Monday, October 8, 2012

Meet Mary Ann Bernal - Historical Romance Author

Mary Ann Bernal
Historical Romance Author

     Welcome to my interview with Mary Ann Bernal, author of The Briton and the Dane trilogy. I'm honored to have her as my guest author this week as we ride aboard a longship. Mary Ann has set up the locale for you: Imagine us aboard a Viking longship, crossing the stormy North Sea heading towards Britannia, while Prince Erik’s oarsmen battle against the raging waves, rowing furiously to reach shore before nightfall.  We admire the grim countenance of the flaxen-haired Helmsman, muscled and ferociously determined, as he steers his proud ship through the towering breakers while we talk quietly of the momentous events that shaped The Briton and the Dane.

      After the interview, be sure to get in on the drawing because Mary Ann will give away a Kindle copy of The Briton and the Dane:  The Complete Trilogy!

Deanna:  Mary Ann, I'm honored that you've taken time from your busy schedule to be here with our readers this week. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Mary Ann:  Thank you for having me this week, Deanna. Being an avid history buff, and obsessed with the Viking Age, my trilogy is set in Anglo-Saxon Britain during the reign of Alfred the Great.  In addition to my writing career, I am also a passionate supporter of the United States military and have been involved with letter writing campaigns and other support programs since Operation Desert Storm.  My evenings and weekends are filled with supporting my grandchildren’s activities.  You may find me in the stands cheering on my grandson’s baseball, football and basketball teams or sitting in the Music Hall for my granddaughter’s dance competitions.  Originally from New York, I relocated to Omaha, Nebraska years ago to spend time with my son and his family, and the adventure continues.

Deanna:  Grandchildren are fun to be around and I'm glad you're close enough to do that. Mine are 2,000 miles away but I do Skype with them. We all need down time. What do you do to relax?

Mary Ann:  Traveling is my favorite relaxation.  I have been to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Rome and will be traveling to Greece later this month.  And since I have 8 GB worth of memory cards for my Canon Rebel, rest assured I will take my 2,000 pictures - yes, that’s right - my “norm” for these trips.

Deanna:  I can only imagine the video library you have that has to include gorgeous pictures! Wow, enjoy your trip to Greece! As authors, we’ve sometimes been accused of being several people. How many personalities live in your mind?
Mary Ann:  Too many to count, Deanna.  Only kidding.  Seriously, however, I do believe that each character harbors some part of the author’s personality, no matter how slight.  Since our characters live in our minds, they do take on their unique personalities that do incorporate some of the author’s persona.

Deanna: What is your strongest area in writing: plotting, character personality, dialogue, etc?

Mary Ann:  I tend to enjoy writing dialogue the most since I love to have the reader delve into the mind of the many characters involved in my trilogy.  Perception plays a major role in the myriad of themes throughout the trilogy.  The intrigue and treachery takes on a new meaning when you have the villain’s point of view, and suddenly you find that the issue isn’t clear-cut, which tends to gather sympathy for the character.

Deanna:  How many plots do you include in one of your books?

Mary Ann:  I have multiple storylines going on in the trilogy, which is why the original novel, The Briton and the Dane became a trilogy.  Too many characters demanding their own storyline, and of course, being sympathetic to my characters, I did acquiesce.  For those who’d like to watch the book trailer, click the link below but do come back for  the rest of the interview!

Deanna:  How long does it take you to write a book?

Mary Ann:  From start to finish, it takes me about ten months. This time-frame includes my research and setting up my characters and storyline.  The trilogy did take three years, but it was a wonderful experience and because I did not wish to leave King Alfred’s Wessex, my next novel, scheduled to launch in early 2013 is The Briton and the Dane: Concordia.

Deanna:  What is your editing process?

Mary Ann:  I edit my work twice, one on the computer screen, then print that version and read, before sending the manuscript to my editor.  I do, however, have “work-in-progress” readers who will point out anything that might be confusing, especially since I know my history and tend to forget the reader might not be familiar with the time period.  This system has worked well for the trilogy and for “Concordia.”

