New York State) and it was accepted immediately - but I’m not so sure it’s a global story. It’s what I call a history/ mystery – my version of a weird Dickensian style bequest of an old mansion house, the benefactress an unknown person at the beginning of the novel, and it is set in Yorkshire. My other two contemporary novels include some fantastic European cities and other places worlswide so they are much more global. My historical work is set in Britain, but I hope they all appeal to a global audience.
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
Amazon UK author page for all novels http://amzn.to/N6ye0z
Amazon.com author page for all novels http://amzn.to/RJZzZz
Amazon.com author page for all novels http://amzn.to/RJZzZz
The novels are also available from: Barnes and Noble; Smashwords, The Wild Rose Press , Waterstones and Crooked Cat
The following British, not necessarily British-based, authors have been invited to join in the fun. Once they’ve agreed, and set up their own answers on their respective websites/blogs, then clicking on their name will take you there. Also, if you are a British author and would like to join in, please leave a comment below with your email address.