author C.C.Cole's blog

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On a Touch of Class

writer Elizabeth Marshall

I’m so happy that a writer-virtual friend Elizabeth Marshall joined me on my blog for a little interview.  We are mutual admirers of our literary works (disclosure), and she’s an awesome romance writer.  While I’ve got Shevata pounding out demonic overpopulation in the most un-romantic way possible, Elizabeth writes beautiful classy romantic novels with historic backdrops that take even my hardcore dark fantasy breath away.

As I hand over blog space to Elizabeth, I’d like to acknowledge writers of historical romance.  I’ll admit it’s not a genre I normally gravitate to (see my upcoming review and article of the zombie frenzy), but I really admire these writers.  Romance is an emotion that we all feel at one time or another, and is one of the most cherished to all of us.  Writers that can bring us back to romance bring us to times of our lives we remember the most, true markers of our lives.  I hope to be as classy as Elizabeth someday, but don’t see that happening.  That’s OK, nothing wrong with a role model.

Elizabeth, tell us a little about your background and your early inspiration for writing:
I was born and raised in the Province of Natal, South Africa by a large Scottish farming family. By far my largest playground was to be found on visits to my grandparent’s farm. They lived down the Natal South Coast where my grandpa owned a banana farm with full views of the Indian Ocean. I can smell it now; the clean air of the beach, the sound of the waves beating against the rocks, the white froth on the water, the excitement of going out onto the rocks to fish.
Then grandpa bought another farm, this time it was inland, around the Harding area. It was an old coaching house, which at one time had been used by travelers from the Cape Province to Natal. Visits to the farm opened up a whole new world of adventure. Grandpa taught me how to pan for gold, he took me for walks in the bush, taught me what was edible and what was not, how to track animals and what the spore of each animal looked like. He showed me how to find water and taught me to always follow the river’s edge if I were ever lost. I played on his tractors, got to ride in the back of his trucks and named the cows, all whilst ruining countless pretty little dresses on thorns and sharp twigs. Granny was, of course, always on hand to patch not only the dresses but my scratched and bruised arms and legs. We bathed in the kitchen in a cast iron tub filled with water from big kettles on a coal-burning stove. Granny was a romantic, a dreamer and a storyteller. She raised five children on a two thousand acre farm in the Natal Drakensberg, survived a bitterly cold and snowy winter in canvas tents whilst my grandpa, single-handed, built them a home and saved her three year old daughter from a snake bite. Her life was not an easy one, but through it all her imagination flourished. Although I have never really considered it before now, I guess the simple truth is that my granny taught me the art of story-telling and my grandpa provided the inspiration to tell them.
The Simon and Corran romance is beautiful. What inspired you to create them?
A few years ago my husband and I took our five children on a winter holiday to Glencoe in Scotland. The morning after we arrived my husband came to stand beside me in front of our bedroom window and, like me, stared in awe at the magnificence of the view.
“What is that island?” I asked.
“I think it’s Eilean Munde,” he replied.
“Isn’t that where the MacDonald brothers buried their father after the massacre of Glencoe?” I replied.
“Yes, I think it is,” Andrew said, softly.
“I want to go to the village, Andy.”
“Well it’s not far from here, we can go after breakfast if you want," he offered.
“I would like that a lot, thank you,” I said, struggling to take my eyes off the island.  A gentle mist hung teasingly above it, obscuring it in parts. I wanted, desperately to brush the mist away, to see what mysteries it hid but unfortunately five children with hungry tummies were calling, so breakfast it was.
A few hours later, we stood on the quiet street that runs down the centre of the village of Glencoe. Great mountains rose up around us as we wandered up a small hill towards the Glencoe memorial.
“Andrew, what date is it?” I asked, in confirmation of my    own opinion.
“It’s the 12th, why?” he replied.
“Well, tomorrow is the anniversary of the massacre,” I said, pointing to a sign on the memorial which read, ‘Massacre of Glencoe, 13th February 1692.’
I looked back down the hill and into the village. Tidy little cottages lined the street. Grey clouds of smoke rose from chimneys and hung poignantly against the clear blue of the morning sky.

Suddenly I could smell it, the sickly, metallic copper stink of fresh blood and death. I could hear the terrifying crackle of flames as they leapt around the walls of cottages. I could see the smoke as it hung thickly and heavily in the air. Cries of panic and terror as families stumbled from their burning homes; the blaze of musket fire, the sulphurous smell of a fired gun and the bodies which lay upon the snow filled streets.
Without realising it, I had found the inspiration for my story.

What is your first publication?
‘When Fate Dictates’ was my first publication.

Do you write mostly historical romance?
Everything I have written has an historical backdrop. ‘When Fate Dictates’ and ‘Beyond Time have more romance than the ‘Highland Secret Series’, ‘Entwined’, which is due for release this autumn, is more fantasy, adventure than romance.

