An Interview with Heather Rose Jones, author of ‘Floodtide’

 

Well-known historical fiction author Heather Rose Jones releases her latest book, Floodtide, today. I really enjoyed the story and wanted to know a bit more about why Heather wrote it and why she set it in her fictional world, Alpennia. In the following interview with Heather I was able to ask her more about her book:

Heather, ‘Floodtide’ is set in Alpennia, the setting for your earlier novels. Can you tell us about that world?

Alpennia is meant to be an ordinary small principality in central Europe–sitting roughly at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland–much like many other small regions that were still semi-independent in the 18-19th centuries. Alpennia exists as a convenience so I can set up certain social structures, certain historical events and people, without interfering with the history of an actual country. Other than the insertion of Alpennia, the world is much the same as ours, with the same geography, the same history, the same prominent figures.

Oh, and then there’s the magic. Magic, in the world of the stories takes the basic premise that certain forces and dynamics that we would consider supernatural or mystical or miraculous actually work. For some people. Sometimes. If you do them right.

Why did you choose to tell the story from the point of view of a servant girl, Roz?

In writing the earlier Alpennia books, I’d followed the usual Regency novel tropes of focusing on people in Society. Some of them are members of the aristocracy, some are wealthy, some are solidly middle-class business women and artisans. But they all move through the world with a certain amount of stability and confidence. I wanted to shake things up in this book by looking at that same world and some of those same events from the point of view of a working class girl. What is it like having queer desires if your every minute is under someone else’s scrutiny and at their mercy? What does magic look like if you’re learning it on street corners rather than in libraries and universities? And what do the effects of the Great Mysteries look like when your lives don’t figure into anyone’s calculations.

As part of your world-building you have some areas of language specific to Alpennia. What was your process for inventing it?

For some other projects, I’ve done fairly extensive conlangs (constructed languages). Linguistics has been a lifelong passion and is one of my academic degrees. But for Alpennia I didn’t need to get quite that detailed. I wanted to be able to create names and a few bits of specialized vocabulary that clearly indicated that Alpennia is a European nation, but is not any specific existing one.

Simple geography dictated much of the result. Situated where it is, you can expect Alpennia to speak a Romance language, influenced significantly in its vocabulary and names by a Germanic substrate. I wanted to have a unified “look and feel” for names that so that they were recognizable but clearly distinct, so I went back in time and picked a recorded language that didn’t leave any later descendents. The spelling and appearance of Alpennia is inspired by Langobardic, which was recorded in northern Italy–close enough for the connection. It isn’t meant to be a descendent of Langobardic; that simply gave me the material to set up certain sound-change and spelling rules. So I could feed names and words from the Latin and Migration Era into a set of rules and produce Early Modern Alpennia forms that felt like it’s own unique and coherent language.

Are you drawn to particular time periods? This book is set in the 19th century. Is that a favourite era?

I have a lot of favorite historic eras and hope to write stories (though not Alpennian ones) in many of them. But the setting for the Alpennia series is inspired more by my love for Regency romances. I love time periods when society was in flux–not necessarily times of violent disruption, but times of a more complex peaceful disruption when people were exploring new ways of being and challenging older norms. The specific location of the Alpennia series in time is tied to the general forces of western European history. The series had to start at a particular time relative to the Napoleonic wars, and it had to extend until a particular era of spreading political upset. But honestly, it’s all about the manners and the social functions and the clothing!

Thank you for joining me today Heather. If we have whetted your appetite for ‘Floodtide’, the Bella Books and Amazon links are below:

Bella Books

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Heather Rose Jones is the author of the Alpennia historic fantasy series: an alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure revolving around women’s lives woven through with magic, alchemy, and intrigue. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chronicles of the Holy Grail, Sword and Sorceress, Lace and Blade, and at Podcastle.org. Heather blogs about research into lesbian-relevant motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project and has a podcast covering the field of lesbian historical fiction which has recently expanded into publishing audio fiction. She reviews books at The Lesbian Review as well as on her blog. She works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech pharmaceuticals.

