Thursday, October 11, 2018

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway with Anna Belfrage, Author of A Torch in His Heart

Please join me in welcoming Anna Belfrage back to Let Them Read Books! Anna is touring the blogosphere with A Torch in His Heart, first book in The Wanderer series. I recently had the chance to ask Anna a few questions about the inspiration for her new characters and the challenges of moving from historical fiction to contemporary fiction. Read on and enter to win an ebook or paperback copy of A Torch in His Heart!

In the long lost ancient past, two men fought over the girl with eyes like the Bosporus under a summer sky. It ended badly. She died. They died.

Since then, they have all tumbled through time, reborn over and over again. Now they are all here, in the same place, the same time and what began so long ago must finally come to an end.

Ask Helle Madsen what she thinks about reincarnation and she’ll laugh in your face. Besides, Helle has other stuff to handle, what with her new, exciting job in London and her drop-dead but seriously sinister boss, Sam Woolf. And then one day Jason Morris walks into her life and despite never having clapped eyes on him before, she recognises him immediately. Very weird. Even more weird is the fact that Sam and Jason clearly hate each other’s guts. Helle’s life is about to become extremely complicated and far too exciting.

Available on Amazon


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

Thank you for inviting me back. It is always nice to visit with you, Jenny.

The Wanderer series is rather different from your Graham Saga and King's Greatest Enemy series. After twelve novels set in the distant past, how difficult was it for you to switch gears and write characters in a present-day setting?

The present-day setting sort of came with the story. Originally, I had this vision of a very young Helle Madsen who grew up somewhere close to Chicago and was a star on her school’s running team. Obviously, this young lady belonged in a modern context. Then things started to happen, and suddenly Helle wasn’t quite as rooted in the here and now—or quite as young…

In many ways it is a challenge to set something in a present-day setting, starting with the fact that there are a lot of readers out there who will know the geography of the places I mention. It is easier to paint a picture of medieval Kenilworth Castle seeing as no one now living has ever seen it in its full glory, thereby giving me artistic license to fill in the rather sizeable gaps. I can’t quite do the same when following Jason and Helle across present-day London.

Also, writing in a historical context gives me a framework on which to build my story—especially in my 14th century series, where the lives of my imaginary characters, Adam and Kit de Guirande, are so entwined with the real historical events of the time. When writing historicals, you need the facts to create credibility and anchor your plot. When writing contemporary, you don’t want too many actual events and facts woven through the intrigue as these will date the book PDQ. Something of a challenge!

On your website, you mention that your inspiration for The Wanderer came to you while viewing artifacts in the British Museum. Do you remember what specifically you were viewing at the time? Did it make its way into the story?

Yes. I was viewing a little carved pendant. That specific pendant didn’t make it into the story as Jason in his earliest incarnation (3,000 years ago) would not have been in a position to buy his Helle something as precious. However, in the present-day he does give her some carved pendants, little figures which he hopes will nudge her dormant memories of a long-gone past into life…

What's your favorite scene in A Torch in His Heart?

That’s a very difficult question. (I bet you get that a lot from the authors you interview.) I rather like the scene where Helle meets Jason for the first time in eons. She has no idea who he is, but she recognises him immediately and she definitely knows his name. Very weird, as Helle would say…

