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

03_Anna BelfrageI’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Belfrage. 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.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. 

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him.

Anna can be found on her website, on Facebook and on her blog. Or on twitter and Amazon.

Anna, thank you for visiting with me again and for the opportunity to chat about your book, To Catch a Falling Star. Please tell your audience about your book and which place does this book fall into your series.

Hi Stephanie, it is very nice to be back – and I must say I love the promising smell coming from your kitchen. Cake?

Of course! As always with a spot of tea too.

Anyway, back To Catch a Falling Star, the eighth and supposedly the last of The Graham Saga – except that it no longer isn’t, as my nights are constantly being disturbed by Alex Graham. “Your fault,” she tells me. “You think I’m going to let you STOP writing about us when Samuel is with the Indians and Adam and David are on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Forget it!” She glares at me. “I have to know what happens next.”
Logically, one could argue she should know – she’s the one living the life back there in the 17th century – but I suppose being an invented character sort of leaves you in limbo if the author doesn’t tie up all the threads.
“Too right,” Alex mutters, hands smoothing at her dirty apron. She brushes a strand of greyish hair back behind her ear.
“All threads don’t get tied up,” I tell her as gently as I can. After all, that’s what life is like, isn’t it? But the expression in her face, coupled with her determined nagging and the fact I love my Alex and Matthew to bits has made me promise her there’ll be at least one more book, tentatively named No Man is an Island.
Back to To Catch a Falling Star: this is a book about homecomings, about revisiting places you once belonged in, and find that you no longer do. It is about loss, about love, and it is also about the consequences of having a kingdom torn in two between those who support the king, albeit that he is Catholic, and those who want to oust James II in favour of his son-in-law and nephew, soon-to-be William III. And yes, as it is part of the Graham Saga, all these events are seen through the eyes of Matthew and Alex, who happen to be in Scotland for a visit (as per Alex – she has her home in Maryland, with her family) or to stay (as per a hopeful Matthew).

I am also incredibly proud to have been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion for this book. This means all books in The Graham Saga are recipients of this award, and you can imagine just how tall that makes me feel.

To Catch a falling Star

Will you please give a little history of William of Orange.

Hmm. I’m probably grossly unfair on the poor man, but I have never liked him. I find him staid and boring and I find it quite tasteless to up and steal your father-in-law’s crown like that, so don’t get me started on William’s wife, Mary, who was James II’s daughter.

However, if I take a deep breath and step out of my own personal biases, one must accord William credit for handling a tricky situation – he was invited by seven Protestant peers to claim the throne together with his wife. Why he accepted we don’t really know – William was a man who mostly kept his own counsel. But I’d guess he did it so as to fulfil his lifelong ambition to halt France’s expansion, especially into his own territories.

Initially, his countrymen weren’t that interested when William tried to make them realize France had to be stopped – they were keener on maintaining good trading relationships with France – and William as Stadtholder of the United Provinces did not have the funds to do more and watch as the French annexed one piece after the other of his country. Until, that is Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, thereby triggering a free-for-all on all Protestants remaining in France.

Horrified Dutch Protestants opened their homes to the refugees from Louis XIV’s France. They listened to stories of bloodshed, to being forced to leave all their wealth behind (with which the wealthy Dutch traders could more than relate), to being beaten and whipped, murdered even, by angry Catholic mobs. Which is when William coughed and said “ahem”. Now he was given funds – plenty of funds. Even more fortuitously, the Holy Roman Emperor beat off the Turks and was more than happy to join the coalition against France. Only England, ruled by Louis XIVs cousin, remained loyal to France. The invitation from the seven grandees therefore came at an opportune time. By invading, William hoped to strong-arm his father-in-law into supporting his efforts to contain France.

William landed in Torbay on November 5, 1688. William was hailed as a liberator. James dithered, uncertain as to what to do – William was family, and James was more than aware of how much his eldest daughter loved her husband. Besides, he definitely did not want to be the one who started a new Civil War – he was as beset by spectres as his peers.

On November 23, James took the decision to retire to London rather than meet William on the field. A capable military leader, James could probably have held his own – and his was the larger force. So why did he retreat? Why did he attempt to flee to France rather than defend his crown? We will never know – but chances are that had he stayed and fought, he would have carried the day, thereby rewriting history as we know it. But then, history is full of ‘what if’s’, isn’t it? Instead, in 1689, William and Mary were confirmed by Parliament as the new king and queen.

