Monday, May 28, 2007

Little Known Books by a Fabulous Author

***Note: this was my original post, and I've managed to figure out Blogger. Finally!***

I've been absent (obviously) for about a week, so thought I'd take a page from TONI ANDERSON'S BLOG and post my three favourite "older" historicals by Barbara Erskine. They were the beginning of my fascination with historical novels, and led me to write my door-stopper historical novel that takes place during the Third Crusade. Aside from "new writer-itis", the book turned out to be unsaleable due to the Christian/Moslem theme of the Crusades. I was concentrating on a "Beauty & the Beast" story, with Templar trappings, but still couldn't find it a home. Guess it needs a major rewrite! :)

Anyway, these books were written in the '90's by Barbara Erskine, and the first one celebrates it's 21st year anniversary with a new edition:

LADY OF HAY (above) is the story of Matilda of Hay, wife of a lesser baron, in the time of King John. She really lived, and Erskine has taken her story and joined it with the story of a modern-day journalist who's out to debunk reincarnation. During a regressive-hypnotic session, Jo Clifford finds herself experiencing Matilda's life, and soon her present is tangled up with Matilda's story of secret passions and betrayal.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you love "time travel" of any kind, no matter how the present-day character reaches the past, you'll love the richness of this story based on real historical people.

KINGDOM OF SHADOWS is the true story of Isobel, Countess Buchan, who was cousin and lover to Robert the Bruce. She was persecuted for her part in crowning him King of Scotland, and died in a cage overhanging a castle parapet. Her story is entwined with the present-day heroine Clare Rowland - a rich, bored, and unloved wife who finds solace through meditation. She reaches Isobel through meditations, until she finds Isobel part of her life whether or not she's actively meditating in privacy. Again, Erskine paints a thorough, fascinating picture of life in that era of Scotland, and marries up the past and present in a believeable fashion. I think I loved this story best because I'm fascinated with Robert the Bruce. (My DH graduated with his MBA from Herriott-Watt University in Edinburgh, which stands on the lands he dowered to his daughter Margaret)

CHILD OF THE PHOENIX is a straight historical about Eleyne (or Helen) of Mar, who lived during the 1290's and was the great-grandmother of Robert the Bruce. She's also a distant ancestress of Barbara Erskine. This was another deep and emotionally satisfying historical about Scotland.

BARBARA ERSKINE has a brand new historical out called DAUGHTERS OF FIRE. This is the story of Cartimandua, queen of the tribe of Brigantes who inhabit Britannia during the time of the Roman invastion. Current day historian Viv Lloyd Rees has written a book about her, and is doing a screenplay with an actress, when she finds an ancient and cursed brooch. She becomes convinced that Cartimandua is real in the present time, and this sets the course for rivalry, love, and jealousy between the two women, and Viv's love interest, Hugh. They must all come to grips with the great danger facing their lives.

Needless to say, I'll be ordering this book asap!

There's alot suspense writers can learn from writers of "historicals" - their vivid descriptions, for one thing. Historical authors have a talent for evoking details of settings, smells, and emotions that are often lacking in "genre" suspense or romantic suspense. This is just something that I've observed from reading many books in both genres. I'd love to bring more word paintings into my WIPs. While this is a matter of practice, it would be nice to marry up the two styles to enrich my suspense writing.

As for my current WIP, I've got 10 pages written today on my day off. Will I keep them? :) At least they're not blank pages, and that's about all I can say....

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