Interview with A.J. Scott-Ryder

Hello Everyone!

We are delighted to have author A.J. Scott-Ryder amongst us today at Musikdiv India Online Magazine at our Special ‘Authors Festival’ interview series to tell us about her new book The Journey (Sarafin Perigord Series, Book 3)!
Please read on …

Anne-Sophie’s life is full of frustrations. These include working alongside overly protective Frenchmen in the Sarafin as well as being in love with Jean-Marc, who hardly seems to notice that she exists…
When a perilous assignment crops up she insists on being chosen for the job as her right. She realises that she has bitten off more than she can chew, however, when she is transported to a different dimension into the role of a powerless woman of the 16th century and has to find some way to get from a dangerous Scotland to the even more dangerous court of Elizabeth I.
Anne-Sophie finds herself marrying against her wishes and sharing a bed with a man she met only days before and in the process finds out more about herself than she was ready to know.
A sweeping tale of love, loss and friendship, The Journey will make you laugh and cry.
Written for an adult audience The Journey contains adult content. The Journey is the third story in the Sarafin Perigord series. The books can be enjoyed in any order as each is a stand-alone novel in its own right.

So A.J, we’ll start your Interview with the very first question

1. Please introduce and tell the readers something about yourself.

I’m a adoptive Londoner who began writing a few years ago after leaving the world of finance. I love travelling and have lived in the UK and Australia but also journeyed a lot around the US, Russia, Europe and Asia.
My husband is a writer of children’s books, so we are both happy to work strange hours and live out of a suitcases as the mood takes us. We both adore France and have an apartment in the South of France, which we try to get to as much as possible.

2. What brought you to writing?

When I left my job I found in no time at all that I had torn through my treasured stash of novels by my favourite authors (I love paranormal romance and in particular the fresh inventive authors such as Kresley Cole and Charlaine Harris) and faced a potential cold turkey of the worst (book-related) variety.
I had been reading paranormal and fantasy romance novels for years (often while waiting for planes in airports or on trains between meetings) and during that time I had come up with some different ways of looking at the genre. I also thought how great it would be to have such books set in Europe and in particular places such as the UK and France, which is a country of colours and emotions that I can’t get enough of.
From there my series, The Sarafin Perigord, was hatched and once I started, I found writing such fiction was actually as much fun as reading it. I fell in love with the characters and they had their own ideas about what was going to happen and I enjoyed letting them push me around a bit too…

3. How many books have you written?

Three in all: The Secret, The Tattoo and the Journey. They are all quite different in their own way in as much as the main characters and the settings are quite varied.
In the first, the heroine Catherine is a very rational surgeon who for quite some time doesn’t allow herself to accept that she is encountering the paranormal. In the second, Amelia is only just out of college and a bit ditsy but in her own way very savvy and resourceful. In the third, Anne-Sophie is in her late 20’s and a little disillusioned with life. She has to decide between a man or her desired lifestyle – in a big way – something most of us have had to do at one time or another, but for her a very big step.

4. How long have you been writing?

Two years, full time.

5. Which was your first literary project? Tell us something about it.

I started writing The Secret as my first project. The book really just wrote itself from all the ideas I had been thinking about for a while – many of them inspired by my visits to the Dordogne region in France.
Partway through writing The Secret, though, the story of The Tattoo started filling my head so I had to stop and put down the first half of that book. Then, once I started writing The Tattoo I found that that the plot of the third book kept insisting that I give it space in my laptop. In the end I finalized all three books at about the same time, which had the advantage of allowing me to properly set up the plots of the second and third books in the earlier ones.

6. Is this your new/latest project? What inspired you to write your (latest) book?

The Journey (my favourite book) was inspired in part by Kilchurn Castle, a ruined castle in the Argyll region of Scotland, which I first researched to include as a modern day setting for part of The Tattoo. I found myself wondering then what it must have been like in the 16th century when the unruly MacGregor clan took over the castle from the very wealthy and influential Campbells. Once I started thinking about that I found myself with a very nice male lead and from there I decided that Anne-Sophie just had to meet him. The rest is history (with quite a bit of modern content) as they say…

7. Traditional books or e-books? How do you prefer to see your works published? Have you tried ever publishing the traditional way?

My books are available both as e-books (on Amazon) and as paperbacks too. I don’t mind which way the books are published – the important thing is that the reader is getting the book in the form that they like best.
Actually, because I do believe that people should have as much choice as possible in what they buy, I have also created “Red Editions” of all three of my novels, which are called “Catherine’s Secret”, “Amelia’s Tattoo” and “Anne-Sophie’s Journey”.
These books are aimed at those people who prefer authors to leave more to the reader’s own imagination. They are the same stories but modified to exclude their adult content. I was really pleased, when I read them again after making the modifications, to find that the stories still felt immediate and passionate (at least to me!) – so I don’t think too much was lost.

