Today I’m interviewing the lovely Rosemary Morris, author of The Captain and the Countess
There is a gigantic canvas for a historical novelist to choose from. So far I have chosen to set my published novels in the England of Queen Anne Stuart 1702 – 1714 and the popular Regency era.
I chose those periods in which to set my novels in because each of them affected the course of history. If the Duke of Marlborough had not won The War of Spanish Succession and The Duke of Wellington had not defeated Napoleon at The Battle of Waterloo the history of Britain and that of Europe would have been very different, and would also had far-reaching consequences for other countries. If Edward II had won the Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce would have probably been killed. It is feasible that the king would most likely have conquered Scotland and, perhaps, as it is claimed, he would not have been murdered.
The more I read about my chosen eras the more fascinated I become and the more aware of the gulf between those periods of history and my own. I believe those who lived in the past shared the same emotions as we do but their attitudes and way of life were in many ways quite different to ours. One of the most striking examples is the position of women in society in bygone ages.
I present women who are of their time, not cardboard characters dressed in costume who behave like 21st century women. Of course, it is almost impossible to completely understand our ancestors but through extensive research I ensure my characters observe the social etiquette of their life and times in order not to become outcasts from society.
Tell us something about your books
I describe my books as romantic historicals in which I do not open the bedroom door wide. In my novels I recreate the clothes, food, social and economic history and much more.
The heroine in Sunday’s Child set in the Regency era does not want to marry ‘a military man’ for fear that, like her father and brothers, he will die fighting against Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsula. The hero is affected by a tragic occurrence and doubts he will ever marry and have a family.
My second Regency Novel, False Pretences, concerns a young woman sent to a boarding school at the age of five. At eighteen years of age Annabelle is desperate to know who her parents were and who her unknown guardian is. When Annabelle is ordered to marry a French Baron with a bad reputation she runs away. With the help of a gentleman, who rescues her from a footpad, she begins to unravel the false pretences in her life but does not know if she can forgive her rescuer for his.
I have also written three novels set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart 1702-1714.
Tangled Love opens when Richelda Shaw’s father decides to follow James II to France. He swore an oath of allegiance to James so his conscience does not allow him to swear an oath of allegiance to James’s daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange during James’ lifetime. Before he leaves he asks Richelda to swear on the Bible to do all in her power to regain Field House, their ancestral home sequestered after the Civil War. Richelda goes from riches to rags and rags to riches while trying to keep her promise.
After serving in India with the East India Company from the age of fourteen, Gervaise, the hero of Far Beyond Rubies returns to England influenced by some Hindu beliefs. When he first sees Juliana, the heroine Gervaise senses he knows her but not during their present life. He questions whether the Hindu belief in reincarnation is valid. A chance meeting again brings him into contact with Juliana, who is determined to prove her father left Riverside to her, not her half-brother, in accordance with her grandfather’s will. Gervaise helps Juliana to dicover the astonishing truth.
In my most recent novel, The Captain and The Countess, Captain Howard, who is on half pay from Queen Anne’s navy. is captivated by Kate, Countess of Sinclair, whose nickname is The Fatal Widow. Married off to a cruel older man, beautiful, fascinating, wealthy Kate enjoys her independence and has no intention of marrying again. However, the captain, a talented artist, is the only person to see the grief behind Kate’s fashionable façade.
What got you started writing historical fiction?
At primary school my head was full of stories about times past. At grammar school my love of English Literature, geography and history grew and sparked my imagination. I read historical fiction and was inspired by many authors. It was inevitable that one day my love of history and reading would lead to my writing romantic historicals.
How much research do you do for your books, and how do you go about it?
I read dozens of books, google, but double check information, and visit places of historical interest, museums and exhibitions.
What are you working on now?
I am writing Monday’s Child, a follow on novel from Sunday’s Child, set in Brussels during the 100 days between Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Brussels and the Battle of Waterloo.
I am also revising the first book in trilogy, Dear Heart, a historical novel set in the reign of Edward II of England.
When did you start writing fiction for publication? What was the push that got you started?
