Friday, March 7, 2014

New interview with historical romance author Laura Strickland

As a fan of the tales of Robin Hood, I'm happy to have historical romance author Laura Strickland back to share about her newest novel, Champion of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy Book Two.

During her tour, Laura will be awarding a $25 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press to a randomly drawn commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too. 

The first interview about the first novel can be found here.

Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Currently she is completing work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.

Welcome back, Laura. Please tell us about your current release.
Champion of Sherwood is Book Two of my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy. Book One, Daughter of Sherwood – released by The Wild Rose Press last November to enthusiastic reviews – told the tale of Robin Hood’s daughter, Wren, who took up Robin’s fight against Norman tyranny some years after his death.

In Champion of Sherwood we continue the story of the Saxons’ struggle through the eyes of Wren’s twin daughters, Linnet and Lark. When the young Norman knight, Gareth de Vavasour, is captured by outlaws in Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, Linnet is sent to tend his injuries. The last thing she expects is to be inexplicably drawn to this man who’s her born enemy as well as nephew to the Sheriff of Nottingham. Yet she sees something in him that defies the prejudice and hatred that surround them both. And, to the beautiful Linnet Gareth immediately gives his heart.

Their love, however, seems doomed. For Linnet is destined to be one of the next Guardians of Sherwood and Gareth committed to return to Nottingham. It will take faith, sacrifice and the very magic of Sherwood if they are to earn a happy ending.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I finished work on the first book in this series, I had no idea I had just written Book One of a Trilogy. Not until my editor told me she wanted to contract Daughter of Sherwood did I realize it should be the first book of three. The significance of the number three is very powerful in ancient wisdom, just as in earth magic. And there’s a triple helping of earth-based mysticism present in the Sherwood I’ve created.

Important events seem to happen in threes and there are always three guardians who join together to uphold the sanctity of Sherwood. It seemed only right there should be three books as well. So the inspiration for this book grew out of the first story, and the inspiration for the third book came from the second. That doesn’t mean the books can’t be enjoyed individually. Each tells a complete story of a very compelling romance that stands on its own, even without reading the other two. But when the three books are put together they form a truly magical circle.

“This will hurt,” the woman told Gareth, and he caught his breath. Each time she had told him so it had proved true, and he believed her now. He braced himself for more pain and told himself he was nowhere near the end of his endurance. Was he not a proven knight? Had he not endured broken bones before, been tossed in the lists and taken many a hard fall?

Aye, but then he had only needed to get to his feet and weather his injuries. He had not been surrounded by a pack of carrion ravens.

True, he found himself, now, alone inside a dim hut with this woman. But he knew the scavengers still lurked outside—he could hear at least two men just beyond the door, no doubt guarding it, and talking to one another. The other noise outside had not abated. Folk seemed excited by the proposed spectacle of his death.

But would they provide him this care only to kill him? The woman—Linnet, he had heard someone call her—had skill in her hands, quick and gentle. Already she had set his broken arm and now worked over the ugly wound at his shoulder, which brought her very close to him, indeed. She poured some vile- smelling liquid into the wound, and he caught his breath sharply.

She had not lied: it hurt.

“That will help keep the poisoning from setting in,” she said with brief asperity.

“Does it matter? They wish only to kill me, that crowd out there. They will never send me to Nottingham even should a ransom be paid.” He stole another look into her face. Nothing like he had imagined a Saxon peasant, she was entirely surprising. Aye, some of their women were bonny and reputedly lustful, with bountiful yellow locks and still more bountiful bosoms. None of that fit this woman at all.

