An Interview with Anna Markland

Please help me welcome Anna Markland to my blog today. Anna will be giving a digital copy of any one of her books, or a paperback of any one of the four books of The Montbryce Legacy to one lucky commentor, so be sure and leave her a comment.

Thanks for inviting me to blog with you today, Cindy.

I am passionate about medieval romance. History provides fascinating plots and characters. Who could have dreamed up a man like William the Conqueror? I enjoy the research required to provide the reader with an authentic medieval experience. Very often things I discover in my research drive my plots. For example in Dance of Love, I learned about an Islamic physician, Al-Kindi, who created many recipes to alleviate illnesses. I wanted my heroine to have this knowledge, but did not want her to be Islamic. The history of Spain provided a perfect solution. She became the daughter of a Spanish woman carried off to Jerusalem after a battle between the Christian kings and the Moors. (Battle of Sagrajas which the Christian kings lost).

I am currently writing the second book of my fourth series, though it is actually #1 in the series! My mind does not seem to work chronologically. I have a recommended reading sequence on my website for those who prefer to read sagas in chronological order

I published Dance of Love in early November. It is Book III of the series Montbryce~The Next Generation. The current WIP is Dark Irish Knight, which I hope to have out by February. This book will have something of a paranormal aspect as I introduce the legend of the selkie. The hero’s name is Ronan, which means Son of a Seal.

I never cease to be amazed at where the ideas come from for story lines and events. I have never thought of myself as a creative person, and yet—

Could it be my characters are telling me their stories? Nah!

My least favorite part of writing is editing with “My Stupid Word List”. It is tedious, though necessary.

Some days I do nothing but write. If the inspiration is flowing, I like to go with the flow! Sometimes I spend about half the day on email loops with other authors, setting up and running FREE promotions, tweeting, blogging. I would say I have found the Yahoo loops the most helpful in learning about writing and publishing. I have built some very beneficial relationships with other authors. It is a sharing community.

I love being self published. It frees me to write what I want and not with a view to pleasing a publisher. I can edit my books at will, upload new covers,etc. I also like that I get all the royalties (after Amazon takes its share, of course)

The Montbryces, a noble medieval family from Normandy, is at the heart of all my stories, so I have that basic framework. I have set up a family tree in genealogical software and I pick a son or daughter from one of the descendant lines. I have set their stories in such diverse places as Spain, Germany, Denmark, Wales, Scotland, and of course England and Normandy. Once I choose a location I weave the plot around historical events at the time.

If you are toying with the idea of self publishing, my advice would be to go for it. You have nothing to lose. I decided to let readers judge my books. You’ll get criticism (some of it not so constructive), and you have to learn to ignore the morons and learn from those who genuinely want to help. If you discover editorial flaws, despite your careful editing, it is easy to fix them by uploading a new file. It is imperative to make sure you do edit carefully though, otherwise you lend credence to the false rumour that self published books are inferior to traditionally published ones.

I self published my first book thinking it would be wonderful if I could sell 100 in a year. I am now close to 20000 in my first year and I have 12 books published. Some readers have embraced me wholeheartedly, others have not. You can’t please everybody.

When I am in Canada, I have a large office available to me in my home, but I prefer to sit at a small secretary desk in the living room! There is a sliding glass door out onto the rear deck and I can see the garden from there. I live in the only sub-tropical part of Canada, so I rarely see snow!

When I am in Panama, I have a small desk set up in a spare bedroom in my condo, which is about 25 yards from the Pacific Ocean. My desk does not face the ocean. That would be too distracting. I get some of my best ideas walking along the beach. Las Lajas is somewhat off the beaten track so I rarely bump into anyone.

I really enjoy reading medieval romance. In fact I like historical romance as a whole.

When I thought about writing a novel, I was influenced by the fact I am an avid genealogist. I was born in England and have always had a fancy to trace my own line back to the time of the Norman Conquest. This of course is an impossibility since I am not descended from a noble family (at least I don’t think I am!) In researching the 11th century I came across some very interesting characters and thought their stories would form the basis for a good plot. Once I began I couldn’t stop! The ideas simply poured out. The Montbryces became my family!

I originally wrote over 200,000 words, then decided there were just too many relationships, so I split the manuscript into four separate books, enhancing the story of each hero/heroine. They became the first series, The Montbryce Legacy. That is why there is good continuity in those books—I wrote them all at the same time!

Anna Markland is my pen name. Anna did exist and was actually my 4g great aunt. She died at 15 so never had a chance to experience romance. There was no happily ever after for her, so this is her opportunity!

When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher and that was my profession for many enjoyable years. I love to communicate ideas.

I have a soft spot for two of my books. If Love Dares Enough is probably my favourite, followed by Dance of Love. The hero of Dance of Love is a young warrior plagued by (rheumatoid) arthritis in his hands. This makes it difficult to wield a sword. Because his hands are gnarled, he avoids women, tired of seeing revulsion on many faces as his condition worsened.

His heroine has the ability to help him, if he will allow it, but she too hides a terrible disfigurement. However, where there is great love, there are always miracles. There is an element of the unexplained in this book too.

The action ranges through France and Spain. I learned a lot about the history of Aragon in northeastern Spain while writing this book. Fascinating too was the knowledge medieval people had about natural ingredients which could alleviate the pain of diseases such as arthritis. The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela also features in the book.

The most rewarding thing about my success is receiving messages from fans telling me I am now their favourite author! The checks are nice too!

Thanks for the opportunity to blog with you. I invite your followers to visit my blog and join me and the Montbryces on our journey through the Middle Ages.

9 thoughts on “An Interview with Anna Markland

  1. Hi, Anna. I love reading about how stories come into being and the triggers that lead authors down certain paths.

    I so agree about the Middle Ages. The heroes of the time seem almost too big. The villains were larger than life. We couldn’t make these guys up!

    Congrats on the 20K. A terrific author will be noticed, and they will sell books. I’m glad your readers are finding you and enjoying your books as much as I have.

  2. I loved getting to know you today, Anna. What a great idea following through the family tree. I write series, too, but mine are based in a mythical town that is close to where I live in the 1849 gold rush era of California.

    How wonderful that you’ve been so successful with your self-published books. Wishing you the best always with your writing career.

  3. Research is fascinating and I get carried away learning. I’m not a history buff but I do enjoy reading about the larger than life heros and villans of yore.

    Good luck on the road of self-publishing.

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