When Matthew and Alex return to Scotland, what is one of the first encounters they have? 

Well, first of all, they meet Luke, Matthew’s estranged brother. And then Alex literally bumps into James Graham, known to history as Viscount Dundee. He is something of an anomaly, a Protestant peer who remains loyal to James II to his death.

I have to say when reading about Alex confronting an unresolved issue with Luke Graham, I was not expecting the way she handled it. Was there ever a time leading up to this conflict that you might have written it differently?

Ha, well, I’m not sure which confrontation you mean, but in general, no, the scenes between Alex and Luke were pretty self-evident. Alex has little love for her brother-in-law, whom she holds responsible for a lot of the suffering her husband has been subjected to. Luke, on the other hand, feels he’s the injured party, seeing as Matthew swiped off his nose one time very long ago. They’ll never see eyes to eye on this, and so theirs is an infected relationship, even more so as Alex so resembles Luke’s beloved (and dead) wife.

Oh, dear I guess I can’t mention which confrontation, now can I? Unless we reveal a spoiler and we don’t want that! On a side note, I can see why Luke would be sore with his brother for-ahem-swiping his nose off. Not to say Luke didn’t have it coming to him.

Well, I guess we should talk about the slimy, Richard Campbell next.

Every book needs a worm, right? Richard Campbell is my particular worm, a man who hides his narrow-mindedness and generally misogynist approach to life behind the trappings of a Presbyterian Minister. He detests Alex – a feeling returned in full – since she humiliated him several years ago in an incident involving a soup ladle. He is intolerant of all faiths but his own, consider Catholics to be the slime of the Earth (and therefore eagerly argues for either ousting them or killing them). He believes in witchcraft and is convinced Alex is a witch, and guess where he’ll be in 1692? Yup, in Salem, Massachusetts …Unfortunately, he doesn’t stay there.

I have to ask, how do you keep up with all the conflicts in your stories and have you learned anything from writing about them?

The conflicts just sort of happen.

They sure do with the Grahams!

My intention is to depict life as it might have been back then, viewed through the eyes of my time-travelling protagonist, Alex. (Well; time-travelling is an exaggeration. She fell through time once and has no desire to ever repeat that awful experience)
As to what I learn, I learn all the time: about herbs and food, how to make lye soap and how to dye homespun. I learn about the political complexities, about the strained relationship between settlers and Native Americans, about the constant conflict between Protestants and Catholics – and between Protestants and Protestants. Presbyterians weren’t all that fond of Anglicans, putting it mildly.

That is putting it mildly. *laughing* For those who have not started your series yet, will you give a little back ground of the Grahams?

It all starts in 1658, when Matthew Graham is making his way back home to his Scottish manor after having escaped from an unjust imprisonment thanks to treacherous brother Luke. He is somewhere midway through the Southern Uplands when he finds a woman sprawled on the moor. A very strange woman, dressed in tight light blue breeches and with short, curly hair. She is concussed and singed, holds out a small rectangular thing and says she has to “phone home.” Well, that doesn’t work out too well for poor Alex, who to her shock realizes that somehow the sheer veils of time have ripped apart and jettisoned her into a new time and a new place. The only compensation is this tall and unkempt man with magical hazel eyes.

How much time did you spend on writing this story and were there any profound moments in the story that made an impact on you as a storyteller?

On me as a storyteller? Not so much. However, writing The Graham Saga has obliged me to consider my own beliefs as to God and afterlife, and I think I emerge from this process as a stronger person. And as to how long it takes, I’d say I write a book in 3 months, give or take. After that, it takes another 6 – 8 months to have it ready to go.

Where can readers purchase your stories?

As per my excellent publisher, Silverwood Books, wherever good books are sold. Somewhat more seriously, you can find my books on Amazon, on B&N, on Kobo and iBooks. Plus, they’re also available as paperbacks.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Anna Belfrage who is the author of, To Catch A Falling Star, 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, To Catch a falling Star, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money

indieBRAG Interview Team Leader 

indiebrag team member



indieBRAG Interview Team List!

An Amazing Team of Book Bloggers to Interview B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees! 

Interviews are an important part of reaching an audience to learn more about your book and you. Often times this is how I discover books I have not heard of before on social media. As a reader, I am more likely to spot an interview if it is shared on social media regularly or if it’s by a book blogger I follow. What is more encouraging if I see authors and readers sharing and talking about the interviews.

