Tell us your latest news.
Seriously? I’m still alive: it was in doubt right over the period when Dynasty of Deceit, which I’d put on pre-order, was launched on December 3rd 2016 and well into January this year. My best friend welcomed me back to the internet with the remark that research could be carried too far! Readers of Illicit Passion will know what she meant.
When and why did you begin writing?
“Mother said I was a dancer before I could walk” (Abba – Thank You for The Music). In other words, I made up stories in my head before I could write. I was an only child and we lived well outside a very small village; cuddly toys led an exciting fantasy life. I completed my first book when I was eight: They Gave Me Macushla, a pony story set in Ireland, where I’d never been, and the only good thing about it is I finished it, all 3000 words! Oh, and the grammar and punctuation are correct.
Have you ever finished reading a book (OR...been intrigued by a synopsis) and wished you could get to know one of the characters a little better? Well, you’re in luck. Get to know Michael Marsh, The Diamond Superstar...
Michael, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? Is there anything you would like your fans to know about you that maybe wasn't revealed in your story?
I was born in a very poor part of Leeds, a city in the north of England, the youngest of three children. My father died saving a child’s life, pushing her out of the way of a speeding car, and I saw it happen. Readers will know that, but not that I suffered from nightmares about it for years..
Tell me about your reputation and how it has impact your life and your relationship?
My reputation is mixed. I worked very hard, with Lizzie’s help, to become a superstar, and my fans see me as sexy: a man they dream is in love with them. I made a terrible mistake with Lisette, which Lizzie helped me cover up, but an enemy revealed it to the media and journalists ignore “unproven” if it gets in the way of a good story: one foot wrong and they resurrect the scandal.
Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wished you had done differently?
I regret not taking Lizzie on foreign tours with me, and the children in school holidays. I left her alone in England, and Lisette and James didn’t recognise me when I walked in the door. Rarely seeing me was the root cause of Lisette’s “crush” on me, The Diamond Superstar. It would have avoided so much if she’d known her father well.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I know where I’d like to be, and with whom. It depends on what happens in Sweet Temptation. My scribe, Sarah, hasn’t finished it yet.
Describe something that happened to you for which you have no explanation?
Emerald eyes “watching me” and sensing a friendly presence in the hall at Kinloch House. I believe my mother-in-law, Margaret Cameron, could have explained it, but she never did.
What was the best compliment you have ever received?
Lizzie chose independence and gave it up, for me, and said so, in her own way.
“We only have one life. No second chances. No, I got that wrong. Go back and try again. This is our life, our chance to make it together, and we will, if you stay with me.”
Mountains or Beach?
Mountains: Lizzie came from the Western Highlands of Scotland.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Nobody, Melanie. I have enough trouble with the women in my life without another!
Now, let’s get to know Sarah a little better with the rest of her in-depth interview...
What inspired you to write your first book?
It was who, not what. I bumped into, literally, a real showbiz superstar or, more accurately, he bumped into me. Like Lisette, Michael’s eldest daughter in Dangerous Liaisons, I owned every CD he’d issued. Driving home from shopping I stopped at a pub in the village nearest to home to book a table for dinner. It was very quiet, only one man with his back to me leaning on the bar. The landlord came and noted the date, time and table size I wanted and I turned to leave. “Your lunch is ready. Where would you like it bringing?” The landlord wasn’t talking to me and I assumed his customer had answered with a nod and gone to sit down. No! He’d decided on the garden. HE stopped me falling and invited me to join him. Would you have said no, even with a bag of frozen food in the back of your car? I sure didn’t! It was he who told me about the loneliness of long absences on concert tours once a wife is tied down with children. In his case, it ended in divorce, but I started to think “What if it didn’t? What if… What if…” and the root of the plot for the Royal Command series was born.
How did you come up with the title?
A thesaurus is very useful when you know what you want to say, but not quite how.
