Book Related Questions:
1. What is your latest book about?
Champion of Sherwood is a tale of Robin Hood’s descendants. Book Two of my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, it is nevertheless a complete story that can be read and enjoyed on its own. It tells of Robin’s granddaughter Linnet, a Saxon healer, and Gareth de Vavasour, nephew to the dreaded Sheriff of Nottingham – born enemies. When they meet in the midst of an impossible situation, they sense in one another an attraction that simply can’t be denied. With the whole world against them, they find love meant to endure, but they will need all the magic of Sherwood Forest to make a future together possible.
2. What is the inspiration behind your book?
Most of us know the legend of Robin Hood. It’s always been a favorite of my daughter’s, and when she was young she and I used to play “Robin Hood Barbies”, complete with a Sherwood Forest that lay beneath our dining room table, plastic swords and hand-stitched period clothing. But when I decided to set a Historical Romance in Robin’s time, I knew I wanted to move beyond the legends everyone knew and into the unanswered story – what happened after Robin’s death? Who continued the fight against Norman tyranny, and were they eventually victorious?
I also knew I wanted my Sherwood Forest to be a place of deep magic, a conscious entity and a virtual character in the story. The spirits of those who have given their lives for Sherwood, or for love, linger in my Sherwood and can be called upon for assistance. Earth magic abounds. Help comes to those who are willing to swear themselves to Sherwood’s cause, sometimes even if – as we learn in this story – they are supposed enemies.
3. What’s your favorite scene in your book? Can you describe the scene?
I think my favorite scene is when Gareth, knowing he must enter single combat and quite likely sacrifice his life for the woman he loves, awakens in the morning. A spirit comes to him with the morning light – that of his adored mother, killed by his father’s cruelty years ago. She blesses him with her love and her presence and tells him he is a son of whom she is proud – something he heard far too seldom in his life from anyone but her. This gives him the strength and courage to walk into an unknown future for the sake of love.
4. Imagine you are trapped on a deserted island. Which character would you prefer to be stuck with, and why?
Oh, I would have to choose Gareth, no contest. He’s everything a hero should be – handsome, compassionate, courageous, selfless and utterly devoted to the woman he loves. Also, I think he’d be a fair hand with building a mud hut, collecting coconuts and keeping me warm at night. And who wouldn’t want to spend her days gazing into those silver eyes and hearing that seductive English accent poured into her ear? Heck, where is this island, and where’s the boat I can wreck on its shores? I think I’m ready …
5. What makes your book stand out from all the others on the market?
That’s a difficult question for an author to answer objectively. I’ve been told by those who have read me that it’s my characters that make my work stand out. They are always fully fleshed, complete and full of emotion. Once having met them, they’re hard for a reader to forget. I think that’s because they’re never one-dimensional. They have flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths, and they tend to grow and progress over the course of the story – just as, hopefully, we do in our own lives.
Once launched, my characters generally become real individuals to me. They quickly highjack the story, speak their own lines, infuse the story with their personalities and even dictate how the tale should end. I’m just the willing observer who watches, listens and writes it all down.
6. What do you want to resonate with readers when they read “The End”?
Unquestionably, I want my reader to close the book owning the conviction that love never dies. In the first book of the Trilogy, Daughter of Sherwood, the spirit of Robin Hood speaks a line to his daughter that echoes throughout all three books: what’s loved can never be lost. This is a truth I have always believed and it’s a founding stone of the Sherwood I’ve created. A theme throughout the series is that Sherwood gives, and Sherwood also takes. But the one thing it never takes is love. The spirits of those who have sacrificed for the sake of others endure forever in the light of the greenwood, and the light translates to Sherwood’s eternal magic.
1. Coffee or chocolate? You can only choose one!
Oh, chocolate, definitely – the more, the better!
2. Favorite movie or TV show?
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I especially love Sam’s unstinting, selfless and enduring loyalty.
3. Book that made you laugh hysterically, shed tears, or want to change the world?
A book that made me laugh till I ached was Patrick McManus’s The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. There’s a camping scene where everyone wakes up thinking there’s a bear loose in camp – but it turns out to be Grandma’s fur coat. All Patrick McManus’s books are stellar, but I think that’s my favorite.
4. If you could write in any other genre, what would it be? Why?
I’ve recently begun work on a Steampunk Romance and I love writing in that genre, simply because it’s so much fun. It’s a chance to unleash the wild side of my imagination and indulge a few of my darker tendencies. Steampunk has an edge and I like to infuse mine with black humor. The characters are a bit more outré and I can get crazy with the plot. All in all, it’s just a delightful romp.
5. What was the first romance novel you ever read?
I would have to say the first true romance I ever read was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I fell in love with the book, dove into it head first and consumed it in a matter of days. I have reread it many times over the years and still love it to this day. I think it’s a great example of emotive writing, and it perpetually astonishes me that a sheltered girl from Yorkshire could produce such a complex and conflicted tale of twisted love and agony.
6. What do you think is the most important element a book needs to be successful?
I think many elements combine to assure a writer’s success. As I’ve mentioned, I’m convinced good, believable characters with whom readers can identify are essential. The plot must move along quickly so readers don’t lose interest. There must be a satisfying conclusion. But I believe the most important component for an author’s success is reader love. Loyalty, word of mouth praise and sincere enthusiasm can’t be bought at any price. I’m always so grateful when a reader appreciates my work and takes the time to tell me!
7. How can readers connect with you and learn more about your writing? (Be sure to include social media links!)
I do maintain a presence on Facebook as Laura Strickland (you’ll see the gorgeous cover of Champion of Sherwood as my profile picture).
I also love it when readers visit my author web page at: www.laurastricklandbooks.com. There they can access my email address and send me feedback, letting me know what they think of what they’ve read. They can also learn about my other books including my Scottish Historical, Devil Black; Daughter of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy Book One, and the stories of my Celtic Series: The God’s Song, The Shadow Ground, The Waking Dream and The War Raven. I’ll post the news when Lord of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy Book Three is released. And I very much appreciate reviews my readers are kind enough to post on Amazon or Good Reads.
CHAMPION OF SHERWOOD BLURB
When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life. Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds.
Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion. She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.
The demand curled through Linnet’s mind and senses, soft and persuasive as a sigh. It called to something inside her and caused her to part her lips receptively.
Supple, long-fingered hands captured her face. A mouth descended on hers and all life narrowed to one sensation: the heat and delight of it, the flooding need and the answered yearning. His weight came down on her body and with it more heat. She felt her spirit expand and then open to accept him and take him in.
She wound her arms about his neck in order to draw him closer. Her fingertips found delight in the smooth muscle of his shoulders and the softness of his hair. He tasted like warm, summer mead, and her flesh leaped for him. She could feel every part of his body now, vital and strong.
“Linnet, wake up.”
Her eyes flew open but the dream did not fade. She was used to waking all of a piece with no confusion, but now the vision lingered and clung to her, made unreality of the morning light that drifted down through green leaves, and her sister’s face that hovered above her.
Oh, by all that was holy, it had been nothing but a dream. Lark scowled at her. “What is amiss with you? You never sleep so long. We are nearly ready to leave. Pa says tend the swine before we get to moving.”
“Must you call him that?” Long-fingered hands, lithe strength… The heady taste of him still lingered on Linnet’s lips. Why would she dream thus of a virtual stranger? She so rarely dreamt at all.
ABOUT LAURA STRICKLAND
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination often takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Currently she is at work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.