Tamara Ledbetter, dumped by her arrogant husband, travels to Cornwall, England, to research her ancestors. A trip first planned with her soon-to-be ex. While in a neglected cemetery, she scrapes two fallen headstones together to read what’s beneath, faints, and awakes in 1789. Certain she’s caught in a reenactment, she fast discovers she’s in the year of the French Revolution, grain riots in England, miners out of work, and she’s mistrusted by the young farmer, Colum Polwhele, who’s come to her aid.
Can a sassy San Francisco gal survive in this primitive time where women have few rights? Could she fall for Colum, a man active in underhanded dealings that involve stolen grain, or will she struggle to return to her own time before danger stalks them both? Author Diane Scott Lewis shares her passion for time-travel, history … and unexpected romance.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Time-travel—whether purposeful or by accident—has long been a popular theme in novels, movies and television programs. What captured your own imagination for incorporating it into your newest release?
A: I’ve always loved historical movies and novels and wondered how I would survive in a more primitive time. I’ve read recent popular novels on this subject and thought the heroines didn’t react how a modern person would react to being ripped back in time. They usually adjusted far too quickly. That’s when I decided to try my own hand at a time-travel. I hope my heroine, Tamara, in Beyond the Fall, is realistic in her shock and fumbling at finding herself two hundred years in the past.
Q: If you were to be a time-traveler yourself, would you rather travel to the past or travel to the future?
A: Definitely the past. I’d like to experience the later eighteenth century for a brief time to observe the customs and day-to-day life first-hand. This information would make my novels authentic, and I pride myself on thorough research. I’d only want a brief time because I’ve read about the hardships and unsanitary conditions of the past; plus with my ‘modern’ mouth, I’d probably be locked up in a time where women had few rights.
Q: Favorite time-travel movie?
A: I loved the original The Time Machine, though the protagonist, played by Rod Taylor, went into the future and not the past. His shock at the way the world had changed was palpable. The big historical movies I watched as a child that peaked my interest in the past were Cleopatra and Mutiny on the Bounty.
Q: Historical fiction is another passion of yours. How did this interest come about?
A: My father loved history. Our house was full of history books, and historical novels. I began to read both, and this sparked my interest in the past. You always learn something, how words and customs originated, how history evolved and actually mirrors what’s happening now.
Q: Is there a particular time period or country that appeals to you more than others?
A: Cornwall, England became a fascination with me after watching an old movie. I noticed most authors back in the 90s, when I began to write, wrote about Regency or Victorian times. I decided to write of the previous century, the later eighteenth century. Then I fell in love with that era. There was so much happening. The Industrial Revolution was in its infancy; The French Revolution had begun, which sparked war with England. My first novel, now titled Escape the Revolution, incorporated all these elements.
Q: How do you go about doing research for your novels?
A: When I first began to research, there was no internet for private use. So the library became my research center. I was fortunate that I lived near Washington, DC, and had access to the Library of Congress, which is a treasure-trove for research. I also used library loans for rare books, and my local college library was another great resource. Now, I use the internet, plus I purchase books, because I still love a good historic read.
Q: Plotter or pantser? And why does your choice work well for you?
A: I’m a pantser, especially in my first novels. I get the germ of an idea and begin to write. My characters tell me where to go, once I get to know them well. I know authors who plot down to the last detail, but I’ve never managed to perfect that system. Of course, I go back and do rewrites constantly as my story fleshes out. It works for me because the character development and story arc can surprise me, take me down roads I hadn’t planned.
Q: Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you may everyone wait until THE END?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have critique groups, both local and on-line. We post a chapter, and other authors make comments, corrections, etc. I’ve been with one of my on-line groups for twelve years. I joined local writers’ clubs and societies—such as the Historical Novel Society— and took workshops to find resources as well.
Q: How important to you is historical accuracy for a work of fiction?
A: Extremely important. As stated earlier, I pride myself on historical accuracy. I find so many mistakes in other authors’ novels. As a reviewer for the Historical Novel Reviews, I point these out if they’re egregious. Though I must admit, sometimes you can’t find the definitive answer for an event or process.
Q: What is a typical writing day like for you?
A: I get up around 7:30 and fire up my computer. I have sticky notes all over the place reminding me of what needs to be done: research, blogging, posting a chapter for critique, etc. I usually work until lunchtime. But there are days when I’ve eaten in front of my computer, especially if I have a deadline. Later in the day if an idea strikes me, I’m right back in the office. I carry my laptop on travels so I can keep up with critiques and my work in progress.
Q: How has your love of world travel—including your early stint in the Navy–influenced your storytelling style?
A: Through the Navy I got to travel to and live in Greece. The ancient history, the birthplace of democracy, was inspiring. I might write a novel set in ancient Greece someday. With my Navy husband, who I met in Greece, we lived in Puerto Rico, Guam, and later traveled to England and France to research my novels. Seeing the history, experiencing different cultures, makes me a well-rounded person, and, I hope, a better writer.
Q: When did you first know that becoming an author was your true calling?
A: After watching the movie Cleopatra as a child, I started to write a story set in Egypt and Rome during that era. I discovered I loved to spin tales set in the past.
Q: Who had the most influence on your journey as a writer and what was the best advice s/he ever gave you?
A: I’ve had many influences. The NY Times best-selling author Sherryl Woods, whose critique group I attended, taught me about scenes, foreshadowing, dramatic forward thrust, and character development. She also told me to never give up.
Q: What would our readers be the most surprised to learn about you?
A: Dare I say it? I was wild as a teenager and young adult, experimenting with drugs, but always in charge, never addicted. I lost my brother to drugs too young. Now my vice of choice is a rich, dry, red wine.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: I’m currently working on a novel that takes place during the American Revolution, but I tell it from the Loyalists’ (those who remained loyal to the British) point of view. Most novels about this era are from the Patriot POV, so this is a difficult story to write. One of my critique partners chastised me for choosing this side. However, I wanted to explore something different: how were these people treated, how did they survive in a rebellious country? Many were murdered or chased from the new United States.
Diane Parkinson (email@example.com)
Your name: Diane Scott Lewis
Your Book Title: Beyond the Fall, a time-travel adventure
Publication Date/Publisher: Nov. 5, 2018/The Wild Rose Press
Target Audience: historical/historical romance/time-travel lovers
What my novel is about: In an English cemetery, Tamara faints and wakes up in 1789. Can she prevail and find romance with Colum, a farmer active in grain riots?