Today we welcome Romance author Samantha Holt to A Reader’s Review. I first read one of Samantha’s novels, The Crimson Castle, not long before we began this blog and have recently read The Angel’s Assassin, which I reviewed last month. If you like your historical romances full of tortured alpha males and strong heroines deserving of their love, I strongly recommend them to you!
Samantha’s latest novel, Borderland Bride has recently been published and she has kindly agreed to tell us about it and also share with us her experiences of being the writer of such romantic tales. For my review of Borderland Bride please scroll down after reading the interview. Tina 🙂
Hi Samantha. Can you tell us about yourself? Thanks for having me and for taking the time to read my books! It’s really appreciated. I am a full-time writer and author of medieval romances. I have gorgeous twin girls who turned seven recently and occasionally a husband, who works abroad nine months out of the year. His long absences definitely inspire me to write romance!
Please tell us about Borderland Bride, your new release. Borderland Bride takes place in Northumbria in the 14th Century, not long after the plague. The hero, Jake, comes across Isabel on his brother’s lands and takes her back to Thornewall Keep. It turns out Isabel has lost the use of her voice and hearing in a vicious attack. A romance builds between the pair but Isabel has a secret and Jake is wary of women after being hurt in the past. His flirtatious brother doesn’t help much either so all is not plain sailing!
What inspired you to write it?I wanted to create a love story with a language barrier. I don’t know enough of other languages to create a story around two different cultures so I decided my poor heroine should lose her voice and hearing! I was also fascinated with the history of the borderlands so I wanted Jake and Isabel’s story to be set there.
How much research did you have to carry out for this book? My knowledge of the medieval era is fairly extensive, although there’s always more to learn, but I’d never written anything set in the 14th Century before and because the era spans hundreds of years, naturally things change so I can’t rely just on my basic knowledge. Clothing, castles, weaponry etc. all changes and takes researching. I also had to dig up as much information as I could on border reivers, the criminals that ransacked the borderlands on both sides for hundreds of years.
How does your writing process work? Do you plan the plot in advance for example, or does it evolve? I’m not much of a planner – which is surprising to those how know me because my daily life is very organised – most of the plot goes on in my head. Usually it stems from one idea and then evolves. Sometimes I’ll have a beginning and an end and will start writing before I’ve figured out what happens in between!
What about the personalities of your characters – are they always fixed in your head before you start writing or do they develop a will of their own? Again, I have a vague idea and usually have certain traits figured out but often certain things come out that I never expected. Jake from Borderland Bride was always going to be brooding but he ended up with more of a chip on his shoulder than I’d anticipated as his back story developed. Occasionally traits crop out of nowhere. I remember writing a love scene in one of my first stories – it was the first scene I wrote for that book – and the hero was going to be calmly confident, but he turned out to be very passionate and quite commanding when he and my heroine came together, which I never expected! So, yes, very often they do their own thing!
I noticed that you are working on a fantasy novella. Can you tell us anything about this? I am close to finished (I hope!) so I can tell you a fair bit. It takes place in a medievally world, with castles and dramatic landscapes, but it is very much fantasy. In my fictional world, the God’s frequently visit humans in answer to their prayers. My heroine, Eden, receives a visit from the Fire God, Tyondric, who is curious about the beautiful woman. Eden turns out to be essential to the salvation of the world and Tyondric takes it upon himself to protect her and help her fulfil her role. It’s been nice not to have to worry about research and just make stuff up!
I have a thing about book covers – the ones on your books I find particularly attractive and it’s fairly obvious why, with all of those stunning examples of the male physique! How involved are you when it comes to commissioning the design of your covers? For Borderland Bride, I didn’t connect directly with the cover designer, Valerie Tibbs, but filled out a cover art form which is usually pretty specific, asking for themes and examples as well as what you DON’T want on a cover. I just said ‘nothing pink and too girly!’ And it was perfect! My other ones, I liaised directly with the cover artist although I gave very vague instructions and she just interpreted it for me, usually coming back with something I loved.
What do you love the most about being a writer? Is there anything that you do not enjoy? I love being able to escape into a fantasy world. And knowing I can drag someone else into it for a while brings me a lot of pleasure. I don’t expect to set the world on fire with my writing but romance is such a rewarding genre to read and I love it when I’m smiling after a happy ending. I like the thought of doing that for someone else.
I don’t consider myself a particularly emotional person – I tend to be quite happy – but since writing for a living, I’ve noticed I get slumps more often, because my happiness tends to be directly linked to how I’m doing writing-wise. So if I’m struggling to write, I’m very frustrated. The emotional highs and lows can be exhausting.
What type of books do you like to read? Have you any favourite authors? Romance, romance and more romance. I love medieval romance (obviously) and I also enjoy modern romantic suspense. I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy but I’m quite busy so I find it much easier to sit down with a romance novel. Having said that, Sue Grafton, who writes the Kinsey Millhone mysteries, is one of my favourites and I will always take time out to read her books.
Have you any advice to give to aspiring authors? Heed advice but don’t let it bog you down. Don’t take yourself too seriously either. Write what you love, not what others think you should write. Don’t get disheartened by criticism either as it usually only helps you hone your writing. But mostly keep writing! The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
And finally, have you a message for readers? I have so many things that I’d love to say but really just thank you for taking the time to read! I have some amazingly supportive fans and it still blows me away that people buy and read my books.
Thank you for giving your time to answer these questions for us. We wish you best of luck with Borderland Bride and your future work. Please scroll down or click here for Tina’s review of Borderland Bride.
More information on Samantha and her books can be found on her website http://www.samanthaholt.org.uk/
Alternatively you can connect with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/romanticfiction
You can purchase Borderland Bride at http://jupitergardenspress.com/shop/borderlands-bride-the-borderland-legacy-book-1/