I’m always happy to have historicals, and this one tips into one of my favorite moments in history and gives it a nice spin.
The book is Queen Mary’s Daughter by Emily-Jane Hills Orford, a historical fiction/fantasy.
There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person’s life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?
“Queen Mary’s Daughter” presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.
Chatting with the Author.
Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including Gerlinda(CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention.
I asked Emily-Jane why does she write, and this is what she told me.
For me, it’s a passion. A day without reading is like a day without sunshine. I am a writer. I am a storyteller, a descendent of many storytellers, a passionate believer in the simple fact that life is a story just waiting to be told. All that a life story needs is a writer to believe in the story, to believe in its worth, to write the story.
This mantra has been my belief, the power that has pushed me onwards, from the beginning of my writing career. It’s what drives me to write more. It’s what keeps me writing when the rejection letters and criticism start to offend my sensitive nature. It’s what moves me to write better. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. And, given my heritage, I have a talent for weaving a good tale and a vivid imagination (as my grandmother always told me) to carry it along.
I come from a long line of storytellers: my parents, my grandparents. They were all wonderful storytellers. My grandmother (we called her Gran) was an exceptional storyteller. Everything in her life was a story and she made her life into a story. She was cute, too, always starting her story with the line: “You know, Jean” (if she was talking to her daughter, my mother) or “You know, Emily” (if she was talking to me). We always knew that a story was coming when Gran said those special words: “You know,” especially when it continued with: “You know when I was your age…”
Gran didn’t live with us. In fact, she lived in another town, about an hour-and-a-half away. She would come to visit about once or twice a month, taking the bus and, most likely, talking all the way to whomever she sat beside. (Needless to say, we heard all about her travelling companion as soon as she stepped off the bus.) She would stay with us for several days, talking nonstop from the moment she arrived until she walked out the door, of course, always starting with, “You know”. One time, as she was leaving, she turned to Mom and said, “You know, Jean, maybe next time I visit we’ll have time to sit down and chat.” And this statement after a week of long, nonstop, storytelling, all starting with, “You know”.
In the end, yes, we did know a lot of Gran’s stories. By the time she was into her nineties, there were some stories that we knew better than others because she kept repeating them. It was at that point that I chose to write down what I remembered and to question Gran as much as I could to capture the other stories that she had shared so often in the past. I didn’t get them all and I’m still kicking myself today that I didn’t make a more permanent recording before she passed away. Sadly, some stories have been lost. Gran did keep a journal. We found some of them, dating as early as the 1920s, during her courting years, and others as late as the 1970s and 80s when she was doing a lot of traveling. There must have been more; but they are long gone. Gran believed in traveling light through life, a strong belief that you can’t take it with you so why keep it at all.
Gran was the inspiration that launched my writing. I started writing memoirs and creative nonfiction. And, I started with Gran’s story, using my grandmother’s journals and my mother’s memories. I called it Personal Notes, the heading that I found on one of the notepads she used to write her journal entries. My grandmother’s stories and my mother’s stories, which I have also published in a creative nonfiction book, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures, are important stories to share. My mother was a very energetic and creative individual. She raised a family, taught elementary school, did countless creative projects and inspired a whole generation of like-minded creative individuals. Photography was her forte and I called her story F-Stop, using the lens adjustment of ‘real’ cameras (before digitals took over) as a metaphor for her life. In fact, F-Stop could be a metaphor of anyone’s life, as we all go through our lives making adjustments as we go along.
These stories, my stories, can be defined, described as creative nonfiction: writing a story about a real event, a real person, a real life. Writing, after all, reflects our lives, our individuality, our personalities. Writing, (whether it’s fiction or nonfiction) is about us, ourselves.
Perhaps the ideal of writing what we know, writing about ourselves, our families, our lives, will not guarantee manuscript sales. However, it does guarantee that, in our writing, we are true to ourselves. We have to remember that what we write is permanent and we should ask ourselves if we want future generations to read, to really read, all that we have written. If we can truthfully answer ‘yes’, then we have found our inner voice, our writer’s voice.
I have to believe that I am being true to myself as I venture from one story-writing adventure to another. The world is full of stories just waiting to be told. On a recent CBC radio interview, I was asked why I thought my mother’s story was so important, why my mother’s life was so significant that I should write an entire book. When I was submitting my grandmother’s story, years ago, I frequently received rejection letters from big-name publishers telling me that they would only consider a biography of a famous person. My argument since then has been, how many books do we really need about famous people, when there are so many un-famous, more than ordinary, extra-ordinary, beyond the ordinary lives whose stories should be, need to be told. These are the stories that make our world, that define our world and our lives; these are the stories that describe who we are. Extra-ordinary people – we are all extra-ordinary, we all have a story to tell, our story.
I still love the mellow, soothing aura of storytelling and many of my stories, though sometimes delving into the realms of fantasy and science fiction, still use my own childhood memories, my fascination with history and all that I have enjoyed writing about in the past.
I continue to write little snippets of family stories and memoirs which I publish in various online and print journals, including https://insteading.com/and http://www.curiousguide.ca/. I seem to be branching off into the realm of possibilities: fantasies and science fiction, but all with a foot firmly planted in my roots, my family and my vivid imagination. “Queen Mary’s Daughter” evolved from my shared passion with my grandmother for Scottish history. My recently released Middle Grade fantasy novel, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” (TellTale Publishing), explores my memories, dreams and fantasies of growing up in a haunted house.
My writing has evolved as my interests expanded. As a book reviewer, I read all genres of books. These books inspire me. As do my creative writing students, of all ages. So much imagination. So many ideas to explore. The realms of possibilities are endless.
Most importantly, I keep focused on my writing. Every day. Regardless of the number of rejections I receive, I keep writing. My word, my written word is eternal. As I reach out to find my inner voice, my own unique, individual voice, I frequently ask myself, what is it that makes a life so special? For me, all life is special. Real and imaginary. Neither my mother nor my grandmother was rich and famous. Perhaps the ‘special’-ness of these people is the simple act of someone believing in them enough to write their stories, making that special person immortal. For the written word is eternal.
For more about the author or the story, follow the Tour here:
If you want to keep in touch with Emily-Jane, here’s where you can find her.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Emily-Jane Hills Orford will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.