IndieBRAG has put together a great team of book bloggers to help in this endeavor. To shine a light on those worthy books. To spotlight authors so that we may learn more about them

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees, we need your help in this and if you are interested in an interview with our team, please email me at This also applies for B.R.A.G. Honorees that have already been interview before.

Erin DaviesWebsite

Interviews about anything history related including time slip, romance, alternative, YA, fantasy… Any of the crossovers are fine.

Heather CampbellWebsite

Interviews Hist-fic and any subgenres and non-fiction

Magdalena JohanssonWesbite

Interviews all genres except romance, YA and Children

Colleen TurnerWebsite

Interviews for historical fiction or literary fiction.

Team Leader: Stephanie HopkinsWebsite

Interviews in all genres promoted by indieBRAG

indiebrag team member

Review: Very Like A Queen by Martin Lake

Very much a queenAlice Petherton is well practiced at using her beauty and wits to survive in the Court of King Henry VIII. As the King’s favorite, she enjoys his protection, but after seeing the downfall of three of his wives, she’s determined to avoid the same fate. Alice must walk a fine line between mistress and wife.

She finds a powerful protector in Thomas Cromwell, and Alice has every reason to believe that she will continue to enjoy a life of wealth and comfort at Court…until she puts everything at risk by falling in love with a Frenchman, Nicholas Bourbon.

When Cromwell is executed, Alice loses her only ally and flees to France. There she hopes to live in peace with Nicholas. But Alice is lured into a perilous game of treason, and peace doesn’t last long. Will Alice get back the life and love she’s fought for? Or will she lose herself to the whims of a capricious monarch?

My review:

First, I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of this book. What first captured my attention was the title. I thought, how unusual and I liked it. Though with my busy schedule I read this novel in four days. I did NOT want to put it down. This is the first book I have read of Martin Lake and I am now a fan!

I love his portrayal of Cromwell! I actually like the man in this story. If you know the history, you know his demise and how Martin portrayed that was very powerful and believable. So many great men lost under Henry’s rule.

As I was reading the story I couldn’t help keep thinking that I am so glad I wasn’t alive or one of the members during King Henry VIII court. Yikes! The man’s moods were so up and down and vicious! As his health and eating habits became worse, the more suspicious and paranoid he became. What a miserable existence. One never knows what he will do to you if you made him mad!

I love Alice, though I would have liked to shake her sometimes! She couldn’t help but get herself in sticky situations! But she is a true testament of a survivor and wins the heart of many. I would like to read more about her.

There were several notable characters and locations in the story I enjoyed reading about. Nonsuch Palace, Dover Castle and the French Castles comes to mind and then there was Ralph Sadler, Suffolk. Cranmer, Norfolk-archival to Thomas Cromwell, Master Hans Holbein, Marillac, Katheryn Howard- to name a few…Brilliant character development there.

There is so much to this novel. I am adding this among my favorite Tudor stories. Truly a gem and so well written. I will be on the lookout for more books by Martin Lake!

I rated this book four stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Titles I have Recently Added To My Reading List

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree:

Queen of sorrow

Elizabeth Woodville was the wife of King Edward IV and the mother of the Princes in the Tower. As an impoverished widow she was wooed and won by the handsome young king and believed her dreams had come true. But she was soon swept up in the War of the Roses, enduring hardship and danger as her husband struggled to keep his throne. When he died Elizabeth was unable to protect her family against the ruthless ambitions of the man he trusted above all others. It was the king’s brothers, the unstable Duke of Clarence and the loyal Duke of Gloucester, who would prove to be Elizabeth’s most dangerous enemies.

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree:


Noah’s Wife transports readers to an ancient time and place, while exploring timeless issues—family relationships, autism, religious freedom, and cultural change. Told from the unique perspective of a young girl with a form of autism known now as Asperger’s, this is the award-winning story of Noah’s wife, Na’amah.

“A novel inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s flood, Thorne’s version weaves myth, history, and archeological findings with her vivid imagination, wisdom, and humor into an epic tale you will not forget.”

Na’amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey—a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother and the love of two men. Her savant abilities and penchant to speak truth force her to walk a dangerous path in an age of change—a time of challenge to the goddess’ ancient ways, when cultures clash and the earth itself is unstable. When foreign raiders kidnap her, Na’amah’s journey to escape and return home becomes an attempt to save her people from the

Behold the Dawn BRAG

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree:

Marcus Annan, a knight famed for his prowess in the deadly tourney competitions, thought he could keep the bloody secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him wreak vengeance on a corrupt bishop, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade in the Holy Land.