8. Can you give a chapter sample preview of your book here for our readers to know more about it?
( Please look at the bottom of the interview for book excerpts )

9. Do you have any funny / interesting incidents on how you came up with plots or characters?

Well, strangely enough I learned one thing that might explain the source of some of my inspiration only after I had written the three books. They were being edited and I was staying in my favourite place in the Dordogne (a gite where I have Catherine come to live in The Secret). I have been there quite a few times but I hadn’t bothered reading the welcome book before because I know the region well. Anyway, I was flipping through it one night while making coffee and found that the place was located in the “Combe de la Faye” which in French means the valley of the fairies. Given how much the gite and its surroundings inspired my book (which includes Catherine’s unease looking out into the woods beyond) I found myself wondering about the very odd coincidence.
Also, while writing the first book it was also strange about how I would no sooner find myself wondering how I would find out more about some activity that my characters were going to engage in than someone or something would come along and tell me all about it. For example, I was writing the climbing scene in the Dordogne for The Secret (having done quite a lot of research via books and the internet) when I got a phone call out of the blue from a climbing expert wondering if my husband and I wanted to put our French apartment on his website for climbers. I cheekily asked him if he wouldn’t mind helping me out and he very kindly read the final text to check its veracity (Ollie from Climbapedia). Similarly, TV shows kept on cropping up on all sorts of topics as and when I needed them. I feel that the books were somehow fated to be…

10. What are your hobbies? Things that you enjoy doing besides books of course.

I love reading – and it’s a serious problem as many of my favourite authors are absolutely prodigious (I don’t know how they do it) and I can resist anything except reading temptation.
I also love playing the piano (Chopin and Beethoven, especially). Fortunately the guy in the apartment downstairs doesn’t mind my playing too much – but as my husband plays the guitar we do a lot of playing and singing of rock/pop music together I think he is just about ready for a sainthood.
I also love walking, composing, drawing and watching TV (mostly comedy and good documentaries).

11. Who is your favourite author?

In paranormal romance Kresley Cole and Charlaine Harris are definitely my favourites. Funnily enough Kresley Cole started out as a writer of historical romances (another of my favourite genres) but I think she really got her mojo when she discovered Nix and her Valkyrie pals in New Orleans…

12. Is your writing style at all influenced by those of your favorite authors?

Absolutely! Actually, I started out as one of those kids who everyone at school came to for book tips, because I pretty much read from one end of the “girls” section of the library to the other. At 15 my favourite books were Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and Pride and Prejudice.
Since then, some might think that I have regressed in coming to love paranormal romance so much but in fact I think it’s the other way around – the whole genre has really picked up a gear and the books are as good a take on the issues facing real people as the classics (also, sadly, Jane Austen has hung up her writing pen…). I try to keep my style of writing as fresh as that of the authors I love.

13. What is your favourite genre to read and also to write?

Both paranormal romance.

14. Do you have a role model that you get inspiration from?

There are so many good writers out there doing such a great job of both writing and promoting themselves that I am constantly inspired whenever I look through Amazon or Good Reads…

15. Where do get your ideas from? Do you take your story ideas from real life situations?

Many of my ideas come from the characters I think of and the places they find themselves in. For example Anne-Sophie in The Journey started out as a sulky, and a little bit spoilt character in The Secret, who teased poor Armand. By book three, I found myself wondering how someone like that would cope if thrown into the 16th century and attracted to someone who would take her away from her beloved Porsche and all the mod cons we love… The story just flowed from there.

16. Do you have a pseudonym?

A.J. Scott-Ryder is my pen name. I have kept my other identity in case I have to go back to the real world of work one day.

17. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Probably living somewhere much more rural and spending more time writing and less juggling day to day things.

18. What motivates you to write?

The thrill of having my characters come to life. My husband is also not going to let me stop writing because he is a fan of one of my characters, Armand, who I rather left in the lurch in the Journey. He would not forgive me if I don’t sort his life out in one of my future books…

19. How important is good cover art for your books?

It is very important. My books don’t have typical paranormal romance covers, in part because I wanted them to stand out a bit and also because I wanted to show the European aspect of their content. Of course this has its downside as well, because people perhaps don’t know as much what to expect (thank goodness for “look inside”).

20. Do you have a price strategy for your books?

I have priced my first book The Secret at only 99 cents to give people a chance to see if they like it before they go onto the other two which are a bit more expensive. So far the take-up of the sequels has been really good so fortunately, I don’t think too many people have felt cheated of their 99 cents (although of course no book can please everyone…)

21. How does it make you feel when you read a bestselling book that you don’t feel is as good as yours?

Usually the writer has about 10 great books behind them and I just figure I have to keep plugging along and one day I might get there too…

22.Why do you think readers should buy your book? What can you offer them through your book?

They are a slice of happy French life as well as containing real emotional drama, which I hope gets the reader’s pulse racing.
I also try to keep the plots moving and the books humorous. One of my nieces says her favourite part of The Tattoo is when Amelia calls Emeric a dick because he doesn’t understand her. My niece (who herself has a brilliant cooking/recipe website “The Clever Muffin”) found it very funny and more true to life than in most romance novels, which I took as a great compliment.

