A little while ago, 1PlaceForRomance did an author spotlight on me. Here it is for those of you who missed it:
Tell us about your current release. It’s a historical novel based on the life of James Brooke. In the middle of the 19th century he went Borneo where, in exchange for some help that he gave to the native ruler, he was given his own small country. It was called Sarawak and he and his family continued to rule it for around 100 years. The story concentrates on some of the conflicts in the early years of his rule. It’s principally a romantic adventure but it does also touch on some serious issues about the nature of colonialism and what happens when people become militarily involved in the affairs of other countries. I tried to keep it short and relatively light with lots of romance and excitement compared to the more serious bits.
Tell us about your next release. I’m working on a novel based on the Indian Mutiny. It should be ready to be published this year but it won’t be if I don’t put my head down and write more.
Where do you research for your books? I used to spend a lot of time in quite specialist libraries but, thanks to the wonder of the internet, I’m now able to do most of my research from home. My first book is based in Sarawak and I did visit there, though the idea of the book came after the visit, so it hardly counts as research. I’m working on a book set in Argentina and I did spend some time specifically researching there. I’m also writing about India and I’d love to get there too but I don’t think I’m going to make it.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they? Start writing. There’s no preparation like putting those words on paper. Write anything. Then be critical, tear it up and write something else. Keep on until you’re happy with it, then show it to other people, take their comments on board, tear it up and write something else. Repeat until you have something you can submit to an agent. Take their comments on board… You know where this is going by now, don’t you?
Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask? Yes, occasionally, which is nice. They ask about whether Brooke really was gay, which seems much more of an issue than I would ever have expected. And I get questions about the history of Sarawak which have me desperately running for my notes. When Anthony Brooke died recently, a few people picked up on this and asked me about him. I had never heard of him before he died. He lived long after the time I was writing about and he was never technically the Rajah but I read up about his life and he does seem to have been a very interesting character. I blogged about him if anyone wants to know more. (http://thewhiterajah.blogspot.com/2011/03/rip-anthony-brooke.html)
What are you passionate about these days? Dancing the tango. It’s a passionate dance.
What hobbies do you actively pursue? I dance tango, I ski and I spend a lot of time rollerblading.
What would we find under your bed? Lots and lots of tango shoes. (There’s a theme developing here, isn’t there?)
What do you do to unwind and relax? I go to a small place in the country miles away from anywhere with no phone or TV. While I’m there I read a lot and go for long walks. It’s lovely.