David Ebsworth: The holistic approach to historical novel research - from Alicante

I’m delighted to welcome the return of David Ebsworth to the blog as this week’s ‘writer abroad’.  DAVID EBSWORTH is the pen name of writer Dave McCall, a former organiser for Britain’s Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool but now lives in Wrexham, North Wales, and in Alicante, Spain. David took up writing historical fiction full-time after his retirement and ‘A Betrayal of Heroes’ is his tenth novel.

Here he explains how he weaves the research for his novels, keeping his fiction within the limits of historical veracity and maintaining the balance between providing enough background to show all the necessary colour, yet not so much that it causes information dump.

Over to David!

Remember the Marseillaise scene from Casablanca?

Rick’s Café Américain. The Germans down below singing Die Wacht am Rhein. The conflicted faces of the bar’s French and refugee customers. Victor Laszlo’s defiant instruction to the band. “Play the Marseillaise. Play it!” And the band members looking up towards Rick, on the balcony above. Rick’s simple nod of agreement, worth more than a thousand words of dialogue and descriptive setting. The reaction of those onlookers, the trembling voices as they begin to sing the anthem. Their pride, the tears, the tragedy of France under the Nazi jackboot, the determination to be free once more. All captured in one brilliant scene. (You can watch the scene from the film here.)

Brilliance to which I can only aspire.

Yet, in my own way, it’s just how I try to write historical fiction. The protagonist’s story, the attitudes and events driving my main characters, the reactions of supporting players, the settings, must be specific to the age in which the novel’s set and themselves part of the story.

And it’s no coincidence that I chose the Casablanca scene to illustrate this point about holistic research.

My third Jack Telford novel, A Betrayal of Heroes, is published this month (14th July). I had to build a timeline for the relevant history thread from 1939 until 1945, and mainly – from 1940 onwards – the story of Free France. Then to research and plot Jack’s travels and trials through that history. From Casablanca itself to Brazzaville, from the beaches of Normandy to the Liberation of Paris.

This is also the story of Spanish Republican soldiers who, having survived their own civil war, went on to serve within the ranks of the Free French army, to continue their fight against fascism and Europe’s Nazis until the end of the Second World War. I’ve many personal connections to the Spanish Civil War. But I think of myself as an amateur Francophile, as well. So, here – a perfect storm. Spain, its civil war and the fight for the Liberation of France – all rolled into one yarn.

Telford, my protagonist, must survive in wartime North Africa. He must abandon his old life as a Sunday newspaper journalist to take up a new role as a war correspondent. And he must adapt to life with the military, a section of Leclerc’s Free French army.

It’s fairly easy to build accurate scenes of Europe during the Second World War. But Oran? Rabat? Brazzaville? The towns of Chad? It was getting to be a struggle, until I stumbled across the archive of maps in the University of Texas Libraries. These are detailed street maps produced in 1942 by the US Army Map Service for every major city in North Africa. Those maps led me to a similar cache of plans for the towns and cities of Gabon, the French Congo, Chad and so on. And from those maps I was able to construct the realistic settings for Jack Telford and his associates to populate.


For Jack’s career development, I studied the Second World War’s frontline journalists, men and women, so I could “teach” Jack how to be a war correspondent. I especially liked the work of American Pulitzer Prize-winning Ernie Pyle. I fell in love with Ernie Pyle’s writing – but it wasn’t Jack. And then I came across another winner of the Pulitzer for his war correspondence, Hal Boyle. I picked up a collection of Boyle’s writings, almost essays, almost Alastair Cooke.

From these I was able to build and research what, I hope, are credible pieces of journalism – Jack Telford’s own words but in the style of Hal Boyle.

General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque (Photo: John Downey, US Office of War Information, public domain)

Finally, Jack and the military. He has to live and breathe among the men and women of Leclerc’s 2nd French Armoured Division for almost eighteen months. And, before that, with Leclerc’s flying columns in Libya – units a bit like the Long Range Desert Group.