I wrote years ago while living in Kenya and had two novels accepted. However, I did not know that the date of publication should be included in the contracts. In one case the publishing house amalgamated with another, in the other the new commissioning editor did not like my novel. Discouraged, and due to circumstances, I stopped writing until I returned to England. Tangled Love was published as Tangled Lvies by an online publisher which went bankrupt. After bitter tears, I submitted to MuseItUp Publishing, signed the contract with them and continued writing.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A bit of both. After I decide on the plot and theme of my novel I fill in detailed biographies for my main characters. I jot down main events and then see where the characters will take me.
Do you have a writing routine?
Yes, one I try to adhere to. On most mornings I wake up at 6 a.m. have a glass of lemon juice in hot water and then write until 10 a.m., with a break for breakfast.
If I am at home, I work from 1.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and then from 4 or 5 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m.
These hours include writing my novels, researching them, blogging and much more.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best advice was to join The Romantic Novelist’s New Writers Scheme.
The worst advice was to begin Sunday’s Child on the battlefield.
Who are your favorite authors in your genre?
Elizabeth Chadwick, Catherine Cookson (Sara Dane), Bernard Cornwall (Sharpe Series) Sergeanne, Golon, Georgette Heyer, M.M.Kaye, Baroness Orczy, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Anya Seton and many more authors.
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
I want my readers to feel they stepped into another world at another time and for the memory of my novel/s to linger in their minds after they reach the end of each one with a deep, satisfied sigh.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Rosemary’s e-books published by MuseItUp Publishing in e-book or paper-back form from all online retailers such as www.amazon.co.uk. www.amazon.com, iBook, Nook etc.are available from the publisher, Amazon-kindle, ibooks, Nook and other reputable vendors.
You can read the first three chapters of my novels and view the book trailers on my website www.rosemarymorris.co.uk.
Follow my blogs at:
Contact me at: email@example.com but don’t forget to enter Margaret Fieland’s Interview as the Subject or I will delete it from my Junk Folder.
I would be delighted to hear from you, receive your comments and maybe your reviews if you choose to read my novels.
Any last words?
Unless an author chooses to self-publish the road to publication can be very hard but I have no regrets over taking that rocky road.
Blurb for The Captain and The Countess
Why does heart-rending pain lurk in the back of the wealthy Countess of Sinclair’s eyes?
Captain Howard’s life changes forever from the moment he meets Kate, the intriguing Countess and resolves to banish her pain.
Although the air sizzles when widowed Kate, victim of an abusive marriage meets Edward Howard, a captain in Queen Anne’s navy, she has no intention of ever marrying again.
However, when Kate becomes better acquainted with the Captain she realises he is the only man who understands her grief and can help her to untangle her past
Excerpt from The Captain and The Countess
Perkins, his godmother’s butler, took his hat and cloak. “Madam wants you to join her immediately.”
Instead of going upstairs to the rooms his godmother had provided for him during his spell on half pay—the result of a dispute with a senior officer—Edward entered the salon. He sighed. When would his sixty-one year old godmother accept that at the age of twenty-two he was not yet ready to wed?
He made his way across the elegant, many windowed room through a crowd of expensively garbed callers.
When Frances Radcliffe noticed him, she turned to the pretty young lady seated beside her. “Mistress Martyn, allow me to introduce you to my godson, Captain Howard.”
Blushes stained Mistress Martyn’s cheeks as she stood to make her curtsey.
Edward bowed, indifferent to yet another of his grandmother’s protégées. Conversation ceased. All eyes focussed on the threshold.
“Lady Sinclair,” someone murmured.
Edward turned. He gazed without blinking at the acclaimed beauty, whose sobriquet was ‘The Fatal Widow’.
The countess remained in the doorway, her cool blue eyes speculative.
Edward whistled low. Could her shocking reputation be no more than tittle-tattle? His artist’s eyes observed her. Rumour did not lie about her Saxon beauty.
Her ladyship was not a slave to fashion. She did not wear a wig, and her hair was not curled and stiffened with sugar water. Instead, her flaxen plaits were wound around the crown of her head to form a coronet. The style suited her. So did the latest Paris fashion, an outrageous wisp of a lace cap, which replaced the tall, fan-shaped fontage most ladies continued to wear perched on their heads.
Did the countess have the devil-may-care attitude gossips attributed to her? If she did, it explained why some respectable members of society shunned her. Indeed, if Lady Sinclair were not the granddaughter of his godmother’s deceased friend, she might not be received in this house.
