A Shout Out To indieBRAG Readers!

indiebrag sunny banner

I’d like to give a shout out to all our hard working readers at

They come from all over the globe and are enthusiastic about their love for books. Many people have asked, “Who are your readers?” Well, we have readers with PHDs, who are book bloggers, book reviewers, editors, teachers, students, designers, business men and women, and much more. We are proud of our team and the hard work they do in discovering the next B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

Coming soon to the indieBRAG Blog I will be talking about what authors should do before submitting their books to indieBRAG and what our readers expect. Stay tuned and be sure to give a shout out to our readers on twitter @IndieBrag or on the indieBRAG Facebook Page. Their voice matters and where would we be without them?

indieBRAG Facebook Page
Would you like you like to be part of our reading team at indieBRAG? To find out more about what we do and how to become a reader, click HERE to sign up!

Love of Reading Month


lady-of-devices-bragLady of Devices by Shelley Adina

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world. At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices…

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his…if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals…

Historical Fiction Goodness


Throwing Clay Shadows by Thea Atkinson

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

It’s 1807 on the Isle of Eigg. Four-year old Maggie believes she has killed her mother by saying bad things and now she won’t say a word. It’s true that Ma’s voice stays in the cottage even though Da says she’s gone, and sometimes Maggie can see her in the shadows, but it’s not the same thing as having a real ma. She’s worried if she says anything, she will kill her da too.

She doesn’t want him to die, and so no matter how much he tries to get her to, she won’t speak.

The trouble is, the consumption that really took her ma and her premature sister, has marked Maggie too. It forces Da to marry Janet so Maggie can have a woman to look after her.

It gets harder for her to stay silent, though, because Janet tries just as hard to get Maggie to talk. She’s not sure she can hold out when this new ma reveals secrets that make her squirm, that make her feel like Da is doing things he shouldn’t be.

It seems there is more to worry about than a few words. He is indeed in trouble and much of that danger comes from the things his new wife isn’t saying.

If she can just understand what Ma is telling her from those corners, Maggie will be able to face her fears and find her voice and true power. The question is: will that power be enough to bind the family together even against the darkest secrets?

Author Website

Interview with Award Winning Author Liv Hadden

liv-hadden-bragI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author and Debut novelist Liv Hadden to Layered Pages today. Liv has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously. Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt. She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.” Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management. She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas. Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Thank you for chatting with me today, Liv. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I was doing some reading online about reputable awards for indie novels and indieBRAG was listed in several places. When I visited the site and saw the medallion books, I knew I wanted my novel to show up there!

Tell me a little about In he Mind of Revenge and your inspiration for it.

In the Mind of Revenge is an intimate look into how monsters are born. The narrative follows an assault victim’s destructive journey to revenge, and how thin the line is between retribution and wrongdoing. I got the inspiration while I was dealing with depression in college. I had written a page about how I was feeling right before bed, which turned into a dream about the embodiment of my shame. The main character is named Shame because of that dream.


What is an example of Shame’s vulnerability?

Shame has a big weak spot for their childhood love, Cassie. Shame’s relentless pursuit of Cassie causes Shame to get into trouble and hurt other people they come to care about along the way.

How are your monsters influenced by their setting?

Shame’s transformation into a monster is a direct result of the bullying they experienced and societal norms that didn’t allow for Shame to be as Shame was. Once Shame is in Baltimore, they’re at the mercy of a city and people they don’t know, which is basically how Shame meets some good friends and enemies.

How would your characters describe you?

I think Shame would find my eternal optimism annoying, but I might get away without too much incident because of my wit; I am always happy to participate in banter. Juice Box would probably say I’m boring since I stay inside all the time and my adventures are very organized, but he would like that I laugh at all his jokes and idiosyncrasies. Anna would consider me a civilian and wouldn’t give me a second glance. Of everyone, I think Emma would like me most. I think she’d say I’m caring, funny, and ambitious.

Who are your influences?

Every story I consume, no matter the medium, influences me. Even just my friends who are great at sharing a story inspire me or get me thinking. If I’m forced to name a few recognizable characters, I’d say Stieg Larson influenced the darkness in this novel; James Patterson influences my work ethic and sense of drama; Maya Angelou keeps me motivated and authentic; J.K. Rowling keeps me dreaming and influences the way I shape my secondary characters.

