MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

22 June 2021

Tuesday Talk ... my Guest Today, Anna Belfrage is in a bit of a Whirlpool...


where guests can have their say about...
anything they want!

How this writer ended up in a century she didn’t want to be in

In my recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, I suddenly found myself in the 18th century.
“Suddenly?” you ask, thinking this must be a very strange author who has no control over what time her book is set in. You have a point. But the thing is, I was never going to write about the 18th century. Nope, not me. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the century that went all wild and crazy over hair. Powdered hair, I might add. Hair that was arranged into impossible, towering creations that reasonably must have given the poor women balancing all that hair a crick in the neck.

Marie Antoinette wearing the distinctive
pouf style coiffure;
her own natural hair is extended on the top
with an artificial hairpiece.

Fortunately for me, my book is set in the early part of this rather eventful century—before hair became an issue. (Not entirely true. There were a lot of gigantic wigs around.)  Leaving aside my dislike for all that hair, I have to admit there’s a LOT of stuff going on in the 18th century, starting with the Union of the Crowns very early on and going all the way to the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in the wake of the French revolution. In between, we have the golden(?) age of piracy, several Jacobite rebellions, numerous wars in Europe, the War of Independence in America, thinkers like Rousseau and Montesquieu.

So why am I in the 18th century? Well, that is all due to maths. When your protagonist has featured as a small child in other books, you’re sort of bound by logic. If said protagonist is born in 1686 and you want him to be adequately grown up, you end up in the 18th century.

So there I was in 1715 with Duncan Melville. The next obvious step was to start considering just what aspects of history I wanted to weave into my story. I discarded the humiliating Swedish defeat at the hands of the Danes in the naval battle of Fehmarn. Neither could I find a way to somehow squeeze in the sinking of the several Spanish galleons outside the coast of Florida. Louis XIV died in September, but Duncan is nowhere close to the French court. But hang on: someone else was very close to the French court, someone who was of an age with Duncan. I am talking about James Francis Edward Stuart, a.k.a. the Old Pretender. Suddenly, I had a historical storyline, one in which Duncan is affected by the Jacobite Rebellion.

James Francis Edward Stuart
by Alexis Simon Belle

I was somewhat hesitant: say Jacobite rebellion and half the world goes “Ah, Jamie in Outlander.” And yes, the sequence of events that culminated in the tragedy of Culloden are the final act in the Jacobite Rebellion(s), but the roots behind all this upheaval lie in 1688, when James II was ousted from the throne by his very Protestant peers and his son-in-law, William of Orange.  This is a major simplification, but you do not want me to give you the long version as I can talk for hours and hours about William, his wife Mary—James II’s eldest daughter—and the events leading up to James being deposed, first among them the birth of his long-awaited son, James Francis Edward. A Catholic son born to a Catholic father…oh, woe, said the very anti-papist Englishmen, shivering at the thought of a Catholic dynasty.

James II was a capable warrior which is why it is surprising that he never put up much of a fight to defend his right to the throne in 1688. Some years later, the Jacobites (after the Latin for James) were defeated at the Battle of the Boyne. William of Orange was no mean warrior either and had the advantage of more men and better trained men. 

James II retired to France there to lick his wounds and nurse his bitterness.

I imagine little James Francis Edward grew up hearing over and over again that the English throne by right belonged to him—he was the rightful heir. 

By 1715, James II had been dead for over a decade and his son was recognised as James III & VIII by the Jacobites and Louis XIV and the pope. Not by the English, though. Or the Scots—well, with the exception of some of the Catholic Highlanders. 

James Francis Edward could have become king of England peaceably if he’d been willing to renounce his Catholic faith and instead embrace the Anglican Church. He wasn’t. No, our James was of the opinion that the throne belonged to him, and if the English were fools enough to deny it to him, then he’d take it anyway, supported by his loyal followers and God.

Well, that didn’t happen, did it? The rebellion of 1715 was a major failure. Too bad memories are short, as thirty years later a new generation would once again attempt to replace the Hanover king with a Catholic Stuart. Wouldn’t work that time either—but the consequences for those that fought for Charles Edward Stuart would be dire.

As you can guess by now, I decided to drop Duncan in the Scottish Highlands just as the rebels are beginning to assemble under the banners of the Earl of Mar. But before Duncan makes it to Scotland in the autumn of 1715, I send him on an itty-bitty detour to the year 2016. You see, I felt there was something lacking in Duncan’s life, and Erin Barnes sure needed someone in her corner. What she didn’t need—or so she says—was to be dragged back to 1715. Methinks she protests too much: because seriously, if she has to choose between a life in her time sans Duncan or one in 1715 with Duncan it’s a dead easy choice.

“We could both be in 2016,” Erin protests giving me the evil eye. 
Ah. Well, no, that would never work: after all, there are no Jacobites in 2016, are there?

He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…

Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.  
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?

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 September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.

Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, or check out her Amazon page
Follow Anna on twitter or on FB

Buy Links:
The Graham Saga
The King’s Greatest Enemy
His Castilian Hawk:
The Whirlpools of time:

*** ***
Helen's Latest Release

A new edition with new additional scenes

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?
When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?
Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?

Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his Virginia home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid.

He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid...

An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.

“Ms Hollick has skilfully picked up the threads that she alludes to in the main books and knitted them together to create a Jesamiah that we really didn't know.” Richard Tearle senior reviewer, Discovering Diamonds

“Captain Jesamiah Acorne is as charming a scoundrel as a fictional pirate should be. A resourceful competitor to Captain Jack Sparrow!” Antoine Vanner author

“Helen Hollick has given us the answer to that intriguing question that Jesamiah fans have been aching for – how did he start his sea-going career as a pirate?” Alison Morton, author

“I really enjoyed the insight offered into Jesamiah's backstory, and found the depiction of our teenage hero very moving.” Anna Belfrage, author

“I loved this little addendum to the Jesamiah series. I always had a soft spot for the Lorelei stories and enjoyed that the author cleverly brought her over from the Rhine valley to fit into the story.” Amazon Reviewer

*** ***
Helen's cosy mystery set in 1970s north London 

The first in a new series of quick-read,
cosy mysteries set in the 1970s.
A Mirror Murde

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered...

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?


“A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London.” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

“Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review

< Previous Post 


  1. Thank you for inviting me to visit. It just struck me that now I have characters in the same time period as Jesamiah and I am thinking that OF COURSE they must meet up. Yes?

  2. A great article Anna - and a wonderful introduction to the period. As you will have gathered by now, I very much enjoyed Whirlpools!

    1. Me too Annie - great book (as they all are Anna!)

  3. Whirlpools is a fine adventure!


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon, but due to the high rise of unsuitable nuisance spam I am now having to vet comments before they are posted. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post your comment for you. That said ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...