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?
My name is Elisabeth Hobbes and I’m 42 (my Douglas Adams year).
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and brought up in York but after a couple of years living in Greece I now I live in Cheshire on the edge of the Peak District.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’ve always loved history so I did A Levels in Classics, Early Modern History and English Language then a degree in History and Art History. I followed that up by training as a teacher, which since having children I do part time. I have two children aged 11 and 10 and I’m married to the person I met at sixth form college! We have two cats and a car with a name and have a project trying to visit a place related to each element in the periodic table (we’ve done A-z and the months already).
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest book Redeeming the Rogue Knight is out in print on August 24th and as an ebook on September 1st. It’s the story of Roger Danby, a self-important knight who is attacked and injured while travelling on a mission from King Edward 3rd. He takes refuge in an inn belonging to a single mother who has no wish for him to be there. Stripped of his wealth and status he realises he has little to recommend him and is forced to re-evaluate his life choices and attitudes.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As a child I wrote stories all the time but as an adult it was when my children were young and my husband was working away so I wanted to do something in the evenings to keep me busy. I entered Harlequin’s ‘So You Think You Can Write’ contest in 2013 and against all expectations finished in third place.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I do still! I think everyone suffers from Impostor Syndrome at times and I still expect to be told I’m not really a writer and to stop pretending!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A friend and I were wondering whether we could write romances. I got an image of a man in black stalking after someone through a forest so decided to find out who he was chasing and why. The story grew out of that.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My publisher comes up with them for me, which is lucky because I’m terrible at it. With this book the theme of redemption was very important to the characters so I made sure that was included.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I probably err too much towards action and less on emotional conflict so I’m always having to think what is stopping my characters getting together internally. I would love to write romantic comedies (I love screwball comedies) but my characters seem to like being dark and brooding.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’ve never had a mysterious, handsome stranger ask me to help nurse him back to health. I should be so lucky! I did a lot of research into arrow wounds and anatomy to make sure that Roger’s injury was realistic because I wanted him to be incapacitated but not for long. The cat in this story is based on my real cat who goes by the name of Captain Jamie Ankles. He’s very heavy and if he sits on your chest while you’re asleep it does feel like you’re paralysed.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
As Redeeming the Rogue Knight is set in my local area I didn’t have to travel too far, however as Lucy, the heroine brews ale I paid a few trips to my wonderful local pub which is part of an independent brewery to sample a few drinks. My previous books have been set either around here or in York so I know the area pretty well. I’m planning to write one set in Brittany which would be a good excuse for a trip back to soak up the atmosphere.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The wonderful art department at Harlequin. I give them input on character descriptions, scenes and costume ideas then leave them to get on with it. I’m always excited to see what they come up with and rarely disappointed with the result. I’m lucky to have had three gorgeous cover models in a row.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The story is about redemption and mistakes. Both Roger and Lucy are haunted by things they’ve done in their past – either wrongs they have done to other people or events they have allowed to happen to them. Through their time together they come to realise that our past doesn’t have to define our future. In Roger’s case he also has to learn that wrongs need to be admitted and atoned for. Roger has a complicated relationship with his estranged family and Lucy is a single mother who refuses to name the father of her child, which in the Middle Ages was scandalous so it is also about family and what makes a good parent.
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?
I couldn’t narrow it down to one new author so I’ll recommend readers to check out The Unlaced Book Club on Facebook where a group of us Harlequin Historical writers hang out to share our inspiration, talk about writing, history and the heroes who inspire us. I’m in awe of their collective talent and feel lucky to be part of it (there’s that Imposter Syndrome again).
My all time favourite author is Terry Pratchett. Even though his world is populated by dwarves, trolls and orang-utan librarians he managed to get such humanity and compassion into his writing. If I was going to live by a set of books as a moral code I could think of worse ones to choose.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The romance community is amazingly supportive and Harlequin Historical writers are the best. I went to the Romance Novelists Association conference for the first time this year and had a wonderful time.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to write full time. I think I’m a little way off that but it means I can teach part time, which is good enough for now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would like to have spent more time with Roger seeing his family again at the end of the book though as his and Lucy’s story had ended there wasn’t a need to carry on any further. I’m having thoughts about continuing the Danby family story in another book so hopefully we’ll meet them again.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned how to brew ale to a Medieval recipe. Throughout the story Lucy is brewing (which had to be done frequently as it didn’t keep) and what she does follows genuine instructions. I was planning to make some but the recipe would have made a gallon and I didn’t have a big enough bucket.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Santiago Cabrera from Heroes or Dominic Cooper from Preacher. Both have a slightly dangerous edge but are very charming with it, which Roger needs to be as he has gone through life seducing women without having to try too hard. Roger’s brother the blacksmith was based on Aiden Turner so I’d like him too please!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep a notebook handy for when you get an idea of the perfect piece of dialogue as you’ll almost certainly forget it later.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
The hero of this book was the villain in my previous book The Blacksmith’s Wife. Roger was the knight who broke the heart of the heroine in that story. I thought he was done with but readers wanted to find out what he got up to next. You don’t have to read that book to understand this one though. Also, see if you can spot the Father Ted reference. I like to slip jokes for myself into my books and see who spots them!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading the autobiography of Tony Robinson who played Baldrick in Blackadder and presents Time Team.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
There was one called The Mystical Beast but I can’t remember who it was by. The heroine tied cabbages to her head to take them to the beast and there was a scary man in a hot air balloon. That’s about all I can remember. I took it on holiday to Belgium as a very young child.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My children and I watch Horrible Histories and are in stitches, especially at the songs. I cry at almost anything these days as I’m getting more hormonal.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to have met Douglas Adams who wrote some of my favourite books. I’d love to show him an iPhone and tell him that The Guide really exists.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love skiing, though only get to do that once a year. I enjoy visiting National Trust sites, especially if they have a dressing up box I can mess around with.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese anime company responsible for My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. I also love anything with a bit of a geeky reference such as Community or Brooklyn Nine Nine.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food: Hot and Sour Soup and tapas. I can’t get through the day without at least three cups of tea. Colours: I think I suit autumnal colours though I gravitate to black. Music: I like anything I can sing along to from show tunes to power ballads.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d probably be teaching full time, in which case it would be some horrible dystopian future and I’d spend my weekends trying to escape to a parallel universe.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I’d rather have a tree than a headstone. ‘She made good tea’ would do me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon Authors Pages