What is your writing process and how much time during the day do you write?

Well, my process is in the middle of an evolution as I grow as an author. I used to just write as it came, but now I am finding adding a bit more discipline to my process will create stronger plots and more intriguing characters. That is especially true when writing a sequel since I’ve set up all these rules for myself—I need to make sure I follow them for continuity and to maintain the integrity of the story. Basically, I’m creating flexible outlines and getting a feel for the end goal instead of just discovery writing. I have my own web design business, so I don’t write every day. I’d say I write fiction at least 5-8 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on my schedule. But, I create and write content every day for work; even if it’s not a novel, all writing makes you better!

Who designed your book cover?

The designer at Ebook Launch did, and I love it. Would definitely recommend them to other indie authors.

What are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi manuscript called CROSSFADE. Then I’ll be building a detailed outline for the second installment in The Shamed series, which I am getting really excited about!

Where can readers buy your books?

Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Indie Bound, and I am excited to say Audible!

Liv Hadden’s Website

goodreads | facebook | twitter | instagram

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Liv Hadden who is the author of, IN THE MIND OF RENVEGE, 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, IN THE MIND OF REVENGE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Praise for In the Mind of Revenge


“If a cat has nine lives, Shame has 29. Liv Hadden leaves us in the dark as to whether this

character is a girl or a boy. As Shame often muses, why is gender that important? It’s

reflecting on issues like gender that makes In the Mind of Revenge more than just a rather

exciting read.” – Reader’s Favorite

“A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely

complicated.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In the Mind of Revenge tackles hot-button social issues in a way that forces the reader to rethink the

importance of what society deems as normal.” – Self-Publishing Review

“An absorbing crime story…” – Blue Ink Reviews


Full Book Description:

Mine is a tale of pain, hate, lies, murder, injustice, vengeance, and love unreturned.

It began much like yours; a hopeful innocent born to a world of endless possibilities. But my journey has rarely been paved with opportunities of light. Confronted by those who sought to eclipse what light I had found, the darkness came for me. Wrapped in its intoxicating embrace, I have risen from the dead to reclaim my dignity and the life that was taken from me. I have begun my journey into the mind of revenge. Revenge for me. Revenge for those like me. Those who are shamed.

This is a story for the shamed, by the shamed. The question is, are you ready for it?

In the Mind of Revenge, book one of The Shamed Series, takes a deep look at how monsters are born.

Set in a society that glorifies “normal” and demonizes different, this dark tale takes its readers on an emotionally wild ride of vengeance, murder, pain and desperation. Though the reader is warned by its main character, Shame, not to develop an attachment, the first person narrative combined with Shame’s uninhibited vulnerability makes it nearly impossible not to do so. Raw, vivid, honest, fast-paced and beautifully vulgar, In the Mind of Revenge is sure to have you emotionally twisted from beginning to end.

Book Highlight: Past Encounters by Davina Blake

past-encounters-bragPast Encounters by Davina Blake –B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree


From the moment Rhoda Middleton opens one of her husband’s letters and finds it is from another woman, she is convinced he is having an affair. But when Rhoda tracks her down, she discovers the mysterious woman is not his lover after all, but the wife of his best friend, Archie Foster.

There is only one problem – Rhoda has never even heard of Archie Foster.

Devastated by this betrayal of trust, Rhoda tries to find out how and why her husband, Peter, has kept this friendship hidden for so long. Her search leads her back to 1945, but as she gradually uncovers Peter’s wartime secrets she must wrestle with painful memories of her own. For if they are ever to understand each other, Rhoda too must escape the ghosts of the past.

Taking us on a journey from the atmospheric filming of Brief Encounter, to the extraordinary Great March of prisoners of war through snow-bound Germany, this is a novel of friendship, hope, and how in the end, it is the small things that enable love to survive.

Includes discussion points for reading groups


Davina Blake lives in the North of England on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. In the past she used to work as a set and costume designer for theater and TV, so she enjoys researching, and loves this aspect of creating historical fiction. Under the pen name Deborah Swift she is the author of three historical novels for adults – The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily and A Divided Inheritance, and also The Highway Trilogy for young adults. Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress Prize in the UK and for the Salt Lake City Readers Award in the US.