How much of the book is realistic? And is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
All the background settings are realistic, partly from research but more of it from experience. Dangerous Liaisons opens on a Scottish shooting estate: the ex-gamekeeper who helped with my research was “ex” because he’d become sickened with the people he served. He cared for deer so they could shoot the best for trophy heads, raised pheasants, and organised beaters to frighten them into flying towards the guns, to give then “a good bag” to boast about. I’d been a member of the League Against Cruel Sports from a teenager and his stories made me look further, to endangered species worldwide. The message behind the Royal Command series is if we ignore the plight, and the suffering, of threatened groups of animals they will become extinct and Earth will be the poorer for their loss.
The setting moves to London, a city I know well and love, and various theatre managements have been very helpful, but most of my insider knowledge comes from a period when I lived in Wales and provided trained dogs for the musicals and plays staged at Aberystwyth University’s Arts Theatre during the vacations. These were professional productions, many on their pre-West End run, and it was a marvellous opportunity to see how things were done, and to talk to directors, choreographers, stagehands, and the actors. I met producers, like Clement Fynn, only less eccentric, through my association with the Northern Ballet. It does mean the showbiz characters are realistic. The message behind Michael and Lisette’s story is that fame and fortune come at a high personal cost.
What books have influenced your life most? A mentor?
I met the late, great, Mary Stewart, (Nine Coaches Waiting, This Rough Magic etc.) who was born, and worked as a teacher, near where I’ve lived for the last few years. Lady Mary was the first to combine love stories with mystery and danger; she created the genre Romantic Suspense. She read the first draft of Dangerous Liaisons. “The couple should meet in the first chapter, even if they hate each other.” Draft two was underway; arguing with the first lady of your chosen genre would be crazy, and the book would never have won a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal, albeit several drafts later.
What book are you reading now?
On Distant Shores by Rebecca Bryn.
Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
Linda Lee Lane. I reviewed her book, Katterina Ballerina, for Readers’ Favorite. It was her first book and it needed work, but it was a superb first effort at a children’s book.
What are your current projects?
I’m writing Sweet Temptation, book four in the Royal Command series, and continuing to review books for Readers’ Favorite.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sweet Temptation introduces Evie, one of the detectives Michael employed to find out who killed Lizzie in Dynasty of Deceit, as a major character. Also, Greta, Michael’s youngest daughter, who is developing an interest in boys, and keeping quiet about it.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping track of the characters’ ages. The Royal Command saga spans over forty years and that means a huge, and changing, cast.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you can afford a proof-reader, employ one. If you can’t, find beta readers and ask them to mark everything they spot from missed quote marks to a misspelled name. Before you send them a draft, use a spell and grammar check, isolate all your common mistakes – mine is he’s when it should be he’d – and use “find” on them. (He’s brings up she’s too.)
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please take the time to write a review and post it on Amazon Com, the Amazon site from which you bought it, if different, and Goodreads. Very few do, compared to sales and Kindle Unlimited pages read: their feedback can be incredibly helpful, to potential readers and, even more, to the author.
Do you remember the first book you read?
I must go back to my mother to answer this; I didn’t read Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, or not as a child. Like my father singing opera, which encouraged me to like classical music, she looked on a chapter from a Charles Dickens novel as a suitable bedtime story. I’m not sure, but I think the first she read to me was A Christmas Carol. I can’t ask her, she died when I was only nineteen.
Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
History, as readers will have guessed from the Book of Hours that “belonged” to Margaret Tudor. It was fascinating to find a gap when she could have had an illegitimate child, and the freedom from James IV of Scotland seeing her pregnant. Travel: there are countries in the world I’ve never visited, and one I’d rather I hadn’t, but I’ve been to everywhere I use in my books, except Kraków in Poland. I couldn’t resist using the Tauron Arena, which seats eighteen thousand people, for the final concert of Lisette and Michael’s European tour in Illicit Passion. I’ve had a dog, or dogs, most of my life: the dog who played Sandy in the musical, Annie, was my first step into show business. Wildlife, especially endangered species and discarded pets: the reason I donate 100% of my royalties to animal conservation and rescue charities. The dog curled up beside me now came from The Blue Cross, a UK animal shelter.