Naturally, there were endless non-fiction histories and autobiographies for the period. But I learned so much more from another lucky find. Robert S. Coale – Bob Coale – is Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Rouen. And Bob – with his encyclopaedic knowledge of Leclerc’s Division and the former Spanish Republican soldiers who fought within its ranks – helped to steer me through the learning curve.

There we have it. Just a few of our journeys to build and research a credible background while writing A Betrayal of Heroes.  I just hope folk enjoy reading it as much as I loved the writing. Vive la France!


Find out more about David

Website and blog:  https://www.davidebsworth.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EbsworthDavid
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EbsworthDavid @EbsworthDavid

Read A Betrayal of Heroes

Swear,’ Leclerc shouted, ‘that you will never lay down your arms until our colours, our beautiful colours, are flying afresh on Strasbourg Cathedral!

Headstrong newspaperman Jack Telford’s weapon is his pen, but the oath he’s taken at Kufra will still bind his fate to the passions and perils of the men and women who shape his life – his personal heroes, like the exiled Spanish Republicans now fighting for Free France.

But from Oran and Casablanca to the heart of Africa, then into the cauldron of Normandy and the Liberation of Paris, Jack’s fate is also bound to those who will betray them, and to the enemies who want Telford dead.


Buy this book from a wide variety of retailers:



This is the last of the ‘writers abroad’ series and it’s a storming one to end on! But there are more guests in the pipeline…

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Louise Mangos: Location, location, location – Swiss style

I’m delighted to welcome a second ‘writer abroad’ from Switzerland and another crime fiction writer – see JJ Marsh, my first guest in this series. (What do they put in the chocolate there?)

Louise Mangos grew up in rural Hertfordshire in the UK but travelled extensively in her twenties, eventually settling in Switzerland where her long love affair with the mountains began. She has published two psychological thrillers and another is set for release in April 2022. Her short fiction has won prizes, been read out on BBC radio and appears in more than twenty print anthologies. She holds a Masters in crime writing from the University of East Anglia.

Over to Louise!

Setting a novel where you live eases the job of adapting the narrative, without periodically stopping the creative flow to research the location. It has long been my opinion that the setting plays an equally important role as the characters in a novel. The writer needs to convey not only the geography, but the climate, culture, senses and quirks of a setting that might be unknown to many of their readers, and it’s more exciting and challenging when these are foreign locations. But when an author actually lives in their setting, these traits are often already ingrained in the creative pool.

Lake Ägeri (Ägerisee) at Morgarten (Photo: Karl Baer, CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

I’ve lived in several areas of Switzerland for more than half my life. My debut novel is set in the central Swiss village where I currently live on the shores of the Aegerisee (Lake Aegeri). My second novel is set in two locations: a ski resort where I spent much of my twenties, and a women’s prison situated north of Bern. The latter was unknown to me until I began to research penal institutions in Switzerland. Several visits were necessary to get a feel for Hindelbank. As the ski village is a place that actually exists, I wanted the prison to be a real place too.

My latest novel, The Beaten Track, which publishes in April 2022, is set mostly in the Léman region of the French part of Switzerland. But it also spends many chapters on a currently implausible backpacking journey around the world (it is set in the early nineties, to avoid not only the pandemic but also the digital restrictions imposed on crossing international borders unnoticed). Tapping into the journals I kept when I was backpacking around the world on a shoestring budget in the eighties and nineties, I’ve hopefully brought the global settings realistically alive in this psychological thriller.

Over this past year many ex-pat writers have been bound to their country of residence, which has distanced us somewhat from where our books are mostly sold in the English-speaking world. But being forced to isolate in the Swiss Alps has not been a great hardship. The most difficult part of the pandemic has been the inability to connect personally with family back in the UK. After the initial anxiety causing writers block at the beginning of the pandemic, living in an isolated mountain village has proven to be one of the best and certainly safest places in the world to write. And it has planted the seeds of new projects.

The Battle of Morgarten November 1315 (Tschachtlanchronik by Tschachtlan and Dittlinger, c. 1470. Public domain, Zurich Central Library)

Stepping outside the comfort zone of psychological thrillers, isolating in Switzerland has given me the opportunity to complete a long-planned novel – a medieval mystery set around the events leading up to the Battle of Morgarten. Should this relatively unknown event in history have ended differently, Switzerland might never exist today.