Wounded in battle and hunted on every side, he agrees to marry—in name only—the traumatized widow of an old friend, in order to protect her from the obsessive pursuit of a mutual enemy. Together, they escape an infidel prison camp and flee the Holy Land. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past—or his growing feelings for the Lady Mairead. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.

Galley Reads From NetGalley

As a Book Blogger and a Book Reviewer, I get to pick some fabulous galleys to read and review. Here are the latest from NetGalley. 

Flight of Dreams

With everyone on-board harboring dark secrets and at least one person determined to make sure the airship doesn’t make the return trip, Flight of Dreams gives an utterly suspenseful, heart-wrenching explanation for one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crew member, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie’s focus is on maintaining a professional air . . . and keeping her own plans under wraps.

What Emilie can’t see is that everyone—from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer—seems to be hiding something.

Giving free rein to countless theories of sabotage, charade, and mishap, Flight of Dreams takes us on the thrilling three-day transatlantic flight through the alternating perspectives of Emilie; Max, the ship’s navigator who is sweet on her; Gertrud, a bold female journalist who’s been blacklisted in her native Germany; Werner, a thirteen-year-old cabin boy with a bad habit of sneaking up on people; and a brash American who’s never without a drink in his hand. Everyone knows more than they initially let on, and as the novel moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, the question of which of the passengers will survive the trip infuses every scene with a deliciously unbearable tension.

With enthralling atmospheric details that immediately transport and spellbinding plotting that would make Agatha Christie proud, Flight of Dreams will keep you guessing till the last page. And, as The New York Times Book Review said of her last novel, “This book is more meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off.”

Where the river parts

Blood had begun to trickle down Asha’s starched cotton salwar, and once more she tried to will herself to stay calm. It was nothing. These things happened. ‘

But these things haven’t happened before. It’s August 1947, the night before India’s independence. It is also the night before Pakistan’s creation and the brutal Partition of the two countries.

Asha, a Hindu in a newly Muslim land, must flee to safety. She carries with her a secret she has kept even from Firoze, her Muslim lover, but Firoze must remain in Pakistan, and increasing tensions between the two countries mean the couple can never reunite.

Fifty years later in New York, Asha’s Indian granddaughter falls in love with a Pakistani, and Asha and Firoze, meeting again at last, are faced with one more – final – choice.

Spanning continents and generations, Where the River Parts is an epic tale of love, loss and longing.

The Summer before the war

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking—and attractive—than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

Looking forward to reading these! 

Cover Crush: In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

A good friend and fellow book blogger of mine started a post series called, Cover Crush and a couple of other book bloggers and I love the idea so much we had to join in! Here is two others by A Bookaholic Swede and 2 Kids and Tired Books

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover design plays an important role in the overall presentation of the book and gladly admit I judge a book by it’s cover. When I saw this one on NetGalley, it set the mood for me wanting to find out more about the story. I have since then read the book and have a lot to say about it. My review will be coming soon here on Layered Pages!

A little teaser of my thoughts on the subject: This book cover is perfect for the story and the premise makes for a thrilling read by the fire side.

What book cover have you been crushing over lately?

In the shadows

In a world torn apart by economic collapse, Natalie and her husband Richard establish an island of relative safety on a communal farm. Death—by starvation, raiders, and sickness—stalks them daily, and their survival hinges on working together for the common good. But in a lawless land with no shortage of suffering, good is a malleable concept.

As the constant grind of survival and the frictions of farm politics expose the rifts in Natalie and Richard’s marriage, Natalie finds herself seeking refuge in the company of Richard’s twin, Daniel, a solitary man with little interest in politics.

In the face of ongoing external threats and simmering internal divisions, Natalie, Richard, and Daniel must each map the boundaries of their own loyalties and morality. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is a story of adventure, politics, and love in a brave new world where the rules have both changed, and stayed the same.

Interview with Award Winning Author Anna Castle

Anna Castle BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Anna Castle to Layered pages to talk with me about her story, Murder by Misrule. Anna writes the Francis Bacon mysteries and the Lost Hat, Texas mysteries. She has earned a series of degrees — BA in the Classics, MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Linguistics — and has had a corresponding series of careers — waitressing, software engineering, grammar-writing, assistant professor, and archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

Hello, Anna! Thank you for chatting with me today about your book, Murder by Misrule and Congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion. How did you discover indieBRAG?

