Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today we are headed into the past here at My Writing Corner as we welcome author Laura Strickland, who writes of the tales of Robin Hood and the magic of Sherwood Forest. Her latest book is Champion of Sherwood. Laura, we’d like to know about your writing journey.  How did you get started?

First of all, I’d like to thank you for having me here today, Rebecca.  It’s a real treat!  I began writing because I loved reading so much.  As a child, I was very fortunate to have an older sister who loved to read.  Every Saturday she would take me to our small, local library and turn me loose to prowl the shelves in the children’s and young adult sections.  Oh, how I loved those visits – the quiet of the library, the smell of the books and the promise of untold, imaginary worlds just waiting for me between their covers.  I considered it a great privilege to be trusted with the armful of titles I chose and took home.
But when I found a book in which I could really immerse myself, I enjoyed it so much I invariably felt devastated when the story ended.  Eventually it occurred to me that if I wrote the story, I could continue it as long as I liked and stay in that wonderful, magical world as long as I chose.  So I attribute my sister, Dorothy, with getting me started writing.  We also shared books quite often, and since she was ahead of me, the books she liked were always a bit beyond my reading level, which I believe stretched my abilities.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes!  As I say, my love of writing was born of my love of reading which goes way back.  I wrote my first “book” in third grade.  It was hand-printed with a construction paper cover and, I believe, had the highly original title of “The Haunted House”.  Over the years I just never stopped writing.  In high school my stories, disguised as homework, got passed around among my friends, and when I met my best friend, who’s still my best friend today, I introduced myself by telling her “I write books about Scotland.”  So it feels as if the urge to write has been my constant companion, and not a bad one to have!

You’ve written a number of books about the inhabitants of Sherwood Forest. Where did you get your interest in legends and the Sherwood Forest lore?
Oh, I’ve always loved legends and the tales of those who have gone before us.  If you visit my author’s web page, the first thing you see will be these three words: lore, legend, love.  That pretty much sums up the things about which I like to write.  I’m especially drawn to ancient Celtic and Norse legends, the magical tales of a mysterious, beautiful past. 

Before I wrote my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, I wrote a Celtic series centered in ancient Scotland and Ireland.  Four of those books are still available (just check my web page).  I believe that the history books, and some historians, underestimate those who lived before us.  The people who raised the standing stones and wrote the Celtic music we still love today couldn’t possibly have been simple peasants or ignorant savages.  In my books, I try to transport my readers back to those times and let them walk a while at our ancestors’ sides.
 It’s the same with my Sherwood books.  I wanted to get inside the skin of Robin Hood’s descendants, feel what they felt and find out what motivated them.  They were people who loved and lost and prevailed, just as we do.  We live because they did, and their hopes and victories shaped our world.

Tell us about Champion of Sherwood. What gave you the idea for this story in particular?
It’s funny, because when I wrote the first book of the Trilogy, Daughter of Sherwood, I never intended it to be Book One of a Trilogy. Not until I submitted it to my editor and she told me she wanted to contract it did the idea occur to me.  The significance of the number three is so strong in that book – three guardians hold the magic that protects Sherwood – and it became apparent there needed to be three books.  Book One was already written and I had an idea how things should end in Book Three.  In Champion of Sherwood, which is Book Two, I decided to see how far the magic of Sherwood could be bent.  Would it accept a Norman, and a born enemy into the fold?  Thus was born Gareth de Vavasour, nephew to the dreaded Sheriff of Nottingham, no less.  And I think things worked out in a quite mystical and unexpected way.

How do you research your stories or is the magic of Sherwood all in your imagination?
Most of us know at least a little about the legend of Robin Hood.  Many books have been written and many movies and television series made.  I wanted my stories to be different, so I set them after Robin’s death and centered them on his descendants and the descendants of his close companions, Little John and Will Scarlet.  I researched the time period, who was Sheriff at the time, what weaponry was available and what laws were in effect.  But the magic of Sherwood is mostly my creation.  I wanted my greenwood to be a deeply mystical place, a virtual entity with a role to play in the stories.  It’s a green, earth magic with foundations in the old religion that prefaced Christianity in Britain.  There’s nothing at variance with the true beliefs of the times.  I suspect that, deep in Sherwood, those beliefs endure yet.

What do you like best about writing in this time period?
I love showing that people who lived long ago were just like us.  They had the same hopes, fears, desires and the same talents, humor and intelligence.  I also love the dialect of the times and the mischievous way people interacted with one another.  Of course it doesn’t hurt to have good-looking Saxon and Norman men dashing about with swords or bows and arrows. And what woman wouldn’t want to spend a night with a knight in Sherwood Forest?

What are you working on now?
I’m actually immersed in three separate projects.  I’m completing a Christmas story, working on an Historical Romance set in the Highlands of Scotland, and doing editing work on my first ever Steampunk Romance.  I began reading Steampunk a short while ago, fell in love with the genre and challenged myself to try and write one.  It was great fun, and I’m hoping to submit the manuscript to a publisher soon.

What can we look forward to in the future out of Sherwood?

The third book of the Trilogy, Lord of Sherwood, is in the final stages of edits and I hope will be available this fall from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press.  Though each of the books is completely stand-alone and can be enjoyed apart from the others, the three together do make a quite magical circle.  In many ways, Lord of Sherwood is my favorite … but then we writers always say that about the last book completed, right?
What would you tell beginning writers who want to write about magic and different time periods?

Ah, what a good question!  I would tell them: first, enchant yourself!  You must believe in the magic before anyone else will.  You can’t fake this stuff; if you’re not convinced of your story, your characters and the mysticism with which you surround them, it will tell.  Drown yourself in the times in which you set your story, begin to think the way your characters would, buy into the magic you present and you’ll take your readers along with you.  I’ve had readers tell me that after reading my books they long to walk amid the magic of my Sherwood … and that’s a beautiful compliment.

How about a blurb about Champion of Sherwood?

When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life.  Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds.

Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion.  She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.
How can readers reach you or find you online?
My author web page is at: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Daughter of Sherwood is available from Amazon:

Or from The Wild Rose Press:
http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_138&products_id=5357

Champion of Sherwood is available from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Champion-Sherwood-Guardians-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00HJEHOFE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1394922697&sr=1-1&keywords=champion+of+sherwood

Or from The Wild Rose Press:
http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=5540

Thanks you, Laura , for being my guest today. We'll watch for more from the magic that is Sherwood Forest.

5 comments:

  1. Great interview ladies. I love this series and it's always fascinating to learn more about the author behind the story.

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  2. Loved your advice about writing, Laura...."enchant yourself!" I totally believe in this, since I write stories with magical/mystical elements, too. I have to "feel" the magic in order to put it into words for my readers. Wishing you all the best and I'm looking forward to reading "Champion of Sherwood."

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    1. Mary, It's great having someone else whipping up some enchantment by my side! Thanks for visiting!

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  3. Love your Sherwood Forest series, Laura. Good luck on all those various writing projects. I admire authors who can write across genres! Tweeted/shared Barb Bettis

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