Tag Archives: historical novels

Interview with Historical Novel Society presenter Erika Mailman

erika-mailman1-269x300I am happy to introduce writer Erika Mailman, author of The Witches Trinity and Woman of Ill Fame. Erika will be co-presenting at the Historical Novel Society Conference: “The Witchcraft Window: Scrying the Past” with writer panelists Kathleen Kent, Mary Sharrattand Suzy Witten.

Sounds like a bewitching topic and session!  And make sure you visit Erika’s website as she has an interesting story of coincidence to share about her family history and witches…

Do you have a most interesting question or crazy anecdote related to your writing you would like to share?

em_024_175x2641As a child, I was always fascinated by witchcraft and remember reading everything I could get my hands on regarding the topic. I quickly learned it wasn’t pointy hats and riding brooms, but incredible suffering and persecution in part of Europe’s darkest hours. I remember staring at a family tree that hung in our stairwell, penned in some ancestor’s ancient hand, and spotting the name Alvira Cresey. I thought for sure she must be my witchcraft ancestor. It wasn’t until I was an adult, in the middle of writing the book later published as The Witch’s Trinity, that I learned I was the descendant of a woman accused of witchcraft. I received an email from my mother, forwarding one she’d received, that provided a link to information on Mary Bliss Parsons, who underwent trial at least twice and was acquitted. She died of old age. It was supremely uncanny to be working on this novel and learn of my connection to my ancestor of eleven generations ago—the lineage is so direct that my mother bears the Parsons name. She grew up in Southampton, Mass., and Mary Bliss Parsons had lived in nearby Northampton and Springfield (both villages where she was accused). My family had been very proud of its history and, we thought, well-informed, since I remember hearing about Mary’s husband, Cornet Joseph Parsons, a founding father. Yet somehow Cornet’s wife’s dark history had not been similarly passed down.

Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?

em_011_175x275It’s funny, a friend and I were talking about this recently. Why are we so avidly drawn to some historical periods, and some that we have zero interest in? I personally adore anything from the Victorian era and feel deep affinity to the French Revolution—but am left cold by the 1940s. In fact, one of my all-time favorite authors is Sarah Waters. I love her work and am in awe of her intricate plot mapping. I have read everything of hers and adored it—with the exception of The Night Watch, set in the ‘40s, which I have not been able to bring myself to read. In fact, I recently held it in my hands again recently and considered that I really ought to read it…and gently, lovingly placed it back.

Thank you Erika for the interview and see you at the HNS Conference June 21-13 in St. Petersburg, FL!



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Book Reviews: Historical Novel Society

hns-twitter[1]I am pleased to announce in February I will begin writing eBook reviews for the Historical Novel Society.

Please visit the Historical Novel Society Indie Book Reviews page at:  http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/?type=indie .

About the Historical Novel Society:

Founded in 1997 the HNS was conceived to campaign for the literary genre of historical fiction.  Two magazines were developed for this cause: Solander (no longer being published as of 2011) and Historical Novels ReviewTo date, the HNS has reviewed 5,272 historical books, making it the preeminent clearing house for historical fiction in the English language. These reviews and 108 featured articles can be viewed online at: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/ As an international society HNS aims to review all US and UK mainstream published titles, and as many other historical novels written in the English language worldwide, along with the desire to eventually cover foreign language titles as well.

The organization is based in the UK and USA and membership is open to the world — to anyone with an interest in historical fiction: readers, writers, publishers, editors  ̶  yes everyone!

In addition to the review print magazine and online reviews, the HNS facilitates writers’ conferences and social media groups, creating spaces to bring together the excitement, knowledge, exchange, and love of historical novels.

For more information visit: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/

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The Next Big Thing

Stephanie Renee dos Santos

Stephanie Renee dos Santos

I am delighted to have been introduced to The Next Big Thing — an author blog hop — by the passionate writer and book reviewer Darlene Elizabeth Williams whose blog:  http://darleneelizabethwilliamsauthor.com/ reviews the latest historical fiction, and has information about her upcoming historical novels.  Visit her site to read engaging book reviews and learn about her books, all very interesting…Before moving on, I would like to talk briefly about these words “The Next Big Thing” as initially I have issues with giving power to them. For what isbig” to one person is “insignificant” to another.  What matters is to follow our calling, to express, to share, to explore — to write.

With this said...a few words by author Marianne Williamson:

(label, substitute, and call “God” what you want– for me it is the “Infinite Energy of the Universe”)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – A Return To Love: Reflection on the Principles of a Course in Miracles

I have been asked the following questions:

portwalwindow.jpg1. What is the working title of your book?


2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came on a solo painting trip I took to the Peruvian Amazon in 2006.  To read the whole story click here! The Story Behind the Story

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Historical Fiction/Adventure

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Johnny Depp, George Clooney or Antonio Banderas as Piloto; Robin Tunney or Penelope Cruz as Paulina; Will Smith as Babau; I am still mulling over who would play Makiki…?

*It would be ideal to cast Portuguese and Brazilian actors for the parts but I don’t know which ones! So, I’ve stayed with names I am familiar with for now.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

CUT FROM THE EARTH is a story of eighteenth century Portuguese tile and of love  —  defying gender and class  —  and the power of nature and love to heal.

