"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview and Giveaway with Author Elizabeth Marshall

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome a very dear friend of mine to my blog today, author, Elizabeth Marshall. She has not only been kind enough to answer some questions for us; but she has offered to give a signed copy of her book, When Fate Dictates, to one lucky commenter. Stay tuned after the interview for your chance to win .

Firstly, may I just take this opportunity to thank you, Eva for the amazing opportunity to be interviewed by you, I am honoured to be here and thank you most humbly.

1-      Tell the readers a little bit about your book, ‘When Fate Dictates’.
‘When Fate Dictates’ is the story of young girl called Corran who flees the village of Glencoe in the midst of the massacre of 1692.   Having escaped death at the hands of the Red Coats her life is very nearly claimed by a mountain blizzard, but Corran is mysteriously saved from death by a Highland Stag.
Confused, alone and frightened, she makes her way back to the village of Glencoe, and comes face to face with one of her enemies, Simon Campbell, a Red Coat, deserter and traitor. With her family massacred and her village destroyed, Corran trusts the fugitive when he offers to help her escape the village. Plans to flee the country are brought to an abrupt end by Simon's old enemy and fellow Red Coat, Angus. Pursued by Angus and seeking answers to the many questions in their lives, Simon comes into the possession of a Campbell crystal which leads the couple through time and into modern day York where a final confrontation ends their conflict.
2-      How did it come into being? That "light bulb moment."
It is difficult to visit the Scottish Highlands without being deeply touched by the sheer magnificence of the place. Standing in the small village of Glencoe, deep in the heart of the Highlands, one cold February morning, I was quite overcome by the atmosphere of the place.   Great mountains rose up around me as I wandered up a small hill towards a memorial, erected to commemorate a bloody slaughter of the village and its people back in 1692. Today this event is known as the ‘Massacre of Glencoe’.
I stood beside the memorial and looked back down the street and into the village. Tidy little cottages lined the street. Grey clouds of smoke rose from chimneys and hung poignantly against the clear blue of the morning sky.
Suddenly I could smell it –

The sickly, metallic copper stink of fresh blood and death.
I could hear the terrifying crackle of flames as they leapt around the walls of cottages. I could see the smoke as it hung thickly and heavily in the air.
Cries of panic and terror as families stumbled from their burning homes; the blaze of musket fire, the sulphurous smell of a fired gun and the bodies which lay upon the snow filled streets.
Without realising it, I had found the inspiration for my story.

3-      What was the defining factor that made you change the original book cover?
      The original cover was designed by my daughter from a photograph which I had taken of a Highland stag. We were driving through the mountains when I spotted the animal. I don’t know now why I stopped the car, it wasn’t like we had never seen a stag before, but something about the creature intrigued me and I just felt as though I had to take a better look at it.  It was too far away and I couldn’t see much more than its outline through the light snowfall against the rugged mountain, but I reached for my camera and zoomed in on the animal. What happened next had a profound and lasting effect on me and ultimately provided the inspiration for the stag in my story. 
As soon as the creature came into focus I realised that it was staring at me. Through the lens of the camera our eyes locked and in those moments I felt the animal was trying to communicate with me. The experience was surreal, majestic, deeply humbling and one I am unlikely to ever forget.

I clicked the button on the camera and recorded the moment. The resulting photograph was not a terribly good one. The resolution was grainy and the composition really only meant something to me.
I used the cover initially because the picture had become such a big part of the story. The stag was there on my screen, watching me as I wrote the book, there in my memory as I developed the plot and characters. Every step of the way that stag was with me and I just couldn’t imagine any other picture on the cover of the book.
However, in the cold light of day, the quality of the picture was not good enough to use on the cover. It looked like an amateur photograph, which is of course it was, and as cheap as the camera I used to take it.
A kind friend finally convince me the picture had to go.

4-      Did someone design the cover for ‘When Fate Dictates’ or did you do it yourself?

The new front cover for my book proved something of a challenge. I really struggled to move on from the old cover and no matter how many suggestions and pictures people threw at me I just couldn’t visualise any of them as part of the story. This was until my daughter and son-in-law brought me a picture of young girl; as soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect. I was so excited by the new picture and I think my daughter was so relieved to have found something I liked, that she set to work on the cover design immediately.
The genius of this cover lies with my daughter and son-in-law. Finding a single image that captured not only the atmosphere of my story but also the perfect physical characteristics of plot location and characters of the book was an outstanding achievement.
My Highland stag will always be on my screen, watching and inspiring me but when it comes to front covers, I think mine is as epic as it gets and I adore it!