How to Use a Free Short Story to Entice New Readers

Author Website

Twitter @swiftstory

#indieBRAG invites self-publishing authors to nominate their book(s) for consideration of the B.R.A.G. Medallion! #awardwinningindie #awardwinningbooks
Submit Here

Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Interview with Award Winning Author Susan Appleyard

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Susan Appleyard today. Susan was born in England, which is where she learned her love of history and writing. She has applied these two loves ever since in writing historical fiction. Her first two book were published traditionally and she also has five ebooks with another to be published soon after Christmas. Susan is fortunate enough to spend half the year in Ontario with kids and grandkids, and the other half in Mexico with sun and sea and Margaritas on the beach. (No prizes for guessing which months are spent where!)

susan-appleyardHi, Susan! Thank you for visiting with me today to talk about your award winning book, In a Gilded Cage. Please tell me the premise of your story and the era your story takes place.

Hello, Stephanie, as an avid follower of your blog, I’m delighted to be here. My novel is set in the mid-nineteenth century in Austria, Germany and Hungary. It is something of a fairytale gone wrong. Having had a carefree and somewhat undisciplined youth in the hills of Bavaria, Sisi is married to Franz Josef at the age of sixteen, not against her will, but certainly against her instincts. Surrounded by luxury, she feels her independence slipping away under a barrage of court protocol.

What is one of the struggles Sisi faces in her new life as Empress of Austria besides being often ill and anorexic?

One of the struggles that I believe many can relate to is her natural wish to have a voice in the way her children were to be raised. They are taken from her at birth and her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, has complete charge of them, even insisting Sisi make an appointment when she wished to see them to avoid disrupting their schedule. This, naturally, had the effect of increasing Sisi’s feelings of inadequacy.

What are some of the strict protocols she endured?

I think for her the worst would have been the restrictions on her privacy. She couldn’t even walk through the palace without attendants following her and of course it was a jealously guarded privilege. Many of these undoubtedly spied for her mother-in-law. When she went riding she was accompanied by guards, although she was such an excellent horsewoman that sometimes she was able to leave them behind. Whenever she and Franz Josef were outside the palace, even in their gardens, they were watched by policemen. Somewhat like the Secret Service of today, I suppose. She was also obliged to wear gloves while eating dinner and couldn’t wear shoes more than six times.

Who is patriot, Count Andrassy?

In 1848 revolution swept Europe as the masses demanded a voice in government. Count Andrassy fought for Hungary against Austrian repression and fled to France to avoid the reprisals. He was sentenced to death in his absence and hanged in effigy. Sisi felt a special affinity for Hungary, for its tragic and romantic past and its yearning for freedom. When she and Andrassy met they found they had much in common. Undoubtedly, they loved each other. Whether they had an affair is debatable.


How are your other characters influenced by their setting?

Although related to the Bavarian royals, Sisi’s family are very provincial and easy-going. All her life, Sisi loved the outdoors, riding, hiking, even mountain climbing. These were the kinds of activities frowned upon by the Viennese court. Franz Josef was raised in the court and finds it quite impossible to break out of the iron-bound rituals of his ancestors in order to give Sisi the kind of love she needs and the support that would help her through the difficulties presented by her new life. Above all, Count Andrassy is shaped by Hungary and its past.  He is fiery revolutionary or resolute politician as needed. As he says: Scratch a Magyar, and you will find a fierce horseman from the Steppes underneath.

What are some of the political themes in your story?

The revolutions of 1848 influenced the events of those times in ways that form a thread through my story from beginning to end. I have also been able to bring out how the fluctuating relationship between Austria and Prussia impacted the rest of Europe and led to three wars within the space of ten years.

Did you have any changing emotions while writing this story?

O.K. I will admit it. Without being deliberately dishonest, I have portrayed Sisi’s mother-in-law in an unsympathetic light. However, I found toward the end that I began to understand her better and to admire her.

What are your personal motivations in story-telling?

The truth is I haven’t any. It’s a compulsion. Years ago I decided to give up trying to get published after being let down by my publisher and agent. But I was never able to give up writing. Every now and then the urge would come over me and I had to write something – anything, not to any purpose, just to get it out of my system.

What are you currently working on?

A novel about Edward II and Isabella of France. I just finished the first draft recently and I’m taking a break until after Christmas.

