Today we have on the blog the accomplished and award-winning author, Alison Stuart! She is a kindred spirit, as she also writes regency romances. Please give her a warm welcome!
Hi Katherine, thank you for inviting me to visit your blog.
1. What is your latest book about?
LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is my 6th published novel, but my first venture into Regency – a romantic suspense. I think my publisher (Escape Publishing) summed it up rather succinctly in a recent promo piece: “A Regency romantic suspense about a widow who wants to move on, a war veteran with an unexpected inheritance, an estate in desperate need of a Lord, and an unexpected attraction that complicates everything.”
2. What is the inspiration behind your book?
Some years ago my husband and I visited the battlefield of Waterloo (as we are both ex military with an interest in military history – battlefields loom large on our tour agendas!) and I felt the first tug to write a story set in this period. I stomped on the idea but it surfaced again when we found ourselves in London on Waterloo day and paid a visit to Wellesley House. Of course that was the place to be. Between the re-enactors, the country dancing and the story of the Battle of Waterloo told with vegetables (yes, the French were onions…), I was converted.
3. What’s your favorite scene in your book? Can you describe the scene?
Both my hero and heroine have more than their fair share of emotional baggage. Isabel’s first marriage was loveless and tragic in its own way. In fact she has never really known what it is to be loved for herself. Sebastian, also a widower, lost his wife in the worst possible way, a tragic event that still haunts him.
I think my favourite scene occurs in a churchyard where Sebastian opens up to Isabel for the first time about his past and the woman he loved and lost. I don’t know about the readers but I certainly needed a few tissues to get through that scene!
4. Imagine you are trapped on a deserted island. Which character would you prefer to be stuck with, and why?
That’s a no brainer! It would have to be Sebastian, my hero. Not only is he extremely capable and resourceful but he also has a strong protective instinct. He would see it as his duty to ensure that I wanted for nothing. I love him to pieces!
5. What makes your book stand out from all the others on the market?
Regency is a huge market… and so many wonderful writers, which is probably why I have taken so long to turn my hand to writing a Regency.
I am not the best judge of what makes my stories stand out… so I have had a look at some of the early reviews…
“This is the Regency romance you read when you want something a bit different because it also brings you a nice, but not too scary murder mystery…” Sara
“After reading the blurb, I thought this would be a Cinderella type Regency romance that explores the ins and outs of London society with a newly discovered heir/heiress as the lead. It was…but not really. While this does have that theme, there’s so much more to this story than that…” Miriam
LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is not a “mannered” Regency – think Georgette Heyer meets Bernard Cornwell! There is a mystery to be solved before these two people can reach their HEA. It is about two people with dark pasts. It is about the terrible destruction of war but it is also a story of forgiveness and redemption.
6. What do you want to resonate with readers when they read “The End”?
I get a vicarious buzz from readers who tell me that they have been forced to read the book in one sitting… and if I can leave them with the sense of having been on a journey with my characters (and not an easy journey) then my work is done!
1. Coffee or chocolate? You can only choose one!
Chocolate… but it has to be good quality dark chocolate.
2. Favorite movie or TV show?
At the moment – I am loving SLEEPY HOLLOW (just my kind of story!)
3. Book that made you laugh hysterically, shed tears, or want to change the world?
I am reading an amazing book at the moment: ‘THE OLD WAYS’ by Robert Macfarlane… it is a lyrical retracing of old pathways both on land and sea. It’s beautifully written and more than anything else it reminds me of the importance of slowing our lives down and taking time to appreciate what is around us.
4. If you could write in any other genre, what would it be? Why?
I say this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek… I would like to write “Literature”, then people would take my writing seriously and I could earn heaps of royalties from having my books made into compulsory reading in schools. Of course there’d also be the film that would completely miss the point and change the ending…
5. What was the first romance novel you ever read?
To be perfectly honest, I did not read romance as a youngster. I much preferred historical action adventure – although if it happened to have an attractive hero, a feisty heroine and a HEA that was the best book ever. The first EVER romance genre book I ever read was on the plane home from my first Romance Writers of Australia conference and it was a HMB book by the wonderful Marion Lennox. That particular conference was attended by a writer called Nora Roberts… heard of her? I had to ask who she was…
6. What do you think is the most important element a book needs to be successful?
If I knew the answer to that I would be on the NYT Best Seller list! I can’t even say it is good writing (viz Fifty Shades!). Personally I think whether a book is successful or not is mostly a question of luck being in the right place at the right time with an interesting theme that resonates with today’s readers.
7. How can readers connect with you and learn more about your writing?
I love connecting with my readers and if you do look me up, it doubles your chances of winning this month’s Alison Stuart Rafflecopter contest (see links below).
LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR
Can the love of an honourable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.
Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.
But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?
As a teenager she scribbled turgid historical novels in shorthand notebooks (which she is embarrassed to say are probably still in existence somewhere in the loft). As a young adult, writing took second place to university, work and children. It was only when she dislocated a shoulder in a skiing accident, which left her stranded in a snow bound chalet in the Australian Alps with nothing for company but a notebook computer, did she dare to write the story that had been tugging at her sleeve for so long.
She attributes her love of history and books to her late father who would read aloud to she and her brother on Sunday afternoons. Not childrens’ books, but the books he loved and it was Daphne Du Maurier’s The King’s General, read to her at the unsuitable age of 8, that first caught the fuse that lit her passion for the English Civil War.
Her family moved from Kenya, where she had been born, to Australia in the late 1960s. Alison had imagined Australia as a place where kangaroos roamed the streets (just as, no doubt, children in Australia imagined Africa as a place where lions roamed the streets), but the inner suburbs of Perth seemed remarkably short of the marsupials. After a short stay in Perth the family finally settled in Melbourne where she finished her schooling and studied Law and Arts at the University of Melbourne.
She has worked all her life as a lawyer, both in private practice and in a range of different organisations from not for profits to Emergency Services. As a student Alison joined the Australian Army Reserve (“the weekend warriors”), where she met her husband. In the twenty years they served in the Reserve, they both rose to the rank of Major, Alison in the Legal Corps and her husband in the Infantry. She thinks this is why she leans towards soldier heroes! They have two sons, both now young adults and making their own way in the world.
In 2000 Alison moved with her family to Singapore for three years, where unconstrained by work commitments and confined to being “just an expat wife”, she pursued a fledgeling writing career. Fortunately she fell in with a like minded group of scribblers and in her short time in Singapore, the ANZA Writers Group had two volumes of short stories published by one of Singapore’s leading publishers, Angsana Press. Both volumes were launched in style by the Australian and the New Zealand High Commissioner respectively and the first book, In The Shadow of the Merlion, topped the Kinokuniya best seller list for a week!
Back home in Melbourne, the reality of returning to work and other commitments of every day life threatened to swamp her again. However Alison managed to fit in two challenging years as President of the Romance Writers of Australia which kept her feet still firmly rooted in the writing world and has given her some of the best friends she could ever ask for.
In the long years since that fortunate skiing accident, writing became her passion, her dream and her goal. Alison says “I firmly believe if you are determined to achieve a goal you will succeed. The question of how soon is dependent on luck and your own perseverance”.
Alison is doing a giveaway through Rafflecopter to celebrate the release of Lord Somerton’s Heir. Be certain to follow the link below to enter and possibly win!