A Shadow in the Past is a YA Crossover set in Aberdeenshire, Scotland that was released in September 2012.
Give us a one sentence synopsis.
When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past.
Who are the main characters and who would you like to see portray them in a movie?
Since my Scottish heritage is so important to me and my novel is set in Scotland, then the actors playing my main characters would also have to be Scottish.
Sarah Shand is a typical nineteen year-old girl dealing with peer pressures and boyfriend woes that is, until she finds herself transported back to the year 1886. So for the role of Sarah, I would choose Shirley Henderson, who played Isobel Sutherland on the TV series Hamish MacBeth.
Robert is a kind and gentle man unlike the boys Sarah grew up with, and totally opposite of her ex-boyfriend who recently dumped her for her best friend. Robert, would have to be played by John Hannah who starred in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Rebus and MacCallum and many other programs/movies.
In addition to these actors being Scottish, they physically resemble my characters, although that’s not where the visualization for them came from.
Tell us about the story, but please don't reveal too much.
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.
I had just finished reading the first four books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and had fallen in love with them. The storylines were good, the characters were strong, believable and I was able to identify with them, not to mention the settings were great (I mentioned my Scottish heritage being important).
A friend and co-worker, also a DG fan, thought I could write something like that (I’d written a number of short stories but never anything as long as a novel) so I thought why not and wrote a novella called Sarah’s Gift. Years later, I dusted off that early manuscript and gradually turned it into a full length novel for a creative writing course I was taking. While I was working on this, I was also working full time. Once the course was over and a number of unsuccessful attempts at getting a publisher, I shelved it again. It wasn’t until 2011 that I pulled it out and worked on it with an eye to publication again. By now, I had a better title – A Shadow in the Past – and in October of that year, I had a piece that was worthy of pitching to an editor. I did, was asked to submit and a short time later was offered a contract.
But how long did it take? I would say, from the very humble beginnings, if I was to have worked on it steady (40+ hours per week) it would have taken two-three years but because of the breaks in between it was closer to eleven years.
What other books have you written?
I’m currently working on the second book in the series, tentatively entitled Shadows from her Past, which was originally part two of my published novel. While I was working on finding my voice and the genre I was most comfortable writing, I wrote another complete manuscript and the beginning and end for another. But with the revisions my only published novel went through on its journey, these others don’t fit anymore, but they might eventually see the light of day with new characters, revised plots and possibly written under a different pen name.
Which authors inspired you, your style?
From the time I could read, I almost always had my face stuck in a book so probably any of the authors I’ve read had some influence – Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anna Sewell, Harper Lee, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King but probably most of all, I would have to say Diana Gabaldon since reading her books were the trigger that got me writing. I can’t give her credit for the Scottish setting since I used the area where my father was born for that.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I live in Eastern Ontario, Canada in the Thousand Islands area in a city on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. If you stand on the sidewalk in front of my house, and look south, you can see the river and New York state on the other side.