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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Househunting -Tanzanite's Castle Full of Books: Author Interview

You can find an interview with me at Tanzanite's Castle. I enjoyed answering Daphne's questions in between house-hunting and working on my next book. I think house-hunting must be like being a publisher - lots of possibles, some sound fantastic from the agent's blurb, but there's nothing I actually love yet.

The virtual world of Tanzanite's castle full of books has much more appeal than the houses we have seen so far! Not that we're after turrets or dungeons, but some period features would be nice - oh, and good views, bit of a garden, room for a campervan somewhere outside. And a library, and a writer's studio........

Guess I'd better start buying those books on how to write a best seller. (Do they help, I wonder?)

You can find out which historical figure I'd like to have dinner with in our new house, when we find one, on the link below

Tanzanite's Castle Full of Books: Author Interview - Deborah Swift

Video Review of The Lady's Slipper, plus Giveaway

Stacy from Chapter Chicks uploaded this review to Youtube. If you haven't heard of Chapter Chicks video reviews, check them out!

I am also at Historical Tapestry today with my post about the character of Richard Wheeler. Thanks to Marg for hosting me.Click over there for details of the giveaway.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lady's Slipper Wild in America

David Isaak has spotted The Lady's Slipper in the wild in Barnes and Noble in California.

Thanks so much to David for his recce into the wilds of the Californian Superstore!

You can check out David's book, and also his great post Historical Accuracy...and the Joys of Inaccuracy on his  fantastic blog Tomorrowville

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Big Box of Books from the Big Apple, and Giveaway news

The Lady's Slipper is out today in the US and the lovely big box of books has just arrived!

You can see that my cat Tabby was fairly impressed by the whole thing and has begun to read it already.

To coincide with the launch two lovely bloggers are featuring my book:

An interview about my writing life at Tanzanite's Castle

and a competition and giveaway at Historical Fiction to win a signed limited edition hardback (open worldwide).

Thanks to Daphne and Arleigh for posting today.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

My love affair with historical fiction

This interview is reproduced courtesy of the Macmillan New Writers Blog. Aliya Whiteley asked me how I came to write historical fiction.

Before I came to write The Lady's Slipper, most of my writing was contemporary. I read a lot of contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. A few years ago I would have been surprised to find I had produced a historical novel. So why write one?

The answer is that it wasn't a case of me deciding on a period and then setting the novel there, it was more that my characters demanded certain conditions to flourish and tell their story. I started with a character who wanted to paint an orchid - I had seen the rare lady's-slipper orchid myself and wanted to write (initially) a poem about it. This desire was subverted into my character's desire to capture it in paint. From then on the character grew and developed. I thought for the flower to have impact I needed a time when ideas about botany and images of flowers were new and fresh. Perhaps a time before mass printing, a time when herbs and flowers were used for healing. This led me to the 17th century when herbalists such as Nicolas Culpeper were just making their mark on history and the science of botany was in its infancy.

The idea of the medicinal use of the lady's-slipper then sparked the character of Margaret the herbalist, whose views on "the web of the world" were a very different religion from the conformist view of the time. I am interested in the different ways that faiths have shaped the world and this tied in nicely with the burgeoning Quaker movement, viewed in the 17th century as radical and dangerous. I couldn't resist having a Quaker character, so Richard Wheeler was born. In addition, the Quaker movement started close to my home in Westmorland, and visits to the still surviving historical sites fascinated me.

I was also keen to exploit the enmity between two men, and needed an atmosphere of unease where people felt unsafe so that the developing plot would be credible. The English Civil War where the King had been beheaded by his own people supplied the background disturbance I needed.

My second book, The Gilded Lily (on the editors desk) is set in the same period through necessity as it features Ella, one of the characters from The Lady's Slipper. It is a very different book as it is set in restoration London, a choice made so that I could exploit the desire for wealth and luxury which is a part of Ella's character. I will have to apologise to readers though, as the book features the Thames frozen over, which in fact happened in 1662 and not in 1661 as my book would suggest. This is because I didn't know I was going to write The Gilded Lily when I began The Lady's Slipper and unfortunately I cannot bend history - only apologise when I have had to do so.

The one I am working on now will be set in a different period. As with the first two I am looking for a time and place where my characters and ideas will collide in the most satisfying way. At the moment that seems to be turn of the 16th century in Spain. I can't tell you much more about it because I want to keep the excitement about it inside and not let it dissipate until I have a first draft in front of me.

Now though, I find I enjoy the researching period such a lot, and the wonderful excuse it gives me to hang around museums, historic houses, art galleries and libraries. And I have discovered some fantastic writers in the historical fiction genre, who have given me further insights into our rich heritage. So I cannot imagine that I will run out of ideas from the wealth of our history, and I guess that will keep me writing historical fiction for a while yet!

Aliya asked how I communicate my passion for the period to the reader, but I've really no idea. I just loved writing about the seventeenth century, and my revelling in it I hope will somehow be transmitted, maybe through the language of my characters.