It helps that I live a short cycle ride from the site of the battle. Immersing myself in the landscape surrounding the village of Morgarten has been a major advantage in conjuring the sense of time and imagined experiences of people living and surviving in that era during the birth of the Helvetic Confederation (today’s Switzerland).

Historical fiction requires far more research than contemporary fiction. Immersing myself in the geography of a place that has changed very little over the past 700 years, has made it easier to write about what life was like back then. Once polished, I’m looking forward to bringing this new genre of mystery to readers.

(And we’re looking forward to reading it, Louise!)



Connect with Louise
Website: https://louisemangos.com/
Facebook author page: https://facebook.com/LouiseMangosBooks/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Mangos/e/B07BTW6FY9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseMangos  @LouiseMangos
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/louisemangos/


Read Strangers on a Bridge
To what lengths would you go to protect your family?

When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.

Adamant that they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charm grows darker and his obsession with Alice becomes stronger.

In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her and even her husband questions the truth abut Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/StrangersOnABridge




Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Alison Morton: A writer in la belle France

This week in ‘writers abroad’, it’s all about me. When I conceived this series about people living away from their native country or having spent significant chunks of time outside it, I thought it would be amusing and entertaining. But I’ve had so many emails and comments on social media about how inspiring the posts have been, I’ve been thrilled by its success. Nobody could ask for more.

We have a few more to enjoy, but I thought I’d slot in a quick personal post just in case anybody’s interested!

My background is mixed! Languages graduate with a history MA, civil servant, bookseller, military officer, specialist antique dealer, translator and now author of ten fiction and two non-fiction books. (More here, if you need a cure for insomnia…)

I moved to France in 2010, but apart from holidaying and studying here, I’ve worked here and am thoroughly immersed in all things French. As a child, I’d played with French speaking children since I was seven years old and I’ve never stopped talking (French) since.

My first degree was in French, German and Economics, so looking beyond my home country into other people’s cultures and lives seems second nature and intensely interesting.

Writing the Roma Nova novels started about a year before I left the UK and was firmly based on my fascination with Ancient Rome. Again, it’s looking into another culture, mindset and way of life. Crossing cultures can be stimulating and challenging; looking into the past even more so.

Château de Thouars

Inevitably, there is always interaction by the main characters, Carina and Aurelia, with the countries around them, including France.

In NEXUS, Aurelia chats to the French ambassador.

In SUCCESSIO, I was naughty enough to rename Paris’s chief airport ‘Paris-LeClerc’ rather than ‘Charles de Gaulle’ (CDG) as for me General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque was a far better soldier, a man of high integrity and far more straightforward than the much more political de Gaulle. Chacun à son goût…

When it came to writing Double Identity, the first of a different series, I grabbed the chance to give it a French background, something to reflect the place where I live – Poitou. It’s an ancient area, settled before the Romans or the Angevins arrived. Rich grain-producing plains (which many other tribes, states and nations envied and which were often the reason for invading), the navigable rivers, the outstanding beauty of its rolling hills and its rich flora and fauna have marked it out over the centuries.

Vieux quartier, Parthenay

Today, it’s a mixed urban and rural area, dotted around with châteaux, manors and historic towns such as Poitiers (historical capital city), Châtellerault (France’s kings’ establishment in Poitou), Niort, La Roche-sur-Yon, Thouars, and Parthenay.

In my daily life, I come across a lot of people of mixed and dual nationality and the joys and challenges of that, so I gave new heroine Mel/Mélisende a French father and English mother. Nothing like adding in an extra layer of potential conflict!

For a writer, it’s bliss; history at a few steps away whether ancient menhirs and Roman roads or high medieval forts, Renaissance palaces, Revolutionary mindset, troglodyte dwellings, the Second World War occupation and resistance. The fields and woods look peaceful, yet teem with life and the weather is gentle with long seasons of warmth. Of course, we do get rain, but not that much.