Where can reader buy your book?

Author Profile Page on Amazon

Amazon UK


Thank you, Susan!

Thank you, Stephanie, for the interesting questions.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Susan Appleyard who is the author of, IN A GILDED CAGE, 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, IN A GILDED CAGE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.





Interview with Award Winning Author Helena Schrader

helena-schrader-bragI’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Helena Schrader today to talk with me about her latest award winning book, Envoy of Jerusalem. Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in history and is a career diplomat, but far from writing dry historical tomes, she conveys the drama and excitement of the events and societies described and delivers her stories through the eyes of complex and compelling characters—male and female—drawn from the pages of history.

Helena was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of a professor, and traveled abroad for the first time at the age of two, when her father went to teach at the University of Wasada in Tokyo, Japan. Later the family lived in Brazil, England and Kentucky, but home was always the coast of Maine. There, her father’s family had roots, and an old, white clapboard house perched above the boatyard in East Blue Hill.

It was the frequent travel and exposure to different cultures, peoples and heritage that inspired Helena to start writing creatively and to focus on historical fiction. She wrote her first novel in second grade, but later made a conscious decision not try to earn a living from writing. She never wanted to be forced to write what was popular, rather than what was in her heart….

Helena, thank you for talking with me today, Helena! Please tell me about Envoy of Jerusalem.

“Envoy of Jerusalem” is on one hand the third book in a three-part biography of the historical figure Balian d’Ibelin, and on the other hand it is a stand-alone novel describing the Third Crusade through the eyes of the natives of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It covers the period from the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187 to the end of the Third Crusade in 1192. While the hero is Balian d’Ibelin, his wife, the Byzantine princess and dowager queen of Jerusalem, Maria Comnena, has an almost equally important role in this book. Furthermore, Richard the Lionheart, his queen and sister, and other more familiar historical figures are also important characters, while a host of fictional characters in “supporting roles” take the novel out of the palaces of kings and down onto the streets and into the taverns of Acre and Tyre. These characters together create a novel that is more than a description of historical events; it explores the human condition in the face of devastating set-backs and examines the fundamental values that define us all.  With radical jihad again challenging our security and our worldview, this book has particular relevance, reminding us that while technologies change human nature does not and the challenges we face today are not new.


The story that Hollywood made can you give me some of the fictional aspects?

A character named Balian d’Ibelin was the hero of Ridley Scott’s film “The Kingdom of Heaven.” The film depicted selected elements out of the life of the historical Balian d’Ibelin (e. g. the mass knighting, the negotiations with Saladin), but changed his biography so significantly that it is questionable whether one can say the film is about the historical Balian. One of the major deviations from history is that the Hollywood Balian is a bastard born and raised in France, and ― after the surrender of Jerusalem ― he returns to France to resume his life as a blacksmith. There is even a scene in the film where Richard the Lionheart tries to persuade Balian to join the Third Crusade, but Balian refuses.

Historically, Balian was born in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the legitimate son of a local baron. Although a younger son, through a scandalously good marriage to the dowager queen of Jerusalem, Balian became one of the wealthiest and most powerful noblemen in the Holy Land by the time Saladin invaded in 1187. After the surrender of Jerusalem, he made his way to the last remaining city in Christian hands, Tyre, and Arab chronicles of the time refer to him as “like a king” ― largely because the bulk of the Christian nobles were in Saracen captivity. His power increased after the death of Queen Sibylla in November 1190 because the crown passed to her half-sister Isabella, who was Balian’s step-daughter (his wife’s child by her first marriage). Under the circumstances, Balian played a key role representing the interests of the local nobility while fighting alongside the crusaders throughout the Third Crusade. By summer 1192, he had won the respect of Richard the Lionheart to such an extent that Richard appointed Balian his envoy to Saladin. Balian negotiated the truce that ended the Third Crusade, and thereafter until his death he was the premier lord in the restored Kingdom of Jerusalem ruled by his step-daughter.

So, far from being in blacksmith in France, Balian was a key player throughout the Third Crusade, a man who fought with and later represented Richard the Lionheart.

How would you describe Balian d’Ibelin -the man?

