Thursday, April 18, 2013

Secrets in Time

Today's special guest is Alison Stuart, an award winning Australian writer of historicals with heart.  Whether duelling with dashing cavaliers or wayward ghosts, her books provide a reader with a meaty plot and characters who have to strive against adversity, always with the promise of happiness together. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes.  She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town.  She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, facebook, twitter and Goodreads (links below).


Hi, Alison! Welcome to Book 'Em North Carolina. What interested you in writing a novel that involves time travel?

Hi, and thanks so much for having me.

I have always loved the concept of Time Travel. As an over-imaginative youngster with a passion for history, I used to go to sleep and will myself to wake up in a different time.  Inside I am still that over-imaginative child and I loved the idea of taking my favourite period of history and playing with time.  I think what fascinated me as I was writing it, was the idea of “foreknowledge”. Could Nat’s knowledge of the outcome of the English Civil War be used to influence the tide of history… and should it?

How did you research the backdrop of England - both in the present time as well as the time in which Nat returned?
My passion for the period of the English Civil War goes back well into childhood (possibly when my father took me to see the film “Cromwell” with Richard Harris and Alec Guiness) so I have a lifetime’s research behind me. It is a period I know well.  I am an Australian which meant physical research has to be conducted on flying trips to the UK but I have visited the battlefield of Naseby twice so I know the locale. Even though my own village and the battle of Chesham Bridge are entirely fictional.

I actually struggled more with the modern times. Fortunately I have a cousin who is a doctor so she was happy to vet my medical research. I follow several re-enacting groups that are active in the UK so I hope I have got the details of the historical re-enactors roughly correct (although I am sure they are not all hirsute and overweight as Jess describes them). I ended up deliberately setting the book in 1995, pre 2001 because the terrorism laws that were introduced into the UK would have meant my poor hero would have been locked up indefinitely and never released. It was easier to put the story in a gentler time!

Is the battle to which he seemed doomed to return to based on a real battle in England's history? If not, did any particular war inspire that backdrop?

The battle of Chesham Bridge is entirely fictional but I set it up as a precursor to the last major battle of the English Civil War, the battle of Naseby which was fought on June 14, 1645.  It was a terrible defeat for the royalists and the King himself barely escaped with his life.

Like the American Civil War, the English Civil War (1642-1651) pitted brother against brother and divided the nation and yet from those bloodstained years and England’s brief flirtation with republicanism, arose our modern system of democracy as we know it today. It is a fascinating period.

How did you become interested in writing romance?

When I started writing, I didn’t know I wrote romance. I wrote the sort of stories I like to read – good solid historicals with a hero and a heroine who manage to get together in the end. It took someone to point out that it was called “historical romance”.  My problem is that my books aren’t that easily labeled – too historical to be true romance and too romantic to be historical. SECRETS IN TIME is my first foray into what I would call a “proper romance”.

What are you working on next? Will there be more romantic time travel novels?

I’d LOVE to write another time travel but to be honest, it might depend how this one is received by readers.  In the meantime I have a couple of books under consideration by publishers at the moment-- a Regency murder mystery and an English Civil War romance set in a besieged castle.  Current works in progress include a Restoration period sequel to my first two English Civil War novels (BY THE SWORD and THE KING’S MAN) and a “cosy” murder mystery set in Singapore in the early 1900s – just for something completely different!


Can love endure across time?

When a seventeenth-century cavalier hurls himself over her garden wall, Doctor Jessica Shepherd is more angry than surprised. Although she ís no stranger to military re-enactors, there ís something different about Nathaniel Preston. If he ís to be believed, something…or someone…has sent him forward in time from the midst of a civil war to the quiet English countryside of the twentieth century.

With time working against them, Nathaniel has to convince Jessica why fate brought them together before he ís forced to return to his own era and certain death in battle.

Can the strength of love overcome all obstacles, even time itself?


“If you could lend me your horse, I would be grateful. It is a long ride home. You have my word that I will return it anon.”

“My horse? I don’t own a horse. Look, Nathaniel, you’ve lost a bit of blood, if you like I can give you a ride home.”

“But you said you had no horse?”

“In the car.” I could not help the exasperation that crept into my voice. His continuing delusion had really begun to concern me. “Nathaniel, look at me. What year do you think this is?”

“The year of our lord 1645.”

“1645?” I stared at him. “Nathaniel, it is 1995.”

He narrowed his eyes. “No, you jest.” He sank onto the kitchen chair, his eyes glassy.

“I do not jest. Now stay there. I’m going to ring my brother. Perhaps he can talk some sense into you.”

Keeping a wary eye on my visitor, I reached for the phone and carried it into the living room while I waited for Alan to pick up.

“Hey, Jess.” Alan greeted me cheerfully.

“Alan, are you busy?”

“I’m correcting papers, nothing I can’t put off. Is this important?”

“I have a man in my kitchen who thinks he is living in 1645,” I whispered.

“Sounds like a case for the psychs, not me.”

“Please come over, Alan. There is something about him...sorry I can’t explain--”

“Is he threatening you?” Alan’s tone was alarmed.

“No, not at all. He’s just a little...confused.”


Alison will be awarding ecopies of her two previously published books THE KING’S MAN and the award winning BY THE SWORD, which are set in the same period as this story, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a gift pack of Alison Stuart products to a randomly drawn host.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Find Alison on the Web

Blog:        Ms.Stuart Requests…:

Twitter:  @AlisonStuart14