Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meet Linda Acaster

Today I am pleased to introduce Linda Acaster. 

Tell us about your book
Hi everyone. I'm Linda Acaster and I live in England, UK. Hostage of the Heart is a rights-reverted print novel new to ebook, a Mediaeval historical romance set in 1066 on the eve of the biggest invasion the British islands have seen. With the militia away countering the threat, the balance of power shifts along the disputed English/Welsh borderlands. Rhodri ap Hywel reclaims by the sword lands taken from his kinsmen by force, and with them the Saxon Lady Dena, sacrificed to slow the Welsh advance. But Rhodri harbours dark secrets, and when the fortunes of war turn, Dena can either stand by her faithless kin, or by her own integrity and the beating of her heart.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was researching for another novel and came across information about battle hostages. In truth, most 'hostages' were more often exchanged under treaty terms, where kin of group A (often children) would be brought up as part of group B's household on the understanding that if group A didn't toe the line dire consequences would result. And they often did. Can you imagine living a feted life as an adoptee and suddenly not only having it all withdrawn, but the people you'd trusted threatening disfigurement or death, all because your blood-kin now considered you worthless? This became the back-story to Hostage of the Heart which is mirrored in the front-story of poor relative, Dena, only welcomed into her uncle's household to raise his status by making a prestigious marriage.

Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life?
'Knowing' someone is anathema in terms. We never truly 'know' someone we have even daily contact with. Life experiences cause people to be layered outwards from a central core, and we can only see a person from the outside layer in. To make fiction believable writers need to know their characters from the inside out so that the motivation and fears of each can be used to strengthen the storyline.

What kinds of things did you research to write your book?
Masses, it goes with the territory when writing historicals of any genre, and often not just historicals. I've a scene where Rhodri, who may or may not be a Welsh prince, is dragged into the hall in chains as part of the entertainment during a meal. Everything from how the hall looks, feels and smells, to what is eaten and how, who serves it, what they look like, what everyone would wear depending on their circumstances, table customs and usae, other entertainment, the underlying hierarchical intrigue... I needed to know it even if only part of it is used on the page. And all this is going on in the background just to give depth to the unfolding character interaction in this scene.

I have a lot of very creative readers. Do you have other hobbies or creative pursuits besides writing?
I help keep a vegetable garden, and until recently I painted in oils & knife, but this has had to be set aside for a while.

Do you have any upcoming titles you’re working on?
Beneath The Shining Mountains, an historical romance set among the Apsaroke/Crow people of the northern American plains in the 1830s, is due out for the Kindle before the end of July, and is already out via Smashwords.com awaiting distribution for other formats. My English contemporary timeslip thriller Torc of Moonlight, book 1 of a trilogy about the ressurection of a Celtic water goddess, is already out as a paperback, but the Special Edition ebook should be out by the end of August.

What else would you like to add?

Dena gasped at the sight which met her eyes, gasped and held her breath to capture the moment and hold every detail of it.

‘Rhodri, you are well!’ she breathed. The relief and the thankfulness burst in her chest to fill her whole body with warmth and contentment.

‘Told you he was strong, I did, but you did not believe me,’ Mildthryth chuntered.

Dena took a step forward, her shins nudging the edge of the pallet. She wanted to get closer to him, to sit by his side and hold his hand, to throw her arms round him, but there was no room except to stand and stare.

Propped against the wall, his chest and arms sticky with the salves and potions Mildthryth had applied to his wounds, Rhodri’s sunken eyes surveyed her without emotion. Curtained by his lank, dark hair which fell in matted locks to his shoulders, his face still looked very pale. For Dena, he was a joy to see, and she clasped her hands, wanting to tell him so, but not knowing how to bring her sense of elation to her lips.

‘Tell this witch of yours to stop calling me my prince. I am not a prince. I have never been a prince.’

He was in pain and he was angry, and his words were designed to hurt, but they only made Dena’s smile the broader.

‘An ungrateful cur,’ Mildthryth snarled. ‘Bites the hand that heals.’ As if to prove it, she extended her hand to touch him, only to have it knocked aside.

‘I am not your doll!’

‘But I can make one,’ Mildthryth retorted, ‘to stick pins into!’

Dena’s smile faded. ‘Stop this! The door is thin enough. Do you want the kitchen workers to hear you?’

Where can we find your books?
For Amazon's Kindle

For all other formats, either direct from Smashwords or Barnes and Noble, Sony, I-Pad, etc

Any other links?
For samples of all my books, general info and to sign up for my monthly newsletter: www.lindaacaster.com and http://lindaacaster.blogspot.com

Linda is making herself available today to respond to your comments and questions. Remember, every time you leave a comment during this author party you are entered to win the $50.00 Amazon.com gift certificate.

