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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Q&A INTERVIEW with Susanna Kearsley, Author of The Winter Sea

Please help me welcome
Susanna Kearsley, Author of The Winter Sea

Welcome Susanna and Thank you for visiting at my blog today. 

Q1. I'm always interested to discover the story behind the story. Where did the inspiration for The Winter Sea come from?
SK: Thanks so much for inviting me here, Martha. My inspiration to write The Winter Sea came from the happy juxtaposition of my finding John S. Gibson’s history book, Playing the Scottish Card, a fascinating account of the failed Franco-Jacobite invasion attempt of 1708, and my father’s asking me to please write him another book like his previous favorite of mine, Mariana, which tells a story in two times.

I liked this technique and will have to look at Mariana
Q2. What genre do you place this book in and was there any special research that went into creating this novel?
SK: I’ve never fit neatly into any one genre, which I’m sure creates plenty of headaches for both the publishers trying to market my books and the booksellers trying to shelve them. My books have elements of history, adventure, romance, suspense, and usually a hint of paranormal goings-on. My husband says they’re like old Hitchcock movies, but the label I would use is “modern gothic”.

As for the research I needed to do, I began by learning all I could about the 1708 invasion attempt, reading not only the history books but the actual letters and memoirs of the people involved, and then following that with a trip to the area to do my on-the-ground research.

That's it - "Gothic" is the feel I got. Thanks for reminding me as I couldn't think of the genre fit.
Q3. Is there a particular scene you like the most in The Winter Sea?
SK: I have a few favorite scenes, actually. One is a battlefield scene, towards the end, because it’s my first ever battle scene, but I also really like a very simple, very brief scene in the present day where my two main characters are standing at a bus stop in the snow, in Aberdeen. It’s just one of those ordinary moments that still manages to have a certain tenderness.

There were several tender moments I really liked. 
Q4. Is there an ancillary character in any of your books that you had the most fun with?
SK: Adrian, the ex-boyfriend of my heroine in The Shadowy Horses, was a very fun character to write, because I never really had a clue what he was going to come out with next, and he had a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor that I absolutely loved when writing his dialogue.

It is fun when you don't quite know what the character will do next. :)
Q5. Do you put a little of yourself into your characters or do you create them completely different from you?
SK: I think all my heroines have a substantial part of me in them, when they start out. They have my moral code, my general way of looking at the world, my sense of humor, and a few of my own habits, but they evolve fairly quickly once they get on the page and start moving around, and become individuals. My mother once made the comment that, although my heroines are all different women, if I put all of them – and myself – in a room together, we’d all get along with each other, and have things in common.

Carrie's intensity staying up all night to write made me wonder if you did that too.
Q6. Do you have any rituals that help you get in the mood to sit down and write?
SK: After I take the kids to school, I come home and put the kettle on to make coffee, and while it’s boiling I phone my mom and talk about the book – what scene I’m working on, and where I’d like to go with it. By the time I’ve made my coffee, I feel focused enough to sit straight down and write.

How nice to have your mom help and support your writing.
Q7. What do you do for recreation when you are not writing?
SK: Well, between the kids and my writing, I don’t have a lot of time left for recreation, actually, but I do like to try to go to the movies one night a week. It’s a great stress-reliever.

Ah yes -it is hard to get "free time". 
Q8. Do you have any particular genre or author you like to read?
SK: I read across all the genres, but when I crave a comfort read I always reach for Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels. They’ve always been my favorites.

Mary Stewart books were the first romances I feel in love with when I was about 15. Your writing does remind me of her "gothic" feel.
Q9. What is something unique about you that you would share with your readers?
SK: I’m not sure it’s unique, but I have a very visual memory. I don’t know that you could call it photographic, exactly, but when I’m trying to recall a fact for research I can close my eyes and “see” the page it’s printed on, and simply read the words again – a trick that always came in very useful at exam time when I was at school!  

Very handy!
Q10.  If you could have readers finish a sentence what would it be?
SK: If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to…?

My answer: I would go to Ireland and Scotland!
Q11. Just for fun: Are you ready for the Holidays and is there anything special you have planned that you can share with your readers?
SK: I haven’t got all my decorating done yet, as usual, but the kids are home from school now so they’ll be helping me with all of that this week. And on Christmas Eve we’ll make our annual trek into the city of Toronto to see Ross Petty’s Christmas pantomime at the Elgin Theatre (it’s “Beauty and the Beast” this year) and then enjoy the spectacle of all the store windows done up for the holidays as the lights start to come on in the evening – a tradition for me since my own childhood, and one that still makes me feel very Christmassy!
Oh that sounds like a great tradition.
SK:I hope you and everyone else who is reading this, whether they celebrate Christmas or not, has a wonderful holiday brimful with happiness, good health and love.

Thanks again for inviting me here, it’s been fun.

THANK YOU, Susannah, for sharing your book and a bit of your life with your readers!

History has all but forgotten…

In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

The Winter SeaNow, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth—the ultimate betrayal—that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…

After studying politics and international development at University, Susanna Kearsley worked as a museum curator before turning her hand to writing. Winner of the UK’s Catherine Cookson Fiction prize, Susanna’s Kearsley’s writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne DuMaurier, and Diana Gabaldon. Her books have been translated into several languages, selected for the Mystery Guild, condensed for Reader's Digest, and optioned for film. The Winter Sea was a finalist for both a RITA award and the UK's Romantic Novel of the Year Award. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario. For more information, please visit

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