Stephanie: Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.
Hello Deborah! It is a pleasure to chat with you again. Please tell me about your book, A Divided Inheritance.
A Divided Inheritance is about Elspet Leviston, a lace-trader’s daughter who loses her inheritance to a mysterious cousin – the hot-headed swordsman Zachary Deane. Elspet must leave her beloved English home and go to Seville to confront him. On the way she finds courage persistence, and much greater self-reliance. She also finds love in unexpected places.
Stephanie: How much research was involved and will you please tell me a little about it?
Each of my novels takes about eighteen months. For this novel I researched by using archives and museums for the part set in London, and then I travelled to Seville to take photographs and visit locations for the Spanish part of the book. I also corresponded with various experts on swordplay, the almost-forgotten Morisco culture, and the art of lace-making.
Stephanie: What was your inspiration for this story?
I wanted a strong female protagonist, but found it was hard to give my heroine much of importance to do in the shuttered society of seventeenth century London. In the end I decided I would have to make her grow strong through the events of the book. This proved to be a much more satisfying arc to write.
At the same time as I was mulling over this, I came across a fascinating book about 17th century fencing masters and thought it would be interesting to research women who fought using rapiers and to find out more about whether any women used these training techniques. I have an interest in this through practising swordplay through martial arts. The particular Spanish training method I was researching is an esoteric system designed to produce a kind of ‘Renaissance man’ – or in this case, woman. I was also interested in a period of history in Spain where there was massive cultural change and Phillip II expelled a large population of Spanish citizens – an act that divided families and was to impoverish Spain for generations. So this seemed an ideal backdrop for my family drama.
Stephanie: Tell me a little about Elspet Leviston. What are her strengths and weaknesses?
At the beginning of the book she fits into a role cast for her by her old-fashioned scholarly father. When things go wrong she must find persistence and courage to get what she wants. Her journey leads her to discover there are many ways to live, and opens her eyes to new possibilities.
Stephanie: If your story was to become a movie. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book?
I was very impressed with the film ‘Alatriste’ which I watched for some of my research into the Spanish fighting arts, and so I’d go for Viggo Mortensen. I also loved him in Lord of the Rings. For the female lead role I would choose Anne Hathaway who when she played Jane Austen had the quality of Englishness appropriate for my female lead Elspet Leviston..
Stephanie: Where is your favorite place in your home to write?
Generally I write from my home office on an ancient computer, but my favourite time of year is the summer when you can find me with my stack of notebooks and research books in our garden summerhouse.
Stephanie: Do you have a favorite coffee or tea by your side while writing?
Tetley tea and a chocolate brownie (I hope!)
Stephanie: Who are your influences?
Anything and everything. I read voraciously – all sorts of things, not just historical. I’m in a book club too, so I read stuff for that. I analyse what works and what doesn’t in terms of storytelling to try to improve my craft. I like listening to radio and reading poetry too, so I guess it all seeps in somehow.
Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?
I’m working on a Teen novel about a real 17th century character. I’ve never attempted a teen novel before, but thought it would be nice to tempt some younger readers with a love of English history!
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
e-book from Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/A-Divided-Inheritance-ebook/dp/B00CYM19CA/
e-book from Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Divided-Inheritance-Deborah-Swift-ebook/dp/B00CYM19CA/
UK Paperback from Amazon UK or bookshops http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Divided-Inheritance-Deborah-Swift/dp/033054344X/
US Paperback from Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Divided-Inheritance-Deborah-Swift/9780330543446
Many thanks to Stephanie!
You can find me on twitter @swiftstory
Or at www.deborahswift.com
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/adividedinheritancetour
Twitter Hashtag: #DividedInheritanceTour