Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blog Tour Interview with Anna Belfrage, Author of Serpents in the Garden

Please join me in welcoming historical fiction author Anna Belfrage to the blog! Anna is touring the blogosphere with her latest installment in her popular Graham Saga series, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to her about her characters and writing a series. Read on and enter for a chance to win a copy of Serpents in the Garden!

Hi Anna! Thank you so much for appearing on Let Them Read Books!

And hello to you too, Jenny! It is a pleasure to visit with you.

Can you tell us a bit about how your heroine, Alex Lind, came into being and what inspired you to send her to 17th century Scotland?

Well… Alex has been rattling about in my brain for some time, alternating between moping because nothing exciting ever happens to her, and being angry that I didn’t write a book with her in it. But you see, I knew from that first glimpse of Alex, all flashing blue eyes and curly dark hair, that she was meant for something – and someone – special. At the time, I was doing a lot of nonfiction reading about the 17th century, and especially about the religious conflicts that tore Europe apart. Alex, however, was a modern woman – no doubt about that. When I presented the option of starring in a story set in the 17th century she just snorted – until the day Matthew Graham took form. Tall, hazel eyed and with a mouth that could curve into the softest of smiles or harden into a straight gash, Matthew was a Covenanter, firmly planted in 17th-century Lowland Scotland. Alex took one look at him and she was lost. As was he…

A more prosaic reply would be that I’ve always wanted to write about the 17th century given my fascination with this century that sort of totters between the old and the new. Alex became my alter ego in exploring this day and age, a modern woman trying to cope with a very different world.

I would imagine penning a series with a contemporary woman in a historical setting presents a whole new set of challenges. How do you strike a balance in reconciling her modern sensibilities with those of her historical counterparts?

One of Alex’s more fundamental qualities is her capacity to adapt. Without it, she would never have survived in this new world of hers. As time passes in her new environments, many of her modern views and sensibilities are toned down. Alex doesn’t live apart; she is submerged in a life where she rubs shoulders on a daily basis with people that view the world somewhat differently than she/we do. Some of their opinions she will never absorb as her own – she will always insist a woman is as smart and capable as a man, just as she will never understand or condone what people do in the name of their respective religions. Others of their views she will accept. For example, where initially she would never tolerate the idea of disciplining her children physically, ten years on she accepts that Matthew does so – most rarely – and that it is his right to do so.

To Matthew’s great (and secret) amusement and satisfaction, she does become more biddable with time, allowing him to lead on most matters. Most, but not all; Alex will never back down when it comes to injustice towards other people, nor will she ever allow her men to treat women with anything but utmost respect. No major hardship as per Matthew; after all, he is fortunate enough to live with a woman that has the heart of a lion and the spirit to match. He never doubts she is his equal in all things that matter, and woe betide the man who makes a disparaging comment about his Alex.

How do you keep a long-running series fresh and unpredictable?

Why, thank you Jenny, for that indirect compliment! I guess it’s about seeing each part of the series as a somewhat isolated event rather than as “only” a chapter in an ongoing story. I try to make sure there are unique plot lines to each book that all reach a conclusion within that book while also contributing to the whole Graham Saga. I also think it’s a matter of ensuring somewhat different angles and themes: book three in the saga, The Prodigal Son, is very much about religious persecution in Scotland, while Serpents in the Garden – my most recent release – is about love in various guises, not all of them the pink and fluffy kind.

If you could go back in time and spend one day with one figure from Scottish history, who would you choose and what would you hope to do while you were there?

ONE??? My historical interests are pretty broad, you know…That’s like placing a tray of chocolate pralines before me and saying that yes, there are hundreds and hundreds, but you can only have one. So I’m going to give you four names: Robert Bruce, the man who ousted the English and became king in the 14th century; James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell and husband to Mary, Queen of Scots; James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, who died for the Royalist cause in the 17th century; John Knox, Scottish Reformer who seems to have combined a religious fervour with a genuine liking of women.

In all of these cases, I’d just have liked to talk to them – you know, shoot enough material to make a fantastic one hour documentary on BBC 2. I do not believe in trying to change history. It is my perception that could be very, very dangerous…

What are you working on now?

Too much… Seriously, I am presently doing the final edits on the next installment of The Graham Saga, as well as finalising a book set in the 14th century with the working title “Moonlight in Mirrors.” Plus I am always working on my story set in 17th century Sweden and England, featuring a somewhat reluctant jewel thief and gorgeous but deadly Gustav, who will stop at nothing to get the jewels she stole back. And that’s just the top of the iceberg, as I seem to have stories coming out of my ears at present, somewhat distracting, let me tell you!

Great answers! Who wouldn't want to go back to ask some burning questions of Robert the Bruce and the Earl of Bothwell?! Thanks, Anna!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!


Wanna win Serpents in the Garden?
Enter for your choice of a paperback or ebook by leaving a comment on this post with your email address.
Open internationally!

This giveaway closes at 11:59pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth-century husband, Matthew Graham.

Graham Saga Titles:

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution (coming August 2014)


  1. Thank you for making this open to all. Much appreciated.


  2. Alex and Matthew sound like a fascinating couple. Can't wait to read about them.

  3. A fascinating and wonderful giveaway which would be memorable.Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Yes, he would turn a woman's heart.


  5. This interview and giveaway is lovely. Many thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. What a great-sounding story. Being of Scots descent I'd really like to meet some of those great historical figures too. Drop me a line when you get a chance to go visit them, OK? Thanks. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  7. Woo hoo!! A new book by Anna to read! I'm SO stinking excited!
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  8. I own and have read the first book in the Graham Saga and own books two and three. They are next up on my TBR pile. I would love to win a paperback copy of Serpents in the Garden to add to my collection.

    tmrtini at gmail (dot) com

    1. By the way, I couldn't stop turning the pages on A Rip in the Veil. What a wonderful, riveting story!

  9. Thank you for the giveaway. I have read " Like Chaff in the Wind" and really enjoyed it. It's good to see new books in the series, that will be added to my TBR list.

  10. I just finished The Prodigal Son and would love to read more of Ms Belfrage's works, thanks.

  11. I'd love to read a print copy of the book. Thanks for the chance.

    Terri, niteofblu at gmail dot com

  12. I haven't read any of the books in this saga -- but now plan to! Would love to win the digital version of Serpents in the Garden. Thanks, Jenny.
    lindaleegraham at gmail dot com

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. I am so intrigued!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  15. What an awesome cover! I´d love to read this book :))

  16. sounds like a definite 'add' to my Wish List!!1
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  17. Great review :)

  18. Sounds like an exciting read.

  19. Thanks for the giveaway!!
    I would choose the paperback!

  20. This sounds like an interesting read. I'll have to read some of the others she has written.
    I would choose the paperback.

  21. A fascinating and wonderful giveaway which would be memorable.Thanks. Nice blog Primodels Review


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