Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Thank you Fiona and hi everyone, my name is Rebecca Norman, but I write as Rosie Chapel. I’m just past the big ‘five oh’, although apparently 50 is the new 30, so it’s all good!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally I’m from the North East of England, I now live in Perth, Western Australia
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m married to a great guy; we’ve been together 28 years, married for 26 of them and I consider him my best friend. I grew up in the north east of England, but weemigrated to Australia back in ‘98 and are a furkids family. The rest of both our families are still in the UK and we visit as often as time and money allows.
After my first round of education, I spent over 20 years working in administration in one form or another, then in 2010, returned to university to take a bachelor degree in Classics and Ancient History – always my first love.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just completed a fourth Regency Romance, A Love Unquenchable, which hopefully will have been released by the time this interview is live! I have three anthologies I am part of, so frantically trying to get them finished. Then there’s the small matter of the several other books screaming at me to get on with. A new ancient historical fiction, a fifth Regency Romance, a contemporary romance (all of which are underway) and a series of ‘whodunits’ set in Ancient Ostia (the old Port of Rome)! There are simply not enough hours in the day.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in early 2015,just after I finished my degree. I had hoped to continue on in academia and do honours, then maybe even a PhD, but several things meant I needed to put that idea on hold for a while. In the meantime my hubby suggested I try to channel my passion for all things ancient into writing a book. I admit to laughing at this – a lot – but then, after a while, I wondered whether there was any chance I could come up with something and then whether anyone would read it!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time someone told me they loved my book and could I please hurry up and write the sequel!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I am passionate about ancient Rome and anything and everything connected to it. When I was looking for inspiration, I started scanning through my old uni assignments, on the off chance one of them had something – anything – I could use, and came across one about King Herod’s building programme. This mentionedthe Fortress of Masada in the Judean desert. I knew something of its history, most especially the two massacres which occurred in the mid first century AD. I also knew that according to the only ancient source, that seven people – two women and five children – were the only survivors. An idea began to percolate and so The Pomegranate Tree was born
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
A strange title I know, but I decided to call it this for several reasons. Firstly, it seems that pomegranate trees can grow in the most arid of places and against all the odds often survive even the harshest weather. My story revolves around two couples who found each other in the most unexpected place, fall in love and against all odds survive. Secondly, YigaelYadin’s first excavation team planted pomegranates during a Jewish festive ceremony and, despite their doubts, apparently the bushes flourished. Thirdly, it confirmed the ancient writer, Josephus’ (and our only source regarding Masada) claim that the citadel was capable of supporting all manner of growing things. Finally although pomegranates are quite scrubby trees, their fruit is delectable and I like that a rather coarse tree could produce such flawless fruit. This synthesis reflected my main characters; a battle hardened and, now captive, Roman soldier meets a petite and beautiful Hebrew woman, trained in the art of healing. By rights they should be sworn enemies, yet they complement each other perfectly.
Sorry that’s quite a long answer, but I hope you can see thatThe Pomegranate Treejust seemed to fit!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t think I have a particular style, I just write. I was pretty good at English when I was at school (many, many years ago)and I try to I write in the kind of style I enjoy reading. I’ve definitely learnt a lot since I started, and refining my work is an ongoing process.
I write across several different genres, and it’s important to me to try to capture the essence of the particular era. This can include such things as remembering there were no cars or phones or electricity and so on. Working out how they dressed, how they spoke, what their housing was like, furniture, food, transport the list goes on. I love it though, for me the research is as much fun as the writing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Although my Hannah’s Heirloom Trilogy (and the prequel which accompanies it), involves an element of time travel – the history, the places and the events are either factual or based on historical evidence.
Other than Masada and the areas in the middle-east around where two of books are set, I have been fortunate enough to have visited the places I write about, allowing me to describe them, their surrounds and the atmosphere with some degree of accuracy.