Her face floated above him, a pure, almost perfect oval. Most of her dark brown hair lay gathered under a head covering, but her brows soared like two dark wings over eyes so beautiful and unusual he scarcely dared look into them. Fringed by the longest lashes he had ever seen, they appeared liquid dark, bottomless and wild. In truth, she felt wild withal, despite her neat clothing, a foreign creature not meant for this place. Yet her hands remained kind and calm, her face serene—an intriguing contrast.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve already completed work on the third book of the Trilogy, which is entitled Lord of Sherwood and it’s now in the final stages of editing. I also have a Christmas novella coming out for next Christmas, called Mrs. Claus and the Viking Ship. Apart from that there are always plenty of ideas circling around inside my head. My first book for The Wild Rose Press was a Scottish Historical called Devil Black. Next up for me will probably be another Highlander book, which I’ve tentatively named His Wicked Highland Ways. So stay tuned to my web site for news of all these future projects!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
On some level, I think I’ve always considered myself a writer. I wrote my first “book” in third grade, hand-printed with a construction paper cover, and wrote my way through High School, scribbling stories in binders that were then passed among my friends to read.

I’ve written constantly, ever since. In fact it’s a bit like that old commercial for orange juice – for me, a day without writing is like a day without sunshine. My first published full-length work was a Romantic Suspense called Queen’s Knight, published by Walker and Company. I guess it was then I felt I’d truly earned the right to be called A Writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Well, I work full time at a job outside the home and write whenever I can. It’s a little like having two jobs! But I enjoy them both very much so that lends me a lot of enthusiasm and good energy. In both jobs, I’m surrounded by books. I work for a Library System where I get to process, handle and read books both old and new, so it really doesn’t get much better than that.

As for writing, I tend to get up very early in the morning – usually before it’s light – and take that precious, quiet time to slip into whatever book’s in progress. My husband and I heat our home with wood, so in the winter I rise ahead of everyone else to kindle the fire; in summer when the windows are open I get to hear the first birds begin to chatter and sing. When a book’s really rolling, I often take time to write on the weekend as well. I still work using a pen and spiral notebook, and type it all up later, doing the first edit as I go. I enjoy editing too, but nothing beats the sheer joy of writing, especially when a book consumes me. I had a wonderful time writing all three books of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to “see” everything that happens in my books, and then write it down. It’s a little bit like automatic writing. I also hear what my characters are saying to one another – sometimes, if I’m cleaning the house, shopping or busy at work, I have to grab a scrap of paper and jot down what they’re saying so I don’t forget it. I can’t take a whole lot of credit for my books. I’m less the author than a conduit through which they flow onto the page.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That changed from time to time, as I grew. I wanted to be a teacher until I figured out that would require me to go to school every day for the rest of my life! Then I wanted to be the wife of a Highlander and live in a croft completely cut off from civilization where I’d sew quilts and recreate the life of my ancestors. For a long time I wanted to raise dogs because I’m so comfortable in their company. Behind it all, I knew I’d be a writer – whatever else I did to make a living, there’d always be a notebook somewhere and stories crowding my mind. And that’s the part that came true.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I love to connect with my readers and love to hear from them through my Author Web Page or through Facebook (you’ll see talented artist Diana Carlile’s beautiful cover for Champion of Sherwood set as my profile picture.) Sharing stories is a very personal experience and it’s nice to form a connection with those who read me. I also appreciate reviews posted on Amazon or Goodreads, if readers can spare the time. And if you do like what you read, please tell your friends. I’ve shared books all my reading life, and hope you will too.

Thanks to Lisa Haselton for hosting me today – I’m ever so grateful!

You’re quite welcome. Thanks for being a return guest!


Laura Strickland said...

So happy to be here today. It's a real pleasure to return and talk about Sherwood!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Barbara Bettis said...

Loving this series, Laura. Linnet is such a heroine. Best of luck. Barb Bettis

Unknown said...

After reading the excerpts and reviews, I'm satisfised to say both your books are now on my TBR list. I cheated and they're actually closer to the top than they should be lol. Thanks for sharing and best of luck


Laura Strickland said...

Elisa-Maria, What a treat it's been to talk with you over the course of my tour. I hope the books live up to your expectations!

BookLady said...

I enjoy historical romance and have added the Champion of Sherwood to my TBR list. I look forward to reading about Linnet and Gareth. Thanks for sharing.

Catherine Lee said...

Laura...You heat your home exclusively with wood? I find that so interesting. When I lived in PA, we knew many folks who heated only with wood or with coal. For some reason, I find that fascinating.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com