We know little about the character of the historical Balian beyond what he did. He rose from being a landless knight to being “like a king” and he negotiated like an equal with both Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. That sounds like a ruthless and ambitious man ― until you realize that he was willing to risk his life and freedom to rescue his wife and children from Jerusalem, and that he offered himself as a hostage for the tens of thousands of Christian paupers unable to pay the ransom Saladin demanded. Medieval noblemen devoted to their wives were not that common, but those prepared to sacrifice themselves for the poor were very scarce indeed.  Furthermore, although Balian was an outstanding commander and courageous knight, he was a man who repeatedly served as a mediator and negotiator. This means he was a man who could get along with others, find common ground, could be persuasive and above all earned the trust of friend and foe. He married a Greek princess and clearly had Saladin’s respect, both of which suggest he was no bigot, but a man who respected other cultures. Yet he was the ultimate Christian nobleman, as his willingness to place the interests of the poor and helpless above his own pride and self-interest proves.

For those of who are not familiar with the Horns of Hattin, what are they?

Saladin annihilated the Christian army composed of about 1,200 knights, 5,000 light cavalry and 12,000 infantries at the Battle of Hattin on July 4, 1187. The battle took place on a plateau above the Sea of Galilee that is bordered on the east by two dramatic hills that rise up from the valley of the Jordan. From a distance, these hills look vaguely like the horns of an ox. The term “the Horns of Hattin” is nothing more than a synonym for the Battle of Hattin. When I say that Balian “escaped from the Horns of Hattin,” I mean simply that he was one of only three noblemen, a few hundred knights and 3,000 Christian fighting men who survived the battle as a free man. The vast majority of the Christian host was either killed or taken captive.

He lived an extraordinary life. What fascinates you the most about him?

The fact that he was both an extraordinary diplomat and a courageous commander, and the fact that he moved among royalty like an equal yet never lost his humility and humanity.  It doesn’t hurt, however, that as a landless knight he captured the heart of a princess – something straight out of a fairy tale, or that he organized women, children and clerics into a fighting force so effective that they fought off the victorious armies of Saladin for almost ten days. Perhaps it is the fact that Balian was so multifaceted that fascinated me most.

When the Christians were enslaved by the Saracens, what did they endure?

Slavery is one of the most abhorrent practices known to man. It is equally repellent in the Ancient world, the Middle Ages, pre-Civil War America or today.  Regardless of place or period, slaves are first and foremost dehumanized, they are subjected to extreme brutality, contempt, cruelty, overwork, malnutrition, sadism and torture. What struck me as particularly repulsive the context of this book, however, was a passage written by Salah ad-Din’s secretary Imad ad-Din in which he gleefully delights and glorifies in the humiliations to which Christian women and girls captured in Jerusalem were subjected, “bringing a smile to Muslim faces at their lamentations.” (Source: al-Fath al-Qussi fi-l-Fath al-Qudsi, paragraphs 47 – 69.)  Mostly, he gleefully describes how “well-guarded women were profaned… nubile girls married, and noble women given away, and miserly women forced to yield themselves, and women who had been kept hidden stripped of their modesty, and serious women made ridiculous, and women kept in private now set in public, and free women occupied, and precious ones used for hard work and pretty things put to the test, and virgins dishonored and proud women deflowered” etc. etc. (This goes on for nearly a page.) Although not specifically mentioned, Muslim practice at this time also often included female genital mutilation of slave girls. I would like to highlight, however, that women trafficked today suffer similar fates. I urge readers not to take my word for it, but to investigate modern slavery, particularly in the Middle East.

Did you have any changing emotions while writing this story? If so, what were they?

I generally identify very strongly with my characters, following them on their, often tumultuous, emotional journey. That entails a lot of ups and downs. One thing I felt strongly with this book, however, was that it was my best ever. I’ve often said that my books are my children and I love them all, while recognizing that they each have their faults. “Envoy of Jerusalem,” undoubtedly has its flaws too, but I nevertheless feel that it is the most mature, profound, and significant of the books I’ve written to date.

What are your personal motivations in story-telling?

Good question. I wish I knew! I’ve been writing since I was in second grade and the compulsion to imagine the lives of others, to write them down in a way that engages the interest of readers, and then share those stories publicly has been a constant of my life ever since. Nor can I explain why one story appeals to me more than others. There are probably millions of true life stories – much less fictional stories – that are fascinating, educational, uplifting, fun, amusing etc. I don’t know why one historical figure ignites in me a passion to write about him/her, and others don’t.