Rather than basing specifically them on people I know, my characters tend to be a blend of their features, traits and personalities. I try to provide just enough detail to create an impression and then leave the rest to the readers’ imagination, as I think we all have own idea of how our heroes and heroines should look.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Wow, to have that luxury would be amazing and as I mentioned, I have visited most of the places in my books, but not all. Thankfully the Internet is a wonderful tool and offers a plethora of information about almost anything you need. Then there are libraries and I have to admit that I like to own books about locations or subjects I’m researching. You never know when you might need to check something and you can never have too many books!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My younger sister does them and I am endlessly amazed at her ability to grasp what I’m looking for in a cover.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t believe there’s a specific message in any of my novels, but I think trust, forgiveness, not being quick to judge or condemn, and being prepared to listen with an open heart, weave themselves throughout all of them. Oh and love – they all have more that a hint of romance after all!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
As a new author myself I have been part of several author ‘take overs’ in Facebook. They are a great way to discover all the new authors out there and maybe prompt you to try something outside of your usual choice of novel. My current favourites are, Lilly Rayman, Amy Allen, Maria Vickers, Melody Dawn, Ani Bishop, JF Holland, Sylvie Stewart, Nicole Strycharz, LS Anders, YM Zachary, Alathia Morgan, Jeremy Simons, Bella Emy…ok I’ll stop now – but that is to name a very, very few.
My all time favourite author is Mary Stewart, she writes – sorry wrote – light mysteries with romance. What Ilove about her books is the way her words connect to my heart and my soul, instantly capturing my imagination,making me part of the plot – no longer an outsider watching from sidelines. For me, that is the epitome of a great author, the ability to draw you in until you become the story, not just the reader.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My Crazy Bards – they know who they are!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I suppose it already is. Even though my income from it is miniscule, writing is my life now; I don’t have another paid job. I work most days on something to do with my books, and find that when I am unable to, I get a bit antsy. I have to admit – it’s my dream job!!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I am very happy with it J
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I did. The hero in my story suffers from what we would now call PTSD, but in the Regency era it was post-battle trauma. In order to understand and maybe help him cope with his dark days, my heroine volunteers at a hospital, where those wounded unable to care for themselves are cared after. It was fascinating researching, not only how wounds were inflicted on the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars, but also how they were treated, and what new methods were being developed, especially for those who suffered debilitating depression as a result of their experiences.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For my ancient historical fiction, I think someone like Alex Pettyfer or Karl Urban, or a younger Viggo Mortensen and I loved Russell Crowe in Gladiator, but he’d need to be younger too. Hmmm…too hard to choose in all honesty!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just do it – if you think you have it within you to write in whatever form pleases you, novels, short stories, poetry, plays whatever – give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and, like me, you might surprise yourself. Find a good platform to work in; there are plenty out there, choose the one that suits you best. The one I use, allows me to keep all my research notes, character bios, and any other pertinent information all together and back up your work, always back it up! It’s also important to make sure you have a good proof-reader/editor. Be careful though this can be costly, but they can be found and when you do treasure them like precious jewels! Above all, have fun – if you love writing, it will come across in your words and entice your audience to read more!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Simply that I hope they enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them – oh and please, please write a review, even if its only a single line – reviews are like gold.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Fire in the Moon by JF Holland
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Peter and Jane – a series of children’s books of the 60’s. I think my first proper storybook was probably Mr Galliano’s Circus by Enid Blyton, or some thing similar.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots of things make me laugh, usually slightly off the wall humour, or my pets’ antics or any of my friends’ craziness.
Cruelty in any of its forms makes me cry, as dothe sad parts in movies.Beautiful music can move me to tears, but in a good way.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
The Emperor Augustus. We share a birthday, which is very cool He was also the instigator of the Roman principate and changed the map of the Roman world. So much happenedunder his rule, to be witness to that would be astonishing.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, walking, travel, cross-stitch.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Lucifer, Outlander, Call the Midwife, NCIS LA, The West Wing (our ‘go to’ tv series), The Martian, Beauty and the Beast, Lord of the Rings, the Bourne movies, RED and RED 2, Deadpool, Twister…long long list!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favourite food is Korean, but I love all types of Asian cuisine; and for snacks – crisps and chocolate!
I love emerald green, turquoise and the colour of bluebells (flowers).
My taste in music could only be described as eclectic; I listen to anything from classical, and musicals, to soundtracks; from pop and country to jazz – as long as it has harmony and rhythm.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Cry, then pull myself together and go watch a movie or read a book, or take the time to enjoy whatever’s out there.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Oh my…something like ‘Did what she loved and loved what she did’
Or ‘Boy – did she ever love shoes!’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
USA link: http://buff.ly/2jh0dgp
UK link: http://buff.ly/2jh2ND4