Susie Murphy is an Irish historical fiction author. She loves historical fiction so much that she often wishes she had been born two hundred years ago. Still, she remains grateful for many aspects of the modern age, including women's suffrage, electric showers and pizza. Susie's published novels, A Class Apart, A Class Entwined and A Class Forsaken, are the first three instalments in her seven-part series A Matter of Class, a sweeping saga that begins in Ireland in 1828. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, A Class Entwined.
Please give us a short introduction to what A Class Entwined is about.
A Class Entwined is the second book in my historical romance series, A Matter of Class. The series begins with A Class Apart which is set in Ireland in 1828 and A Class Entwined follows on from that, bringing the story up to 1836 with parts of it set in London, England. It centers on Bridget, a landowner's daughter, and Cormac, a stable hand's son - they grew up as childhood friends on a rural Irish country estate but as adults the social class divide keeps them apart. The series asks the question: can they possibly find a way to be together when society says they shouldn't fall in love?
What inspired you to write this story? Was there something in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I started writing this story when I was just sixteen years old. I have always had a passion for history and I adore romance stories, especially ones with a 'forbidden love' aspect. So this was simply me writing the book I wanted to read!
How much research did this book require from you to make the history part of it ring true?
Setting a book in the past requires research on many aspects such as fashion, transport, food, money, language, social etiquette, etc. The important thing to remember is that, while a huge amount of research is needed to be fully informed on how to write a story set in that era, not all of it has to be put into the book itself. For example, I recently spent hours researching the history of the American postal service in order to include a small detail in a single sentence. But it’s worth spending that time to get it right.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can play the piano, I’m very good at making lists (so much so that I have lists about lists), and I can also recite all of the colours in Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in one breath.
Why the 19th century? What drew you to this timeframe?
While I would be the first to acknowledge that there were many negative qualities to life in the 19th century (including poor hygiene, suppression of women's rights, incredibly long working hours, etc.), I do tend to romanticize the era. I find the etiquette of that period fascinating, such as the rules dictating the appropriate time when one could make a morning call, the fact that introductions had to be made according to rank and sex, or the protocol surrounding gentleman writing their names in ladies' dance cards. I also love the idea of putting on a beautiful gown and dancing with a handsome gentleman at a candlelit ball. *sigh*
Tell us more about Bridget. What makes her tick?
Bridget is the heiress to a wealthy Irish estate and, although she has English blood in her, she feels more Irish in many respects. This leads her to have sympathy for Irish tenants who are oppressed by their English landlords.
In some ways, Bridget has the ideals of a 21st-century woman as, contrary to the conventions of her time period, she wishes to marry for love. Where most other women of the era generally accepted that they must be ruled first by their parents and then by their husbands, Bridget longs to make her own choices, even if that means disregarding the expectations of the upper-class society she was born into. However, she still has a strong sense of duty and she strives to see the good in everyone, no matter their social class background.
This is Book 2 in a saga. Can it be read as a standalone?
While each book in my A Matter of Class series does have an individual storyline, they are all part of an overall plot arc for the whole series. I don't tend to view them as standalone because some of the characterization or story backgrounds might be missed if a book is skipped in the sequence. So my recommendation would be to start at the beginning of the series with A Class Apart to get a full understanding of the characters' motivations as they progress from book to book.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
My ideal writing day begins with me sitting down first thing in the morning to edit the words I wrote the previous day. Once that's done, I pick up the scene from where I left off yesterday and try to carry on writing until lunchtime. The afternoon is where I focus more on the business side of things, such as answering emails, writing newsletters, or working with my cover designer or audiobook narrator. These activities vary a lot but there is always plenty to do. I return to the creative side after dinner and usually work late enough into the night as that is when my words tend to flow the best. As I mentioned at the start, this is my 'ideal' day and it very often doesn't work out exactly like this! But it's a good target to aim for.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on A Class Coveted, Book 4 in my A Matter of Class series. It picks up the storyline from the end of Book 3 (A Class Forsaken) and takes the characters to places never visited before in the previous three books. I can't wait to reveal what happens next!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can get five of my free short stories (and another bonus one!) when they join my Readers' Club at https://bit.ly/2Lawgin. The five stories are prequels to my A Matter of Class series and cover certain significant events in Bridget and Cormac's childhood as well as their transition to adulthood. If you're looking for an introduction to my writing and my characters, there's no better place to start!
My books are all available on Amazon. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and my website is www.susiemurphywrites.com.
FEATURED AUTHOR - N.A. Broadley is a mother of two grown children, two grand-children, a wife, and a homesteader. She has a passion for writing funny homesteading stories along with post-apocalyptic fiction. She lives and fights with a rooster named Peckerhead, who makes it his mission to make her life as interesting and as challenging as it can be. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Trail of Misery.