Book Links

Bella Books: http://www.bellabooks.com/Bella-Author-Heather-Rose-Jones-cat.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Rose-Jones/e/B00ID2LQE6

Social Media:

Website and blog: http://alpennia.com
Twitter: @heatherosejones
Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Rose-Jones-490950014312292/

Review of ‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones

‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones is a historical fiction story, set in a land where magic and mystery has its place. Told from the point of view of a teenage servant girl, it lets the reader see all echelons of society, and how they deal with an impending flood – and the serious health and societal implications it brings. Roz was dismissed from her previous job as a laundry maid after being reported for indulging in indecent acts with another young woman. What looks like the worst thing that could happen turns out to be the start of a new life, with its share of challenges – but with new friends and a new purpose.

I was transported to another place and time by the author. Heather Rose Jones has a talent for meticulous world-building and her writing shows intelligence and a flair for her craft. The story was beautifully teased out, with secrets we get to know as Roz does. Roz was an interesting character. She knew what she could expect from life but there were some things she was willing to defy expectations for.  And that could get her into a lot of trouble. Liking girls was always going to be a problem – but she wasn’t the only one. The hierarchy of society was integral to this story, and adding that to the idea of charms and mysteries made it a fascinating read. The word that comes to mind when finishing this book is exquisite. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Before Now’ by Joy Argento

‘Before Now’ by Joy Argento is a a mixture of modern day romance and historical fiction. Delany Payton agrees to meet a friend of a friend for a date  with benefits.  But it doesn’t turn out the way she expected. Jade Taylor is drop dead gorgeous and sex would be very welcome, but she feels something for this woman she can’t explain. She feels she’s met her before – in a lifetime long ago. 

The story goes back and forth between 15th century Scotland and present day New York State. Isobel and Heather’s love in the past was refreshing and beautiful but how could it ever work out? I really wanted it to, but feared the worst. Scotland in 1466 was described in wonderful detail. I enjoyed this part of the story. Delany and Jade’s story was one that was inextricably linked with theirs. I hoped that they could find happiness. There was some welcome humour and a bit of angst. An  interesting story well told. 

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘The Secrets We Kept’ by Lara Prescott

‘The Secrets We Kept’ by Lara Prescott is a historical fiction about a well-known twentieth century figure, Boris Pasternak. How his famous novel ‘Doctor Zhivago’ came to be published, the people involved and the lasting effects on those around him. It also deals with a group of women working for the secret agencies of the US government. And it is their story that I found much more interesting. I didn’t like Pasternak or his lover Olga. They were self- absorbed individuals who ruined the lives of those around them. But the young women of the agencies were fascinating. Especially the love story between two of the women. Sadly this was the fifties and a lesbian love story was never going to be easy. I enjoyed the way the author used first person accounts of a multitude of different characters. It worked very well. She also has a beautifully vivid writing style that appealed to me. I found the descriptions of life for women at that time very revealing. Being better than the men didn’t matter. They were frozen out of the top jobs and disregarded. A very impressive novel.

#TheSecretsWeKept

Review of ‘Muses’ by Elizabeth Andre

‘Muses’ by Elizabeth Andre is the second in the Paranormal Grievance Committee series and a very enjoyable read. Once again we are back with Julie and Maya and their motley crew of ghost hunters. In this instalment the group is hired by Lily, a woman desperately looking for an answer to her uncle’s death. A trio of ghostly figures are causing mayhem in the family home and Lily needs them gone. 

