Born in London, Anita connected with the history of that city at a young age. When the rest of the school trip threw the contents of their lunch boxes around the bus, Anita imagined men in high white wigs, flared long coats and heeled shoes coming out of coffee houses, climbing into sedan chairs on the cobbles in Paternoster Row, where Christopher Wren was lowered down the outside of St Pauls Cathedral in a basket.
Her first two novels, ‘Duking Days Rebellion’ and ‘Duking Days Revolution’ were published in 2007 and 2008 [now out of print] set in late 17th Century England about a fictitious Exeter family, the Woulfes, who are caught up in the Monmouth Rebellion and the Glorious Revolution. Her two Victorian Romances, ‘Trencarrow Secret’ and ‘Culloden Spirit’, published in 2011 as e-books, are soon to be issued in paperback.
Anita’s fascination with the 17th Century continues with her latest release, Royalist Rebel, set at Ham House, a Jacobean mansion built on the River Thames at Petersham, and the daughter of the house, Elizabeth Murray, Countess Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale.
Visitors to Ham House are treated to an account of this lady as an irascible, embittered widow stripped of her glory and reduced to genteel poverty in her beloved childhood home. They run ghost evenings at Ham, telling of sightings of the old lady’s spirit that roams the mansion, tapping the floors with her stick, her small dog at her side while the scent of attar of roses announces her presence.
In the gallery is a portrait of Elizabeth by Sir Peter Lely when she was eighteen. An intelligent, passionate young girl on the verge of womanhood who was dedicated to Ham House, the Royalist cause and the men in her life; her father William Murray, son of a minister who rose to become King Charles’ friend and confidant, Lionel Tollemache, her husband of twenty years who adored her, Oliver Cromwell who was fascinated by her, and John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, Charles II’s favourite, who married her within weeks of his wife’s death when she was forty-four
Royalist Rebel is the story of that girl.
Released by Claymore Press in January 2013 under the name Anita Seymour
Anita’s Blog – The Disorganised Author - http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com
What is it about the 17th Century in particular that interests you as an author?
It was a time when the equality of man was an ideal not yet realised, yet a group of men formed an army and went against the establishment to demand a say in their lives and fortunes. The fact they triumphed was a turning point for the way we live now, but which could easily have gone a different way. And who could resist a man in a pinch waist long coat, with long wavy hair and breeches?
With the release of Royalist Rebel, what has been the reaction of readers which has disappointed you the most?
I have had some great reviews for this novel, and yet most readers say my heroine, Elizabeth Murray wasn’t likeable. That she was arrogant, snappish and self-serving. I found this frustrating in that they are right, she was all those things as she was a real person, not a figment of my imagination. I feel in many ways she was misunderstood, in that in the 17th Century, people firmly believed they occupied the places God decreed for them, and equality was unheard of.
Her best quality was her fierce love for her family, i.e. her three sisters, all of whom suffered from a bone deformity that made them unlikely to secure good marriages. Her determination to keep hold of her inheritance was clear in that all three of them lived with her until the end of their lives, even the one who did marry.
What book do you wish you’d written?
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor,[ http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=forever%20amber&sprefix=forever+am%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aforever%20amber] because it stirred my initial fascination with the era and thus probably did the same for many who have read it since it’s publication in 1944.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Samuel Pepys. As a diarist, he wasn’t as serious or self-important as John Evelyn. He wrote for himself, with no view on posterity; liked the ladies, got drunk occasionally, was quite naughty and then was sorry afterwards – a fascinating as a Carolean character and a man of his time.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing since you began?
That the story is the thing. A steadily moving plot, conflict and a satisfying ending is more important than floury descriptions and a ton of woven in research. No one recalls what the heroine was wearing when she finally falls into her hero’s arms.
Pantser or plotter? Bearing in mind the framework is based on English history?
Plotter every time. I collect my research files, write out every chapter synopsis and the goal, content and conclusion of each scene – I need to know where the story is going.
What’s next writing-wise for you in 2014?
That’s a tricky one as I am torn between what will likely sell, and what I love to write. I have begun a sequel to Royalist Rebel dealing with Elizabeth Murray’s activities as a spy for the Sealed Knot, and the first ten years of King Charles’ Restoration. I am also working on a series of Cozy Mysteries set circa 1900, where the history forms a backdrop and provides atmosphere as opposed to being the entire focus of the story. I can be more creative with characters and story arc than when I use events that form part of public record.
My two Victorian Romances, Trencarrow Secret and Culloden Spirit are being released in paperback this spring from MuseItUp Publishing
What did I tell you! She's amazing. Thank you so much, Anita for stopping by. I can't wait to get your new books.