In 2008 I was lucky enough to win the Romance Writers of New Zealand Second Chance Contest and one of the prizes to choose from was the Saturday and Sunday conference. My clever husband said I couldn't pass up such an amazing opportunity. I'm so glad I didn't.
On the awards night, after I'd collected my prize and returned to my seat, a gorgeous lady came to my table, congratulated me on my win, before stating she'd read my entry and loved it. She then introduced herself as SOPHIA JAMES. I managed to keep from tumbling out of my chair...but only just:)
Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented SOPHIA JAMES to Historical Hearts ~
Hi Sophia, it's wonderful to have you here.
Thanks for asking me, Alli.
You have a new book coming out on the 24th of July, titled, 'The Lady With The Devil's Scar'. Can you please tell us a little about the era, the setting and what the story is about?
The story is set in Scotland in the 1360’s when the old patriarchal laws of land ownership were changing. My heroine, Isobel Dalceann, is caught in the middle of these changes and trying to save her castle from being taken over by the King’s men. She is a damaged warrior woman, a woman who can look after herself and her people.
The hero, Marcus de Courtenay, is one of David’s mercenary soldiers who has come to reclaim the Dalceann Keep. He is a leader of the armies of Philip of France and is as ruthless as he is solitary.
Oh My Goodness! It sounds like a fabulous story with strong characters and loads of conflict. I can't wait to read it. Here's the gorgeous cover and back blurb ~
The story begins in a storm off the wild coast of Fife Ness. I imagined my heroine swimming out to a shipwreck and finding my hero drowning. Marc wore a red gilded surcoat and the image of him in this through the water was one I could not let go of.
What a powerful image and a wonderful trigger.
What is the tone of this book?
I always write in two periods; Regency and Medieval Scotland. My Medieval books are always darker and harsher. I loved the raw challenge of this book, two people caught in the changing tide of history and trying to survive in the best way that they could. Medieval knights never apologise. The nearest they get to that is a small hint of shame. It’s such a relief to write characters who are allowed to do almost anything. Isobel defies every rule of her time, and dressed in boy’s clothes with a vivid scar across her cheek she marches across her world with barely a backward glance.
Isobel sounds like a fascinating heroine.
Have some of your books been easier to write than others?
This book was one of the easier books I have written. It just seemed to flow from the characters and I loved the fact that it did. One Unashamed Night, my R*BY winner from 2011 had the same sort of ease.
How do you feel when you've finished writing a book?
Relieved. Worried that I have not quite done the story justice. Desperate to start a new book. A myriad of emotions really. I always write ‘The End Copyright Sophia James’ and that is such a good feeling of accomplishment. I then say I will open a bottle of good champagne or buy a new dress but actually I never do.
Well, I definitely think you should:)
Can you start on the next story straight away or do you need to take a break in between stories?
I usually take a break for a while and think about the next book. A big part of my writing lies in this thinking time and it can be sometimes quite a number of weeks before I feel like I can start. I am not a very fast writer, but once I know the characters I can generally begin and move quite quickly. When I write I only ever do one good draft so I never go ahead with pages until I am completely satisfied about what comes before.
Is there something in particular you strive to achieve when writing a book?
A knowledge of the characters motivations. A shared feeling of hope that even in adversity good things can shine through. I like honesty in a book. I also like intelligent heroes and heroines.
If you could give a single piece of advice from all you've learned on your writing journey so far, what would it be?
Can I give two pieces?
You can give as many as you'd like:)
Never underestimate your reader’s intelligence and always thread in layers of questions across the first five chapters. This will help the story blossom out into a book and keep your reader with you as you move on to explain the secrets.
Thanks for this priceless advice.
Is there anyone in particular you draw inspiration from?
Joanna Bourne, Diana Gabaldon, Judith Mc Naught, Julie Garwood. These are the authors whom I have read and reread. How do they make their books so marvellous? I wish I knew.
I think your books are marvellous, too:)
Now for a few fun questions ~
Your favourite season? Spring.
Favourite flower? Violets.
Favourite time of day/night? Evening.
Favourite food? Cherries.
Favourite way to relax? Walking.
Sophia, thank you so much for sharing part of you and your writing life with us here at Historical Hearts.
If anyone would like to know more about Sophia's fabulous books please visit her website here ~ www.sophiajames.net
Sophia has kindly offered to giveaway 2 copies of her up-coming release, 'The Lady With The Devil's Scar' to 2 lucky people who leave a comment.
All you need to do is tell me the names of the hero and the heroine of her new book 'Lady With The Devil’s Scar.’