* For more information visit my blog’s  Historical Novel page and read the excerpt.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Currently, my plan is for the book to be represented by an agency.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote the first draft in roughly 6 months in 2010. But this is after spending 4 years learning Portuguese to do the research.  During this time and throughout the writing/rewriting process, I read and researched the history of the time period and traveled to many of the places where the book voyages.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

CUT FROM THE EARTH has similarities in storyline and subject matter with historical thriller/adventure novel Pompeii by Robert Harris, while blending with artist based historical novel, Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

CUT FROM THE EARTH is inspired by my love of Portuguese tile, the beautiful hardwoods of the Amazon, and to explore why one finds azulejos in the Amazon and Amazonian hardwoods in the churches and estates of Europe.  In addition, the story is inspirited by my desire to shine light on the often unheard voices and the contributions of minorities and females in the history of the arts.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think readers will be interested to learn about the real life event: The Great Lisbon Earthquake that struck Lisbon, Portugal on November 1st, 1755 , All Saints Day. When the vast majority of the city’s population was at church. The incident was followed by tsunami waves and mass fire. These disasters affected the whole of Europe in the eighteenth century, and today these historical events and what they triggered are little known, but the history is fascinating.

painting Lisbon for blogReaders will gain insight about the Mocambo: the predominately black neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon — uniquely in existence in a European capital since the sixteenth century.

Figura de Convite, Invitation figure

Figura de Convite, Invitation figure

And, art lovers will be curious to learn about the eighteenth century Portuguese  contribution to the art of tile making  —  the innovation of the figura de convite  —  a life-sized invitation figure that was placed at the head of stair landings and patios to welcome visitors.  What is special about this invention is that it is the first time in the history of tile making that the tile composition deviated from the square tile and embraced the outline of the cut-out figure, which opened up a plethora of new design possibilities. Had this not been developed, we may never have had the cardboard movie theater life-sized cut-out of Marilyn Monroe…who knows?

It’s my pleasure to tag the following three talented writers from varying genres in the order they will be posting on their blogs…to carry this blog hop forward:

T.C Paulson will post on January 12th 2013 – http://succumbing.wordpress.com/ – A technical writer by day, a confessionalist poet and novelist by night — she explores imagination, spirit, and the anthropology of existence. Tsena writes about what she knows: pain, pleasure, suffering, peace, victory, loss, joy, demons, angels, daughters, mothers, lovers, and friends. She shares her poetry at open mics around the Pacific Northwest of Washington State, USA. Soak up her works at (you won’t be disappointed!) :  http://succumbing.wordpress.com/. Her current novels-in-progress are too secret to reveal as this time…

Andrew Shattuck McBride will post on January 13th 2013 – http://andrewsmcbride.wordpress.com/Washington State-based writer and editor, Andrew has poems published or forthcoming in anthologies and journals including Platte Valley Review, Magnapoets, Caesura, Haibun Today, and Clover, A Literary Rag. He has edited four poetry collections and a historical novel.  Currently, he is working on a chapbook titled: Reclaiming Air: Poems; a collection of linked short stories; and a new project of  lyric essays.   To delight your senses and to enjoy word play visit Andrew’s blog: www.andrewsmcbride.wordpress.com or editor’s blog: http://yourwritingcoach.wordpress.com/ .

Christian De Benedetti will post on January 27th, 2013 – http://christiandebenedetti.wordpress.com/ .  A freelance writer whose hop charged words have enriched the pages of The New York Times, Esquire, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, GQ, Weekly Pint, and Eaters.  He is also author of the award-winning book:  The Great American Ale Trail:  The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation,  THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation .  Christian is a very busy writer.  Also, he is one of the masterminds behind, “The Bräuler” a stainless steel growler– used to transport or store your favorite brewed beer, for more information see:  http://thezythosproject.com/.


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Writing Resolutions 2013

Journal-avatar-300x300[1]              Fortitude.



I resolve to continue reaching out to writers and readers around the world –building  community around the love of literature.

And to temper my consumption of fried fish.

Because what we eat affects our ability to think and write –some things help and others hinder. For I have found feasting upon fried fish is a creative clogger!  No big surprise.  (My husband is an artisanal fisherman…)

Currently, I am in the final rewrite of a historical novel: Cut From The EarthA story of 18th century Portuguese tile and of love — defying gender and class — and the power of nature and love to guide and  heal.

* Please see my blog page Historical Novel for more information and to read an excerpt.

I vow to complete this book and to do my best to find a literary agent to represent it in 2013.

Happy New Year writers and readers of the world!

Stephanie Renee dos Santos

Journal Avatar to Link Back to Blog HopClick this photo & connect with the Writing Resolution Blog Hop! Organized by author Meg Waite Clayton.

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Living Your Stories

Two Three Portugues fish tilesWhen writing historical fiction, I believe, it is helpful for the writer to live as much as you can the activities of your characters: eat the foods, listen to the music, craft the art they make, and take the physical journey of the story (of course, if this is financially and time wise possible for the writer, which is not the case for everyone nor every book).

In my case, while rewriting my current work-in-progress, Cut From The Earth, a story about the 18th century famous Portuguese tile maker, monogram PMP, and his shop  ̶  I made azulejos, tiles.  The act of creating the Portuguese tiles gave me the chance to understand the materials and struggles and process of tile making, which is an integral part of the book and lends real authenticity.  The result of taking such action as a writer is a deep understanding of one’s characters.  The photo included with this post is the result of living my characters artistic process.

It is common for writers to visit the physical locations of one’s story, but I like to take it one step further  ̶  the physical reenactment of the story as it evolves in my imagination while based on historical information.  For Cut From The Earth, I walked the routes of my story while visiting and doing research in Lisbon, Portugal; and I traveled by boat from Belém to Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, seeing and living as much as I could my characters voyage in these places.

I realize it is a luxury to be able to do this, but it is all part of the fun for me  ̶  to live portions of my stories. Blessed is the spirit of adventure in everyday life, and infusing it into historical fiction.

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