One of the drawbacks of having a vivid imagination is that at times head-space is very crowded. When actively writing about several of my characters at the same time – in the sense that I may be writing one book while proof-reading another – my poor brain can be quite the busy place, various characters rushing from one side of my head to the other, all of them clamouring for my attention.
Well, they don’t all clamour. Some are more the retiring type, but when Kit de Guirande goes all silent I know – as does her husband Adam de Guirande – that something is the matter.
“It’s nothing,” she says airily, while concentrating on the embroidery in her hands. Adam and I share a look: “nothing” is not good.
Adam, being a far more sensitive and intuitive husband than one might expect of a 14th century knight, sits down beside Kit and places a light hand on her thigh. “What is it, sweeting?”
At first, no response. The needle flashes in the sunlight, and yet another leaf on the pomegranate tree Kit is presently embroidering takes shape. At long last, she sighs.
“Sometimes, I feel inadequate,” she mumbles, and her gaze glides over to where Alex and Helle are laughing. For those that don’t know, Alex is the protagonist of my 8-book time travelling series The Graham Saga. Various events in her life in 17th century Scotland and Maryland have shaped her into a strong and capable woman. And Helle, well, so far none of my readers have ever met her, but let’s just say she has plenty of experience to draw on – at least compared to Kit who is pushing twenty-one and who, so far, has seen little beyond the Worcestershire and Shropshire area.
“You are never inadequate, sweeting,” Adam says, leaning forward to place a soft kiss on her cheek. Sheesh…I pat myself on the back – this man is a keeper.
“Of course you’re not inadequate!” Alex comes over to join Kit on the window bench – one of those more than normally surreal moments when my 17th century heroine sits beside my 14th century leading lady. My poor brain flips back and forth through time: Alex in her dark 17th century skirts, her neat bodice hugging her waist and her bosoms, a white lace collar, a white cap atop her dark, coiled hair, a clean white apron, and beside her Kit, at present unveiled as she’s in her solar, but her blue kirtle is somewhat more shapeless, her embroidered girdle outlining the swell of her hips. Dark red hair is collected in a thick braid, a few strands have escaped to waft enticingly around her face, and she leans away from Alex, into the protective space offered by Adam and his broad chest, his strong arm.
“You are a product of your time,” Alex continues, “while I am a product of mine – and in my case it’s plural times, so there’s the very modern me, and there’s the 17th century me, the woman I become after years and years living with him.” She gestures in the direction of Matthew, who raises his hand in a little wave, while suggesting Adam join him over a mug ort two of good ale and leave the women to gossip.
“Gossip?” Alex snorts. “I don’t gossip?”
“No? Well there’s a lot of words coming out of your mouth, lass, and not all of it is facts, is it? Truth be told, a lot of it is opinionated and controversial.” There’s a flash in his hazel eyes, a quirk to his mouth that has Adam grinning – even Kit is smiling. Alex, however, is not.
“That’s not gossip! That’s me expressing my thoughts!” Alex is on her feet, arms akimbo.
“Aye, and I love you for it – but you do gossip, lass. All women do – you can’t help it, they tell me…” He laughs when she makes as if to punch him, grabs her hands and smacks a loud kiss on her forehead. “Now, you go back to your little natter with Kit, and Adam and I will entertain ourselves.” My two tall male leads saunter off, Matthew’s dark head close to Adam’s fair hair.
“Men.” Alex sniffs, sitting back down.
“Yes. What would we do without them?” Kit chuckles softly, pretending great interest in her embroidery.
“True.” Alex’s features soften as she studies her man. “I’d have died without him.”
“You would?” Kit sets her sewing aside.
“Oh, yes. Time travelling is not only mentally terrifying, it is damned dangerous as well.” Alex fiddles with her apron.
“Better you than me,” Helle offers, coming over to join her female colleagues. Yet another time-warp moment, rushing me several centuries forward in time. Helle is in sneakers and jeans, the outline of her mobile clearly visible through the fabric of her pocket. She gives me a dark look. “Although Anna has given me something of an odd background instead.”
“She has?” Kit sounds intrigued – and jealous. “Me, she just burdened with being the bastard daughter of a minor lord, obliged to marry under a false name.”
“Lucky you.” Helle stretches out her jeans-clad legs. “Better than being a reincarnated soul, if you ask me.”
“A what?” Kit’s eyes grow round, and she makes a hasty sign of the cross.
“Ask her,” Helle says, nodding in my direction.
“Long story,” I reply vaguely. And a rather distressing story, but Helle doesn’t know just what I have in store for her – and I don’t want to tell her, in case she goes all uncooperative on me. “Many, many lives.”
“I sort of got that.” Helle gestures at Jason, now stepping out of the murky shadow to saunter over to join Adam and Matthew. “He, poor man, remembers all of them.” Eyes a deep amber glance her way, Jason blows her a kiss, bows at Alex and Kit.
“He does?” Yet again, Kit crosses herself. She sits back, her gaze flitting from Alex, to Helle, to Adam, who happens to turn in her direction and smile at her. She smiles back, clears her throat and picks up her sewing. “Suddenly, I don’t feel all that inadequate. I feel normal.”
“Well, that’s good,” I tell her. “Seeing as you are normal.”
“And I’m not?” Helle asks.
“So and so.” I grin. “But I love you to bits just as you are.” I envelop all three of them in a huge bear hug. Fortunately, they all hug me back, which I take as a sign that they love me too.
“Huh,” Alex says. “Not always. Not when you have Matthew carted off as a slave—”
“What? She did that to him? She had Adam thrown in a dungeon and—” Kit begins.
“Enslavement? Imprisonment?” Something flashes in Helle’s eyes. “I sure hope you’re not planning something like that for my Jason!”
“Err…” I say. Much worse, actually. “Tea, anyone? Chocolate?” As always, this little distracting manoeuvre works perfectly – not for nothing are Alex, Helle and Kit my creations. Except, of course, that Kit has no idea what tea and chocolate might be…
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exists, 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. The second book in the series, Days of Sun and Glory, will be published in July 2016.
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.