Any advice for us ever-struggling new authors?
Oddly enough I was emailed a few days ago by a young girl called Emily, who lives up in the Scottish Borders. She asked me a similar question, ‘How do you start writing?’
At first I wasn’t sure how to answer her, I didn’t feel qualified to offer her advice, but then I didn’t want to ignore her question either, or worse still brush her off.
So I told her to do what I did, (incidentally she now lives in the house where I lived when I started writing)’ -
'Go sit in your kitchen.  Look out the window in the paddock, see the hills, the sheep, the cows, the pheasants.  Stand outside, by the wall at the gate to your garden, and look out towards the road.  Now look up.  Watch the eagles and the hawks as they circle their prey and think about how it makes you feel.  Then close your eyes and feel the wind in your hair and on your face.  Describe what you have seen, how it feels, what it makes you think of.  Then go back into your kitchen, and write it down. 

That, Emily, is how you start writing:-)xx'
(why can't I write like that?..nevermind....)

What is your writing routine? Sporadic, or organized?
*Smiling* at this question. As much as I would love to say organized I have to admit to having little or no routine when it comes to writing. My children and husband are my first priority and always will be. Writing is something I do if and when there is the time or chance. Organized would be nice but realistically, I have a demanding five year old, organized isn’t happening in my life for a long time to come.

Being in the U.K. and I'm in the US, do you see any differences in marketing challenges for new writers?
The U.K market is a lot smaller than the U.S and far less people own ereaders in the U.K, which makes it a very different market to the U.S. I think U.K readers are less internet driven, although this is changing slowly. The language differences between the two countries can prove challenging for both U.K and U.S authors. I personally love marketing to both countries, mostly because it has provided me with the opportunity to meet with and get to know so many new and interesting people.

What classics do you recommend? (Austen, etc)

Now this is a difficult question because it depends on whom I’m recommending them to. Personally I was never a great Austen fan. I did enjoy the works of Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, in particular ‘Wuthering Heights’. However, and this isn’t really a classic but, my all time favourite ‘good old fashioned historical love story’ is ‘Forever Amber’ written by Kathleen Winsor.

Any mainstream bestsellers you've been reading?

Yes, “The Magic Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton, which I have been reading to my five year old daughter for the past week.
When not reading and writing, what are your other interests?

I am quite unashamedly going to confess to a newly discovered love of ancient pubs, which my husband and I frequent every Friday night. All in the name of research for my books, of course.

What's your favorite food? Favorite beverage?
Again, *smiling* I like these questions and just for the fun of it, I’m going to play money is no object. So here goes, hopefully my husband will read this, nudge, wink, Andy. - Olives, Oysters, Fillet steak, Calamari and pink Champagne.

I've visited the UK and loved it. Have you ever visited the US? Any place you'd really like to see (you don't have to say Mississippi)

Sadly I haven’t yet been to U.S. but one day I would very much like to. There are many places I would love to visit, all inspired by books. The first is Virginia, inspired by two books written by Philippa Gregory called ‘Earthly Joys’ and ‘Virgin Earth’. The second is, and yes, C.C. it is actually Mississippi, inspired by Mr Mark Twain and of course I can’t forget North Carolina thanks to the wonderful story telling ability of Diana Gabaldon.

Check out Elizabeth’s work and her site!
While we’re on the subject of virtual friends, so much is stated about the bad about the Internet.  But to put light on the dark, technology made it possible for so many of us to meet under circumstances that weren’t possible twenty years ago.  Overall, sure, bad stuff is there, but there’s also good.  I’ve valued my virtual friendship with Elizabeth, along with many others.  And our lives could not be more different, she’s a romance-writing full time Mom, and I’m a dark fantasy-writing, carb-ingesting, professional DINK.  Thank you Elizabeth, and may your many days be blessed!


  1. I like your advice to Emily. :) What websites do you use for your historical research? I'm always on the hunt for new sites. I'm working on numerous short stories, relating to Wales (family history). Unfortunately, I've not been there, yet.

  2. C.C. you are too kind my dear friend. Thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to appear on your blog. I am honored and deeply humbled. You are a lady with an immense talent for writing dark fantasy - who doesn't wish they had a Shevata on their side? Thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion, that there, on my shoulder, watching and guiding, is a Shevata. Not the full blown demon killing, kick ass, no holds barred, Shevata of your books, but a loyal and dear friend, a champion in every way. C.C. you are my hero dear friend. x

  3. Hi Karen, thank you so much for your kind comment. I am very fortunate in that I write mostly about the places in which I have lived, namely, Scotland and the city of York. I must confess to spending a large amount of my time researching the area’s about which I write and have found that the best resource for local information is a local public house:-) - It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

    Are any of your short stories available for download or in print? I would love to look them up?
    Wishing you a wonderful day, with much love. X