Today I’m welcoming Jeanne Treat, author of the Dark Birthright trilogy as well as a collection of short stories, Dark, Mysterious and Irreverent.
Q: Can you give us a brief description of the Dark Birthright trilogy?
A: The Dark Birthright trilogy takes place in seventeenth century Scotland, England, and the American Colonies. The series has sold more than 8,000 books and eBooks through promotion at Scottish and Celtic festivals, book events, and the internet.
The first book, Dark Birthright, is the story of a child born of mysterious circumstances, given to a fisherman and his wife to raise as their own. Dughall grows up in a family bound by honor and becomes a healer. His life is torn apart when he is claimed by his real father, a cruel and powerful lord who tries to mold him in his image. Dughall must define himself, in the midst of a struggle between a Duke, an Earl, and the family who wants him back. All the while, he’s determined to marry the girl he left behind, a woodland lass with eyes as green as a peacock’s feather.
Book two, Dark Lord, follows the same characters. Set during a time of political and religious strife, it features action, romance, and politics. Dughall is settling into his new role when the King (Charles I) imposes an Anglican liturgy book on the Scottish church. Protests and riots plague the realm, forcing lords and commoners to take a stand. Dughall and his half brother Gilbert are placed in precarious positions, torn between loyalty to the crown, their families, and zealous subjects. The National Covenant is signed and war breaks out. Tempers run hot and actions are rash. To maintain order, one brother must take their late father’s place. Who shall become the Dark Lord?
Book three, Dark Destiny, continues the story of the Gordon clan. The English civil war is over. The imprisoned King and his lieutenants are in trouble. Dughall’s half brother Gilbert is one of them. What will the Gordon brothers do? You will meet the next generation of Gordon children – one son’s supernatural abilities threaten his father. England executes the King and declares itself a Republic, but the Scottish government refuses to follow. The King’s son (Charles II) tries to gain his thrones, starting with Scotland. Unfortunately, he was given a directive by his father to execute Lord Dughall Gordon. What will the Gordon brothers do? Will they abandon Scotland for the Colonies?
Q: You describe your writing as historical fantasy. What made you decide to mix these genres?
A: I describe the series as historical fiction with a touch of fantasy. It is historically correct, but there is a sword with a curse on it and two brothers with the second sight. What is the second sight? When they were children, their mother described it as, “They speak to each other without words, they each know where the other is, and feel each other’s pain and pleasure. Sometimes they say what others are thinking. It scares me that people will find out.” This spawns some interesting situations, particularly when they are older.
I have always been interested in the supernatural – so you will see this woven throughout my work.
Q: How historically accurate are your novels?
A: The novels are correctly set in the seventeenth century in respect to geography and political and religious systems. They follow historical events closely and reflect what it was like to live as a lord, a peasant, a fisherman, and a woodland villager. To research the novels, I used books and the internet, but I also traveled to Scotland and England to visit castles, seaports, and stone circles. I worked with a Scottish historian from a village near Old Deer.
Q: Your books are illustrated by fantasy artist Jane Starr Weils. How did this collaboration occur?
A: A press in Virginia agreed to publish my first book, Dark Birthright. They had already published The Rebel King Series, which was illustrated. My publisher suggested that my novel would benefit from character portrait sketches. Jane Starr Weils was one of the names mentioned, so I contacted her. She lives in New York near the Vermont border, so we visited her after a trip to Maine.
Here is how we created a portrait sketch. I would identify a person whose visage represented my character and photograph them. We knew some of these people. Others, we photographed at Scottish festivals. I would relay the photograph to Jane, along with a description of any changes – like clothing, hair color, and facial hair. She did an initial pass at the drawing and we collaborated until the sketch was perfect. The sketches are wonderful. I use them to promote my books.
Q: What is your creative process?
A: An author’s creative process is as unique as the writer. A friend of mine meticulously plans a novel ahead of time, using character descriptions, plot and chapter outlines, and theme and sub-theme descriptions. It works for her, but my creative process is different. I approach the task like it is an artist’s canvas. I know where the story begins and how it ends and that’s my road map. I ask the characters to talk to me and they do. In some ways I become them. My husband likes to tell people, “I’ve been sleeping with a dozen Scots in my bed for years. The women are fine, but it’s weird being with the men.”
Q: Enough of your books—tell us about yourself.
A: I grew up in Western New York, in a suburb of Buffalo. I began writing as a child and continued into my teens, when I penned a column in the school newspaper called “Tea Time with Cecily Fripple.” (Did I just date myself?) I graduated from college with an English Liberal Arts degree. I took literature and creating writing courses at school, which helped me to write. I always wanted to be a writer, although I did not seriously pursue it until 2004. My mother is partially responsible for my success. The dedication in my novels says, “This book is dedicated to my mother, who told everyone I was an author before it was true.”
We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:
Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee – hopelessly addicted
Q: Ocean or mountain?
A: Definitely mountain!
Q: Hiking or shopping?
Q: Violin or piano?
Q: Mystery or fantasy?
Q: Darcy or Heathcliff?
A: Hmmm… Neither… But Darcy if a choice must be made.
Q: Love scene or death scene?
A: Love scene
To learn more about Jeanne, visit her blog, http://jeannetreat.wordpress.com/
To learn more about her books and view some book trailers:
Jeanne’s short story collection, Dark, Mysterious, and Irreverent is available for FREE download through 08/31/12. Follow the link below and use coupon code KQ22Q
Jeanne, thanks for joining me today!
One thought on “Interview with Jeanne Treat”
It was my pleasure!