October 29, 2012

Interview with Rosemary Morris

Anna Kathryn,    
First of all thank you for inviting me to be your guest.

Q.                Where are you from? 
A.          I live in Hertfordshire, England.
Q.                What sparked your interest in writing? 
A.          Since childhood I have been an avid reader. Blessed with curiosity and an active imagination it was inevitable that one day I would become an author.

Q.                What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
A.                An intriguing plot, an interesting theme, strong characters, good or bad, which the reader can identify with. Emotion, emotion and more emotion, and I do not mean only in romances, emotion can be low key but it needs to be there. Last but not least, a good pace which makes the reader wants to turn the page to find out what happens next.

Q.                How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
A.                I write traditional romantic historical fiction, by which I mean that I do not open the bedroom door wide.

Q.                Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
A.                So far my novels are mostly set in London and South East Englad, but in Far Beyond Rubies, set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, there are links with India.

Q.  How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?

A.  I mention some historical figures in my novels, but the main characters are fictional, although I sometimes see a face in a crowd, a magazine or a newspaper and jot down a description, which I use in a novel. With regard to events, I read widely and visit places of historical interest to get the facts right.

I was inspired to write Tangled Love when reading about Charles II, James II, his daughter, Mary, who with her husband William of Orange, usurped the throne, and his second daughter Queen Anne.  After Charles II’s death, his brother James became king. Most non-Roman Catholic peers did not like the man, his politics or his religion. Eventually, James II was forced to flee to France. Some of the peers of the realm refused to take an oath of allegiance, first to William and Mary, and then to Anne for as long as James II lived, because they had sworn an oath of allegiance to him.  What, I asked myself, would be the fate of a daughter left in England by her father who followed James to France? The inspiration for Sunday’s Child came when I asked myself how families of dear ones killed in the Peninsular War against Napoleon would be affected, and what effect the war would have on a survivor. False Pretences, set in Regency England, evolved when I imagined a young girl, who is desperate to find out who her parents were, refuses to make an arranged marriage. And Far Beyond Rubies was inspired when I read a snippet in a book about Queen Anne’s period and my interest in India.


Q. How did you come up with the title of Tangled Love?
A. As a child, to please her father, who my heroine, Richelda, loved, she swore on the Bible to do her best to regain Field House, the family estate confiscated in the reign of Charles I. Penniless and alone Richelda believes she will marry Dudley, the vicar’s son who she loves. Subsequently she resists every attempt by her rich aunt to persuade her to marry the new owner of her ancestral home, Field House. Tangled Love suits the various dilemmas in Richelda’s life.     

Q.  What is the hardest part of your novels to write?
A.  Writing the first paragraph which I hope will intrigue the reader and make the reader want to continue.

Q. What was the easiest part of the story to write?
A.  The first draft in which I develop the plot and theme, and in which the characters come to life. 

Q. Was there much research involved?
A. Yes, the shelves in the bookcase in my office are slightly bowed with the weight of books about economic history, fashion, food, furniture, make-up, perfume social history, and much more. And I often stagger home from the library with more books for research.

Q.  Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
A. Yes, we experience the same emotions as our ancestors although our life styles are so far removed from theirs. Also, to understand our present it is helpful to understand our past. For example, if the Duke of Marlborough had lost the Wars of Spanish Succession the history of the United Kingdom would have been different and the same is true of the Duke of Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo.

Q. What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
A. My ability to recreate the past through the subjects described in my answer to the previous question.

Q.  When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
A. The amount of time it takes to revise a novel, and then work with editors prior to publication astonished me. I was surprised by the amount of time it takes to build an online platform, through my website (which is due to be updated), my blog and numerous online groups that I belong to.

Q. Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
A. By the time I write The End I’m so exhausted that I need a day off from writing. I don’t have the energy to celebrate unless sleeping late on the following morning can be described as a celebration.

Q. Do you have a set writing routine?
A. I wake at 6 a.m., make a hot drink and work until 10 or 11 a.m. with a short break to have breakfast and watch the news on television.  I then get on with the chores, go shopping, cook, socialize or work in my organic garden in which I grow fruit, herbs and vegetables, and then at 4 p.m. I’m back at the laptop or computer to work until 8 p.m.

Q. What do you like least about writing?
A. Writing a letter of introduction to a publisher and writing a synopsis of a novel.

Q. Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
A. As a child I read Jeffrey Farnol and Geoffrey Trease’s children’s historical fiction and, at the library, I always chose to read historical fiction and non-fiction. Later, I read the classics, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. At around the age of fourteen or fifteen, I borrowed my next door neighbor’s novels by Georgette Heyer which I could not read fast enough. These authors and many more invoked my wish to become a published historical novelist. I also read the works of Elizabeth Goudge, Anya Seton Mary Stewart, and, I think, in my late teens began reading the Angelique series by Seargeanne Golon, more recently I read and enjoyed Helen Hollick. Philip Gregory, Sharon Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels..

Q. If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
A. Well, I would like to chat with A.C.Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada but like me he did not drink alcoholic beverages, so it would be out of the question.

 Q. Have any new authors caught your interest?
A. Yes, to name a few, Maggie Coleman, Jen Black, Mirella Patzer and Christine Courtenay.

Q. What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
A. Far Beyond Rubies will be published in March 2013. At the moment, I am revising two novels. One is a big, fat mediaeval novel; the second is set in Queen Anne’s reign.  I am also planning a new novel Monday’s Child, a sequel to Sunday’s Child set in the Regency era.

Q. Who supports your writing activities most?
A. The members of the online critique groups which I belong to, and members of my writing group, Watford Writers as well as The Romantic Novelists’ Association and more online groups than I can mention.

Q. What does your family think of your writing?
A. My family is supportive and proud of me.           

Q. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
A, Never be discouraged by rejection, persevere, and while doing so learn as much as you can about the craft of writing through books on How To Write, constructive on line writers’ groups, workshops, and writers’ groups at which you can read extracts from your work and receive helpful comments.

Q.How can readers reach you? 
A. They can e-mail me at:  rosemarymorris@hotmail.co.uk.




Susan M said...

Nice interview, Anna and Rosemary. Your books sound interesting. Can't wait to get started.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Interesting interview, ladies. Rosemary, you are very productive. Nice to "meet" you.