Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Writing Buddy Wednesday: Alison Stuart

Today, my Writing Buddy guest is the lovely Alison Stuart who writes historical stories often with a romantic twist. I met Alison online many years ago. She is an amazing person who with some other amazing ladies, put up their hand to be part of the committee for the flailing Romance Writers of Australia back in 2002 and formed the first cyber committee. It is because of them and their dedication that RWA is still here and growing stronger. Alison was the first cyber president and she was living in Singapore at the time. That's commitment!

Let's get chatting with Alison Stuart!

Hi Eleni and thank you so much for having me over to visit you.

Your most recent release is Secrets in Time. Can you describe this book for us? 

SECRETS IN TIME, is my shortest and most romantic (and, I hope, slightly humourous) story to date. I wrote it at a very sad time in my life as a total escape and it is a romantic time travel with a dashing cavalier for a hero and a very modern doctor as a heroine. 

Please tell us a little about your road to publication.

A road strewn with rocks, boulders, bear traps, one way streets and dead ends…

I started writing when I dislocated a shoulder skiing. That first book (now BY THE SWORD), garnered a lot of interest, did well in several major awards but never found a publisher. Too romantic to be historical and too historical to be a romance, I was told.

So I jumped on the epublishing train just before epublishing took off. Needless to say that particular train shunted itself into a siding. When I got the rights back, self publishing was just taking off so I re-released them myself. About that time the non-writing career took off and I stopped writing all together. When the career ended abruptly in an organizational restructure and a redundancy, I took a year off and just wrote books.

However the mainstream publishing industry still seem to want books that they can market under single labels and are not interested in my cross-genre stories so thank you for the rise of the epublishing market and all those wonderful readers who do want to read cross genre stories. However my stories are not “hot” and “steamy”, which are the e-publishing industry staple, so I still struggle to find readers in the cloud!

It is an amazing time to find myself as a writer. Still a long way to go though!

What attracted you to the historical romance genres?

Historical fiction has been all I’ve read since I was first caught out reading Rosemary Sutcliff under the blankets with a torch at the age of 8. I instinctively sought out authors (like the great Rosemary) who wrote stories with a hero I could fall in love with and a heroine I could relate to and if I could combine that story with an English Civil War setting then that book was a keeper! (Barbara Softly was a favourite author). Those first novels I penned as a teenager were definitely “historical romance” so it is no wonder when I started writing that I just continued with writing the sort of stories I liked to read.

Gather the Bones has been nominated for a few awards. Congratulations! What is about this book that has captured the readers’ attention? 

Thank you. I have been thrilled to get the nominations. I write stories that cross genres…which some readers and publishers may see as a fault. My stories are not easily classified as “historical” or “romance” or, as is the case with GATHER THE BONES, throw in “mystery” and “ghosts. 

Downton Abbey with ghosts?

I don’t think any of my stories could be described as “fluffy”. I like deep characterizations and complex, often black plots. I write about war and the effect of war on people and relationships – whether it is the English Civil War or, as in GATHER THE BONES, the first world war. That may not appeal to all readers but obviously it does to others. So, thank you to my readers for supporting me.

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in between?

A 98% pantser. I start with the idea of characters, setting and story kernel but after that it is on for young and old. This is much easier with romance than with a mystery or suspense story which is what I am dabbling with at the moment.

What are you working on now? And what’s in the near future for Alison Stuart?

Alison Stuart is turning to crime (with, I hope, a romantic bent). The current WIP is a regency suspense which was intended just as a straight regency romance but didn’t stay that way. After that I am dying to get stuck back into the idea for a series of mystery novels set in an exotic location (historical of course). 

What is your favourite part of the process of writing?

Rewriting. I view my first draft as a rough sketch. For me the joy of creation is in the rewrite when I go back and bring the story to life, filling in between the sketches with colour and movement. When the characters start talking back to me is a magical moment. 

What are you currently reading?

I am deeply into Sandra Gulland’s Josephine Bonaparte trilogy – THE MANY LIVES AND SECRET SORROWS OF JOSEPHINE B. Sandra was a founding member of the blog, HOYDENS AND FIREBRANDS, set up by a group of writers who work in the seventeenth century so I’ve got to know her through that. It is now public knowledge that her Josephine stories, which are written in first person as a diary, have been optioned for a TV series. I do hope it comes off!

Thanks, Alison!

You can find Alison at:

website -




m. mundy said...

Love the sound of Secrets in Time. I love crime and I'm trying to write a murder mystery myself and it is a very different beast. Many thanks for making RWA what it is today.

Alison Stuart said...

Thanks,Maggie :-) oddly I read more crime thn romance so I thought I would give it a go. Thank heavens for Scrivener!

Joanna Lloyd said...

I have read most of your books so am looking forward to Secrets in Time. I totally relate to your comment about e-publishers and ebook readers tending towards a spicy romance and I have had the same dilemma...not into writing those! Its what I love about yours - lots of history and a dash of romance!

Suzi Love said...

Two of my favorite Aussie romance authors together in one place. Must have died and gone to heaven.

Alison and Eleni, you're both awesome for all you do for Australian romance writers. Proud to know both of you.

Alison Stuart said...

Joanna, Suzi...thank you so much for your kind words.

Joanna - I wish I knew the answer to our dilemma. There must be readers out there looking for books like ours but how to reach them?


Alison Stuart said...

I don't know what happened to the rest of my last comment, but thank you, Suzi :-)

Kate Belle said...

Alison I have a real thing for your titles. They are wonderful and I like the sound of your stories. Will definitely give them a look over soon.

Holley Trent said...

Great to see a post from Alison here. Gather the Bones was a very well-liked book during the CRW Award of Excellence contest. Always fun to see what's going on behind the scenes of those things!

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