The lady’s fair charms did not entirely explain what drew many gallants to her side. After all, there were several younger beauties present that the gentlemen did not flock around so avidly.
He advanced toward the countess, conscious of the sound of his footsteps on the wooden floor, the muted noise of coaches and drays through the closed windows and, from the fireplace, the crackle of burning logs which relieved the chill of early spring.
The buzz of conversation resumed. Her ladyship scrutinised him. Did she approve of his appearance? A smile curved her heart-shaped mouth. He repressed his amusement. Edward suspected the widow’s rosy lips owed more to artifice than nature.
“How do you do, sir,” she said when he stood before her. “I think we have not met previously. Her eyes assessed him dispassionately. My name is Sinclair, Katherine Sinclair. I dislike formality. You may call me Kate.”
“Captain Howard at your service, Countess.” Shocked but amused by boldness more suited to a tavern wench than a great lady, Edward paid homage with a low bow before he spoke again. “Despite your permission, I am not presumptuous enough to call you Kate, yet I shall say that had we already met, I would remember you.”
“You are gallant, sir, but you are young to have achieved so high a rank in Her Majesty’s navy.”
“An unexpected promotion earned in battle which the navy did not subsequently commute.”
“You are to be congratulated on what, I can only assume, were acts of bravery.”
“Thank you, Countess.”
The depths of her ladyship’s sapphire cross and earrings blazed, matching his sudden fierce desire.
Kate, some four inches shorter than Edward, looked up at him.
He leaned forward. The customary greeting of a kiss on her lips lingered longer than etiquette dictated. Her eyes widened before she permitted him to lead her across the room to the sopha on which his godmother sat with Mistress Martyn.
With a hint of amusement in her eyes, Kate regarded Mrs Radcliffe. “My apologies, madam, I suspect my visit is untimely.”
Her melodious voice sent shivers up and down his spine, nevertheless, Edward laughed. Had the countess guessed his godmother, who enjoyed match-making, wanted him to marry Mistress Martyn? No, he was being too fanciful. How could she have guessed?
“You are most welcome, Lady Sinclair. Please take a seat and partake of a glass of cherry ratafia.” Frances said.
“Perhaps, milady prefers red viana,” Edward suggested
“Captain, you read my mind, sweet wine is not to my taste.”
In response to the lady’s provocative smile, heat seared his cheeks.
Kate smoothed the gleaming folds of her turquoise blue silk gown. The lady knew how to dress to make the utmost of her natural beauty. Her gown and petticoat, not to mention sleeves and under-sleeves, as well as her bodice and stays, relied for effect on simple design and fine fabrics. He approved of her ensemble, the elegance of which did not depend on either a riot of colours or a multitude of bows and other trimmings. Later, he would sketch her from memory.
Kate inclined her head to his godmother. “Will you not warn your godson I am unsound, wild, and a bad influence on the young?”
Edward gazed into Kate’s eyes. Before his demise, had her husband banished her to a manor deep in the country? If it was true, why did he do so?
Kate’s eyebrows slanted down at the inner corners. She stared back at him. He laughed, raised her hands to his lips and kissed each in turn. “I look forward to furthering my acquaintance with you.”
“High-handed.” Kate gurgled with laughter. “Captain, please release me.”
What did he care if she were some ten years his elder? He wanted to get to know her better. Edward bowed. “Your slightest wish is my command.”
Rosemary Morris was born in 1940 in Sidcup Kent. As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’
While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her Indian husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College. In 1961 Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived from 1961 until 1982. After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.
Back in England, Rosemary wrote historical fiction. She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society and Watford Writers.
Apart from writing, Rosemary enjoys classical Indian literature, reading, visiting places of historical interest, vegetarian cooking, growing organic fruit, herbs and vegetables and creative crafts.
Her bookshelves are so crammed with historical non-fiction which she uses to research her novels that if she buys a new book she has to consider getting rid of one.
Time spent with her five children and their families, most of whom live near her is precious.
E.books published by: MuseItUp Publishing available from the publisher, Amazon and elsewhere.
Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies (also available as a paperback) False Pretences, Sunday’s Child. New release 21st February 2014 The Captain and the Countess.