Getting our first residency cards at the prefecture in Niort

I’ve taken part in literary events, library sessions, given workshops and have just written my hundredth column about writing and publishing for The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine.

Although I’ve also travelled regularly over the past ten years to take part in literary festivals in the UK, US and Ireland, thanks to easy access to local airports, I’m always glad when the plane touches down at Poitiers airport  and I’m nearly home.

That’s been on hold for a couple years and I’ve missed it especially talking to readers and fellow writers, but I’ve been lucky to be in a good place and write the second Mélisende thriller in the tranquility of Poitou, my new and her original homeland.

Other posts in this series:
JJ (Jill) Marsh: Switzerland, but not as you know it…
Tracy Warr: Writing medieval fiction in southern France
Vanessa Couchman: The other south of France
Kathleen McGurl: On settings
Jean Gill: Provence – for the love of bees
Cathie Dunn: Carcassonne, a writer abroad’s dream
Keith Dixon: France, the Second World War and moi
Liza Perrat: The journey from Australia to France
Erica Lainé: Landscape and memory
Anna Belfrage: Writing from Sweden across fictional worlds and times…
J G (Jane) Harlond: An Englishwoman in Andalucía
Louise Mangos: Location, location, location – Swiss style
David Ebsworth: The holistic approach to historical research – from Alicante

Read the first in the new Mélisende/Mel series
Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since dual-national Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover—and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

Buying links:
Ebook: https://books2read.com/DoubleIdentity (all e-retailers)
Paperback: Amazon worldwide    Barnes & Noble   Book Depository or through your local bookshop

What they said…
Slick and sophisticated, DOUBLE IDENTITY is an action-packed thriller that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go until the last. A cracking start to Morton’s new series!” – E.M. Powell, author of the Stanton & Barling medieval mysteries for the International Thriller Writers

B.R.A.G. Medallion winner
Selected for BookBub’s “Best Reads” of March 2021


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Jane Harlond: An Englishwoman in Andalucía

This week’s writer abroad is Jane Harlond, writing as J.G. Harlond. An award-winning author of page-turning historical crime novels set in the 17th and early 20th centuries, Jane weaves fictional characters into real events. Creator of the wily charismatic rogue Ludo da Portovenere and the aging wartime detective Bob Robbins, her stories feature wicked wrongdoing and challenging romances.

Originally from North Devon in the English West Country, Jane has travelled widely and is now settled in rural Andalucía, Spain. She’s a member of the British Crime Writers’ Association and author of The Bob Robbins Home Front Mysteries, The Chosen Man Trilogy, The Empress Emerald, Dark Night, Black Horse and The Doomsong Sword

Over to Jane!

After travelling widely, for the past 15 years we have been settled in a rural area of southern Spain. Being married to a Spanish naval officer, whose family home was built in 1720, means my lifestyle is more Latin than British. Although after so many moves, I’m an exile everywhere these days – even England. This means moments of sadness and nostalgia, but for a writer it has advantages.

Seeing one’s surroundings with an objective eye can lead to a deeper awareness of both culture and the natural environment.Here are two scenes from The Empress Emerald that show what I mean. In the first extract, a naïve Cornish girl named Davina arrives at her husband’s family home in Jerez. It is 1920 in the story, what happens, though, is fictionalised from my own arrival in the late 1980s.

The driver stopped the car outside two vast doors, blackened with age and reinforced with iron. They reminded Davina of an illustration in one of her big picture books: Bluebeard’s castle. As if by some sinister magic, a door swung open. Alfonso ushered her into a fern-infested patio. It smelt dank and uninviting. She looked up and around her. The patio was open to the sky, but on all four sides above there were windows. She sensed watching eyes and lowered her gaze.

(Not wishing to reveal family secrets, I’ll leave you to guess how long it took for a foreign Protestant divorcee to be accepted into a real-life, very Roman Catholic household.)