Deanna:  I also use the "work-in-progress' readers who help immensely. Readers like to get a peek into what we do as authors and how we go about writing our books. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Mary Ann:  My typical day starts with a morning of marketing, since published authors need to aggressively promote his/her work.  Once I take off my marketing cap, that’s it for the day, and after lunch I wear my writer’s cap, until dinnertime.  I do limit my time on the computer so I won’t go blind or get carpal tunnel syndrome and all the other ailments associated with prolonged computer usage.

Deanna:  Good schedule and it's sometimes hard to take off the marketing cap! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Mary Ann:  All my books are set in Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Wessex during the reign of Alfred the Great.  However, my short stories are contemporary, and have been accepted into various anthologies, three of which have been published and another three are in the process of being published.

Deanna:  That's an exciting time period and had to be fun to research as well as being a huge, on-going history lesson. Tell us a little bit about the characters?

Mary Ann:  The first book of the series, The Briton and the Dane begins with a headstrong girl named Gwyneth whose impulsive nature gets herself into a lot of trouble, from rescuing a wounded Norseman, named Erik, on the beach, to being kidnapped by a Danish warrior, Odulf, and brought to King Guthrum’s encampment, while her father, Lord Richard,  brothers, Stephen and David, and her betrothed, Cerdic, a man twice her age, attempt a rescue.  When King Alfred and Gwyneth’s father arrive at King Guthrum’s camp, both kings learn of Cerdic’s treachery, since the Saxon had sworn fealty to both kings and had taken a Danish wife, Helga.  Throw into the mix unrest in Wales and an unknown prince rallying support to usurp King Guthrum’s throne, and the epic adventure begins.
     In the second book of the series, The Briton and the Dane: Birthright, King Guthrum learns that his bastard son, Rigr, is raising an army to usurp his father’s throne.  Treachery and betrayal  affect both courts as the stage is set for the final battle between father and son. 
     In the final book of the series, The Briton and the Dane: Legacy, betrayal and treachery intensifies, and King Alfred faces a new Danish threat, but he decides to fight the Norsemen at sea, knowing Erik must fight his brother, Sven.  Add excessive storm tides and fire ships hurled about by excessive winds, and suddenly both sides find themselves fighting for survival. 

Deanna:  I've been an historical romance reader for many, many years, Mary Ann. Thank you for adding a few more to my TBR list! Has there been anything unusual or exciting that has happened to you since you’ve been published?

Mary Ann:  Appearing on a local TV talk show was an adventure. As I mentioned earlier, I am an avid supporter of the United States Military and my novels are dedicated to fallen soldiers who have died protecting our freedom. I was interviewed on TV for my volunteer work with the military programs, and my books were featured on the program, being displayed on the coffee table, right in front of the camera. One of the best surprises was delivered via Federal Express when I received a thank you signed by the marines serving aboard the USS Ronald Reagan along with a lovely blue throw blanket with the USS Ronald Reagan emblem stitched into the fabric.  How cool is that. Mail call is a major morale booster, especially when letters are written by strangers on a weekly basis without expecting a reply. In addition to sending letters, I also donated copies of my novels, which were circulated amongst the crew, and found myself with many new fans of my work.

Deanna:  Wow! That would be a surprise and a thrill! I can't imagine how exciting that had to be for you. Congratulations on receiving such a gift! What is your next project?

Mary Ann:  Thank you. The Briton and the Dane: Concordia is set to launch in early 2013.  Concordia comes of age in this story, and is kidnapped by Saracen pirates while en route to Rome.  Will she be rescued or forced to live in a country where the penalty for following her religious beliefs is death.  No’ll have to read the story to find out.

Deanna:  I love it! Historical readers, mark down that date! Where can we find out more about you?

Mary Ann:  Please visit my webpage and while you're there, please note on the “Resources” tab, I have downloadable pdf files of the characters and maps for each novel, along with a glossary.

Deanna:  Readers, check out that Resoure Tab for sure! Where can we purchase your books?

Mary Ann:  Links are available on my webpage and LitUnderGround.
 Readers, thank you so much for stopping by to read about my books! I love hearing from readers so please don't hesitate to contact me and stop by my blog.
Buy Links

CONTEST:  Mary Ann will give away a Kindle copy of The Briton and the Dane:  The Complete Trilogy to one lucky commenter. Be sure to get into the RaffleCopter Contest so we get your email addy. Also, please note in your comment what your favorite historical time period is when you're reading.

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