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Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MuseItUp author Rosemary Morris to the blog.
SJT: You have travelled widely, and are now settled back in the UK. Any stories about cultural differences picked up on your travels that you’d like to share?
RM: With regard to marriage there are distinct cultural differences in the East and West. In the U.K., even if a couple decide to be partners instead of marrying, women their priority is their relationship often to the exclusion of everyone else. In Hindu communities with a modern outlook arranged marriages in which the husband-to-be and prospective wife have not met are uncommon – although, I am told, this is still usual in India. Duty to family is very important and it is usual for couples live in a joint family.
SJT: I was interested to learn you’ve spent time in an ashram in France. What did you take away from that experience?
RM: First of all – according to the teaching of The Bhagavadgita, otherwise known as The Song of God, my belief in reincarnation strengthened. To put it simply, for every action there is a reaction. For example, I do not believe Adolf Hitler is condemned to eternal hell, but he will suffer throughout many, many, births before he has even the slightest chance to redeem himself. However, someone such as Mother Teresa – if she has not gone to heaven – will reap the reward of her piety.
Something else which I took away is the power of daily meditation, which brings peace and the ability to deal with whatever life throws at me.
SJT: Most of your books seem to be set in the past. Do you enjoy the research, or is it an attraction to a simpler time that draws you to bygone eras?
RM: I enjoy the research but do not think that time was simpler in bygone eras. The majority of people were ‘dirt poor’ and lived in appalling conditions and slaved for the basic necessities of life.
However, I enjoy writing about the upper classes, their customs, clothes, the food they ate and their religious and political beliefs. (Perhaps I should add that I am planning a novel about a young girl from a humble background who the heroine of Sunday’s Child has ‘taken under her wing.’ Three of my novels are set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart – 1702-1714 a period of political and economic change which affects the modern day United Kingdom. The Act of Union between England and Scotland was passed in 1706. To this day, many Scots resent it and say they were not consulted about the Act, and now there will be a referendum to decide whether Scotland will choose to separate from the rest of the U.K. It is also interesting to note that if Marlborough had not won the War of Spanish Succession the history of Europe would be very different.
SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
RM: Obviously, to write historical fiction a novelist needs a good imagination, which is something that cannot be taught. However, when I wrote my first novel, compelled to write the story of my imaginary characters, I knew little about the craft of writing. I wish that I had known about books on How to Write and courses on writing. Of course, in the past there was less help to the aspiring novelist. Nevertheless, I wish someone had pointed me in the right direction.
SJT: Tell us about your latest release.
RM: THE CAPTAIN AND THE COUNTESS set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart is more than a love story between a younger man and an older woman. It is the story of a widow cruelly treated by her late husband in an age when men had complete authority over women.
The following is a *5 review, on http://www.amazon.com, which covers the subject matter of THE CAPTAIN AND THE COUNTESS.
“I’ve really become a fan of Rosemary Morris’s books because I feel she sets out to write much more than a romance. Her new historical did not disappoint me with its hero who is a young Captain in Queen Anne’s navy, marooned at the time of the story on half-pay, and the widow nine years his senior. It is set in the time of Queen Anne, 1702-1714, so quite a bit earlier than the Regency offerings we get so used to.
I particularly enjoyed the way the politics, lifestyle and beliefs of the age were woven in quite seamlessly, and loved the tender manly hero and the somewhat damaged heroine. Though he is the younger, his naval service has brought him maturity. Though she is older, she has been very badly used by the men in her life and has a shocking secret.
The research is truly immaculate but I felt as though I were in Kate’s drawing room rather than reading a history book. Rosemary has explored some of the folk customs and superstitions current in this period and also written a great love story.
Suitable for those who enjoy a well-written, well-researched historical novel; a sensual love story with no explicit sex and a happy ending. This book is downloadable to kindle and other e-readers and is therefore suitable for many with a visual disability.
SJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?
RM: Neither real life historical characters nor people I know feature in my historical fiction. However, like all novelists I am a people watcher and my mind buzzes with eccentricities, accents and the people’s faces. Sometimes, while I’m out and about I see a face that inspires me.
SJT: When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?
RM: I am neither. Before I begin a novel I need a working title, which might change later. I also need to name my main characters and fill in detailed profiles. Much of the information might not be used in the novel but it serves to make them real in my imagination. When I write the first paragraph I know what the plot and theme will be and how the novel will end, but I don’t plan every detail. Although I like my characters to surprise me but I let them know I am in charge.
SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?
SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
RM: Most important of all I enjoy spending time with friends and family. Apart from this, I am a keen organic gardener. I grow 50 or 60 percent of my own herbs, soft fruit, stone fruit and vegetables. I am a vegetarian so my garden produce is very important. At the moment, I’m planning to write a book about my garden that begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st and incorporates recipes. When I have time I enjoy knitting, patchwork and other crafts. However, whatever I’m doing I never switch off completely from writing. I like reading historical fiction and non-fiction and visiting places of historical interest.
SJT: Thank you for being my guest today, Rosemary.
To find out more about Rosemary Morris, see her book covers and read extracts from her novels please visit her website. www.rosemarymorris.co.uk.
E-books by Rosemary Morris published by MuseItUp Publishing:
Far Beyond Rubies (also available as a print book)
The Captain and The Countess