Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Hello Fiona, thank you for hosting me.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Beth Elliott, and I’m old enough to have given up the day job.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Rainhill Stoops, a tiny hamlet in south Lancashire.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My mother was Welsh, and I spent all my childhood holidays in Mid Wales, playing at Robin Hood with my gang. I even spoke Welsh with my grandparents – all forgotten now, sadly. But I did have the gift of tongues and studied French and Italian at university. Then I worked in France, where I met my husband. He was Turkish and he had studied French and Italian, so we managed with those languages until he learned English and I learned enough Turkish to get by. We’ve lived and worked in France, Turkey and England.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My first two Montailhac Family books appeared earlier this year. Scandalous Lady, a tale of ice meets fire, is set in Istanbul in 1811. The second brother’s story, The Rake and his Honour, is a quest with villains chasing the main characters across France and England at breakneck speed.
Now I’m working on the youngest brother’s story. Meanwhile, Endeavour Press will shortly bring out a revised edition of my Brighton story, The Rake’s Challenge. It’s set in 1814, and is about a summer holiday that almost went disastrously wrong.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As soon as I could write, I made up stories and plays and just kept going from there.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was my ambition from the age of 8. At secondary school I used to write accounts of my imaginary holidays for the school magazine and was delighted when everyone believed them.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Sitting behind a woman on a bus journey, I could see the pages of the novel she was reading. The writing was very weak and suddenly I thought: I can do better than that. So I wrote a Regency story [I’ve always loved Jane Austen and felt comfortable with that period in time].
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I chose The Wild Card. The idea was to keep it a mystery for as long as possible as to which was the hero and which the villain.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m very much at home in the wider Regency era as a setting, although I do like to make my characters travel abroad. Happily, lots of Regency era travellers did visit the eastern Mediterranean, which gives me a model to work from; as well as the chance to embroider on their activities. And thanks to spending some years in Turkey, I can represent the way of life there, although always from an English person’s point of view. As for style, I aim to write in clear, uncluttered language, using an occasional expression [often a greeting or a mild oath] of the period to add a touch of colour.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It does worry me a little that I reveal more than I mean to. Only after writing three novels did I realise there is often a small, kindly old lady in the story [my aunt], an eagerness to travel [myself] and of course some of the handsome heroes are based on my husband. Who knows what else is in there that is totally subconscious.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Travelling is the cherry on the cake. My long-suffering friends have been with me to different parts of Europe, looking for bears in Romania, palaces in Istanbul and spas in the Pyrenees, for example; as well as pacing out the streets of Bath, Brighton and Regency London. I can write the scenes before visiting but never complete a story without going to check the site.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
When I wrote for Robert Hale, I was very proud that all my covers were designed by artist David Young, who does covers for the New Statesman magazine. Endeavour Press has a very different style, done in silhouette, but with a more detailed blurb.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are underlying messages but a general theme would be that true love overcomes all obstacles.
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?
My favourite writer has to be JRR Tolkien, whose creative powers and wonderful use of language always enchant me.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The Romantic Novelists’ Association. They give support, advice and encouragement. And you have to send in a novel each year until you get published – so that pushes you to keep going. Thanks to the advice they gave me, my novel was polished and accepted by a publisher that same year.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I consider myself to be a writer, but at my own pace – which means I’d starve if that was all I had to live on. Or maybe it would be exactly the stimulus I need to push myself harder.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No! Not as far as the characters and the plot go. I love my hero and his brave companion in The Rake and his Honour. As for style, well, yes, there’s always something that can be tweaked.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
In terms of writing, I hope I improved in the technique of building suspense, plus the ability to give each character their own voice. In terms of the subject matter needed for the plot, what with smallpox, silversmithing, Huguenots and horses, I often banged my head on the desk.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The Rake and His Honour needs a very dynamic person, so Luca Pasqualino, for his voice as well as his face and energy. And Tamla Kari is always superb, so she would make a wonderful heroine.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write something every day. Never throw anything away. However rubbishy it seems, a week or two later, you’ll find something in there you can use. Keep on trying, it’s hard but worthwhile.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
My stories are tales of adventure, intrigue and romance. The ending is going to be happy for the main characters. It’s the journey to get there that is concocted to entertain and divert you. Sit back and enjoy the escape.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Richard Blake’s The Terror of Constantinople; a guide book about Portugal [for another story] and a reread of Loretta Chase’s Mr Impossible, which is such fun and a great source of information about Egypt. You see, all of them involve travel in some way – I’m an addict, I confess.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably lots of Enid Blyton and Rupert Bear. The first book I really remember reading is Kidnapped.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
When a character I’ve grown fond of gets sick and dies or is badly treated I sob. I love witty writing as in Loretta Chase’s novels. Also I’m a sucker for silly jokes and puns.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
If it has to be just one, then Ataturk. What willpower and courage to rescue his people from being swallowed up; and then what vision to transform them into a modern nation. And he adopted eight little girls and encouraged them to go for the careers they wanted.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Travelling, especially to small, traditional countries, which is also an excuse to try out new languages; metallic embroidery; reading; growing herbs;
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The TV is only here for the use of visitors. If there’s a period drama I’ll give it a try. The Musketeers was the last show I watched live.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Lancashire hotpot, traditionally made, Welsh cakes, Turkish lentil soup,
Any shade of turquoise
Spanish guitar, Chopin’s nocturnes, Mozart for doing my accounts
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d still fill notebooks ‘in case’, and do more travelling.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?