A warm welcome to Laura Strickland. Please get comfortable, Laura, and tell us a little about your adventure.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Wow, this is a difficult question. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, and treasured a great many of them. I suspect that every book I’ve read – good or bad – has influenced me on some subatomic level, sculpting the stuff of my brain and adding a little something. I’ve always said I learned to write by reading great writers, most of them British. Maybe I learned a bit about how not to write by reading the other kind.
When I was younger, I measured my love for a book by my desire to own a copy. I would save my allowance until I could order copies of books like Sally Watson’s Witch of the Glens. After I read Louisa May Alcott’s Rose in Bloom I made up my mind to memorize it word for word – and that was long before I saw the movie Fahrenheit 451! I didn’t prove too successful, but the effort did give me time to save enough money to purchase a copy, which I still own.
I think I’ve actually been most influenced by books that created a world that then drew me in, like Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Discworld Series by Sir Terry Pratchett, who qualifies as my favourite author of all time. Those kinds of books inspired me to create worlds of my own, like that inhabited by the characters of my latest release, Daughter of Sherwood.
What book are you reading now?
Well, I’m a voracious reader, so I tend to go through books very quickly and I have a wide range of interests when it comes to reading fiction. I generally choose what to read based on my mood of the moment, but once I start a book I always finish, even if I don’t particularly like the story. It’s as if having opened a book, I feel I’ve entered into a pact with the author and committed myself to follow through. I have the good fortune to work for a Library System (right, could it be more perfect?) so I have access to a wide range of books at all times. I read Historical, Mysteries, Romances, Humor, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult and occasionally even Westerns.
I also love to read books written by my fellow authors. The Wild Rose Press is publishing an amazing array of fiction and there’s definitely something to meet every taste and every mood. When I see the talent of my fellow Roses, I’m humbled to be in their company.
Right now, though, I’m reading a Young Adult novel by Michael Rubens called Sons of the 613, a coming of age story that’s so funny it makes me laugh out loud.
Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?
My latest book, DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD, is Book One of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, and the next book, Champion of Sherwood, has an estimated release date some time next spring. It’s a funny thing, because when I wrote Daughter of Sherwood and submitted it to my publisher I had no notion of writing a trilogy. Not till I received a contract from my editor did that idea strike me.
Daughter of Sherwood is a story of threes: the heroine, Wren, is born three days after the death of her father, Robin Hood; her mother, Marian, cares for her three days before succumbing to her grief and withdrawing to a convent. At the beginning of the book Wren learns she is destined to be part of a magical triad that guards Sherwood Forest, along with the sons of two of Robin’s men, Martin Scarlet and Sparrow Little. It just seemed a given that there should be a trilogy and I began work almost at once on the second book, Champion of Sherwood, which tells the tale of Wren’s daughters and a young Norman knight. The final book of the trilogy, called Lord of Sherwood, is now in the final stages of editing. It brings the tale round in a circle to end where it began. Each book can be read and enjoyed separately, as each tells a complete story, but I’m particularly proud of how the three books fit together to advance the legend of Robin Hood and his descendants.
What historical person would you want to meet and why?
There are so many people I’d love to meet. I love ancient Celtic music so I’ve always wished I could meet the 17th-Century Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan. Only imagine sitting and listening to him play and tell stories! I’ll bet Thomas Jefferson would have been a fascinating conversationalist. And I’d find it hard to turn down a meeting with Leif Ericson or William Wallace. Do I really have to choose? Can’t I have a banquet? Jefferson can bring vegetables from his garden, Ericson can catch some fish in the fjord, Wallace can bring down a deer off a Scottish hillside and O’Carolan can keep us all entertained while we eat. We’ll talk late into the night, share a dram or two, and they can give me ideas for stories.
If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?
I love this question! If I could time travel for a day, it would definitely be back and I’d land myself in Celtic Iron Age Britain. In fact, the first Celtic Historical I ever wrote was a story about a man who crashes his car and, while in a coma, wakes up in Iron Age Scotland to find he’s a warrior in an ancient clan. So it’s not much of a stretch to imagine myself doing the same thing.
Just plop me down anywhere along the coast of Kintyre or near the foot of Glen Etive and I believe my imagination will do the rest. I did visit both places when I was in Scotland several years ago, because both are settings for books I’ve written. I found them to be wondrously similar to the way I’d pictured them in my mind. I’d like nothing more than an opportunity to see them in days of yore when factories, automobiles and airplanes were mere concepts in the minds of dreamers. The problem is, I’m not sure I’d want to return after my day was done!
Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?
When I was in grade school, we had something called “film day” once a month. Each student was asked to bring ten cents from home and a movie would be rented and shown for the whole student body, in the auditorium. I remember I was in sixth grade and seated next to my best friend, Debbie, the day they showed a movie called “A Dog of Flanders”. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it’s a touching story about a young boy whose dog – a Bouvier des Flandres – is his only companion and his sole means of support. The dog would do anything for the boy, and vice versa. Well, to make a long story short, the dog does not survive the film and this animal lover was reduced to a state of inconsolable grief. When the movie finished and the lights came up, Debbie and I were both still wallowing in tears though no one else seemed so terribly affected. Embarrassing, but even to this day I flinch when anyone mentions a movie that involves animals, and I refuse to watch unless I’m promised any and all animal characters will still be alive at the end.
DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD blurb:
Raised in the kitchens of Nottingham Castle, Wren has no idea she is the daughter of the legendary Robin Hood until she is summoned to Sherwood Forest. Since Robin’s death many years before, the resistance against Norman tyranny has been upheld by a magical triad, but now one of the guardians has died. With two young men, Sparrow and Martin, Wren must form a new triad with a bond strong enough to defend Sherwood’s magic. To one of them, she will also give her heart.
From the moment Wren bursts into his life, Sparrow loves her. But he knows she may choose his lifelong rival, Martin, as her mate. Martin wants Wren also, but Sparrow fears Martin is driven not by love but ambition. When Martin is captured and held at Nottingham Castle, will the conflict between love and duty destroy the triad?
DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD excerpt:
In the gathering gloom, the man looked tall and slender, a shadow seen only indistinctly. But she knew him, had seen him numerous times in both dream and imagination.
A sob burst from her throat. "You are dead."
“But I live on, here in Sherwood. That to which we give our love in life is never lost."
Rennie continued to examine him through narrowed eyes. This must be how he had looked at the time of his death, strong and handsome, vital as the forest itself.
"Long have I tried to reach you, Daughter, to tell you the importance of your place here."
There, he had said it: daughter. A chill chased its way through Rennie's limbs.
"Wren, life is a series of cycles. The flesh rises and falls as do the stars in the sky; the spirit endures. The three of you – Sparrow, Martin and yourself – must prepare to take your places on the wheel."
"It is not fair," Rennie cried, suddenly aware of how much she would have liked knowing this man.
"It is not fair," he agreed, "when a child is born into serfdom, an old woman bled to death for the king's taxes, or the father of a family deprived of his hand, so those he loves must starve. There is but one thing fair about our world."
"And, what is that?"
"That love does not die, but rides the wheel and goes round until it meets with those who love, again. You must do as you must do. Keep the magic strong."
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Currently she is at work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.
Buy link for Daughter of Sherwood:
Or via author’s web page: http://www.laurastricklandbooks.com