Friday, April 3, 2015

Sassy Saturday...and Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Hello, everyone!!

I'm beginning a new feature on Baby Steps and Dreams - Sassy Saturday.
Each week I'll try to feature a new author and their works.

Today I welcome Elizabeth Ellen Carter who lives in Australia.
Recently her novel Warrior's Surrender won the Romance and Writers Down Under People's Choice Award for Best Historical novel!! What an honor!

CH: Great to have you here, Elizabeth! 

EC: Hi Cynthia. Thank you very much for the opportunity to make a guest appearance on your blog.

CH: Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

EC: I think it was somewhat predestined. I always loved reading and when I was about 9 or 10 I would spend school holidays writing my own stories if I had run out of things to read. I figured the only way I could get reliably paid for writing was to work as a journalist and I managed to get an old-fashioned Jimmy Olson-style cadetship one week out of high school.
Even though it was a different form of writing, I never lost the desire to write fiction. I made a half-hearted attempt at writing a novel when I was 22 but it was nearly another 22 years later when I finally became serious about writing and finishing one.
Moonstone Obsession started with a scenario in my head which wouldn't go away. I would dream it. I knew the only way it was going to go was if I wrote it. After encouraging words from my husband I was persuaded to submit it to the Romance Writers of Australia competition for unpublished manuscripts. I was so encouraged by being short listed that I submitted my already completed manuscript to several publishers and Etopia Press thought enough of it to put it under contract.

CH:  What’s it like to immerse yourself into a story and its characters?

EC: Oh goodness, you live and breath it sometimes. Last night hubby and I were in bed talking about a particular plot development (did I mention I'm married to an amazing man?) and a few weeks ago I was at work when a scene unfolded right in front of my eyes. I had to get up from my desk and dictate the scene into my phone.
Specialising in historical romance means that research is especially important - and for me its great fun, learning about the French Revolution and counter-revolution at Vendee or the perilous relationship between Medieval England and Scotland is part of the joy.
My characters are such fun to write. Broadly speaking they are likable even if they do have some rough edges. Those edges are usually born from some hurt or pain in their past

CH: What makes a hero someone to remember?

EC: I love writing about a hero's struggle. In many respects he has a two-fronted battle. Not only does he have to overcome his personal demons in order to make a relationship with the heroine at all possible but also, there is often an external threat which can be as serious as a threat to his life or to the family and friends whom he loves or it could be his reputation at risk.
Either way a hero is someone who put the highest good against self-interest and personal gain, even if means our hero has to risk it all. Who doesn't love a man like that?

CH: How important are historical events in your stories?

EC: Very important. I try to get as accurate as I possibly can without making the novel read like a history book. Every now and again my editor will remind me not to make something a history dump. :)
I try to put people in their historical context and to me that means they are fully engaged with their world - they will talk about the events of the day, wars, politics, fashion, entertainment. As a reader I prefer historical romances which don't shy away from tackling issues instead of being all about ballgowns and bling.

CH:  How do you incorporate strong females into your stories?

EC: Actually, that's the easy part because women have always been strong. The way they manifest their strength may not be in a way that a modern woman might recognise but her strength of character, strength of mind, resilience, resourcefulness are all there. She is both a timeless woman that everyone can relate to and a woman of her time. I find great pleasure in bringing her world to life.

CH: I have no doubt many, many readers will become immersed in the beautiful world of Warrior's Surrender. Thanks again, Elizabeth, for taking time to share your words and heart.
Here's an excerpt from Warrior's Surrender

A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…
Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.
To save her gravely ill brother’s life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion. But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him.
As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…

By the light of the fire she could see the abandoned chair. To see the second chair Frey must peer around the door.
It too was empty.
Frey frowned. Did she doze and Sebastian slipped past her unseen? She took a further step or two into the room and looked.
The bed was…
Before Frey could complete the thought, she was grabbed roughly from behind and held firmly against a man’s broad chest. A large hand covered her mouth and suppressed an involuntary scream.
The man recognised her and relaxed but did not remove his hand.
You picked the wrong night to slit my throat while I slept, princess.”
Sebastian’s whispered voice filled her ear. He held her still for long moments before speaking.
Are you recovered? You will not scream?”
Frey nodded and shook her head in answer to each question and she was released, her heart pumping furiously.
Do you suggest I pick some other night then?” she said, wiping her mouth to rid the sensation of his hand.
Sebastian ignored her barb and poured a small measure of spiced wine into his goblet. He handed it to her and watched as she drank.
Why do you assume the worst of me?” she asked.
Habit,” he answered, arms folded across his chest. “Now tell me what you’re doing in my chambers while others sleep.”
I have to speak to you.”
Sebastian’s eyebrows rose in surprise. It might have been scepticism, but Frey couldn’t be sure.
And it couldn’t wait until morning?”
All of a sudden Frey’s courage left her and she wondered if her senses had taken leave of her too.
She was an unmarried woman, alone, late at night in the bed chamber of a man whose mere presence made her feel powerful sensations that she struggled to understand. What on earth was she doing?
She shook her head softly.
This was a mistake.”
As she turned to leave, Sebastian grabbed her wrist.  
It’s a mistake to not finish what you start.”

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