23.Where is your book available? Any Buy Links for our readers?

The Journey >>

24.Do you have a website or a blog that you’d like to share here.

Thanks very much. It’s A.J. Scott-Ryder website>>

25. What advice would you give to other writers?

Work hard but also watch out you don’t ruin your eyesight by being glued to your laptop for too many hours a day.

26.Anything else you’d like to share with our readers.

Just to say thanks for your interest.

  • Thank you A.J. Scott-Ryder for gracing us with your presence.It was a sheer pleasure.Good luck with your book.We conclude the interview here

    Thanks again from Team MusikDIV

    Book Exerpts – Sample Chapter

    The Journey (Sarafin Perigord Series, Book 3) By A.J. Scott-Ryder

    Anne-Sophie waited impatiently for her turn to leave the plane. She was always irritated or impatient these days, or so it seemed, but flying always brought out its own special streak of annoyance in her.

    While people had been leaving the plane for the last ten minutes, the woman standing in the aisle in front of her only seemed to notice that anyone was going as the last person in front of her was already saying arrivederci to the pilot at the front of the plane. Then she started struggling with her luggage in the overhead locker. Anne-Sophie rolled her eyes and pulled down one of the bags that the woman was tugging against ineffectually and placed it at her feet, while the woman took down her coat and started pulling it over her clothes.

    The woman smiled at her “Grazie, Signora.”

    “Prego.” Anne-Sophie grimaced. While she was used to being called Madame in France now, it had been a while since she had been in Italy and last time she had been Signorina. Obviously no more.

    Oh God, what was this sudden feeling of elation? Completely crazy. Maybe she should have taken Giscard’s advice and seen a therapist. She shut her eyes and shook her head. Turning she saw a sea of annoyed faces behind her, with the reason becoming apparent as she looked forward to see the woman in front of her already nearing the exit. Blushing, she pulled her handbag tighter over her shoulder and fled.

    The wait at the baggage carousel was annoying, but at least not unusually so. In the end she and only three other people were left staring blankly at the Dolce & Gabbana advertisement while four unclaimed bags did circuits of the belt, re-appearing triumphantly at the entrance every few minutes. While Anne-Sophie could have easily picked them all out of a line-up by now and they were completely unlike her own red bag, she still felt obliged to clock their appearance every time they emerged anew from the rubber flaps. Very irritating.

    Another surge of elation. Ridiculous. Scary.

    At last! New bags appeared on the belt, hers included. She was about to put the horrible airport behind her. She had nothing against this one particularly, but like most airports, Rome’s Ciampino was crowded and noisy, so it was definitely not one of her favourite places either.

    Okay, slight feeling of contentment as she dragged the bag behind her. That at least made sense. Finally, she was on active duty again. Giscard had given her this assignment – well he had little choice, her being the only female in the team – after forcing her on holidays for almost a full month. They had argued after she was just a little bit too stroppy, maybe abusive in his presence. He had taken her into his office and demanded to know what was wrong. She had told him that Armand got all the assignments – he had been allowed to go after Rose while she languished here. He had spoken a lot of merde about her and Armand being treated equally and her being given her chance.

    Okay there was a possibility that that had happened but she had a big gap in her memory. She had no recollection of anything beyond Giscard agreeing to allow her to go into the Game and then her coming to in a forest clearing just outside St. Leon, apparently weeks later. That said, she wouldn’t put it past Giscard and Aiden to have wiped her memory just to convince her that she had already been, while they had kept her safely somewhere else. Conveniently, Rose, their alibi, had supposedly disappeared on assignment since Anne-Sophie had returned and couldn’t be found to back up their story.

    Giscard had put his head in his hands as he concluded that she was not herself and he had told her that she was taking a holiday now whether she liked it or not. As she left he told her to get some therapy; advice she had whole-heartedly ignored…

    She wondered about the man she would be protecting for the next week. She would be working under-cover as his wife, something she had done a few times before. It had always worked well. No one asked questions as to why a woman was shadowing a man’s every step when it was his wife. Mostly the people she protected, usually much older men, would spend their time on the phone or using their computer and she would simply ensure that wherever they went the area was swept to ensure that it was secure, and then she would remain in the background, staying alert to any potential threat.

    She walked past the two-way mirrors in the customs area of the EU Arrivals channel, and pulled the bag containing her ultra-light composite crossbow closer to her. Not that it or the knives were in danger of being picked up in any scanners, but scanners made her nervous nevertheless. Checking in the two-way mirror, she was at least pleased that her blonde hair looked neat in its twist, secured by two lacquered skewers, and her favourite charcoal suit, while now a little too snug in certain places, was both designer-label and businesslike.

    Buy The Journey (Sarafin Perigord Series, Book 3) by A.J. Scott-Ryder On Amazon Kindle >>

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