Thursday, 23 May 2013
Author Spotlight: Debut Novelist Anne Stenhouse
I’m sure Anne won’t mind me mentioning that my short novella, The Aphrodite Touch, is released today from Tirgearr Publishing and is also on Amazon. I’m being interviewed by my lovely publisher on Hearts of Fiction this week. Please pop over and leave a comment to have a chance of winning an autographed e-copy for a limited time! And don’t forget the blog party here on Tuesday.
And now it’s a pleasure to welcome Scottish author and writing friend Anne Stenhouse (also known to many as playwright Anne Stenhouse, and to some of us as Anne Graham) whose debut historical novel, Mariah’s Marriage, was released this month from MuseItUp Publishing, Canada. Anne’s novel was shortlisted for the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon debut novelist award and she received a certificate and cheque at the Summer Party and Awards evening in London last week.
I’m reading Mariah’s Marriage at the moment and enjoying it very much. Ann has written the following delightful post about dancing, one of my own favourite hobbies.
Rosemary, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. Write what you know is a well worn adage and I’ve danced a lot over the years. I thought I’d tell your readers a wee story about how dancing has been important to me.
When I was a school prefect, the head of PE enlisted me to help him teach basic Scottish dancing to the third year boys for their Christmas party. With perseverance, I mean PERSEVERANCE, I managed to teach one of the lads a Canadian Barn Dance. It was a staple of party programmes. The lad had outgrown his brain in the sense that it didn’t realise his limbs were six inches longer than when the grey cells last checked. Even so...
On the night of the party, my young friend asked me up for the first Canadian Barn Dance and refreshed his memory. After the interval, he was able to ask the girl he fancied. She was able to say ‘Yes’. She’d seen he could dance it and knew she wouldn’t be ridiculed by a stumbling oaf. Result.
Lizzie Bennet is not the only one who didn’t want to dance with an incompetent partner. I’ve never fancied it much myself. Trampled toes, beery breath and wandering hand trouble all combine to spoil a perfectionist’s evening.
When Lizzie is horrified to discover she must stand up with her papa’s heir, Mr Collins, she has to steel herself. Mr Collins does not disappoint the reader, but Lizzie is faced with a serious dilemma. She knows he won’t be any good as a dancer, but if she turns him down, she won’t be able to accept anyone else. This we know from the recent Netherfield Ball programme on TV.
There isn’t a dance in my debut novel, Mariah’s Marriage, but dancing is referred to in Tobias’s thoughts when he sees how tall Mariah is. They would be comfortable together. Clearly two left feet were not prized as much as a well taught pair and that hasn’t changed over the generations. Many marriages began with a courtship in the dance halls.
Leaving the chapel in London’s 19th century Thames’ side where she teaches the alphabet to a raggle-taggle of urchins, Mariah Fox is charged by a stray pig. The quick intervention of Tobias Longreach saves her from certain injury. Mariah has always believed her destiny to be teaching. After the early death of her mother, she was brought up by her papa, Jerome, to believe that she could learn anything a boy could. She shares his vision of a future in which everyone, rich or poor, boy or girl, will be taught at least the rudiments of reading, writing, and counting.
Tobias was brought up a second son, but following his elder brother’s premature death, inherits an Earldom and the need to provide it with an heir. He comes to believe that Mariah will make a perfect countess and enrolls her papa’s help in securing her hand.
However, Sir Lucas Wellwood, whose debts have made him urge his sister to attempt to trap Tobias into marriage, has sinister intentions. Mariah suspects Wellwood has been mistreating his sister and she heads off impetuously to rescue her. Will Tobias and his friends reach Wellwood’s home before he can exact revenge on Mariah?
At three minutes to noon he saw her and drew himself up to his full height. His papa had been a tall man, and despite his mama’s tiny frame, Tobias topped six feet by two or more inches. It was a disadvantage to be quite so tall when seeking dancing partners. Mariah Fox was a tall girl who would not be swamped by his height should he take her onto the dance floor.
“Good morning, Miss Fox,” he said when they arrived at Mellon House’s entrance stairs at the same moment. “This is a most pleasant surprise.”
“Is it?” she replied, unsmiling, and Tobias began to think he may have made one or two misjudgements in his plan to captivate Miss Fox. “Is it not your hand behind the changes taking place in my life?”
Anne Stenhouse has always loved words. Reading them and using them greedily, she can’t truly remember a time when she couldn’t escape into the pages of a book and certainly can’t remember when she couldn’t talk and ask questions. Anne is a published and performed playwright. She studied both English and History at University in Edinburgh, and finds it a great joy to combine these two disciplines in her first novel, Mariah’s Marriage.
Being a playwright means Anne loves dialogue and knows a piece is going well when she ‘begins to hear the characters talking to each other’. She has been a civil servant, full-time Mum, and for a while, a worker in an Addictions’ rehabilitation unit. Anne lives in Scotland with her husband and dancing partner of over thirty years. Their children and a grandchild are close by.