However, looking back over what I have written, I’m clearly attracted to by the idea of correcting common misconceptions about an age or society by writing an alternative but accurate depiction of that society/age via an inspiring character. For example, most people think of Sparta as a brutal, barren place occupied by a bunch of uneducated thugs who take orders like robots. Not true, hence my six books set in ancient Sparta. Likewise, it is still commonplace for people to dismiss the crusades and crusaders as religious fanatics, cultural imperialists and brutal aggressors. Again, none of that is true, so I chose the truly inspiring character of Balian d’Ibelin to tell the truth about the crusader states in a (what I hope) is an engaging and exciting way.

But there is another motivation at work as well: my overall goal to inspire people to go on living by providing real-life examples of humans (not aliens, super-beings, fantasy creatures or fictional characters) who have overcome adversity, resisted temptation, demonstrated courage and compassion, found and given love, made meaningful sacrifices and changed the world for the better.

What are you currently working on?

“Envoy of Jerusalem” does not end with Balian’s death because thematically the book is centered on the loss of the territory and people of Jerusalem and the price of recovering both. With the Treaty of Ramla, both these issues find a natural conclusion. But lives and history continues.

The historical record for the period 1193-1204 in Outremer is far less complete than for the Third Crusade.  Even scholars who have dedicated their lives to a study of the Holy Land in this period admit to having many unanswered questions. That is a gold-mine for a historical novelist since I can extrapolate and hypothesize based on the few facts we have, but weave a story that suits my own thematic goals.

My work-in-progress pieces together a plausible story about the establishment of the Lusginan dynasty on the island of Cyprus and how the Ibelins came to be so extraordinarily influential there. (It is far more complex than most superficial or condensed accounts would have you believe!) Suffice it to say that the Templars had abandoned Cyprus because they were not strong enough to put down a rebellion by the Greek population. Although Guy de Lusignan “bought” the island in April 1192, in a little over two years he was dead, and it was his brother Aimery and Aimery’s Ibelin wife Eschiva (who readers will recognize as a stalwart secondary characters throughout the Jerusalem trilogy), who founded the Lusignan dynasty on Cyprus. Thematically, the book is about “post conflict reconstruction” (in modern political jargon), in which Maria Comnena, as a Greek princess, plays a crucial role.

Where can reader buy your book?

“Envoy of Jerusalem” is available from either amazon.com or Barnes and Noble, or can be ordered at your local bookstore. I highly recommend the paperback, despite being somewhat more expensive, because of the genealogy tables, maps and glossary that can be hard to flip back-and-forth to in the ebook version.

Thank you, Helena!

Author Website HERE

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Helena Schrader who is the author of, ENVOY OF JERUSALEM, 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, ENVOY OF JERUSALEM, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


More about Helena Schrader:

Helena graduated with honors in History from the University of Michigan, added a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from Patterson School, University of Kentucky, and rounded off her education with a PhD in History cum Laude from the University of Hamburg, awarded for a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She worked in the private sector as a research analyst, and an investor relations manager in both the U.S. and Germany.

Helena published her first book in 1993, when her dissertation was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published three additional non-fiction books, starting with “Sisters in Arms” about women pilots in WWII, “The Blockade Breakers” about the Berlin Airlift, and “Codename Valkyrie,” a biography of General Olbricht, based on her dissertation.

Helena has also published historical novels set in World War Two, Ancient Sparta and the Crusades. “St. Louis’ Knight” won the Bronze in both the Historical Fiction and Spiritual/Religious Categories of the Feathered Quill Literary Awards 2014. Her latest project, a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin in three parts, got off to a great start when “Knight of Jerusalem” earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was selected as a Finalist for the 2014 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. The second book in the series did even better: “Defender of Jerusalem” took the “Silver” for spiritual/religious fiction in the 2015 Feathered Quill Awards, won the Chaucer Award for Medieval Historical Fiction, was a finalist for the M.M.Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, and was awarded “Silver” by Readers’ Favorites in the category Christian Historical Fiction. It too is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

Helena a career American diplomat, currently serving in Africa. In June 2010 she was awarded the “Dr. Bernard LaFayette Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting the Institutionalization of Nonviolence Ideals in Nigeria” by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria.