Please make welcome to the Tavern the fabulous Andrea Matthews! We're celebrating her blog tour for her time-travel, historical romance, Thunder on the Moor. I'm eager to find out more, so grab a cup of mead and let's take a peek into Andrea's intriguing story...
A Message from Andrea Matthews
I’d have to say the inspiration for a lot of my novels is rooted in history, genealogy to be specific, and that was certainly the case with the Thunder on the Moor series. While I’d been able to trace my family back quite a few generations, my husband’s was proving a bit more difficult. So when a friend handed me a book called The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser, it sounded intriguing. I had never heard of the Border reivers before, but as Foster seemed to be a Border name and my husband was from the North of England, it made sense that it was probably relevant to his family history. While I knew it wouldn’t give me the names and dates I was searching for, it could a least give me an idea as to his heritage.
To allay any confusion, I should note, that Matthews is my pen name, my actual surname being Foster. At any rate, I started reading and couldn’t stop. It was a fascinating story of a people who made their living by reiving (or stealing) and blackmail, and yet, had an intense loyalty to their family name. A group who suffered wars and the devastation of their lands, and yet fought on to thrive and make a home for themselves and their families the only way they could. Their story sparked my imagination almost at once, inspiring me to write a tale of blood feuds, border raids, and of course, forbidden love.
I was a long way, genealogically speaking, from making any connection to my husband’s sixteenth century Border ancestors, so the novels aren’t based on anyone in particular. That’s where the fiction comes in. My hero had to be named Foster, of course — family loyalty, you know, but other than that, the character list was wide open. I truly enjoyed studying the names of the Border families, both surnames and given names, and even had some fun creating nicknames for a few of my characters, a practice which seemed quite popular on the sixteenth century Borders. Thus we have Bonnie Will and Johnnie o’Dell. Though they are fictional characters, I hope they captured the spirit of the sixteenth century Borders, the good and bad alike. Of course, it is a romanticized image, but it is what I write after all, so I took a bit of poetic license here and there.
I did try to stay true to their history though, as I wanted to put the spotlight on this little mentioned period of Scottish and Northern English history. As the story developed, I tried to incorporate Border myths and legends into the narrative. In spite of their harsh lives, for example, they were said to be quite charming when they needed to be, and so Will and his brothers are known to have “silver tongues”. Their loyalty to their surname was also written into the story, as it seemed such a large part of who they were as a people.
Since I’ve always loved the dialect, I decided to add a bit to the dialogue with the hope of giving it that distinctive border flavor. No Gaelic spoken here though. And no kilts worn either. There were jacks and steel bonnets, hobblers and nags. The vocabulary of the region was so unique it prompted me to include a glossary so that I could use the words they would have, with the hope of making the reader’s experience on the sixteenth century borders more immersive.
I started writing just the one book, but fell in love with the period and the characters, and just couldn’t stop there. Thunder on the Moor is the first book in the series, and my research continues, both historically and genealogically speaking. The land and its people captured my imagination, as I hope it will the reader’s.
Maggie Armstrong grew up enchanted by her father’s tales of blood feuds and border raids. In fact, she could have easily fallen for the man portrayed in one particular image in his portrait collection. Yet when her father reveals he was himself an infamous Border reiver, she finds it a bit far-fetched—to say the least—especially when he announces his plans to return to his sixteenth century Scottish home with her in tow.
Suspecting it’s just his way of getting her to accompany him on yet another archaeological dig, Maggie agrees to the expedition, only to find herself transported four hundred and fifty years into the past. Though a bit disoriented at first, she discovers her father’s world to be every bit as exciting as his stories, particularly when she’s introduced to Ian Rutherford, the charming son of a neighboring laird. However, when her uncle announces her betrothal to Ian, Maggie’s twentieth-century sensibilities are outraged. She hardly even knows the man. But a refusal of his affections could ignite a blood feud.
Maggie’s worlds are colliding. Though she’s found the family she always wanted, the sixteenth century is a dangerous place. Betrayal, treachery, and a tragic murder have her questioning whether she should remain or try to make her way back to her own time.
To make matters worse, tensions escalate when she stumbles across Bonnie Will Foster, the dashing young man in her father’s portrait collection, only to learn he is a dreaded Englishman. But could he be the hero she’s always dreamed him to be? Or will his need for revenge against Ian shatter more than her heart?
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Meet the Author
Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. In fact, it was while doing some genealogical research that she stumbled across the history of the Border reivers. The idea for her first novel came to mind almost at once, gradually growing into the Thunder on the Moor series. And the rest, as they say, is history…
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