Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Author Interview: Freda Lightfoot

I got the chance to interview author Freda Lightfoot for this tour. Stop back later today for my review of The Amber Keeper.

1.Who is your favorite author?

A difficult question to answer as it changes constantly. My passion for historicals was born through reading the entire collection of Anya Seton, Norah Lofts, Jean Plaidy and Mary Stewart, which are still on my shelves along with Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Currently I’m enjoying Susan Holloway Scott, Lucinda Riley and Rachel Hore. But next month it could be a different selection. My all time favourite is Daphne du Maurier for the beauty of her prose and strength of her characters.

2.When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I would tell stories to my friends, write little plays to perform for them, and spent endless happy hours writing stories in little red exercise books when really I should have been doing Math homework. They were alarmingly similar to whatever I’d recently read: Enid Blyton mysteries, Chalet School, and my all time favorite: The Secret Garden. I always wanted to be a writer but this was considered a rather exotic ambition and I needed a ‘proper job’, so I qualified as a teacher and it wasn’t until I was bored with the nappy routine that I took writing up as a hobby. I wrote short stories and articles in any spare moment I could find. Often while the TV was on, or while I was cooking. (Which can tend to mess up dinner somewhat). But after I opened a book shop writing again fell by the wayside as I was too busy running a business and bringing up my kids. After ten years of this I took a break and moved out onto the remote Lakeland fells. Here I became thoroughly involved in rural life, keeping sheep and hens, various orphaned cats and dogs, built drystone walls, planted a small wood and even learned how to make jam. It certainly wasn’t the quiet life I’d anticipated. But fortunately the weather was so bad I was able to stay indoors a good deal and write, finally selling over forty short stories and articles. Then after three rejections I sold a historical romance to Mills & Boon which gave me an enormous boost. I wrote five of those before moving on to write family sagas and women’s fiction.

3. If you could have dinner with any famous person, who would it be and what would you be eating?

Alan Bennett. I loved his Talking Heads on TV, and saw Forty Years On and Lady in the Van on stage in London, among other plays he’s written. He is a wonderful playwright with a great sense of humor. As he lives in Yorkshire we’d go to Betty’s where the waitresses dress in Victorian style costume with pretty white aprons, and we’d have afternoon tea with delicious cakes and scones served on a three tier cake tray.

4.What is your favorite way of relaxing?

I love to garden, go for long walks and do zumba in a hopeless effort to keep fit, but it’s fun dancing to music. My husband and I also love to travel and cruise, now we’ve reached that certain age. Holidays for me are a reward for all my hard work, as I have no intention of retiring. Of an evening I like to watch a good drama on TV, and read, read, read. There is never enough time in my day for all I want to read, which means I do tend read long into the night.

5.What is your favorite tv show?

Downton Abbey. I’ve also just enjoyed reading the true story of the Real Downton Abbey, or rather  Highclere Castle where the drama is set. It tells the story of Lady Catherine, the Earl of Carnarvon and his many mistresses. A fascinating tale written by the current Countess of Carnarvon.

The Amber Keeper

My snow-boots were worn through so that I walked on the ice that coated the rough mountain path, the soles of my feet numb with cold. Gasps of breath formed frozen crystals on those parts of my nose and cheeks not protected by scarf and fur hat. I had long since lost my small pony, the poor animal having bolted home in terror when the guns started, although whether she’d ever arrived is doubtful.

Home, if that is what you can call the house in which I had resided for so many years, no longer existed. It was but a shell of its former glory. I remembered how the darkness of the night seemed to press in upon me, almost as if I were back within those prison walls. I had closed my mind to the horrors I’d left behind, attempted to set aside my fears about those loved ones dear to my heart who had vanished from my life. Instead I’d fixed my weary gaze on the heels of my guide trudging ahead of me, knowing that if I was to survive, I must stay focused. This was my last chance to get out of Russia.

We walked for days, through ice, snow and blizzard, sustaining ourselves with hunks of none too clean stale bread, and with nothing to wet our palates but sucking on icicles. When, hours later, we staggered into a cave my knees gave way and I fell to the ground, weak with gratitude. I remember feeling a huge relief that at least I could rest for a while, thankful to be out of the bitter wind. The last two nights - or was it three -we’d slept in the open, not even daring to light a fire in case the Bolsheviks should spot it and come searching. Curling myself thankfully into a corner, rubbing my hands and feet in an effort to stave off frost-bite, I pulled up my collar, tucked my knapsack beside me and told myself firmly that I must not fall asleep. I was afraid I might never wake again, due to the fierce cold.

But despite my best efforts I must have fallen asleep instantly out of sheer exhaustion, for I knew nothing more till I was woken by a shaft of daylight filtering into the cave at dawn, and some strange sound that had alerted me. I sat up abruptly, looking around for my guide. He was nowhere to be seen. The man to whom I’d paid an exorbitant sum, every last kopek I possessed, had deserted me. I was quite alone. But as the sound of horses’ hooves clattering over rocks penetrated my befuddled brain, I realized I was about to experience some unwelcome company.
Set against the backdrop of revolutionary Russia, The Amber Keeper is a sweeping tale of jealousy and revenge, reconciliation and forgiveness.

English Lake District, 1960s: A young Abbie Myers returns home after learning of her mother’s death. Estranged from her turbulent family for many years, Abbie is heartbroken to hear that they blame her for the tragedy.

Determined to uncover her mother’s past, Abbie approaches her beloved grandmother, Millie, in search of answers. As the old woman recounts her own past, Abbie is transported back to the grandeur of the Russian Empire in 1911 with tales of her grandmother’s life as a governess and the revolution that exploded around her.

As Abbie struggles to reconcile with her family, and to support herself and her child, she realizes that those long-ago events created aftershocks that threaten to upset the fragile peace she longs to create.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Biog:
Born in Lancashire, Freda Lightfoot has been a teacher and a bookseller, and in a mad moment even tried her hand at the 'good life'. Inspired by this tough life on the fells, memories of her Lancashire childhood, and her passion for history, she has published forty family sagas and historical novels including Daisy’s Secret and Watch for the Talleyman. Freda has lived in the Lake District and Cornwall, but now spends her winters in Spain and the rainy summers in the UK.

For more information about Freda, visit her website: www.fredalightfoot.co.uk.

Twitter: @fredalightfoot



Freda Lightfoot said...

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely site. It is most kind of you and much appreciated.
Best wishes, Freda

Unknown said...

I love stories about Russia, such an interesting place full of stories. The multiple time threads are right up my alley too. I'm looking forward to adding this one to my bookshelf :-) Thank you for the giveaway and congratulations on your book release Freda Lightfoot.

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