The second scene is set in the bandalero country between Jerez and the coast – rolling hills with giant granite boulders and secret caves. Snow-covered in winter, burnt dry in summer, apart from the constant, aggressive wind all you can hear is the cry of eagles. I love the wildness here, the chance to escape civilisation. In the not-too-distant past, it was infamous for its mounted robbers, brigands with leather satchels slung across their shoulders en bandolera – hence the name. Davina is targeted by two of these ruffians during her escape from Jerez. She kills one using a toadskin melon as a weapon – which just goes to show that this debut novel was not autobiographical. Here’s where Davina considers her surroundings. She and her stepson Sito are travelling to Gibraltar in a cart pulled by a mule called Liberty.

Sito moved the mule out into the clearing to graze and tied her to a tree stump. Liberty pulled at tussocks of grass and set larks and goldfinches bounding up around them. Then the boy set the cart to rights and began the task of sorting out the mule’s harness. Davina collected the remains of their breakfast, climbed onto the running-board and stowed the food bag next to her carpet bag under their hard wooden seat. Suddenly Sito leapt up beside her as a group wild boar grunted out of the trees around them. The mule snorted and shot to the length of her tether.

‘That was lucky,’ he said. ‘You wouldn’t want to be on the ground with them so close.’

‘Are they that dangerous?’ laughed Davina, somewhat taken aback by their size and fearsome tusks. ‘I didn’t know they were so big.’

‘Big and nasty. Don’t you have them in England?’

‘I think there used to be – like bears and wolves – but not anymore.’

The group of tusked boar shuffled off and Sito jumped back down on the ground. ‘Are you happy to be are going back?’ he said.

Davina looked around at her surroundings: clumps of low scraggy bushes, peppery smelling herbs, in the distance, trees marched across a grey pink horizon. The sky over Spain always seemed so much bigger than over England. She tried to visualise a Cornish sunrise. ‘I think I am . . .’

From the balcony of my study, I can see the mauve-shaded Sierra de las Nieves, where the Moors of Al-Ándalus harvested snow to keep medicines cool. Beyond, lies the coastline once prey to the Barbary corsairs featured in The Chosen Man Trilogy. This view is very conducive to time travel: pretend there’s no road nearby and you could be back in any century you choose.

The glass doors will be closed soon, shutters lowered to keep out the heat. Like much of Spain, Andalucía is a characterised by extremes: baking hot in summer; bone-chilling cold in tiled-floored homes in winter. Climate undoubtedly conditions culture and behaviour. Tolerance, for example, is hard to come by when temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius. Neighbours can easily become enemies after sleepless summer nights. Something I tried to summarise in Dark Night, Black Horse, a novella based on the true story of how a small boy rescued (or stole) a wonderful black stallion during the Civil War in Coín.  

Landscape and society, the weather and history – real and imagined . . . they all come together when I sit down to write. There is no question that being a foreigner in this part of Spain contributes to my writing.


Connect with Jane
Web page:  https://www.jgharlond.com
Blog: Reading & Writing: https://wp-harlond.jgharlond.com/
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/JaneGHarlond
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaneGHarlond  @janeGHarlond
Jane’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/J.-G.-Harlond/e/B007PDA1Z4


Read The Chosen Man
Rome 1635. As Flanders braces for another long year of war, a Spanish count presents the Vatican with a means of disrupting the Dutch rebels’ booming economy.

His plan is brilliant. They just need the right man to implement it.

Enter Ludovico da Portovenere, a charismatic spice and silk merchant. Intrigued by the Vatican’s proposal – and hungry for profit – Ludo sets off for Amsterdam. His voyage is interrupted, first by a timid English priest with a message from Rome, then by a storm, then by a pirate raid. The storm brings him a quick-witted young admirer he uses as a spy. The pirate raid brings him a girl, Alina, who won’t go home.

Each development has significant consequences for Ludo’s plans and even greater ones for the people he is involved with.

Set in a world of international politics and domestic intrigue, The Chosen Man spins an engrossing tale about the Dutch financial scandal known as tulip mania—and how decisions made in high places can have terrible repercussions on innocent lives.

Buy the book here:  http://getbook.at/TheChosenMan


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Anna Belfrage: Writing from Sweden across fictional worlds and times...

This week, I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog Anna Belfrage, truly a ‘writer abroad’! Currently, she’s roosting in Sweden, her ‘home territory’. 