You know, I honestly can’t remember! Most likely I noticed some of my author role models, like M. Louisa Locke, had those nice shiny medallions on their books and looked them up. I wear mine proudly.

Please tell your audience about your story.

Murder by Misrule is the first book in the Francis Bacon mystery series. It is set in 1586. A man who was performing a ticklish task for the government has been murdered, and the Lord Treasurer — who happens to be Francis’s uncle — asks Francis to find out who did it. Francis can’t say no to his powerful uncle, so he agrees, but then he enlists his law students to do the running around and talking to witnesses. This group of lively lads is led by my co-protagonist, Thomas Clarady. Tom’s father is a privateer, so he has money, but not status. He’ll do anything to raise himself into the gentry, including tracking down murderers.

They pursue different possibilities and uncover other crimes being perpetrated right under their noses. Another barrister is killed. Bacon narrowly escapes death. Secret identities are exposed. The woman Tom adores is thrown into jail. Things look very dark, until Francis figures out what happened and devises a plan to expose the murderer before the queen and all her court.

Murder by misrule BRAG

Who is Francis Bacon?

Francis Bacon was a statesman and a philosopher in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. He is sometimes regarded as the Father of Science because of his persuasive arguments for grounding scientific investigations on observations of the real world, instead of spinning speculative theories. He wrote a collection of Essays which has never been out of print since they were first published in 1597.

What is Gray’s Inn?

Gray’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court, the honorable societies of lawyers and judges. The others are Lincoln’s Inn, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple. These societies still exist today, but their roots are lost in the mists of history. They were formed originally as places for legal men to live cheaply while the Westminster courts were in session. Francis Bacon lived in his chambers at Gray’s Inn for much of his adult life. In his day, the Inns of Court were booming, and Gray’s was the largest of them all.

Could you give your audience a little of the history of the period your story is set in?

Oh, boy, a whirlwind view of the Elizabethan period? This was an age of expansion and optimism — that’s what I like about it. Maybe I’ll just tease you with some of the glittering names: Francis Bacon, Queen Elizabeth I, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe….

The Elizabethan period is certainly a whirlwind and all notable names indeed. I adore your character, Thomas Clarady. Could you tell your audience a little about him? What are his strengths and weakness?

Thank you! Tom is meant to be adorable, because Bacon can be a little hard to like. Tom was designed as a foil for Francis Bacon: likable, extroverted, fond of the ladies, physically active, friendly, and street smart. His strength is his empathy, which gives him good intuitions about people. His weakness is also his empathy, because it makes him too easy to influence. He needs Bacon to teach him discipline and supply that strong rational ballast.

What was your inspiration for this story?

Next time I write a book I’m going to start by drafting a brief essay about why I’m writing it :-). I started this book in 2010 and honestly don’t remember exactly what or why. It’s set in 1586, because that’s when Francis Bacon enters the historical record through his surviving letters. It’s set at Grays, because that’s where he was. And I think I chose the season of Misrule because I thought it would be colorful and fun. I had all kinds of misruly antics that got cut, like Tom & the lads seating cows and goats at the governors’ table and transporting a sleeping barrister, bed and all, out into the yard in the middle of the night. Undergraduate pranks. Of course they actually did all those things, but I had to cut them from the book.

What do you like most about writing historical crime thrillers?

OK, I’m a writer, so I get to quibble. I write mysteries, not thrillers. The question in my books is, “Who did it?” not, “How will they catch them?” I like the structure of mysteries, which helps me plan the story, and then I like the challenge of making a story built within that familiar structure fresh. The best thing about writing historical’s is that there are virtually no forensics. I don’t have to learn about soil analysis or whatever. It’s almost purely character. Who could have done this terrible thing? My sleuths have to explore the setting thoroughly to find ways and means, which is the most fun for me. I work with the A to Z of Elizabethan London (indexed map) at my side.

What is the title of the next book in this series?

Book 4 will be Publish and Perish. Someone is publishing scurrilous broadsides attacking the established Church of England. Not a Catholic — this mud is being slung by a Puritan. The government is desperate to shut off the flow of these popular broadsides, but they can’t catch the offenders or even locate the movable press. They hire Thomas Nashe, an uncontrollable satirist, to pen counter-attacks, which only makes things worse. Now someone is trying to kill Nashe but keeps missing, striking down innocent poets. The Lord Treasurer, at his wits’ end, hires Francis Bacon and Thomas Clarady to sort out the mess. Everything about this story is true – real history – except for the murders.