Helle packed her rucksack, shrugged on her coat and marched out into the reception, arriving just as a group of men emerged from the lift. Marigold rushed to meet them, three men in suits with matching red ties. Pathetic, Helle thought, grinning despite her mounting panic. Woolf was no longer in the reception, and the thought of entering his office had her pulse accelerating. She stood there, holding her resignation letter, when her gaze fell on one of the visitors. Every single atom of oxygen fled her body.
“Jason?” she croaked, taking a half-step in his direction. Jason? She’d never clapped eyes on him before—well, apart from in her recent dreams. The man named Jason inclined his head. Eyes the colour of amber met hers, and Helle couldn’t stop herself from smiling, blinking furiously at the tears that were springing to her eyes.
He raked a hand through his mahogany coloured hair. Helle recognised the mannerism—he always dragged his fingers through his hair when he was stressed about something. But his hair used to be so much longer, and Helle had never seen him in a shirt and tie—hang on! She’d never seen him, full stop. And yet she knew exactly what his mouth would feel like on hers, just as she knew he had a mole the size of a thumbnail just above his right hip, and that the pinkie on his left hand was crooked.
“You! What are you doing here?” Woolf’s voice heaved with anger and Helle cringed. His footsteps echoed on the marble floor. Helle kept her eyes on Jason, the small hairs along her nape bristling when Woolf ended up standing right behind her.
“You know why I’m here,” Jason said. “I’m here for her.” He smiled at Helle.
“You know this man?” Percy barked, appearing from one of the conference rooms.
“Know him?” Helle’s fingers went to the little ship adorning her necklace. Argo, Jason’s ship. She shared a look with unknown Jason, received the slightest of smiles in return. “Yes, I think I do.” Dark brows over those eagle eyes, a straight nose, high cheekbones, a square chin—his face radiated determination.
“I knew you’d show up at some point,” Woolf spat. “But this time you’re too late, Wanderer.”
Wanderer? Helle suppressed an urge to laugh. Whatever this Jason might be, he was definitely not a Traveller. His tailored three-piece suit, the handmade shoes and the bespoke cufflinks spoke of wealth, not of a childhood in a draughty caravan somewhere.
“Too late?” Jason crossed his arms over his chest. “We’ll see about that.” Where Woolf’s voice was dark, Jason’s was just as deep, but there was a hoarseness to it that made him sound older than he looked. From under her lashes, Helle studied him, this oh, so familiar unknown man. Around thirty, she’d guess, tallish and well-built, if nowhere close to Woolf’s powerful build.
He smiled at her and her heart did somersaults. How she’d missed that glorious smile! Get a grip, she admonished herself, you’re hallucinating or something—you don’t know this man from Adam. But she did, she most definitely did, from the way his hair grew in a whorl at his nape to the smooth curve of his buttocks. Helle shook her head. These last few days of disrupted sleep and heightened tension were playing havoc with her senses.
Woolf and Jason faced off, two men in suits fighting a deadly duel with their eyes.  Those two had history, Helle concluded—plenty of it.

Can you describe a typical day in your writing life?

At present, my writing life is very much a collection of snatched hours. I’m hoping that may change within the foreseeable future. However, when I do have a day over to invest fully in writing, I tend to dive into my MS and write like crazy for a couple of hours before taking a longish break to do some walking or cooking (or both). Then I do some of the admin stuff we all have to do, check up on social media and round off the day with yet another writing session.

How do your characters take shape? Do you draw from real life? Do they pop into your head fully intact, or do you discover who they are along the way?

My main characters tend to pop into life relatively fully-fledged. This doesn’t mean they don’t change a bit as the story progresses, but their fundamentals are pretty much written in stone. My bad guys usually see the light of the day as caricatures (you know, all black and evil), but as I get to know them, their complexities add layers to that original simplistic version. I’d like to write a book someday where the bad guy/gal is the MC. Well, part of me would; the other says “no way!” as I do like my brave and upright protagonists…

Which authors and/or books have had the most influence on you?

Seeing as I’ve read on average three books a week since the age of seven, that’s a loooong list. If I were obliged to select my top five, they would be Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings, Sharon K. Penman’s Here be Dragons (or Falls the Shadow), Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Mario Vargas's Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo, and Pamela Belle's The Moon in the Water. A rather eclectic list, isn’t it? And I couldn’t even fit Margaret Drabble, Salman Rushdie, Philip Roth, or James Michener…

What are you working on now?

There are three books in the Jason and Helle series, and I am presently polishing number two for publication. At the same time I’m working on a book set in the 1280s in England, a new time travel series, and I have this urge to write a new series set in contemporary times featuring tall and blond Darius and the somewhat intriguing Zadie Tamaris. For some odd reason, this as yet very vague plotline comes with a title: “No wolf howls alone.” What to make of it? As yet, no idea!

About the Author:

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing.

Anna has authored 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 which is set in 14th century England. (Medieval knight was also high on Anna’s list of potential professions. Yet another disappointment…)

With Jason and Helle, Anna has stepped out of her historical comfort zone and has loved doing so.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com, You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitterAmazon, and Goodreads.

A Torch in His Heart is on a blog tour!


GIVEAWAY!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away one eBook and one paperback copy of A Torch in His Heart! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
A Torch in His Heart

4 comments:

  1. Hi Jenny,
    Thank you for allowing me to drop by & visit with you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This story sounds wonderful. I'm so glad I stopped by. Thank you both for this opportunity. Can't wait to read it.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete

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