SPOTLIGHT ON… Historical Romance: Alison Stuart

Alison Stuart

Alison Stuart

Alison Stuart

Describe yourself in one word:

What is your background with regard to writing?
I have always been a scribbler. In my loft there is a trunk filled with notebooks containing the stories I wrote as a school girl (note to self…must destroy!). I was always that annoying child in the class who got As for “Creative Writing” assignments (I mostly got Ds for Maths!).

When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
It was a skiing accident. I learned never to follow my husband down a slope that he claims “doesn’t look steep”. I dislocated my shoulder and ended up in the chalet in the depths of a snowy winter in the Australian alps with the first incarnation of a “notebook: computer and a story idea that had been rattling around my head for years. Long after we returned home I continued to write the story in secret, finished it, entered it in the Emma Darcy Award (The precursor to RWA’s Emerald Award) and came second. That story became BY THE SWORD which won the 2008 Eppie Award for Historical Romance.

What is your writing routine?
I work 2 days a week so my writing is done mostly on the days I don’t work. I fiddle around with Facebook and emails (bad! bad!) before I will settle down to writing. I have a project target set up on Scrivener so if I am writing well I should be ahead of my daily target. I cannot write after 6.00pm. Definitely a morning person.

Favourite snack whilst writing?
Fresh dates…they give me the sweet hit without the calories of chocolate.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Creatively…probably more needlework, patchwork and quilting.
Career wise… probably still practising law and working more days than I do now.

What piqued your interest in the historical romance genre?
My father loved history and he inculcated me from an early age. I didn’t even know there was a historical romance genre per se until I wrote that first book. I just wrote the sort of stories I liked to read…a bit of adventure, a bit of derring do, a hero, a heroine and a happy ever after. It was only after I finished it that someone said. “You do realise you have written a historical romance?”. I like to think that what I write is more “cross genre” – history with romance rather than a traditional historical romance.

Can you share with our readers one piece of historical information that has special meaning to you?
This is a purely personal story. When my husband and I toured the battlefields of the First World War (which became the inspiration for  GATHER THE BONES), my father sent me in search of the last resting place of his father’s cousin – Captain Richard Conway Lowe MC of the Warwickshire Regiment, killed on the Somme in 1916. When I found the grave in the British cemetery at Pozieres, I saw from the inscription that this young man was only 22 – the same age as my eldest son. In subsequent research I found out that he had intended to go into the church and as a consequence of his death the family was devastated. His father never recovered and lost his business, dying only a few years later. That line of the family died out. As I knelt beside him with the tears rolling down my face,  I realised no one had wept over his grave for a long, long time. I will never forget that valiant young man.

One thing you’d like readers to know about the historical romance genre:
Readers…there is more to historical romance than the Regency period. The “historical romance genre” is incredibly wide. It ranges from the more traditional “romances in a historical setting” to the sort of stories I write “historical with a romantic thread”.  The authors I know try very hard to be true and accurate to the periods of history they write about…and there is a lot more to history than “regency”…so please be open minded and prepared to give other, lesser known periods of history a go (like…say…the English Civil War). You never know what you will learn and have a fabulous read along the way!

The one book that you’ve read over and over is…
The book my father read to me (rather inappropriately in retrospect) when I was 8 years old… THE KING’S GENERAL by Daphne DuMaurier. It sparked my passion in the English Civil War period.

Favourite fictional character:
I think it has to be Jane Eyre. I first read this book as an 11 year old – having purchased a copy in the little village of Haworth. I love Jane’s tenacity and her ability to overcome adversity and I love the fact she got her Happy Ever After.

Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
I can tell you now…it is NOT jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft. I would like to return to the country of my birth, Kenya, taking my family with me. Kenya is such an important part of the tapestry of my family history.

What book has changed your opinion/stance on something important to you, and why?
One of the most inspirational books I ever read was Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom. The courage and tenacity of man to survive even the most brutal treatment never ceases to amaze me.

Biggest accomplishment to date:
Managing to raise two sons to adulthood-  in one piece –  who are actually thoroughly decent human beings and I love to pieces. Personally – there have been some minor accomplishments. Seeing RWAustralia as the thriving and exciting organisation it is today is something of which I am inordinately proud.

What’s next for you?
Hmmm… writing wise I have a sock drawer full of my own peculiar brand of cross genre stories I am dying to share with the world. Otherwise I am turning to crime – with a 3 part “cosy mystery” series set in Singapore in 1910. Early days on that one yet! My two latest novels, GATHER THE BONES (A multi award nominated “haunting” love story set in 1923) and SECRETS IN TIME (a historical time travel) have just been re-released as ebooks and are available at all reputable online bookstores.


Gather The Bones
Alison Stuart

War leaves no heart untouched

In the shadow of the Great War, grieving widow, Helen Morrow and her husband’s cousin, the wounded and reclusive Paul are haunted not only by the horrors of the trenches but ghosts from another time and another conflict.

As the desperate voice of the young woman reaches out to them from the pages of a coded diary, Paul and Helen are bound together in their search for answers, not only to the old mystery but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the two stories become entwined, Paul and Helen will not find peace until the mysteries are solved.

GATHER THE BONES has been nominated for the following awards 2012 Australian Romance Readers Awards, the 2012 CRW Award of Excellence, the 2013 GDRWA Booksellers Best Awards and the 2012 RONE Awards!

Amazon – available for a short time for just 99c



Find Alison online:

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3 Comments on SPOTLIGHT ON… Historical Romance: Alison Stuart

  1. Gather the Bones made me weep but gosh, I loved that ending. It was so ‘real’! And satisfying.

  2. Thanks Beverley and a big thank you to J’aimee for having me as her guest in what has been the most awesome week of my life. An Amazon best seller. Who’d have thought Gather the Bones would hit #1. Still grinning 🙂

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