When Anna isn’t musing about the circle of life or considering just how much of the Graham homestead in 17th century Maryland is inspired by her own surroundings, she writes. Anna is the author of the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.

Over to Anna!

One of the drawbacks of growing up in multiple places is the lack of permanent roots. In my case, all those years living abroad as a child while attending English schools (local schools run by British peeps for British expat children. And me. (Well, not only me, obviously…) left me feeling what can best be described as Anglo-Swedish.

Anna’s Swedish lake

This is a rather odd hybrid who prefers tea to coffee, waxes lyrical about all that deliciously exciting British history, is just as poetic when describing Swedish nature (Ah, the light—the lingering Nordic summer evenings when light turns faintly purple but never entirely fades), and cannot write prose in anything but English. That latter statement is not entirely correct: of course, I can write in Swedish, but it lacks that rather elusive element – voice.

For my mother, Sweden was paradise on earth, which is why we ended up back here after years and years abroad. Paradise? Not so much, but over the years, I have embraced the Swede within – except for when I write. You see, when I write, I am rarely in Sweden. No, when I write, I generally leap backwards in time to Colonial America or Medieval England (and, more recently, Spain).

Colonial America, in particular, is a fascinating period and place for me – primarily because so many Swedes left their homeland to pursues the American Dream. Yes, the vast majority of those Swedes arrived to the land of hope and glory after colonial times, but I imagine settling in a new land was more or less the same in the 19th century as in the 17th: back-breaking labour, unfamiliar plants and animals, fear of the indigenous population, fear that the hopes for a better future would be crushed to dust in this strange and intimidating environment. Add to this a constant gnawing homesickness – the one my mother experienced all those years we were far, far away from Sweden – after all, tearing your roots up to replant them elsewhere is a difficult endeavour.

When I sit in my country house, surrounded by mile after mile of silent forests, I can somehow visualise how Alex Graham, my time-travelling protagonist of The Graham Saga, must have felt as she surveyed the homestead she and hubby Matthew Graham had wrested from the Maryland wilderness.

Life was hard for those that lived in our country house back when it was a working farm. Endless drystone walls indicate just how rocky the ground was (still is). Meagre grasses that ripple in shades of gold and green tell me the soil was less than fertile, and feeding a family was therefore a major challenge.

That is not Alex’s problem: the colonists who managed to survive the crossing and establish themselves in their new home found fertile land. But just like the people who built those stone walls, Alex’s life was one of hard work, of chapped hands after days of doing laundry, of an aching back after a week raking hay, of minor burns after conserving what fruits and berries she could find.

As I stir my bubbling blackberry jam, for an instant I am Alex. When I help hubby repair a part of the collapsed wall, I pretend he’s Matthew. And when we wash ourselves in the lake because the pump isn’t working, then I am definitely Alex – even if she is hardier than me. Alex Graham has learned the hard way that clean water – no matter how cold – is a luxury. Me, I prefer a hot shower!

Anna’s country house

So here I am, out in the Swedish boonies and writing about Colonial boonies – well, when I’m not writing about medieval cities built on the backbones of Romans remains (Alison, we need to travel Spain together and hop from ancient city to ancient city. You can tell me about the Romans, I can add a Castilian or Aragonese flavour. Yes? – Yes, as long as I can show you the wonder of Ampurias near Gerona).

It strikes me sometimes that there are more similarities than differences between my boonies and Alex’s boonies. But then, as most historical fiction writers will tell you, that is valid for most aspects of life. The human condition remains relatively unchanged through the centuries. We’re born, we learn, we love, we lose, we overcome, we fight, we experience success and failure. We laugh and cry, we have long existential conversations over wine. And then we die – just like all those who went before us did as well.

Find out more about Anna

Website and blog: www.annabelfrage.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelfrageauthor  @abelfrageauthor
Instagram: https://instagram.com/annabelfrageauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG



What is Anna’s exciting new new book about?

He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.

1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…

Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.

The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.

Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?

Buy The Whirlpools of Time here: http://myBook.to/WoT

Read my review on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R2JGP65EQA1Y3H/


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

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