Hello! This week we welcome Marla Skidmore to the Author of the Week spotlight. Marla has released several books, shall we see what she's been up to?
Hi Marla, welcome! Shall we start with a list of your books?
Hi Elizabeth, thanks, yes, I've written or contributed to several works,
Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King (award-winning debut novel)
Renegade Part 1 – King’s Pawn (work in progress)
Forget Me Not (work in progress)
Yorkist Stories - contributing author
Grant Me the Carving of My Name - contributing author
A Chorus of Seven - contributing author (about to be published)
Thanks, Marla, so let's get to know you, tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in a small medieval city in the Yorkshire Dales. After living in Europe for a number of years, I returned home to become a mature student and on completion of my postgraduate studies, became a College Lecturer. I’m married to a military veteran with a grown family – a wonderful son and daughter; lovely daughter and son-in-law and two delightful grandchildren.
A History enthusiast, I am fascinated by the people and events of the past and this is reflected in much of my writing. When not immersed in researching and writing my novels, I also enjoy writing short stories and poems, tending my large garden, exploring ancient ruins and taking long walks with my West Highland Terrier in the countryside surrounding the Dales village where I now live.
The famous Yorkshire Dales, beautiful countryside, what got you into writing?
I’ve dabbled in writing since taking a Creative Writing Course at university but family and career commitments always prevented me from getting down to serious writing. However, when I developed breast cancer and was forced to take a long career break, it was writing and taking long walks in the country that helped me to get through it – along with the loving support and encouragement of my family.
I'm sorry to hear of your struggles and glad you're better now. What’s the main thing you love and hate about writing?
My stories are mostly historical fiction – I love researching - delving into the past events and the lives of the people who lived through them.
I hate it when a scene that I clearly picture in my mind doesn’t quite translate into words on the page.
Who is the worst villain you’ve ever written, and why?
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham an actual historical character - the more I researched him the more I came to dislike him – he was shallow, vainglorious and without conscience, ready to betray/abandon his allies as soon as things became difficult for him. He was the perfect villain for my first novel
He sounds dreadful, what is next on your list to write/publish?
About to be published is ‘A Chorus of Seven,’ a collection of short stories and poems by an author group to which I belong – there are seven of us who have each contributed seven pieces of work. A work in progress (two thirds written) is ‘King’s Pawn’ Part 1 of ‘Renegade’ which is the sequel to ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King.’ It is the story of Francis Viscount Lovell, a man surrounded by myths and legends after he mysteriously disappeared (last seen swimming across the river Trent on his horse) at the end the battle of Stoke Field, the last battle of the Wars of the Roses. Also partly written (not so far along though) is ‘Forget Me Not’ a romantic murder mystery set during the Napoleonic Wars.
Interesting, you have to wonder what happened to him! Who is your favourite author, and why?
Jane Austin. The more I read her books the more I appreciate her sharp wit, her subtle analysis of contemporary life in small-town Regency England and her incisive characterizations. Her wonderfully sketched heroine Emma Woodhouse is just one example. She is delightfully flawed. A cherished and spoilt daughter, she is high spirited, managing and charming to all those around her but insensitive to their feelings. Emma has to learn a hard lesson before she ultimately finds her own happiness.
Who encouraged you the most to write?
More than one person really, at university it was one of my professors who became a dear friend - she always maintained that my vivid imagination would lead to a book one day. Another friend, a respected Medieval Historian challenged me to write a story about King Richard III when his grave was discovered under a Leicester city car park and my husband who pushes me to continue when my confidence flags. He’s also a wonderful source of information because of his long military service – he’s helped me enormously to work out the battle scenes in my stories.
So nice to be able to pick your husband's brain! How wonderful you have so much support around you, are you as avid a reader as a writer?
Perhaps more so as I read to research and also for pleasure. There is always an unread pile of fiction and non-fiction books on my bedside table.
What’s your favourite genre?
I enjoy Historical Fiction – Georgette Heyer, Sharon Kay Penman and Anne O’Brien favourite authors, also Time Travel such as the Outlander Saga and the Time Travellers Wife and of course there’s nothing like a good Romance.
Some good books listed there, do you listen to music when you write?
I need total quiet when I’m writing. My desk overlooks the garden so when I want to work out a scene in my mind, I head out there – I’ve worked out many a difficult passage or dialogue whilst doing some weeding.
If you could interview any famous author who would it be and why?
William Shakespeare, he is after all, the greatest wordsmith ever. I am in awe of the way he puts humanity with all its strengths and weaknesses under the microscope and I would love to ask him ‘who really is The Dark Lady in your Sonnets?’
Tell me a secret that none of your fans know!
My West Highland terrier, Stanley always keeps me company when I’m writing, he’s a great listener when I’m trying to work out a scene or some dialogue.
Yes and he can't argue back, what a great listening board, tell me what your main character would say about you!
King Richard III would say that I am disorganised, that I need to have a timetable for when I research and when I write creatively…and not get out of bed in the middle of the night to sketch out a scene or some dialogue.
Marla, I think that is part of being an author, we write at odd times! Finally, any words of advice?
I hesitate to give advice as I don’t have enough experience as an author yet to do so but I would say that if you have a story inside you, that you need to tell, don’t hesitate, don’t wonder whether you should write – do it.
Thank you, Marla, for talking with me today, it was such a pleasure! I hope your writing goes well! To keep up to date with Marla and Stanley please find her at:
Author Website https://www.marlaskidmore.com
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