5-      You know I have this "love affair" with Highlanders, Scotland and time travel. What made you decide to take Simon and Corran into the future?
        Many years ago, quite by accident, we discovered a place called Barley Hall in York.  Andrew and I had been struggling around the crowded streets of York with four children for what felt

like hours.  Simply, we were hot, bothered and tired.  The children were irritable and bored with the endless stream of museums around which we had dragged them, when quite by chance we stumbled upon a restored medieval building called Barley Hall. Immediately we all fell in love with the place. The children sat at a long medieval table, painting eggs for Easter,  they dressed up in medieval clothes and played with toys - long since forgotten.
For many years we have visited the hall with children and each time there has been something new and exciting to delight us. So last year when Andy and I escaped for a weekend on our own to York, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to return to Barley Hall.
This time I found, not the medieval hall, but the location for my characters’ home in York.
It was completely unplanned.  On entering the Hall and moving through the small gift shop into the main body of the building, I saw not the medieval restoration but the cottage of a family in 17th/18th century York. 
One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was standing in Barley Hall imagining myself to be Corran in today’s world. I wondered how she would have felt, seeing the place she called home, restored to a point in history which pre-dated even her occupation of the building.

I let my imagination taken me 300 years into Corran’s future as I stared up into the hole in the ceiling where the stairs broke through to the next floor.  ‘Plague, Poverty, Prayer’ loomed down on me from a dark poster, lit by tiny spot lights.   I could see the high beams of the ceiling as I slowly climbed the staircase and then as I reached the top and turned to my left a body dressed in a green gown and red bonnet guarded the fireplace. I was Corran in today’s world and that was the moment when Simon and Corran took me into the future.

6-      Do you have any WIP? Will there be a sequel to When Fate Dictates?
There certainly is going to be a sequel to ‘When Fate Dictates’.  I am working on it at the moment and loving every second of it. The time travel element of the story is going to be a big part of the next book and there are a lot of twists and turns to come for Simon and Corran.

7-      Who is your favorite author and why?
Gosh, this is a hard question to answer.  I think I would probably say that I have three favourite authors. Winston Churchill, Kathleen Winsor and Diana Gabaldon.
Winston Churchill because I find the way he writes mesmerising. As a child I used to love to read his books aloud because I loved the way the words he used sounded. He was a brilliant author and orator and I think he wrote the way he spoke.

Kathleen Winsor because her book ‘Forever Amber’ was the very first historical novel I ever read and it was solely responsible for my addition to both history and historical fiction.

Diana Gabaldon because she brought the Scottish Highlands to life for me in a way no other author ever has.

8-      What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I find reading and writing both fun and relaxing and can read for days on end if the opportunity presents.
 I write when I find inspiration. It may be that I will see several things in a day that inspire me to write, or I may go weeks without writing.  I never set targets or force myself to write. I do it because it brings me pleasure and that is how I intend to keep it.

 I like to sing and have always loved music.  I will quite happily turn the volume of my car stereo up to maximum and sing along to Scottish folk songs and golden oldies such as Frank Sinatra and Vera Lynn. I adore Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand and I am totally addicted to old musicals.

When the opportunity presents I like to spend time in the Highlands, Edinburgh and York. My perfect day would be to sit on the edge of a loch with my husband and just listen and watch as the world moved on around us.

Twitter - @Em_Writes
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002402558722

Anyone interested in receiving a signed copy of When Fate Dictates, leave a comment along with your email address so I can contact you to get your snail mail address. I will leave the contest open through Sunday, September 25, 2011  at midnight EST. Elizabeth has kindly agreed to open the contest to the US, Canada, and the UK.  You will have three days to respond to me with your address so I can notify her with the winners name and address. If I do not hear from you within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Thank you all and enjoy!



  1. Thank you. I really enjoyed the interview you did. I would love tor recieve a signed copy by Elizabeth. She sounds like a great writer. Thank you again for sharing this interview.


  2. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!
    chefamanda at gmail dot com

  3. I'm so excited to see a giveaway here for Elizabeth's book as it is on my wishlist. Also thank you for including Canada!


  4. This book sounds amazing!! Please enter me in!! Eva if you have time stop by my blog and sign up for my giveaway!! Thanks!!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful book. Great interview!

  6. Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment and thank you for your kind words.