15 Jun 2014

Bev Stout: Secrets of the Realm

1 Comment Book Reviews, News

“Secrets of the Realm” by Bev Stout is an exciting historical adventure novel set on an 18th century ship, called Realm. Secrets_of_the_Realm_cover

Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie Moore has no choice but to run away and seek a better life for herself. Knowing the dangers an unescorted female will face on the streets of eighteenth century London, she disguises herself as a boy.

Annie’s life changes course when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy on the merchant ship, the Realm. Annie is a spirited one, but she learns her quick temper and poor judgment might not earn her the respect from the crew she desperately needs to make her already complicated life less complicated.

While Annie might be able to change her attitude, she cannot change her small stature or smooth hands. To make matters more difficult, the motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen are a superstitious lot. If they discover there is a girl among them, it can mean serious trouble, not only for Annie, but also for the captain, who has secrets all his own. Nevertheless, she is determined the men will accept her on her terms and no one else’s.

Secrets of the Realm follows Annie on her adventures aboard the Realm where life is as unpredictable as the sea. Living through heartache and loss has made Annie both strong and fragile. And while she believes dry land is her enemy, she learns the harsh reality that the sea can be just as cruel. However, she vows she will never leave the Realm where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer.

When her past catches up with her, Annie’s life as a sailor is jeopardized. Annie knows this will be her greatest challenge yet. As her two worlds collide, she only trusts herself, but this time it may not be enough.

 The ship is full of colourful and interesting characters, the life on the ship has been immaculately researched and described with excellent detail about all day routines and sailing at the time. 
The story is a great adventure with pirates and action  and very enjoyable.

Interview with Bev Bev_Stout

Q: What was your connection or fascination with that particular time? 

A: The connection came when I began writing Annie Moore’s story. There was no doubt in my mind that she lived in eighteenth century England, a time where women had few options in their lives. I wanted to tell the story of how a girl survives a non-traditional lifestyle in a world dominated by men.

Q: How comfortable do you feel writing about history? How did you research for it?

A: I have always enjoyed reading books on history. But walking the decks of a replica of an eighteenth century sailing ship moored in San Diego, proved to be a rewarding experience. It gave me a feel for what Annie would have experienced out at sea, and what her living conditions would have been.

Q: How difficult was it to draw the balance between research and invention/ imagination?

A: The story was always there in my imagination. I only filled in the blanks. I needed to make sure the language, the places, and the action were appropriate for the time period. Further research into certain elements of the story only confirmed what I already believed were true. Everything fell into place.

Q: When did you first have the idea for this book?

A: The character of Annie had always been with me in the recesses of my mind. When I began writing her story, I was surprised at how the other characters showed up for the journey.

Q: How long did this book take you to write?

A: The actual writing of the first draft of Secrets of the Realm took maybe six months. I gave a friend pages to read each time we met on the tennis court. It pushed me to continue writing. I later joined a critique group. Several of the writers were traditionally published authors, and I learned a great deal from them.

Q: How do you write? What is your writing environment like?

A: I write anytime the mood hits me. My computer is in the family room, where there are all kinds of distractions. Among them are the TV, my husband, our dog, and our cat, who demands attention when she jumps on the back of my computer chair.

When a character wakes me up during the night, I grab my iPhone to jot down notes. If I don’t write them down then, I’m afraid I won’t remember them the next morning.

Q: How many rewrites did it take you?

A: Many, but the most rewrites were of the first and last chapters. The first chapter changed multiple times. The last chapter changed three times. I finalized the ending only a few months before it went to print. It was a drastic change, taking the first chapter of the sequel and turning it into the last chapter of Secrets of the Realm.

Q: Did you have any input on the cover art?

A: There have been two covers. I always considered Secrets of the Realm a project for my family. Many family names were used in the story. My granddaughter’s picture was used for the first cover. Her eyes were what I imagined Annie’s ice blue eyes would have looked like. Later, we changed the cover to a picture of a sailing ship, which seemed to work better for the story.

Q: What did you find most challenging about this book? What do you like most about writing?

A: The most challenging aspect was making the tone of the story authentic for the eighteenth century, both in dialogue and in the setting. My favourite part is writing dialogue.

Q: What would your characters say about the book?

A: They would say I portrayed them well with all their quirks, their strengths and their weaknesses.

Q: Who are your favourite characters and why? Who would play your characters in a movie?

A: It goes without saying that Annie has to be my favourite character. I like her spirit, her perseverance, and her softer side, as well. But I also loved Symington for his nastiness, and Captain Hawke for his own secrets. When you get to know Doc, you really appreciate the person he is. And then there’s Christopher. I’ve had several reviewers say they wanted to adopt him. Mr. Montgomery is a wonderful gentlemen and friend. Abigail is annoying, but you have to love her.

A short Jennifer Lawrence would be a great Annie. A much younger and more serious Johnny Depp would make a wonderful Captain Hawke.

Q: Which character did you most enjoy writing?

A: Symington’s altercations with Annie were great fun to write. He is a character everyone loves to hate.

Q: How do you handle criticism of your book?

A: I handle honest, helpful criticism well; mean-spirited criticism, not so much. But I look at it all, and gather what I can from it.

Q: Who are your favourite authors / influences?

A: William Saroyan, Harper Lee, and Suzanne Collins.

Q: What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

A: The Human Comedy, To Kill a Mockingbird, and I Saw the Fall of the Philippines.

Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

A: I’m reading Echo in Time by C. J. Hill, aka Janette Rallison, on my Nook.

Q: What is your life like outside of writing?

A: I enjoy barbecues, vacationing in Cambria on the California coast, and activities with family and friends. Even in the desert’s scorching heat, I play tennis at least twice a week. On weekends, I work at an outreach program for children, ages four through fifteen.

Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Watching reruns of Friends still makes me laugh. Playing Catch Phrase with family members also puts a smile on my face.

Q: What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?

A: A fully equipped yacht with a great GPS system.

Q: Hot or cold?

A: Cold, as in lemonade, ice tea, coke.

Q. Salty or sweet?

A: I love salty potato chips, but I have no self-control when it comes to chocolate.

Q: What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?

A: I would hope my friends would say I am fun to be with. Oddest quality? Too many to mention.

Q: Is there an audio version of Secrets of the Realm?

A: Yes. I was fortunate enough to get Anne Day-Jones to do the audio version. She has a number of movie and television credits to her name, and was educated in England.  She could read the phone book and do a fantastic job.

Q: What are you working on now?  

A: I am working on Return of the Realm, a sequel to Secrets of the Realm. Most of the original cast of characters will return. I am almost finished with an urban fantasy, My Name is Nissa. A young couple’s ordinary life is turned upside down by a baby, who is anything but ordinary.

 

 
 

 

Bio.

 

I grew up in San Leandro, California, across the bay from San Francisco.  Shortly after marrying the love of my life, I moved to Colorado.  My husband and I now reside in Arizona, but I have to get my ocean fix at least once a year. We have two children, six grandchildren, a rescue dog, and a scary, but loveable, cat. I enjoy reading, gardening, tennis, and walks around our lake.

 

I have worked at IBM, in a dentist office and as a piano teacher. Now, I am devoting my time to writing.

 

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

One Response to “Bev Stout: Secrets of the Realm”

  1. Name says:

    I love historical fiction. I’ll definitely check this one out. Nice interview, too! Thanks to both Christoph and Bev!

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