Thanks Aliya for your questions.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Deborah's Historical Fiction Blog Tour

To celebrate the launch of The Lady's Slipper in the US, I am doing a blog tour the week before and the week after the launch on the 23rd November.
The following beautiful blogs are going to be a part of it:

and last but by no means least,
Thank you to them all. If you love historical fiction, these are my favourite sites, why not check them out. More details about the posts soon. See you there!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Book Piracy Update

When my publishers copyright department checked out the site advertising free downloads of The Lady's Slipper, they discovered that the site is hosted in Moldavia and registered in Russia. It appears to be a malware site used to infect unsuspecting visitors machines rather than a genuine book download site i.e. there is no copyright infringement.
However, what that does mean is that anyone trying to download the book for free may end up with a nasty surprise! Ho ho ho.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thoughts about my new Kindle

Whilst at a conference another writer showed me her Kindle, and its lovely hot pink leather cover. Initially attracted by the aforesaid lovely cover, despite my dyed-in-the-wool technophobia, I went over for a closer look. At that point another writer (male) then whipped out his coverless Kindle, and began to outline the advantages of e-reading, its functions and features, gadgets and buttons. I let him try to explain the ins and outs of downloading, whispernet and so forth, whilst dying to ask, does the cover come in other colours?

Anyway, the upshot of the three-way conversation is that I now have my own Kindle (complete with burgundy leather cover). The first thing I noticed when shopping via Amazon was how different the top 100 books look in the US and the UK. In the US - thrillers, cook-books and erotica. In the UK, reprints of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Great Expectations, Sense and Sensibility, The Iliad by Homer, and Mrs. Beeton's Household Management. This is I'm sure more to do with what you can download free than anything else, but it painted a wonderful picture of the States as full of thrill-seeking, hedonists who enjoy a good meal, whilst the English are sensible but with great expectations, a penchant for latin, and with households that need managing in the Victorian manner. (Could there be some truth there, I wonder?)

Anyway, what the Kindle is good for from a historical novelist's viewpoint is that you can download obscure out of print historical documents and books that you might need for reference. On my Kindle I now have an etymological dictionary (downloaded free), several plays by 17th century playwrights such as Kyd and Middleton, (bought for pennies) Pepy's Diary, some obscure papers on sword fighting, and various other research PDF's downloaded from various universities. It is much nicer to do my research with them all loaded neatly onto the handy slim screen, and I can carry most of my research, including the stalwart Wikipedia, now in one volume. What I miss is being able to browse, and the fact that I can usually remember whether a line I'm looking for is on the left or right page as I am reading, thus making it eaier to find.

The Kindle is useless too for those lovely illustrated non-fiction books which show you things like how a flintlock pistol works, or pictures of costume or art and architecture. But for text, I have to say it is easy to read and has some great features like a built in dictionary so you can click on a word you are unfamiliar with and it will give you a definition.

And won't I look cool when I finally get my pebble glasses and zimmer frame and can use an e-reader instead of carrying great sackfuls of Large Print books around!

The cost of e-books is a hot potato right now. In my previous post on piracy I wrote that you can already download a pirated version of my book. In this post from the Guardian, you can see that readers want their books as cheaply as possible, and have been giving expensive e-books by well-known authors 1 star reviews in order to protest at the cost of books for the Kindle. These readers may turn to pirated books if the ebook prices remain as high as they are. But I can guarantee that none of those readers are also writers!

So far apart from out of print or classic works I have downloaded "The Wilding" by Maria McCann at almost the full price of a paperback, for the convenience of having it there whilst travelling. And I have no doubt that if I like it, it will get 5 stars and a good review from me on Amazon. I, like everyone else, want cheap books for my Kindle, but not at the expense of living writers whose work and creativity I am prepared to pay for.

As I am new to the Kindle, any tips, tricks or thoughts will be much appreciated, provided they are in plain english and not in technojargon!

Monday, 1 November 2010

My book has been pirated!

I suppose it was inevitable, but it is pretty disappointing as a writer to find that "The Lady's Slipper", which is barely out of nappies - still in its pristine hardback edition in the uk - has been copied and is now available worldwide for people to download free from the internet. I the writer, can do absolutely nothing about it, and will of course receive no royalties from them at all.

When I got on the 'get books for free' site, I was astonished to find I could download lots of just-released pirated books, and yes, it looks tempting to a bookaholic like me to have all the latest books available for nothing.....

Of course in the end, if people download the books, (which are probably of varying quality) and they therefore don't sell in an official version, then publishers will not be publishing them, or supporting their writers.

Those that do get books this way for free are slowly strangling the publishing industry. But we've seen this before, haven't we, with the music industry.

I have to say it is frustrating when the US Kindle edition is still a few weeks off, but also I suppose its flattering that someone could be bothered to copy and upload it.

Tell you the name of the site? You must be kidding.