Thursday, 14 November 2013

Featured Author: Anne Stenhouse

A very warm welcome on this dreich autumn morning to fellow Scottish author and colleague, Anne Stenhouse, who is sharing the inspiration behind her new historical romance, Bella’s Betrothal, while I’m on a visit to Anastacia Pollack’s Blog today.

Set in 1820s Edinburgh, Bella’s Betrothal is a very enjoyable read with a great sense of place and engaging characters. Since Anne is also an excellent playwright, there is plenty of sparkling dialogue between the hero, Charles Lindsay, and heroine, Lady Isabella Wormsley. It begins with one of the best lines I’ve read in any recent romance and I've really enjoyed following the not-so-smooth course of their love story and their interaction with a host of interesting characters. Here’s a little about the novel.
Bella's Betrothal

While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from.
Bella settles into the household of her Aunt Hatty Menzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home.

Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation.
Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?

Inspiration behind the story
Writing a longer piece like a novel brings together lots of things previously swimming in my subconscious soup. Place is a big influence. I sometimes find myself creating a character and scenario while standing in front of a house. It needn't be a big house and I've written one or two short pieces based on some photographs I took of a Victorian laundry. With Bella's Betrothal, I was very keen to showcase Edinburgh. I've lived here for a long time now in Georgian and Victorian houses. The townscape is always around me.

Next would be theme in the sense of 'What is this novel about?' With Bella's Betrothal, I was exercised by the damage gossip can do. Even in our own, maybe pedestrian, lives, reputation is precious. Once lost, getting it back is the Devil's own job.
Characters are of course paramount and I will try out 'voices' until I'm hearing the main protagonists and, often, the villain. Villains are just so interesting and such fun to create. With Bella's Betrothal, I also had several very demanding and interesting secondary characters clamouring to be heard.

Thanks for being my guest, Anne!

Bella's Betrothal is available from Amazon UK and US

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 novels.
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.

Anne’s debut historical novel, Mariah’s Marriage, was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award.
You can find out more about Anne on her blog, Novels Now.


Anne Stenhouse said...

Good morning Rosemary and thank you for inviting me to talk about Bella's Betrothal. It's one of my favourite occupations.
It's a lovely morning in Edinburgh and I hope your side of the country finds the sun, too. Anne

Joanna said...

Thank you for a lovely post, Anne and Rosemary. I love the prospect of suppressed family secrets and the theme of gossip causing damage. I also really like the idea of trying out voices to get under the skin of the main protagonists.
I would also be inspired by a Victorian laundry and can imagine how that sparked lots of ideas.
Very best of luck with the novel. It sounds fantastic with its sparkling characters and brilliant setting.

Wendy's Writing said...

Mayhem, murder and family secrets... Sounds a prefetch excuse to curl up in front of the fire and read, Anne. Thanks for hosting, Rosemary.

Kate Blackadder said...

Yes, you can't help but want to read on after that first line.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Morning Anne - great to hear more about Bella's Betrothal!

Many thanks for your comment, Joanna!

Thanks for commenting, Wendy!

Absolutely, Kate!

Vikki said...

Sounds good, Anne. Best of luck with it!

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hullo Joanna, Wendy, Kate and Vicki and thanks for dropping by. The first line was in my head for a longish time - one of those lines you know you will use. As Rosemary says elsewhere, the layout of Edinburgh's Old Town with its secret courts and, presumably, stinking alleyways lends itself to the nurturing of murder and mayhem. The early nineteenth century is such a rich ground for our imaginations. Anne

Myra Duffy said...

I really enjoyed the story of Bella! Ideal escapism.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Thank you Myra. Glad you enjoyed it. Anne

Anita Chapman said...

Best of luck with Bella's Betrothal Anne! Lovely to see you on Rosemary's blog. I remember meeting you at the London Chapter do and at an RNA party and we discovered that you know Rosemary 'in real life'-I've only met Rosemary virtually! It must be interesting writing novels after writing plays. I'd love to have a go at writing a play or even a screenplay one of these days. x

Rena George said...

Good luck with Bella's Betrothal, Anne. An interesting insight into how you work. I love books set in Scotland. Thanks for hosting this, Rosemary. Rx

Anne Stenhouse said...

Good morning, Anita, I remember that RNA lunch in London so well. Everyone, including your lovely self, was so welcoming and I even came away with a 'mystery' parcel despite not knowing about the secret book santa. this is why people should join the RNA. It truly is welcoming and inclusive.
Plays are interesting to write and it has always given me the most amazing buzz to see one in performance. A good director finds stuff you didn't know you'd put in. (So does a bad director, but we won't go there.) Every good wish with your own writing. Anne

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Rena, thanks for dropping in here. It's so nice to know you like a Scottish setting. There are a lot of quality books around at the moment to enjoy. Anne

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It's a good story, Vikki and Myra!

Hi Anita - one of these days we'll get to meet!

Thanks for your comment, Rena!