Who designed your book cover?

Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Editorial. Jenny also edits my books, doing both a content edit and a copy-edit. She’s wonderful; I couldn’t publish this series without her.

How did you decide on the title?

Titles come to me out of the create-o-sphere. Sometimes they come first and I have to invent a story that fits. Obviously I like alliteration, and puns, and quotes from Shakespeare…

Where can reader purchase your book?

Murder by Misrule is available in every online bookstore in existence and in the indie brick-and-mortar stores in my town, Austin, Texas. You can sign up for newsletter to get advance notice of sales and other goodies.


Website & newsletter signup




Twitter: @annacastl

Thank you, Anna!

Thank you!

A Message from indieBRAG:

 We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Anna Castle who is the author of, Murder by Misrule, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, 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, Murder by Misrule, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Lessons In Loving by Peter McAra

Lessons in learning

Wanted: Governess. Properly qualified in English, to instruct male pupil in rural location.

Sydney, 1902. Desperate for a job, Kate Courtney travels to the faraway New England Ranges to interview for a governess position. She is greeted by wealthy landowner, ruggedly handsome Tom Fortescue, and is shocked to find that her new charge isn’t a small boy—but the grown man.

It was Tom’s mother’s dying wish that he finds a refined, elegant, English bride to marry. But a country man with country manners can never win a lady fair. Tom needs Kate to smooth away his rough edges, make him desirable to the English rose he wants to marry.

But the more time Kate and Tom spend together, the closer they become, and Tom has to decide between the dreams of his childhood, and the reality that is right in front of him.

My thoughts:

I am not a fan of Historical Romance and I rarely pick them up to read. Unless it has something more to offer than just sex scene fillers (as I call them), I am just not interested. I am delighted I decided to pick up, Lessons in Loving. What first captured my attention was the cover, a male writer and this, “…is shocked to find that her new charge isn’t a small boy—but the grown man.” I haven’t read that sort of plot twist before! I thought, “Oh, this is going to be good.”

When I began to read the story, I started to have a little doubt. I felt the beginning was not strong enough but as I read on, the story-line became stronger and I was pleased with the character development and dialogue. I am delighted to report that this story does not have sex scene fillers and I devoured this book quickly.

I did however want to knock the handsome Tom Fortescue over the head a few times but hey, his stupid choices at times makes for an entertaining read. I wouldn’t mind reading more about him.

I did like how Kate took charge in the beginning of the story, though I felt she could be a bit too trusting at times but how things turn out might surprise you.

Charming story-a tad bit predictable- but, interesting characters, enjoyed reading the interaction between Kate and Tom, lovely settings and an intriguing plot. I will be looking for more books by this author.

I rated this story: Three Stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


5 Books I want To Read

Every month I will be selecting five books from my never ending wish-list to share with you. This month I have selected five from my Historical Fiction/Classic re-telling wish-list. Next month will be thrillers. Enjoy!

Villa America

Sara and Gerald Murphy’s good looks, talent for living and perfectly successful marriage breed both devotion and jealousy congest among their friends. But when Owen Chambers, an American aviator, arrives in their lives, the deep emotional fissures in Sara and Gerald’s marriage reveal themselves and their lives change forever.

Villa America is a fictional imagining of the real lives of Americans Sara and Gerald Murphy who, in the heady years of 1920s France, presided over a group of expatriate writers, painters, singers and dancers–including Pablo Picasso and Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This dazzling cast of characters gathered together in the Murphy home in Cap d’Antibe, as both Sara and Gerald cast their elusive magic over all of them.

Spanning 1890s New York, the battlefields of WWI, the birth of aviation, the artistic explosion of 1920s France, the Depression and the rise of fascism, Villa America charts the beautiful and tragic course of three intertwined lives to create a vivid portrait of a gilded age that couldn’t last.

 Americas first daughter

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. And it is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that she learns of her father’s liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

Patsy too has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé, William Short, a staunch abolitionist intent on a career in Europe. Heartbroken at having to decide between being William’s wife or a devoted daughter, she returns to Virginia with her father and marries a man of his choosing, raising eleven children of her own.

