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.

Mariah’s Marriage

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?

Short Excerpt

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?”

Mariah’s Marriage is available from MuseItUp, and Amazon UK and US and Barnes & Noble.

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.

You can find out more about Anne on her Novels Now blog and Write, Watch and Critique Plays


Wendy's Writing said...

'Many marriages began with a courtship in the dance hall'- not just in historical fiction Anne. My husband and I met at a salsa dance and celebrated our three year wedding anniversary this week at a ballroom tea dance. I could never have married a man who couldn't dance! A lot of my short stories have a dance theme - as you say, 'write about what you know'. A lovely post to read Anne. Congratulations to you on your debut novel and also to you, Rosemary, on the release of 'The Aphrodite Touch'.

Joanna said...

Thank you Rosemary and Anne. This was a really interesting and entertaining interview. I so agree with the feeling that the writing soars once I can hear the characters talking to each other. That's the moment when I know I won't be able to resist them and will keep writing about them every second I get.
Mariah's Marriage sounds wonderful, Anne. And I feel like getting out of my seat and dancing round the room now! x

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Wendy, I wish I could say I met my husband in the dance hall, too, but it was in fact in the staff canteen! I wish you every happiness in your marriage. Anne

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Joanna,Nice to 'meet' you here. Glad I made you want to dance - that's a nice feeling. Anne

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I was thinking of you, Wendy, when I was posting Anne's interview! How romantic to meet at dancing.

Thanks for a thoughtful comment, Joanna!

Morning Anne - great to have you here.

Glynis said...

My husband of 34yrs marriage (2nd June), asked me to a dance, when I was 17. As a dancer in a group at the time, I was envisaging a romantic night of dancing around a room. Despite his two left feet, and lack of rhythm, I still decided he was the one for me! :)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Glynis - lovely story! Thanks for commenting.

Janice Horton said...

Ah, where would be be without dancing and music...? I love dancing but if I can ever get my dh on the dancefloor he will only ever do a'footshuffle' and he prefers to hold onto me while he does it!

Congratulations on publication and on being shortlisted Anne - what a fabulous achievement!

love, Janice

Anne Stenhouse said...

Glynis and Janice, it's all too common, isn't it? ladies full of enthusiasm - husbands two left feet. I can recommend the Canadian Barn Dance: good rhthym and there is a waltz bit where he can hold you properly.

Rosemary, it's really lovely to be here and share your launch day. thank you. Anne

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for your comment, Janice! My hubby manages a good shuffle.

myraduffy said...

Such an interesting post,Anne though sadly I suffer from the 'two left feet' syndrome.
And your example of the Canadian Barn Dance reminds me it was 'invented' by a Canadian soldier during the last war in the Rothesay Pavilion on the Isle of Bute.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Myra! I forgot that's where it originated - fascinating.

Mary Smith said...

What an enjoyable post to read. I wanted to know more about your dancing, Anne. Can't wait to read Mariah's Marriage. Congratulations. And congratulations to you, too, Rosemary on The Aphrodite Touch. I want to go on holiday with all the lovely books I'm able to buy from writing friends.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hullo Myra and Mary, I didn't know that either, Myra, thank you. Mary, I'm signed up to do another post about dancing on 8th Aug with a fellow MuseItUp writer. I'll flag it nearer the time. Anne

Vikki said...

Love the cover and sounds like a great story, Anne!

Sara Bain said...

Great post by two great people. Off to practise my Eightsome Reel for the summer ceilidh!

Lauren F. Boyd said...

Yay for Anne and Rosemary! Great job, ladies! :)

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Vicki, thank you for dropping in, Anne

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hullo Sara, I'm blushing. You're not so bad yourself. And do you also tackle the Foursome and the Sixteensome? There's a book called 'And the General danced at Dawn' or similar, in which said general has the troops doubling, 32, and doubling again. You'd need Edinburgh Castle esplanade to try it.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hullo Lauren, thanks. I got your mesage to mypostoffice and when I work out how to do it, I'll reply. Need to speak to my webmaster - again. Anne

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks so much, Mary!

Thanks for dropping in, Vikki!

Aw, you're so lovely, Sara! Think we should all have a ceilidh sometime.

Many thanks for commenting, Lauren!