THE GRAHAM SAGA
First of all, thank you dear ladies at bookworm2bookworm for inviting me to post on your blog. Being a bookworm myself, I feel quite comfortable in your company! And now, with no more ado, let us leap straight into the fun facts about The Graham Saga:
1. At last! After years of futilely trying everything from mystic mumblings in the darkness of my wardrobe (I was young and had overdosed on Narnia) to touching every single stone circle I came upon, I had more or less given up on time travelling. And then Alex Lind popped into my head, a vibrant woman born in 1976 – and presently living out her life in the 17th century. Yay! Time travelling by proxy – a much safer approach than the real thing.
“Huh,” says Alex, giving me a look that should reasonably have frozen the blood in my veins to ice, “why must you subject me to all this… this…”
“Adventure?” I offer.
“Chaos! Upheaval!” she retorts. She rubs at her hip, at present very sore after her recent encounter with some bad-ass characters down in Barbados.
“Do you want me to write you back to your own time?” I ask, even if I know what the answer will be. Alex can no more live without her 17th century husband – wonderful, gorgeous Matthew, complete with magic hazel eyes and a slow smile that has Alex (and me) melting like a popsicle whenever he turns it our way – than she can live without her lungs.
“Of course not!” she snaps predictably. I smile, she smiles, we turn in synchronisation to regard Matthew, at present busy with his horse. “But how about something less exciting next time round?” she adds.
“Umm…” Nope. Definitely not less exciting – that’s what you get when you go time travelling.
2. The Graham Saga is set in the 17th century because this is by far one of the more fascinating periods in history – and surprisingly under-represented in historical fiction. The poor century is stuck between the 16th century with fascinating female characters like Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the late 18th, where ladies like the Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa and her more famous daughter Marie Antoinette took centre stage.
But seriously, the 17th century has so much going for it! The establishment of the American colonies, the birth of modern science and the Enlightenment, the constant religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics (well: between all Protestant factions as well), the first steps towards the future modern democracies – this list can go on and on.
The Graham Saga touches upon a number of these themes. I put my characters through a lot, so over the series Matthew will experience the utter humiliation of living like a slave, Alex will experience the debilitating fear of being branded a witch, they will lose loved ones, be forced to leave their home in Scotland due to religious persecution, seek a new haven in the religiously tolerant Colony of Maryland, come face to face with the nastier aspects of slavery, come into contact with the displaced Native Americans –and then we have the Graham family’s particular nemesis, the horrible Burley brothers. All in all, a spicy soup that would not have been quite as spicy had it not been set in the –taa daa – 17th century.
3. Things I have learnt while researching this series:
No, it is not fun to use moss instead of toilet paper, but it does the job.
Woollen stocking itch – a lot.
Boiling linen is a very effective way of getting those sheets clean (and I used a pine based soft soap) but it is a killer for your back! Lifting steaming wet sheets with a wooden oversized ladle requires concentration and strength. And let’s not start on the state of my hands afterwards…
4. I never intended to write a series – but once I realised that Alex and Matthew had no intention of leaving me alone until I documented all of their adventures (well, most of them) I decided to write the entire series before doing any thinking regarding publication. And as the series evolved, there were a number of occasions when I had to go back to a previous book and tweak or change something.
“And what makes you think we’re done with you?” Matthew asks from the corner in my head where he is presently lounging, all six feet plus of him.
“What more can happen to you?” I ask.
In reply, he just chuckles and fades away. I hate it when he does that – fade away, I mean. What if he’ll fade away for good once I’ve released the last book in The Graham Saga? No, no, no, no – I can’t allow that to happen, so I guess I’ll do some extra writing just to keep him and his wife alive and well in my head. “Rachel Cooke eyed her mother with disdain. Old and fat, these days Helen Cooke mostly wept, rocking back and forth as she bemoaned her present fate. Crying never helped. Rachel kicked the cat out of the way and ….” Ha! I wonder what Matthew and Alex will make of little Rachel and her five foot six of prickly adolescence.
5. I really set out to write historical fiction. You know, a serious thing reflecting the chaotic 17th century, with the girl-meets-boy ingredient secondary to the overall intrigue. Alex and Matthew had other ideas, and pretty soon I had a love story on my hands – and quite the sizzling love story at that, what with how those two burn for each other. Not that it is easy for a modern woman to rub along with this 17th century hunk of mine.
“Mine?” Alex’s tone is frigid. “What do you mean, ‘mine’?”
“In the sense that I created him,” I try, but she is not mollified.
“I hear you saying ‘mine’ again about my man and I’ll rinse your mouth out with lye,” she says. Oh dear… my tongue shrivels.
“It’s not all that easy rubbing along with Alex either,” Matthew points out, bringing us back to the original subject. He smiles at his wife in a way that belies his statement, but I know for a fact that there are moments when he is very tempted to belt this opinionated stubborn woman of his. And as to Alex, there are days when she would gladly kick Matthew, irritated beyond reason by his old-fashioned ways. But the moment their fingers brush, the moment their eyes meet, all of that is irrelevant: the only thing that truly matters is that he is her man and she is his woman – that is how it is, that is how it will always be, from well before they were born to long after their death. (And here the author has to take a couple of composing breaths, utterly weakened by that word “deaths”…)
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AUTHOR BIO: Anna Belfrage is the author of six published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of two people who should never have met. Matthew Graham is a devout Presbyterian, a veteran of the Commonwealth armies and a man who, initially at least, has a tendency to see the world as black and white. Alex Lind is an opinionated modern woman who has the misfortune (or not) of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, thereby being dragged three centuries back in time to land concussed and badly singed at an astounded Matthew’s feet.
Revenge and Retribution is the sixth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Life in the Colony of Maryland is no sinecure – as Alex and Matthew Graham well know. But nothing in their previous life has prepared them for the mayhem that is about to be unleashed upon them.
Being labelled a witch is not a good thing in 1684, so it is no wonder Alex Graham is aghast at having such insinuations thrown at her. Even worse, it’s Matthew’s brother-in-law, Simon Melville, who points finger at her.
Not that the ensuing hearing is her main concern, because nowadays Alex’s entire life is tainted by the fear of what Philip Burley will do to them once he gets hold of them – there is no longer any ‘if’ about it. On a sunny May afternoon, it seems Philip Burley will at last revenge himself on Matthew for every single perceived wrong. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Alex’s life – and that of her family’s – is permanently changed.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Alex also has to cope with the loss of one of her sons. Forcibly adopted by the former Susquehannock, Samuel is dragged from Alex’s arms to begin a new life in the wilderness.
How is Alex to survive all this? And will she be able to put her damaged family back together?
Graham Saga Titles
Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star