Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Past by Susanna Fraser‏

Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.

Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.

Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen’s Bath.

Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows.

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Time-traveling PhD student Sydney Dahlquist’s first mission sounded simple enough—spend two weeks in December 1810 collecting blood samples from the sick and wounded of Wellington’s army, then go home to modern-day Seattle and Christmas with her family. But when her time machine breaks, stranding her in the past, she must decide whether to sacrifice herself to protect the timeline or to build a new life—and embrace a new love—two centuries before her time.

Rifle captain Miles Griffin has been fascinated by the tall, beautiful “Mrs. Sydney” from the day he met her caring for wounded soldiers. When he stumbles upon her time travel secret on Christmas Eve, he vows to do whatever it takes to seduce her into making her home in his present—by his side.


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Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I got to thinking about time travel and how its invention would impact my everyday world—and since that world is academic research administration, the first thing I pictured was time-traveling scientists wanting to experience everything from the 1918 influenza epidemic to the Great San Francisco Earthquake. I then imagined a young PhD student on her first trip to the past getting stranded by a broken time machine, and the rest of the story flowed from there.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
Christmas Past is a short novella, so despite not being the fastest writer and having a busy schedule with my full-time day job, I wrote it in four weeks—two for the first draft, two to edit it into something I was willing to submit to a publisher.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Getting to bring the worlds and characters in my head to life on the page.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
The juggling act of balancing my commitments to my family, my day job, and my writing career. I’ve often wished for Hermione’s time-turner from the Harry Potter books.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I love to watch sports, especially football and baseball, but I’ve never been remotely athletic. So I think I’d be a pitcher like Felix Hernandez or a quarterback like Cam Newton just to know what it feels like to be able to do that. And that one day would have to be a game day, to get the full experience.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
I think it’s a jar of apricot jam we sampled once and weren’t crazy about. I’m not sure how old it is, but I’m guessing over a year, sad to say.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Right now I’m working on edits for next year’s holiday novella, a story of star-crossed lovers reunited at a Regency house party, with mistletoe, snow, wassail songs, and scandalous family secrets. I’ve also got two full-length historicals in different stages of the drafting process, one set in the aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans and the other during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. And I haven’t started writing it yet, but I’ve got an idea for a sequel to Christmas Past involving Sydney’s friend Cody.

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