Sunday 12 February 2017

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Balfrage

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Balfrage to A Bookaholic Swede to talk with me about her story, Days of Sun and Glory. Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.

Anna has authored the acclaimed time-slip series The Graham Saga, winner of multiple awards, including the HNS Indie Award 2015. Her new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures during Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.

Thanks Anna for stopping by and having a chat with me. How did you discover indieBRAG?

I discovered IndieBRAG back in 2012 when I had just published my first book. It took me some time to work up the nerve to submit a book to them, but since then, all my books have been honoured with a medallion. IndieBRAG does a fantastic job of promoting quality indie books – and yes, it is important to do that, as there are still quite a few self-published authors who do not take their craft (or their potential readers) seriously enough to ensure what they publish is good enough to publish. If you expect people to pay for your books, you have an obligation to ensure they have been edited, formatted and presented professionally.

Can you please tell me about the book? 

Days of Sun and Glory is the second book of four in my series The King’s Greatest Enemy. This is the story of Adam de Guirande, an honourable knight who is torn between his loyalty to his lord, Roger Mortimer, and his king.

Can you explain why Roger Mortimer is so hated for those that are not so familiar with this time and history or haven’t read the first book?

Well, first of all I think opinions diverge regarding Roger Mortimer. Not everyone hates him – in fact, many more than me find him fascinating. However, the simplistic view is that Roger, together with Queen Isabella, deposed Edward II and later on had him murdered. Not a nice thing to do – if true. Did he depose the king? Oh, yes. Did he murder the king? Hmm.

Can you tell me more about Adam de Guirande and his wife Kit?

Well, Adam is the son of a man-at-arms who gambled away what little he had and took out his anger with the world on his son. Fortunately for Adam, one day Roger Mortimer found him beaten half to death and took him in. Since then, Adam has served and loved Mortimer – even to the extent of accepting to marry Katherine de Monmouth despite “everyone” knowing Katherine and Mortimer had been intimate. What Adam doesn’t know is that Katherine refuses to marry a simple knight, and so her family (well, her mother from hell) decides to blackmail Kit into pretending she is her look-a-like half-sister. Not the best foundation to a marriage, but somehow Adam and Kit overcome it and instead concentrate on surviving in their very turbulent times.

How come Adam de Guirande is so close to Queen Isabella? 

I’m not sure he is that close to Isabella – he admires her for being brave and resourceful, but he doesn’t really know her. Initially, the queen and Adam bond over a common dislike for Despenser and a shared interest in keeping Mortimer alive. Over time, Adam’s loyal service to Edward of Windsor, Isabella’s son, puts them in close proximity to each over, but Isabella rarely forgets that she is a queen and Adam a mere knight, so there’s no ground for a deeper relationship between them.

Why does Adam hate Hugh Despenser so much? Or rather, why do they hate each other so much?

First of all, a little caveat: Hugh Despenser has been saddled with the role of villain in my books, but I am sure there were other sides to this man – in many ways, Despenser and Mortimer were extremely alike, both of them ruthless, ambitious and intelligent. There, now that that has been said, “my” Despenser hates Adam because he sees Adam as an extension of Mortimer – and he sees Mortimer as a huge threat to himself and his king, Edward II. Adam hates Despenser for being Mortimer’s enemy – and for being anything but gentle when Adam was his prisoner in the first book. Plus there’s the matter of when Despenser went after Kit. Anyone who hurts Kit is per definition Adam’s enemy. (One of the things I love about him)

What made you write about this time period? 

I’ve always found the period of the three Edwards (Edward I, Edward II and Edward III) fascinating – and I’ve been especially interested in Isabella and her relationship with Mortimer. Not only did they work together to depose a king and set themselves up as regents for her young son, but they were also lovers, despite the fact that Roger Mortimer was married (well, so was she, no matter how deposed her husband).

Was there any part that was hard to write in the book? Personally, without spoiling the book did I find reading some parts of the book hard. It was a tough time period and you never knew who would live and die. 

Yes. There is a scene where Kit is humiliated I found difficult to write, there are some scenes related to loss which are always hard. Plus violence against a helpless person is always difficult to depict, and executions in the 14th century were not exactly humane.

If you could go back in time to this era would you do it? 

Only if I had a guaranteed return ticket.

Are you writing on something now? 

I am always writing on something J. Specifically, I have the next Adam & Kit book coming out shortly, and then I have the first book in a brand new series I hope to launch before summer (but without killing myself in the process) I’m pretty exited about this new series: it’s a contemporary dark romance with a timeslip ingredient and is the story of Jason, who has lived and died, lived and died, in his desperate search for Helle, the girl he loved and lost in the very distant past. Oh; and then there’s a ninth book in The Graham Saga in the pipe. I hope to get it out late this year.

What are you reading right now? 

As we speak, I’m reading Sara Cockerill’s book about Eleanor of Castile and a couple of fiction reads on the side.

How did you come up with the title for your book? 

I spend a lot of time considering titles. In this case, I wanted it to link back to the first book, In the Shadow of the Storm. And as Roger Mortimer has survived that first storm, he is presently luxuriating in the sun.

Who designed your book cover?

Olly Bennett at MoreVisual has designed all my book covers. I love how he takes my vague ideas and makes something beautiful.


A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Magdalena has chosen to interview Anna Balfrage who is the author of, Days of Sun and Glory, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Days of Sun and Glory, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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