What made you want to write this book?
First and foremost, my grandmother (Gran). She and I had a special relationship. When I was old enough, we traveled together. One special trip took us to Scotland where we traced Gran’s childhood memories (she was born in Scotland) and we followed the trail of Mary Queen of Scots. We had been enjoying a number of novels and biographies about the ill-fated queen and my grandmother ignited my interest by telling me about ancestors who helped in her escape from Loch Leven Castle. I always wanted to write about Queen Mary, but it wasn’t until the Brexit debacle and the ongoing desire of the Scottish people to separate from England, that I started looking more closely at the stories around Queen Mary. I knew she had given birth, prematurely, to twins while imprisoned at Loch Leven. History records that the babies died at birth and were buried on the island where the castle sat. An interesting footnote states that the location of the burial and the babies’ remains have never been found. So, I started thinking, ‘what if?’. What if there had been another heir to the Scottish throne and Scotland never did amalgamate with England and Ireland? And my story unfolded.
Where do you get your storylines from?
Everywhere. I began my writing career writing family stories: memoirs and creative nonfiction. In a way I still am writing these family stories. If Gran’s stories were true, then I do have a connection to these long-ago historical figures. And, I’m writing about passions I shared with someone special. In fact, one of the characters in the novel is somewhat fashioned after my grandmother. The main character, Mary Elizabeth, was brought up by her grandmother, Marie de Guise, the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. This grandmother figure and her special bond with her granddaughter is so much like my Gran and my special bond with her. So, you could say that I still get my stories from family stories.
Was this book easier to write than others?
Yes, and no.
Easier in a sense because it’s a subject I always wanted to write about: Mary Queen of Scots. Harder in that I was setting new goals for myself and I was writing in a totally new genre: historical fiction/fantasy/science fiction.
Do you only write one genre?
No. I read and write in many different genres, but each genre is full of characters inspired by those I have known all my life: my family.
Do you have a specific place or setting where you write?
I always carry a notebook with me so that I can write anywhere. And, when I say notebook, I mean the genuine paper -bound type of notebook. At home, I have an antique spinet desk situated in front of a picture window that looks out onto the wooded part of my property. I feel like I’m Jane Austen working at my spinet desk. Except, I do write on a laptop that sits on the spinet desk, rather than the quill, ink and paper that Jane Austen would have used. That’s my special writing place.
Describe what made you want to be a writer?
My family. As soon as I could hold a pencil and knew my letters, I was writing stories. I have always loved writing. I grew up in a family of storytellers. We would sit around the dinner table sharing our stories. Being the youngest, I didn’t have much chance to share my stories, so, as soon as I could write, I wrote my stories. I particularly enjoy writing stories about real people and real life, though I’ve recently ventured into the realm of historical fiction, fantasy and sci-fi. I started my writing career in the late 1970s writing for small publications, telling people’s stories and writing about interesting places. I still enjoy writing these types of stories, but my passion for fiction insists that I write novels as well. Who inspired me? My mother and my grandmother. My mother was very creative and she encouraged me to write my stories. My grandmother was a wonderful storyteller, always full of stories to share. I wrote both my mother’s story, “F-Stop: A Life in Pictures” and my grandmother’s story, “Personal Notes”. And I still write little stories about these two special women.