Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Graham Saga - interview with Anna Belfrage, multilingual author

Anna Belfrage was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she's multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Luckily, children grow up, and now she spends most of her free time at her writing desk attempting to decipher the squiggled ideas she's jotted down over the years. Every now and then she succeeds. She was always going to be a writer. Now she is - she has achieved her dream.
     MJN: Congratulations on having A Rip in the Veil being picked as book of the month by The Review!  Tell us about your relationship with that wonderful blog that provides thoughtful and detailed exposure to indie authors.

AB: Why thank you. I am so honoured to have A Rip in the Veil selected Book of the Month – and the review that went with it was beautiful. The Review does not only review indie books – it is a site that welcomes submissions from all author and all genres and has as its purpose to showcase truly good books. This means that The Review does not publish negative reviews. My “relationship” with the blog extends to doing some reviewing for them, thereby allowing me to do what is most important for an author: read!

MJN: Let's talk a little bit about what the readers expect.  Your work involves an element of time-travel.  Based on the reviews, many readers agreed that it was a powerfully narrated novel but the element of romance was not strong enough.  Personally, by looking at the cover, I would not expect the content to be wildly erotic.  I would expect it to have a serious historical focus.  Could it be that whenever there is time travel involved, readers automatically expect it to be heavily romantic? 

AB: I’m not sure what reviews you are referring to – there are a number of reviews that definitely consider the book to be both romantic and erotic. In my opinion, the entire series centers round the intense love affair between Matthew and Alex, a love strong enough to move mountains – and the physical attraction between those two is at times extremely tangible. (I enjoy writing erotic scenes) BUT I also take the historical aspect very seriously, and spend a lot of time researching facts and events so as to create a credible historical background – after all, I build the central plotline around the historical facts. As to time traveling and romance, yes, maybe some people read time travel and immediately expect a classic romance. But from various FB groups I belong to, the majority seems to rate the historical experience as being more important than the love story.

MJN: Speaking of the novels for the Graham saga, I love the covers. They are very consistent. It's a nice balance of pale foggy background and bold lettering. 

AB: Thank you!
To me, the covers are an important way to create a visual identity, and one of the large benefits of being self-pub is that I control the covers – down to the last detail. I am also very fortunate in the man who makes sense of my instructions; seriously, at times I think Olly Bennett can read my mind! So, in brief I have strong opinions on what I want and Olly listens, says things like “can’t do that – the light would fall the wrong way” , and then gets on with it. Anyone wanting help with their covers, I’d recommend them to go to more visual and browse!

MJN: In your biographical sketch you refer to Matthew Graham as an "old-fashioned jerk".  This is a philosophical question for you as a writer and a woman.  Do you think the criteria for "jerk" has changed over the centuries, given the shifting social and moral standard?

AB: I think that what Alex perceives as being an “old-fashioned jerk”
is coloured by her modern perceptions. By the standards of his time, Matthew Graham is a man who is more accommodating than he needs to be vis-à-vis his wife. So yes, I do believe the definition of “jerk” changes with time. In the 17th century, a man who failed to protect his wife, who abandoned her, who did not take it upon himself to manage her finances and her spiritual education was a “jerk”. God help the man who attempts to spiritually educate his woman or control her finances in the here and now…

MJN: I've always been nervous about writing a series that share a common plot, because it's like having one cardiovascular system.  You take one book out of the equation, and the continuity is disrupted.  If a big NYC publisher approached you and offered to buy certain books in the series, but not all, would you take their offer?

AB: I have attempted to make them all stand-alone – to a point. Having said that, I do believe the reading experience is enhanced if they are read in order. And yes, you are right in that the continuity would be disrupted if, let’s say, one should only publish book 4. But some of the books can definitely stand entirely on their own legs, number 3 and 6, for example, so should anyone offer for those, I might be tempted.


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