16 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Cynthia said...

The concept of battle hostages is fascinating. I am very interested in reading more.

Cynthia said...

I've just purchased "Hostage of the Heart"!

levy said...

Mediaeval historical romances - one of my favorite settings when reading a novel.

Linda Acaster said...

Hi Cynthia!

This is the problem with being across the Pond, I missed the launch of the post. Hey, thanks for buying. I'm glad you found the sample intriguing.

If you have any questions do ask, I'll be around all day today!

@ Levy - I agree, Mediaevals offer such scope, not just for romances but for adventure and intrigue.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating blog, Linda! The whole issue of battle hostages is both grim and interesting - also a springboard for story. I loved your HOSTAGE OF THE HEART and once I stared it, I didn't want to stop! It was on my screen non-stop from start to finish!

I agree about how vital research is and how much has to go in for background and to make a scene come alive.

Good luck with this and your other titles!

Silversongbird said...

Hi Linda. I read and enjoyed Torc of Moonlight when it came out. It made me want to visit the spring to the goddess near the Roman road at Wheeldale on the North York moors and I know you must have gone there as part of your research. Which parts of Wales did you visit for 'Hostage'and what kinds of sensory impressions did they leave on you?

Jen Black said...

Right now I'm interested in treatment of wounds in the sixteenth century for my story, so I wonder if you have any good sites or blogs to recommend? Perhaps yours, Linda?

Linda Acaster said...

@ Lindsay: Glad you enjoyed the post - and the book. Research is vital, but it is soooo very interesting and easy to get sucked into. I'd got the skeleton of 'Hostage of the Heart' down before I found a lot of juicy info about battle hostages, so was curbed as to what to include, and was not amused when my then editor airy waved aside future mediaeval projects.

@ Silversongbird: Oh lovely, a satisfied reader! I dragged the family all over central and north Wales one fortnight's holiday, so the land being fought over in the novel is an amalgam, something I don't tend to do now.

There are a fair few Iron Age hillforts across there, many well preserved due to pasture-only farming over the centuries. The Britons needed strongholds against territory invaders before there were English or even Welsh. It's surprising how many people think it was just against the English and that the 'English' built those (magificent if daunting) stone castles which now litter the borderlands.

My impressions? It was the clarity of the air, the ever-present breeze, the myriad tones of green in the hilly landscapes - the sheer sense that Nature was in true control, even now. To make that leap of empathy to 1066 and then back to the Celtic hillfort people... It's still difficult to explain, but it certainly fed into Torc of Moonlight. I don't think I would have written it, or written it as I did, without the on-the-ground research for Hostage of the Heart. It's the way these things go, I guess.

@ Jen: Oh dear, I can be no help whatsoever to you for that period as it's way beyond my focus. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I notice there are changes from the paperback to the ebook. Did you do that or was it an editor? And did the paperback win an award when it was first published?

Penny Grubb said...

I notice there are changes from the paperback to the ebook. Did you do that or was it an editor? And did the paperback win an award when it was first published?

Linda Acaster said...

@ Penny: you noticed the changes?? You reading the formats together?! The storyline hasn't changed, just the flow of the text. It was my first published novel - and yes, it won the New Writer award from the Romantic Novelists' Association in the UK - but of course one's writing skills improve over the years, and being able to I took the opportunity to change things like syntax. It may sound minute, but I often find that it's the minutiae that helps bring a novel to life. Hope you enjoyed it - twice!

Linda Acaster said...

@ Jen: Voila! Some info for you from a pal more into your period...

Joe KNIGHT - A history of medieval medical science and the treatment of wounds: full article available:
Dr Elizabeth T HURREN- Henry VIII's Medical World - also full article available on net.
Depending on how detailed it needs to be, you can often find stuff on education websites for children

Hope this helps - Linda

Stuart Aken said...

I was impressed by the detail and authenticity in Torc of Moonlight, so I am encouraged to get a copy of Hostage of the Heart, especially after reading the way you approach research in depth. And I love your piece about character. Excellent post.

Linda Acaster said...

@ Stuart: thanks for dropping by. Torc of Moonlight seems to have gone down very well, so I hope you enjoy Hostage of the Heart as much, if on a different level. It's not nearly so dark.

creatnchris said...

Hi Linda,

I really enjoyed reading your interview! Your books sound really good!

Best wishes,

Chris Mead

Nancy said...

oooh Historical fiction is one of my favorites :) And now I'm incredibly intrigued by battle hostages. What a crazy concept!

Bought the book ... and I imagine I'll be seeing your name on my Kindle a lot more in the future...

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