Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend and best-selling author of the Du Lac Chronicle Series, Mary Anne Yarde, who has dropped by to share her views of her life as an author.
Welcome, Mary Anne. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us today.
Can you tell us which book has influenced you the most?
Book? Surely you mean books! As soon as I learnt to read, I had my nose stuck in a book. I was lucky that I had a much older sister, so I inherited all her hand-me-down books, which caused no end of arguments. My sister was very particular about her books. No bent pages, no cracked spines, they had to look like new…always. In fact, even now, how she reads a book is a mystery to me, they all look like they have just come off the shelves of a bookstore. Unfortunately, that all went out the window when I got my hands on them. Very soon they were dog-eared, with occasional notes in the margin. Scandal!
By the time I hit eleven, my sister’s bedroom was better than the local library, and I would sneak in and help myself to her growing collection of Mills and Boon Romance novels. Needless to say, I learnt a lot from those books!
In 1995 a book came out that touched me deep inside in a way no other book had. I was a teen, and my boyfriend was going away on a school camp for a week. I was more than a little miserable as I faced the trauma of being apart from him! He took me shopping, I guess he wanted to cheer me up, and we ended up in a bookstore — no surprise there! There was a book near the front that caught my attention. It was Nicholas Evan’s debut novel. I am sure most people have heard of The Horse Whisperer, it was made into a film starring Robert Redford, but let’s not talk about that. The Horse Whisperer is, in my opinion, one of the truest accounts of human emotions that I have ever read. Guilt, Anger, Pain, Jealousy, Compassion, this book has it all, but above everything else, The Horse Whisper is about Love. I ignored my boyfriend for the rest of the day while I read The Horse Whisper in one sitting — I don’t think that was quite what he had in mind when he bought it for me. Even now, after reading a countless number of books, The Horse Whisper still does it for me. When I read it, it feels like coming home. As for the boyfriend, he forgave me, and a couple of years later he asked me to marry him, but in all those years we have been together, he has never bought me another book…I can’t understand why not?!
So to answer your question, it would be The Horse Whisper that has influenced and inspired me the most.
That’s such a coincidence – I adore that book and I loved the film too. Fantastic choice. What was your favourite book as a child?
I was a pony-obsessed child, so any book to do with horses found its way onto my overcrowded bookshelf! If you asked my childhood self what my favourite book was, then I would say Anna Sewell’s, Black Beauty. I had a very old 1920’s copy of Black Beauty, and I loved everything about that book — from the size of the book itself to the smell of its musty old pages! The story, of course, was a bonus. I must have read that book 100 times. It now sits on my daughter’s bookshelf — she loved it too!
Snap! Another common interest we share – I was horse-mad too and loved Black Beauty. Can you describe your writing process?
I always write in the afternoon, sat on my bed and curled up under a blanket. I put my headphones on and, depending on what type of scene I am writing, I find some music to listen to. I prefer listening to movie soundtracks, especially ones composed by James Horner. He composed the score for films such as Braveheart, Titanic, Legends of the Fall and Avatar. I could listen to his music all day!
I write using a laptop. I find it hard to sit up at a table, so I rest the computer on my lap, no doubt the posture police would have something to say about that!
Before I start to write, I will re-read what I had written the day before, and make any necessary changes and then carry on writing the story. Often I can be side-tracked when I need to look something up, but I don’t mind about that because I love researching the past.
I drink far too much tea when I write and have had to stop buying biscuits because I completely lose track of how many I have eaten while writing!
I only write for around two hours a day, sometimes a little bit more, any longer and I find my concentration starts to wander.
What advice can you give to writers at the beginning of their journey?
If you want to write, you have to read. Read as much as you can by a variety of authors. Then, you must write. Write as often as you can — practice does make perfect. Do not become disheartened, ever. Some days will be harder than others and sometimes you may feel like giving up. Don’t. You are creating a world with your words, a world that people may well want to lose themselves in one day. Writing isn’t a profession, it is a calling, and if you don’t answer that call, then you may well regret it for the rest of your life.
That’s fantastic advice and so true. What is the most moving book you have ever read?
The Horse Whisper; it really does have it all!
If you could have dinner with any writer(s), living or dead, who would you choose and why?
I would love to have dinner with Historical Fiction author, Tony Riches. Tony writes the most breathtakingly beautiful stories about the Tudor Dynasty. I love his work, and he kind of took me under his wing when I was starting out in this whole publishing process. I would like to buy him dinner to say thank you!
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
I am a self-published author, and I love it!
You write historical fiction. What is it that draws you to history?
When I was a very young child, my mother was given a set of encyclopedias. Can you remember the massive encyclopedias they used to have at school? That is the kind of book I am talking about! Now, I couldn’t read at the time, but I used to drag these heavy books down from the bookshelf, very mindful I would get in trouble if I dropped them. I would place them on the floor, lie down next to them and flick through the pages.
My mum tells me that I had a favourite encyclopedia (like you do when you are three years old) and that was the one about World History. So my love affair with history started on the living room floor with an encyclopedia that was almost bigger than me!
My mum was a keen National Trust member, so we used to go on trips to great houses all the time. I loved — still, do — exploring old houses and trying to imagine what it would be like to live in one!
In the summer holidays while the other children were outside playing I would have my nose stuck in a history project. Once, I dedicated a whole summer to learning about the First Crusade — Like you do! I took history at school, and I went to University to study it as well. It has just kind of stuck.
I grew up near Glastonbury, which is not only rich in history but folklore. I have been fascinated with the life and times of King Arthur and his knights, and although he is a tough cookie to track down historically, Arthur is embroiled with folklore.
About 13 years ago, I because interested in folklore and the stories the past generation used to tell. Folklore is often looked down upon by some historians, it is not an exact science and let’s be honest, most of it is pure fantasy, but I think folklore gives you a fascinating insight to the people of the time. Why were these stories told? Was it for sheer entertainment value or was there a darker reason? A swaying of the masses maybe, a form of propaganda, and that fascinates me. Put history and folklore together and you have a potent mix, and I love creating stories that have one foot in a myth and the other in history.
Please tell us about your latest published work.
The Du Lac Devil (Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
The best-selling Du Lac Chronicles continues:
War is coming to Saxon Briton.
As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.
Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.
Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves.
Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?
Paperback available December 2017
Mary Anne Yarde is the bestselling author of The Du Lac Chronicle series. Born in Bath, England, Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.
At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.
Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking — so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!
If you’d like to learn more about Mary Anne and her books, then do follow the links below:
Amazon Author’s page http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0