Yet as family secrets come to light during her father’s presidency, Patsy must again decide how much she will sacrifice to protect his reputation, in the process defining not just Jefferson’s political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

The marsh Kings daughter

From the author of ‘The Champion’ and ‘Shields of Pride’, this novel is set in England during the closing days of the reign of King John. Injured fighting King John’s troops, Nicholas de Caen is nursed back to health by Miriel of Wisbech.

The Pursuit of pearls

In the spring of 1939, the drums of war beat throughout Europe, but nowhere more ferociously than in Berlin. The film studio where Clara Vine works is churning out movies, but each day that she stays in Germany is more dangerous than the last. Spying on the private life of the Third Reich, passing secrets to contacts in British intelligence, falling into a passionate affair—any of these risky moves could get Clara shot. So she is wholly shaken when someone close to her is murdered instead. The victim is Lottie Franke, an aspiring costume designer and student at the prestigious Faith and Beauty finishing school that trains young women to become the wives of the Nazi elite. While the press considers Lottie’s death in the Grunewald forest the act of a lone madman, Clara uncovers deeper threads, tangled lines that seem to reach into the darkest depths of the Reich—and to a precious discovery that Hitler and his ruthless cohorts would kill for.

Nelly Dean

A gripping and heartbreaking novel that reimagines life at Wuthering Heights through the eyes of the Earnshaws’ loyal servant, Nelly Dean. Young Nelly Dean has been Hindley’s closest companion for as long as she can remember, living freely at the great house, Wuthering Heights. But when the benevolence of the master brings a wild child into the house, Nelly must follow in her mother’s footsteps, be called servant and give herself to the family completely. But Nelly is not the only one who must serve. When a new heir is born, a reign of violence begins that will test Nelly’s spirit as she finds out what it is to know true sacrifice. Nelly Dean is a wonderment of storytelling, a heartbreaking accompaniment to Emily Bronte’s adored work. It is the story of a woman who is fated to bear the pain of a family she is unable to leave, and unable to save.

Check out my friend’s and fellow bloggers, It’s A MAD MAD WORLD’S Wish List

The Maiden’s Court Wish List

Up next on the 29th, my friend and fellow blogger, A Literary Vacation’s Wish List

Books and More Books

Last Friday evening after a delicious meal at one of my daughter’s favorite restaurants, we decided to make a stop at our local B&N Book Store. While my daughter made her way over to the comic section to check out her beloved Stars Wars Comics, I ventured over to the bargain section. As I browsed the selection-mostly modern day thrillers-these two beauties (below) were in the bunch. With a gleam in my eye and my mind in turmoil if I should dare pick these books up-knowing what could possible happen if I do-I reached for them anyways and as I read the book description inside the book jacket, I knew I was a goner. Yes, I bought them and at a great deal too! Twelve dollars for two hardbacks. Not bad. Well, let me confess something to you. I blew my book budget for the year. You see, I was determined to NOT buy any books this year so I may catch up on all my galley copies on NetGalley. Sigh. I just can’t help myself. Alas, they look so pretty on my book Shelf and I look forward to reading them in the near future. 

Songs Willow Frost

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

The Darling ladies of Lowell

From the best-selling author of The Dressmaker comes the warm-hearted and enthralling saga of a bold young woman caught between two worlds-the vibrant camaraderie of factory life and the opulence that a budding romance with the mill owner’s son affords-as the murder of her best friend sends shock waves throughout the town.

Determined to forge her own destiny, Alice Barrow joins the legions of spirited young women better known as the Mill Girls. From dawn until dusk, these ladies work the looms, but the thrill of independence, change in their pockets, and friendships formed along the way mostly make the backbreaking labor worthwhile. In fact, Hiram Fiske, the steely-eyed titan of industry, has banked on that. But the working conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous and after one too many accidents, Alice finds herself unexpectedly acting as an emissary to address the factory workers’ mounting list of grievances.

After traveling to the Fiske family’s Beacon Hill mansion, Alice enters a world she’s never even dared to dream about: exquisite silk gowns, sumptuous dinners, grand sitting parlors, and uniformed maids operating with an invisible efficiency. Of course, there’s also a chilliness in the air as Alice presents her case. But with her wide, intelligent eyes and rosy-hued cheeks, Alice manages to capture the attention of Hiram’s eldest son, the handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske.

Their chemistry is undeniable, soon progressing from mutual respect and shy flirtation into an unforgettable romance. But when Alice’s best friend, Lovey, is found strangled in a field, Alice and Samuel are torn between loyalty to “their kind” and a chance for true love.