Interview with historical novelist Hazel West

Welcome, Readers. Today’s guest is historical novelist Hazel B. West. She’s sharing a little bit about On a Foreign Field, including an excerpt. And there’s a giveaway you can enter below. If you’d like more chances to win, you can visit her other blog tour stops between now and October 3.

Welcome, Hazel. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I spend a good bit of my time writing historical fiction
about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring
more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them. My
favorite things to do are writing, obviously, listening to and playing Irish
and Scottish folk music, practicing with all eras and types of historical
weaponry, drinking GOOD COFFEE, and reading good books. I currently live in

tell us about your current release.
My newest novel is On a Foreign
. It’s set during the Scottish Wars of Independence from the years
1297 to 1305. This was the time period of two of Scotland’s most famous heroes,
William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Both of them can be found in the pages of
my novel. The hero is an English knight, Sir Reeve Montgomery, who, when
fighting at the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge, is wounded and left for dead
by his comrades. He’s captured by the Scottish rebels and taken to work as a
slave in Wallace’s camp. He’s bitter at being left by his countrymen to death
or capture, and at being wounded by an English arrow during the battle, and now
being a prisoner of war is enough to throw him over the edge. But when he sees
first hand what the English are doing to the Scottish people, he has a moment
where he wonders if what he had been fighting for the whole time was really the
right thing. The main themes in this book are loyalty, brotherhood and
friendship, some of my favorite elements in a story.
What inspired you to write
this book?
First and foremost, my love of William Wallace. He is one of my
favorite historical people. I already wrote one novel about him as a teenager
(“Freedom Come All Ye”) but I really wanted to write a novel about
his more traditional life. I also love to write stories told from different
view points, and since I don’t think a Wallace novel has ever been told from
the point of view of an Englishman, I wanted to give that idea a go. For a
while it was just an idea running around in my head, with really only the real
history and the idea of a young Englishman named Reeve being captured by the
Scots. But after reading a good dose of Rosemary Sutcliff’s amazing books, I
was inspired to write a story about brotherhood and camaraderie and since all
that fit into this story line well, I created a whole cast of characters and
started working on the story that would become “On a Foreign Field”.

It was in a split second that Reeve realized how
desperate their situation was now. They had been cut off from the rest of their
army with no hope of them being able to find a ford in the river to cross in
time. Their numbers were now mostly equal to the Scots and Reeve hoped they
would have the sense to stand and fight as one instead of scatter and make it
easier to be picked off by the enemy. Men could train for years to hold a
formation, but one never knew how they would react when faced with the real

The Scots had charged at them in two columns, trapping
the English in the middle. The archers released their deadly rain and arrows
found targets as they fell onto the opposing army. Reeve and his companions
spurred their horses on immediately, knowing that to stand still was to die.
Reeve swung his sword from its sheath and urged his horse forward at the
charging Scotsmen, swinging the blade in a flashing arch and shouting out a war
cry of his own. There was a huge clash that sounded as the two armies met head
on. Reeve was immediately separated from Harold and Gerard in the mess. A lot of
the knights realized too late that they had been led into a marsh and their
horses were sinking in the muck, weighed down by armor. Reeve hoped neither of
his friends were caught in the mire to be easy prey for the Scots. He wanted to
go back and look for them, but he knew how foolish that was in a battle. You
looked ahead, only at your enemy and you killed and killed again until it was
done; only then could you spare the time to look for lost comrades.

He hacked left and right with his sword, catching a spear
wielded by a screaming Scotsman on his shield with enough strength behind it to
bruise his shoulder. He gritted his teeth against the pain as he stabbed
downward with his blade and took the man through the chest. He felt hands grip
his tabard from behind and he spun just fast enough to stop the man from
hauling him from his saddle where he would be sure to meet a grisly end at the
point of the long broadsword the man carried. He jerked his sword pommel-first
into the man’s head and his attacker fell back instantly.

Reeve suddenly caught a movement out of the corner of his
eye and he turned with his sword swinging up for a blow but the man who had
been there was already gone. Then his horse lurched under him and whinnied in
pain, rearing up before it bolted.

Reeve was flung from the back of the beast, realizing
that he had been victim to one of the Scottish dirkers; lithe, fast men, who
ran around the field, ducking underneath horses and jabbing their bellies with
their dirks to make them throw their riders. Reeve was flung onto the boggy
ground, hauling himself up with difficulty in his heavy armor. He quickly
un-buckled the plates that covered his shoulders and the greaves protecting his
legs. There was no need for them now on the ground; they would only hamper him,
and if he was going to have to swim the river…
What exciting story are
you working on next?
I’ve got two in the works, but probably the next one to be published
will be By Blood and By Bond which is
going to be set in Roman times and explore both the Roman and Celtic cultures.
I have two main characters, one is Caolan, the son of a Celtic chieftain who is
taken by the Romans in battle and sold into slavery and ends up training to
fight as a gladiator. The other character is Viggo, a centurion who lost his
son in the same battle in which Caolan was captured, to Caolan’s father. Apart
from that, I’ll not tell you anymore right now πŸ˜‰ But I will have three short
stories published within the next few months to go along with this novel (the
first of which should be out during the course of this tour on Smashwords) so
if you’re interested, check that out!
My other novel is a Victorian steampunk mystery with a wonderful main
character named Anthony Maxwell–who you can find on Facebook, I might add! πŸ˜‰
When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was ten or so, though I have always made up
stories. I didn’t really finish a whole novel though until I was fourteen and
wrote my first Scottish historical fiction novel where all the characters were
animals πŸ˜‰ I’ve come a long way since then, but that book was what really
started off my writing career in earnest and ever since then I have loved and
written in historical fiction genre.
Do you write full-time? If
so, what’s your work day like?  If not,
what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
At the moment, I pretty much write full time, but I do other hobbies
too, trying to make whatever money I can. Yep, I’m a starving artist πŸ˜‰ My
work ‘day’ actually starts at about 10 pm. I do almost all my writing work at
night, though I will usually work on editing and research during the day so I
can just sit down at night when it is quiet. I have no real set schedule,
because I never know how well the writing will go, and it’s never a good idea
to force something that refuses to come. Sometimes characters are just
stubborn, but I usually aim to at least try to write something every night.
What would you say is your
interesting writing quirk?
Well, I’m not sure how interesting it is, but I like to have special
snacks when I write, mostly like Pringles, Nerds, cherry sours and stuff like
that. I also usually listen to music to set the scene. I have my itunes folders
for different ambiance like battle scenes, dancing, stuff like that.
As a child, what did you
want to be when you grew up?
As a kid I wanted to do something with animals like be a vet or zoo
keeper or something like that, but after high school biology (the worst form of
mindless torture since algebra) I scrapped that idea, and decided to pursue my
writing career πŸ˜‰
Anything additional you
want to share with the readers?
Random Fact: I’m really obsessive compulsive when it comes to books. I
hate it when I go to the library and the book stores and all the books in a
series are out of order, or they mix together two authors of the same last name
or even when two different series by the same author are mixed together. My own
bookshelves aren’t actually by author oddly enough, but all my historical
fiction books (which is most of what I have) are chronological to time period. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

On a Foreign Field by Hazel B. West

On a Foreign Field

by Hazel B. West

Giveaway ends October 03, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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