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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Interview with Linda Acaster July 2010

Tell us about your current book title
Beneath The Shining Mountains is an Historical Romance – Historical Romantic Suspense for American readers who make the distinction – set on the northern plains of America among the Apsaroke people before European incursions began to make a serious impact. It’s a story of gambling with one’s integrity and facing the consequences, of honour among rival warrior societies, and one woman's determination to wed the man of her dreams.

How did you come to write this particular book?
Looooong story, starting with my mother cutting me a feathered war (honour) bonnet from newspaper when I was four years old and finishing with my becoming a Northern Plains re-enactor giving talks to school and community groups. And yes, I am talking about all this happening in the UK. The Brits are nothing if not eccentric.

Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?
Native Americans are not one people; some are as dissimilar in language and customs as we are to the Nepalese. As a child I’d become interested in the Northern Plains peoples so I stuck with them, but the area is vast, the peoples so different, that I finally focused on the neighbouring Mandan and Hidatsa peoples who farmed and lived in earth lodges on the banks of the upper Missouri, and their trading associates the Apsaroke who were a true nomadic plains people living in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains – hence the title of the novel. This was before the boom of internet information, so when I had the funds I’d send to America for research material, anything from academic papers to memoirs to stories that had been collected by ethnographers in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. It was while reading one of these stories that the idea for Beneath The Shining Mountains fizzed into life.

And the particular inspiration?
It was a story, an old woman recounting a Wife Stealing ceremony of her youth. This is going to be difficult to explain. Among the Apsaroke, men belonged to different warrior societies, and to keep them on their metal rivalries were instigated - which society had the champion wrestler, the best runner, the fastest racehorse, men who’d taken most war honours – and once a year was what had become known as the Wife Stealing ceremony.

In the early 1800s the Apsaroke were fairly open about extra-marital affairs, but if the wife of a member of one warrior society had, during the preceding year, been the lover of a man belonging to a rival society, the lover, along with his friends, was allowed to ride up to the woman’s lodge in their best regalia and singing songs and try to entice the lady to leave her husband. It was regarded as entertainment for the whole village, everyone knew what was going on, and any woman who was eligible but didn’t want to be a part of it made herself scarce for the duration. Believe me, there’s a lot more to it and it’s much easier to understand reading the novel!

So you had the novel set out for you?
I had the last scene, or almost the last scene, given to me by this old women recounting tales of her youth, and to my embarrassment I can’t remember her name. What I then had to do was build a story backwards to ensure this last scene made sense to readers with no knowledge of their history or culture. In the end it took me 86,000 words.

How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
All of my novels have a great deal of historical research attached to them, so I can’t produce more than one a year. And I’m just a slow writer.
Lindas cover torc of moonlight 
What are you writing now?
The Bull At The Gate, set in York. It’s the second in a trilogy of contemporary timeslip thrillers set in university cities around the North York Moors in northern England and deals with the resurrection of a Celtic water goddess - which isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds considering my visits to ancient springs in the region. The first book, now out as a paperback and soon as a Special Edition ebook, is Torc of Moonlight set in Kingston upon Hull where I grew up.

Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit? currently concentrates on the timeslip thriller, and information on the historical romances can be found at though there is some crossover.

How can people buy your book(s)?

Beneath The Shining Mountains, originally a paperback, is now available as an ebook from Amazon for the Kindle and Smashwords for I-Pad, Sony e-reader, Nook - $2.99

Hostage of the Heart – a Mediaeval Romance set on the Welsh borderlands, again originally a paperback and now available as an all-formats ebook: Amazon: / Smashwords: - $1.99

Torc of Moonlight is available as a paperback original from most online stores, including Amazon US  and Amazon UK, or from The Book Depository for free worldwide postage. Prices vary, rrp £7.99

Free e-reader applications for a PC, Apple-Mac, etc. are available to download from Amazon for the Kindle , and from Adobe Digital Editions for the rest

Thanks for inviting me!

Word of the Day is divorced from the blog that precedes it and produced in response to a request from a follower to provide just such a service.
Word of the Day; wit – mental facility with language, enabling fast, comical, clever responses and aphorisms, especially when used as a riposte. Oscar Wilde, was, of course, the acknowledged master. ‘Arthur Brown has all the wit of a broad bean, but his brother, Bernie, has the wit of Oscar Wilde combined with George Bernard Shaw.’

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