A Rip in the Veil
The Graham Saga
by Anna Belfrage
Publication Date: Originally 2012; new, re-edited version January 2023
Publisher: Timelight Press
Genre: Historical Fiction / Time Travel Romance
On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on a Scottish moor. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.
Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backwards in time to land at the feet of escaped convict Matthew Graham.
Matthew doesn’t know what to make of this strange woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies—what is she, a witch?
Alex is convinced the tall, gaunt man is some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.
Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here—and not exactly to extend a helping hand.
Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew, a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with baggage of his own and on occasion his past threatens them both. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.
How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she really want to?
Brushing up my babies – a post about editing and book series
In October of 2021, my previous distributor of my paperback versions of The Graham Saga advised me they thought it best if I take over the paperbacks myself, under my own imprint and with my own ISBNs. Why? Because they felt it would be too expensive for me to continue with them what with increasing costs. Plus, they would want to hike the price of the books substantially.
Now, some would suggest I take the existing files to do my new paperbacks. Not me. Instead, I’ve embarked on an editing odyssey which has culminated in revamped versions of ALL the books, including A Rip in the Veil, first book (and very treasured book baby) which is presently on tour here.
Now, as I’ve been doing this there have been moments when I’ve groaned out loud. Why so many books? How could my Alex and Matthew story swell into a bloody saga? After all, I never had the intention of writing more than one book about my time travelling Alexandra Lind and her 17th century man, Matthew Graham. Truth be told, I found the idea of one book quite daunting. After years of writing little bits and pieces there, of deleting 30 000 words and starting anew multiple times, I had almost given up on ever completing the dratted book. It was mostly Matthew’s fault.
“My fault?” He scowls. “Is it my fault you chose to depict me as it fitted your preconceived notions of what a Calvinist Scot should be? Is it my fault—”
Whatever. Best block him out. Let’s just say that Matthew’s character arc developed in a totally different direction than originally intended, and—
“Thank heavens for that,” Alex breaks in. “Imagine shackling me to some dour Knox-like type.”
No, that would have been difficult. I share a quick smile with my protagonists, watching with some sort of maternal pride as they wander off, hand in hand.
So, where was I? Oh, right: I was struggling with A Rip in the Veil. Now, I am one of those writers who often has an idea as to how things will end long before I’ve worked out the how or the why. In this case, the last chapter was so heart wrenching I cried myself to sleep on multiple occasions, and as Alex and Matthew grew into “real” people my intended end was not only inappropriate—it was cruel. Very, very cruel, and how was I to live with their silent reproaches echoing through my head for the rest of my life? Besides, if I go by my own reading preferences, I seriously dislike unhappy endings.
I did some tweaking, readjusted several crucial scenes, and the consequence of all this was that Matthew and Alex were still alive at the end of book one. Phew!
Except, of course, that now I started wondering about what would happen next. It was emotionally impossible for me to leave them to their own lives. I had bonded so hard with my invented characters that living without them whispering in my head was the equivalent of sitting in the middle of a frozen tundra with nothing but emptiness surrounding me. Not a nice place to be in, let me tell you. Plus, I kept on catching snippets of their conversations, and realised Alex and Matthew were destined for a very adventurous life. Too adventurous, Alex would say. “Aye,” Matthew fills in. “Some peace and quiet would be nice?” Well, excuse me, Mr Graham, but it isn’t me who goes galivanting across the moors to save fleeing ministers from the wrath of the restored king, is it? Nope. And it isn’t me who—
“But it is,” Alex tells me. “You’re the one who writes it, aren’t you?” Hmph! I launch myself into a heated debate. My narrative is affected by who they are, just as much as who they become is affected by my narrative. A total symbiosis, I tell them.
“Still you who writes it,” Alex says.
Anyway: to avoid going crazy out there on my mental tundra, I decided to write a second book about Alex and Matthew. And a third. And a fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth. There: I sat back and felt very satisfied. I was done, I had seen my Alex and her Matthew into some sort of safe harbour (very sort of, given the losses and adventures they’d experienced along the way) and I could leave them to enjoy the remainder of their lives in peace.
Writing a series comes with its own challenges. Somehow, I have to ensure each instalment has its own unique beginning and end while making it fit into the overall story arc. My characters must be consistent while developing as a consequence of what happens to them. I can’t introduce a surprising twist in book five without having laid the groundwork earlier. I must keep track of names and birthdates and peculiarities. As a writer of a series set in the 17th century, I must also bring the historic setting alive in each book without repeating myself – and keep tabs on what was happening in the world at large while Matthew and Alex were struggling with their own misadventures in Virginia or Scotland or Maryland.
The benefits of writing a series lie principally in the opportunities to develop the characters. I have the luxury of exploring just how affected one of my characters might be by his disruptive childhood, or of having a serious boy grow into a narrow-minded bigot. I can subject my characters to tribulations but be there to guide them through some sort of recovery. I can watch Alex and Matthew grow older and wiser.
“Wiser?” Matthew tugs gently at a lock of Alex’s hair. “Alex? I think not.”
“Don’t be an idiot,” she retorts, “of course I’m wiser now!” Except, dear reader, that I am prone to agreeing with Matthew. Alex retains a propensity for rashness that somehow cancels out any wisdom she may have collected along the way. But that is what makes Alex Alex. That’s why both Matthew and I love her to bits.
Since completing The Graham Saga I have gone on to write other things. Yet again, I have started out with the ambition to write one book and ended up with…taa-daa…a series. Clearly, I become too dependent on my characters, humming “every time we say goodbye” softly under my breath as I type that final THE END. And sometimes, it turns out THE END isn’t the end. How else to explain I am now working on a spin-off to The Graham Saga?
Back to A Rip in the Veil—the foundation story as my dear writing friend Alison Morton would say. Because it is, obviously. This is the story in which he meets her, in which initial distrust and wariness (after all, how on earth can this strange woman have landed so concussed and burned in the middle of an empty moor? And what is she wearing???) converts into the insight that they belong together, despite being born three centuries apart. Bloody impossible, as Alex would say. But sometimes, impossible things do happen.
“Fortunately,” Matthew murmurs.
I blow him a mental kiss. He winks and fades away into the labyrinthic swirls of my brain, holding Alex by the hand.
A Rip in the Veil is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!
Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com.
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Thank you for hosting me today!ReplyDelete
It's a pleasure, Anna. What a great insight into your work! xDelete