I like Elizabeth Andre’s writing style. It is light and fun and immersive. She makes me feel as if I am solving the mystery alongside them. I am a huge history fan and I love how the author weaved a story from the past, with wonderful detail, and the present day mystery. The great bunch of characters really make it for me too. Although Maya and Julie run the show, the other characters are allowed to shine. I really enjoyed it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Fire Court’ by Andrew Taylor

‘The Fire Court’ is a beautifully descriptive historical mystery set the year after the Great Fire of London. The writing was immersive and the period so well researched that I felt as if I was there. James Marwood finds himself investigating after his father claims to have found a dead woman at the chambers of the lawyers dealing with the aftermath of the Great Fire. He teams up with Cat Lovett, an interestingly independent woman for her time. I loved reading about the machinations of those in positions of power, as well as the ordinary lives of the people. The little details really brought this story alive for me. As a lover of historical novels, this book hit all the right notes for me. The story was fascinating, with plenty of twists and turns and the author’s ability to make the past seem real was such a joy. I really enjoyed it.

I was given a review copy by LoveReading.

Review of ‘Hiding Hearts’ by R.E. Bradshaw

‘Hiding Hearts’ is a wonderful book, a story that captures the essence of the Civil War immediately. As a huge fan of historical novels  I was delighted to find this novel and this particular author. This is my first R.E. Bradshaw book and it certainly won’t be my last. I loved her writing style and her descriptive powers are excellent. I felt as if I was right there. 

Lottie Bratcher, a poor illegitimate farm girl, has taken on so much to try and get her family through what is to come as the Yankees arrive in the area. There is much danger, especially for a young woman, but she is determined. She is also infatuated with Patrice Cole, a rich neighbour,  but has no idea how to deal with it. The romantic element was very touchingly written. For a few hours I could immerse myself in a world long gone, a world of war and bloody battles, of women left behind to pick up the pieces. The characters were realistic and sympathetic and I could feel their pain, their fear. As well as dealing with the collapse of their society, Lottie and Patrice are finding that there are so many secrets they have to keep. R.E. Bradshaw weaves a fantastic story and I adored it. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Cavalcade’ by K’Anne Meinel

cavalcade

You know a book is a winner when you love the characters so much you want their story to go on and on. ‘Cavalcade’ by K’Anne Meinel is one such book. Erin and Molly live together on a farm in the mid 1800s and try desperately to keep up the pretence of being just good friends. As their neighbours try to pair them off with eligible men they know they have to move somewhere no-one knows them. Erin’s appearance leads to strangers mistaking her for a man so taking on that role and leaving for a new life in Oregon with Molly seems to be the answer.

The story is beautifully told and the vivid descriptions of life for those heading west were truly fascinating. I worried that their secret would be revealed but also about the dangers and hardships. I felt as if I was there with them and became so invested. Now I can’t wait to read the next book in the series ‘Pioneering’!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Free to Love’ by Ali Spooner and Annette Mori

freeto

‘Free to Love’ is a fantastic book, comprising of two linked stories by Ali Spooner and Annette Mori. Set in the 18th century in a time of slavery, it tells of the lives of some amazing women who fought against injustice and for love. In ‘ The Chandler’s Daughter’ by Ali Spooner,  Cecilia works for her family business  in the South and becomes increasingly aware of the appalling treatment of the slaves who are brought in to the harbour nearby. Her lover, Captain Hillary Blythe is equally appalled and vows to do something to help. Their love story was very hot and steamy but with a love that shone through. They are linked to Annette Mori’s story ‘Forbidden Love’ by Captain Blythe’s visit to Antigua and a Mission run by Elizabeth Allen. Elizabeth is a very religious woman and fights against her need to be with the woman she has come to love. Rescued slave Kia becomes everything to her but they risk their lives by being together at such a dangerous time .

I found these stories inspiring and full of love. The historical aspect was fascinating  and I learned so much about the history of slavery and  of the reality of same sex relationships at that time. The characters were wonderfully written and I was completely enthralled. They were strong women who had to fight to be free to love. The people around them were important too and their interactions showed the lengths to which the women were prepared to go for love and justice. The stories blended so well together and I hope that Ms Spooner and Ms Mori decide to collaborate again in the future. I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.

I was given this ARC in return for an honest review.