My second post of today is of course….a Meet the Author interview! I’m delighted to be chatting with Lynn Bryant today about inspiration, living childhood dreams, funny typo’s, her new book An Unmerciful Incursion (due out on 31st July 2020) and more…..
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I think like most writers, I was inspired by a love of reading. I read voraciously when I was a child, but I wanted to tell my own stories. I was scribbling stories in exercise books by the time I was twelve or thirteen, and writing for the school magazine.
In a recent interview, I admitted that I think it’s cheating, writing historical fiction, because I don’t have to make up the plot, it’s already there. What I do have to do, is weave my fictional story in with the real events. I think my ideas are very character driven. I think about who my hero or heroine is, and then think about their journey through the book, and how their particular personality is likely to shape events.
How many books have you written and published?
Eleven so far, my twelfth book is coming out at the end of this month. I have two series on the go, both set in the Napoleonic era, but they’re linked, so characters move between the two. Then I’ve written a couple of Regency romances and two standalone novels.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I aim to write two a year. I do very meticulous research, which takes a lot of time, but having said that, because I’m writing within a period that I know very well, I already have a lot of the background knowledge in place by now, I just need to research each new campaign as I reach it. I only managed one book last year, mostly for family reasons, but I’m hoping to get two out this year.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
That’s a really hard question. I think I’m going to say An Untrustworthy Army, which is book five of the Peninsular War Saga. That’s not because it’s a better book than all the others though, it’s just that by now, I know all my main characters so well. There are some lovely bits with Lord Wellington in there. And the romance, the central relationship of the book, has stopped being new and fairytale and has turned into a real marriage, which is challenging in places, but great fun to write.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to do exactly what I’m doing now, write historical novels.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
A lot, and they’re a mixed bunch. After university, I worked as a public librarian, then I worked for the NHS. I trained as a counsellor, and I’ve worked for Relate, and for a women’s centre, working mostly with survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’ve also worked in Student Placements, for the University of Hertfordshire, I managed an art gallery for a couple of years, I worked in schools with children with special needs and I’ve even run an Irish dance school. So a very wide variety.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Listen to your instincts. I spent years jumping through hoops trying to write something ‘marketable’. I got nowhere and I wrote a lot of unmitigated rubbish. I was told that nobody would buy Napoleonic military fiction written by a woman, and that I should try romance. And by the way, nobody buys that kind of book at all now anyway. It turns out they do. So I’d say learn from everybody, and by all means try different genres and different styles, because it teaches you what you’re good at and what you really love. But once you know what you want to do, just do it.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in very strong attraction at first sight, which might turn into love over time. I also believe in the kind of love that surprises you because you weren’t expecting it with this person, and it creeps up on you gradually.
I write about both in the books. My main characters were definitely bowled over by each other at their first meeting, but it took a while for that to mature into what I’d call love. The hero and heroine of the second series are different – he was looking for an arranged marriage, while she was pining for somebody else. I think you’d say they became friends before they fell in love
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
For me it’s characters all the way. My books are very character driven, and because they’re a series, my readers get to know them and become very invested in particular people.
What is the funniest typo you have ever written?
Two absolute favourites actually. One was spellcheck on autocorrect, which meant that when I read over it, Sir Arthur Wellesley was wearing not a traditional bicorn hat but a traditional bacon hat.
The other one was only last week, when my heroine was frantically busy and I accidentally typed frantically busty.
When you’re writing, how do you balance the history with the fact that you are trying to tell the story of your characters?
For me the history comes first. So a big battle, for example, I’ll research the battle, and then I’ll decide the most likely place to put my fictional battalion. In the Peninsular War it’s easy, because they’re part of the Light Division, so that’s where they’ll be. Once I know that, I’ll research that section of the battle in as much detail as I can, and give my characters roles to play in the action.
Sometimes I like to do something different, though, to give a different perspective. So for example, at Badajoz, I chose not to send my fictional brigade in through the main breaches, because I’ve read a lot of accounts of the horror of that. Likewise, I took a slightly different approach to the sacking of Badajoz. Everything I write could really have happened, but the joy of fiction is that you get to play with it a bit.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My new book is out on July 31st and is available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s book six in the Peninsular War Saga and is called An Unmerciful Incursion. Here’s the blurb:
In the winter of 1812-13, Lord Wellington’s army settles into cantonments on the border between Spain and Portugal to recover from the gruelling retreat from Burgos and to plan for the next campaigning season, but winter quarters prove less than peaceful for the third brigade of the light division.
Colonel Paul van Daan finds himself temporarily seconded to the headquarters staff, looking at improving training ahead of the new campaign, but changes within his brigade bring him into conflict with Leonard Vane, the new commander of the 115th who is loathed by the officers, the men and their women. His wife Anne, recovering from the birth of her daughter, befriends a new officers’ wife and takes an interest in the welfare of some of the camp women, with unpredictable results.
Major Carl Swanson is delighted to receive a promotion, and happy in his love affair with Keren Trenlow but a clash with Major Vane leaves Carl face to face with a decision he has been avoiding.
Away from the main army, Captain Giles Fenwick and Captain Michael O’Reilly are sent on a mission to the northern coast of Spain to locate a missing diplomat. Caught up in the bloody conflict between French troops and Spanish irregulars, Giles and Michael are pushed to the limits of their endurance as their journey culminates in the brutal storming of Castro Urdiales and its appalling aftermath.
As Paul’s men prepare for the march back into Spain, a violent crime casts a shadow over the third brigade of the Light Division, and both officers and men are under suspicion.
An Unmerciful Incursion is book six in the popular Peninsular War Saga.
final words from me…
Thank you Lynn for your fab interview and for coming over and talking to me. I’m so glad that you’re living your childhood dream of writing historical fiction, it must feel wonderful! Your favourite typo’s made me laugh out loud ~ frantically busty!!!! I love the advice you would give yourself and I’m sure that will help a lot of newly starting out authors too. And besides being an author, you’ve had some fantastic jobs – I’m very jealous!!
If you have any questions or comments for Lynn, you know what to do lovelies!
Have a wonderful day all, and I’ll be back tomorrow!