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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Interview with Alison Stuart + Giveaway

Today I would like to welcome Alison Stuart, author of historical romances not like the others, as Alsion's stories besides the exciting historical setting also feature ghosts! *gulps* So please join us as I got to interview Alison regarding her latest novel,  (which has been nominated in the Historical romance category of the Australian Romance Reader Awards!), and you could even win a copy of 

Stella: Hi Alison, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Alison: Thanks for the welcome, Stella. I am delighted to be here.

I am an award winning Australian writer of “historicals with heart” with a passion for the seventeenth century and a determination to give readers good meaty plots, dashing heroes, strong heroines and a happy ever after. In my non writing life, I am a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. I live with my own personal hero and two needy cats and like nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of my home town for inspiration.

Stella: Your latest novel, sounds like an intriguing story! It has been described as "Downton Abbey with ghosts", could you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Alison: In a departure from my earlier novels (both set in the English Civil War), is set in 1923 and crosses several genres – a historical romance with paranormal elements. This is a fascinating period of history as the world tries to reinvent itself after the horror of World War One and for many, particularly in England (and in my own Australia), it was a hard time. The death toll from the war had almost wiped out a generation of young men.

In , the hero and heroine, Paul and Helen, are both walking wounded in their own ways. In order to find peace and the promise of a future they must lay to rest not only their own ghosts but those of Holdston Hall and to do that a mystery must be solved.

The following scene occurs when they are alone in the house and Helen hears a gun shot. What she sees when she opens the door to the library is shocking…

“Come away, Helen,” Paul’s voice intruded into the nightmare and his hand was on her arm, dragging her back up the stairs. The door slammed shut.

“There’s... a...dead man in the library,” she stuttered, looking up into Paul’s face.

Paul grasped her by her upper arms, bringing his head down to her level. “There is no one in the library,” he said firmly.

“There’s a man. His head...there’s blood over the papers. I saw him.”

Still holding her by one arm, Paul opened the door revealing a room in darkness. No candles, no fire. Paul pulled the cord of the electric light, its incandescent glow flooding the room with startling clarity. No body lay sprawled across the table only the old Remington typewriter perched at the far end of a table littered with papers.

Stella: Would you like to introduce us the hero and heroine of ?

Alison: The heroine, Helen Morrow, is an Australian and the widow of a British army officer, killed at Passchandaele. Eight years after her husband’s death, she and her daughter set out for England at her mother-in-law’s request. At Holdston Hall, her husband’s childhood home, she meets Paul, her husband’s cousin and a man who awakens in her the feelings she long considered lost. Not only is she in an unfamiliar country, in a society she knows nothing about and doesn’t belong to, but the manor, which has been the home of the Morrow family for centuries, seems to be haunted - and the ghosts are far from benevolent.

Paul is a man haunted by guilt, one of walking wounded of the war, both physically and mentally. By some twist of fate, Paul survived while his cousin died and he is daily reminded that the wrong man came home. He is the only person who can answer Helen’s questions and bring her the peace she needs but he is struggling with his own memory and driven by a sense of duty and responsibility to not only his living relatives but his forebears. If that’s not enough, he recognises he has feelings for Helen, the one woman he really shouldn’t fall for.

(This is the moment Paul first sees Helen…)

“Helen.” he whispered her name and almost as if aware that some unseen eye watched her, she looked up at the house. Paul stepped back into the shadows as her gaze raked the old stone walls, resting for a moment on the window of his room.

She raised her hand and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear and Paul leaned forward again. The young woman bore little resemblance to the sepia tinted bride in the dog- eared photograph Charlie had kept in his field notebook. A photograph was only ever a two dimensional representation of the real woman, and now that reality, Mrs. Helen Morrow, was at Holdston.

Stella: Could you summarize for us Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?

Alison: Mystery, history, romance and ghosts...

Stella: You write romantic historical fiction with ghosts, why this unusual mix? What attracted you to it, why did you decide to mix HR with paranormal?

Alison: I started off wanting to write a ghost story. I’ve always liked ghost stories and have written a couple of short stories with a supernatural bent but never turned my hand to a full length novel. I thought a change from my beloved seventeenth century was called for and I was keen to pursue a story about the aftermath of the Great War.

Setting a book in 1923 allowed me to write an Australian character (my heroine, Helen) and I love archaeology so my hero is an archaeologist. Finally I wanted to try my hand at a mystery. Like the witches in Macbeth, I threw the whole lot in and stirred.

Stella: Do you have a favourite classic ghost story (either book or movie)?

Alison: I think one of my favourite ghost stories of all time is the original movie of THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR with Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. If you only remember the much later TV series, do yourself a favour and find this old black and white movie.

Stella: If you could meet the ghost of any real or historical figure, who would you like to meet and what would you ask them?

Alison: I’m not sure what I would do if I actually met a ghost! Probably turn and run. I think ghosts are bound to this earth through unfinished business so I suppose the question would be “What needs to be resolved, so you can find peace?”

Stella: Did you have any paranormal/ghost experience?

Warwick Castle
Alison: My own paranormal experiences have been far less impressive and really take the form of an emotional response to a place rather than ghostly figures such as the dungeons at Warwick Castle. Other “close encounters” include an unexplained object that appeared in a photograph at the Roman fort of Housesteads on Hadrians Wall.

I have, to the best of my knowledge, worked in two haunted buildings and while I have plenty of evidence of the buildings’ ghostly residents they decided to leave me alone. I have posted blogs about “Albert” and “Esmerelda” and you are welcome to visit my blog and read their stories.

Stella: Can you tell us what we should expect from you, or would you like to share with us any of your future plans?

Alison: My next book is a historical time travel, SECRETS IN TIME, which comes out April 1 from Lyrical Press. I am back in my beloved seventeenth century with a gorgeous cavalier who will travel from the midst of a civil war to the quiet English countryside of the late twentieth century in search of a particular woman. Why has Nathaniel been sent to find Jessica? Can their love survive a bloody battle and his death…and overcome time?

Stella, I have a free ecopy of  to give away (randomly drawn). Thank you for having me :-)

I would love to hear from the readers about their favourite ghost stories and what it is about the story that’s so memorable for them?


You can find me on the web at my website - blog -  -  - Goodreads

War leaves no one untouched...

The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband's reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.

A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul's great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches out to them from the pages. Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen's husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.

Buy at -  


Alison has generously offered an ebook copy of  to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just leave a comment answering Alison's question: what are some of your favourite ghost stories and what it is about the story that makes it so memorable?

Giveaway is openw orldwide and ends on 19 January 2013!

Good luck!