Sunday, 25 September 2016

1066 Turned Upside Down - Sunday chat with Anna Belfrage

This week I continue my series of interviews with the 1066 Turned Upside Down authors and it's the turn of Anna Belfrage:~

I began by asking her: You write "Time Slip" and "Straight Historical" novels. Was it difficult for you to 'twist' history in another way for the 1066 project?
Not really. What was difficult was that it is not a period I am thoroughly familiar with, so I had to spend some time reading up on the various protagonists and, in particular, about Sven Estridsen, the then king of Denmark. Fascinating gentleman: married twice, he was obliged to set his second wife aside as she was the mother of the first, and in a fit of pique he then refused to marry again, but fathered twenty or so children with various women. Five of his sons would succeed him as King of Denmark, and to this day, his descendants sit on the Danish throne. I could have submerged myself for days in his story, but fortunately Helen Hollick and Joanna Courtney offered clear guidelines as to what they expected, which helped me stay on course, so to speak.

Without giving too much away, can you set the scene for your story?
Denmark. A concerned Danish king who has no desire to see cousin Harold lose – and especially not to William of Normandy. A teenage girl, Gunhild, and a young and angry cripple, Rolf, are given an impossible task by King Sven. Gunhild is thrilled to bits to escape persistent suitor Magnus, maybe not so much when she realises just what Sven expects her to do…

Can you tell us about the Graham Saga?
Given my longing to time travel, my first series, The Graham Saga, features an alter ego. Alexandra Lind, however had no desire whatsoever to time travel. She was – or so she says – very happy with her life in modern day Edinburgh. Huh. Me, being her creator, knows otherwise, and besides, I really had no choice. You see, the male protagonist of The Graham Saga – aptly named Matthew Graham – was/is a Lowland Scot born in 1630 and raised by his devout father as a devout member of the Scottish Kirk. Come the Civil War, Matthew fought for the Parliamentarians, a young man of firm convictions that was borderline too dour. So I decided to liven things up a bit by presenting him with my time travelling Alex (and if we’re going to be quite honest, by that time Matthew, safe in one corner of my brain, had been throwing longing looks at Alex – on the opposite side of my roomy head – for months).

Graham Saga Banner

So, what have we here? We have a man, a woman, a rip in the sheer veil of time, and Alex is dragged back through time to a new life, a new and frightening world – and a new man. Not exactly a walk in the park, and my reluctant time traveller struggles not only with unfamiliar surroundings, but also with determined avengers, political upheaval and religious persecution. 

The Graham Saga follows Alex on her adventures – from the moors of Scotland to the impenetrable forests of Colonial Maryland – always side by side with Matthew, the man she was destined for since long before she was born. 

In total, there are eight books in this series (well, soon to be nine) and if I may brag a bit, all books have been awarded BRAG Medallions, five have been selected HNS Editor’s Choice, two have been shortlisted for the HNS Indie Award, and one actually won it. 

Congratulations! And about your new series ...
Well, having whetted my appetite by writing a time travelling series, I then threw myself into a project I’ve been nurturing off and on for many, many years. My second series, The King’s Greatest Enemy is set in the 14th century. We are in England, Edward II is king, Roger Mortimer is disgruntled, royal favourite Hugh Despenser is nasty, Queen Isabella has had it, and in the midst of all this mess, my fictional protagonist Adam de Guirande with wife Kit have to navigate a political quagmire that can lead to death and ruin for them both. Not a time traveller in sight, but I have a thing about love stories, and this series is very much about Adam and Kit – and to some extent, Roger and Isabella. 

In difference to The Graham Saga, this series is constrained by real events in history. Not that The Graham Saga lacks historical setting – it most certainly does not – but in The King’s Greatest Enemy, several of the central characters are real people, people with defined life spans and known fates. A challenge, in some ways, but the story of Roger Mortimer’s meteoric rise and subsequent fall is quite the juicy stuff. Add to that my Adam, who was raised by Mortimer and therefore loves him as a father but serves the young future king, Edward III, and you have a nice cocktail of tangled emotions and torn loyalties.

And yes, here too I am rather proud of the fact that there’s one BRAG Medallion, one HNS Editor’s Choice!

Is there another event in history that you wish had had a different outcome, another "What if"?
Well, I would have preferred it if Gustav II Adolf, our famous Swedish warrior king, had not died at Lützen in 1632. And yes, I am also one of those who remain conflicted about the outcome of Bosworth – how would history have shaped itself had Richard III won? 
More recently, what would have happened had the Treaty of Versailles been less harsh on the losers of WWI? Would we have been spared Hitler and the Third Reich, the human catastrophe that was WWII? 

Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to me, Anna.

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting story you've written for 1066 Turned Upside Down! Gunhild is a great heroine; she could almost be Roma Novan. And grumpy Rolf is rather endearing (in a grumpy way, of course).