I’m ending the week with a special interview with Alix Rickloff. She’s talking to me about her historical fiction, Secrets of Nanreath Hall.
During her virtual book tour, Alix will be awarding a digital copy of Secrets of Nanreath to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!
Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series (Kensington, 2009), the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy (Pocket, 2011), and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series (Pocket, 2014). She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.
What drew you to the twentieth century and WWII as a setting?
My interest in the war began while I was in college. I watched Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver and was forever hooked on the time period. But for twenty plus years and nine plus books, it remained merely a side interest until a recent conversation with my agent during which she asked the fateful question; “What do you really want to write about?” Suddenly, I was confronted with all sorts of exciting possibilities in genres and settings I’d never considered.
What inspired you to write Secrets of Nanreath Hall?
The first kernel of the story came from watching an episode of Downton Abbey. I was intrigued by the fatherless heir and the child of a scandalous elopement. From that seed, my what-if process started as I tried to imagine what their lives would have been like as they grew to adulthood during WWII.
Excerpt from Secrets of Nanreath Hall:
Buildings leaned drunkenly on their foundations, their windows blown out, doors knocked from hinges. A jagged gap like a missing tooth was all that was left of the butcher’s shop. The pub looked comfortingly unscathed until she approached, then she noticed a tumbled slide of bricks and shingles where the roof had collapsed. A gleam of brass railing poked up through fallen plaster and splintered beams. A pint glass stood half- filled on a table in a corner. A dart stuck dead center in the dartboard still hanging on the back wall.
Ten paces. Twenty. The damage greater, the houses tumbled and spilled like a child’s toppled building blocks. Smoke hung low like a morning fog across the Thames. A few firemen replaced their hoses upon a truck. A policeman unrolled a coil of rope across the pavement where a set of marble steps led to . . . nothing.
Anna’s chest tightened. Her throat closed around a hard painful knot. Pain lanced down her leg, buckling her ankle. The awkward weight of the valise knocked her to her knees. Dirt bit into her skin, scraped her hands raw. She retched, but there was nothing in her stomach except the weak tea she’d drunk this morning on the train. Still, she felt her insides shriveling, darkness crowding the edges of her vision.
It couldn’t be. There was some mistake. She was having another nightmare. She would open her eyes to see curtains at the windows and geraniums on the stoop. Graham and Prue standing on the steps to meet her.
“Here now, miss. Are you all right? You took a nasty spill on these cobbles.”
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I couldn’t begin to list every author that has ever inspired me, but I do have authors who hold a special place in my heart. I dedicated one of my books to four of them; Mary Stewart, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jane Austen, and Rosamunde Pilcher. These are my four go-to authors. Different in genre, style, characterization, but I read their books over and over whenever I need to get lost in a familiar story where the writing is flawless and the characters are old friends.
This is your first straight historical fiction novel, though you write historical romance under the pseudonym Alexa Egan. Was it a difficult transition to switch genres?
Not at all, though the romance novelist in me insisted on a happy ending. And if a love story turned up unexpectedly, well…old habits die hard.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a follow-up to Secrets of Nanreath Hall. Lucy Stanhope is the spoiled daughter of an ex-pat socialite living in Singapore who is sent to England in disgrace just ahead of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan’s entrance into the war. There she befriends a young evacuee and the unlikely pair end up heading to London in search of his mother.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
For work, I’m reading West End Front; The Wartime Secrets of London’s Grand Hotels by Matthew Sweet. For pleasure, The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Willams, and Lauren Willig.