Together with his wife, Alex, Matthew Graham is the protagonist of The Graham Saga, the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. But sometimes impossible things happen, and so Alex Lind ends up at the feet of Matthew Graham. What follows next is sufficient for an eight book series, a fast-paced blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy.
Today, Anna has arranged for Matthew to come and visit. I am a bit nervous – I’ve never met a 17th century man before – but I’m hoping he will like my cake!
Matthew Graham enters the room cautiously, taking on form as he approaches the table and the waiting chair. It’s not very often one gets to chit-chat with fictional characters, and I must admit to being a tad apprehensive. What if he just disintegrates into nothing midway through the interview? After all, writer Anna Belfrage may be distracted by the antics of some other character and then…
Matthew smiles, places his hat on the table and shakes his head. “I’m no piece of fluff to be blown hither and dither,” he says. “In fact, I’d argue I’m almost as real as you are.”
As real as me? Come off it!
He smiles again. “And how many books are there about your life, Mistress Heather?” he asks.
I decide to not reply. What, just because he exists between the covers of eight books he’s real and I’m not? The smile becomes a grin, and he is dangerously handsome, this tall Scot with eyes that gleam somewhere between green and gold.
“Eight and some,” he says. “Anna is presently busy writing more about me.”
“And your wife?”
Matthew extends his long legs and crosses them at the ankles. “Aye, about her too. But some of it is only about me. When I was but a stripling of a lad, fighting for the Commonwealth against the Malignants.”
Well, he’s lost me there, although I suspect he’s talking about the English Civil War, and those Malignants are not a band of evil beings, they’re just Royalists. Anyway, we’re here to talk about what already has been published, so after serving him some tea and cake – and I like a man who lights up like a beacon at the sight of cake – I settle down to do the interview properly.
It’s great to have you stopping by – I’ve looked forward to meeting you in person for ages.
“Ah.” Matthew studies his worn boots. “As much in person as I can be, I reckon. And it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Is it? Anna says you’re uncomfortable with this sort of stuff
“I am. But Anna also tells me it is something that has to be done. And whiling away some time whilst in the company of a lady, is none too bad.”
Lady? No one’s ever called me a lady before
“Do you mind?” He helps himself to another piece of cake.
No, not at all. Would Alex mind?
“That I call you a lady? No.”
I get the impression she’s jealous – on occasion, I bet she’d gladly scratch whatshername’s eyes out.
“You mean Kate.” Matthew shifts on his rump. “Aye, Alex is a wee bit over-sensitive when it comes to Kate. Not so strange, when one considers I did..err…well…”
Sleep with her?
A dull red washes up his face. “Aye. But it wasn’t like that. I thought I was about to die, and Kate, she saved me. Nursed me and cared for me, helped me eat when I was as weak as a newborn babe. She was there, she was warm, and I despaired of ever seeing Alex again.”
But you did. She came after you and saved you, didn’t she?
That long mobile mouth curves into the sweetest of smiles. “That she did, my marvellous wife.”
And since then, whenever you’ve met Kate, you’ve made eyes at her.
“I have not! Kate Jones is a bonny woman, so aye, I look. But more than that…”
Oh? So when you danced all evening with her, what was that?
Matthew gives me a crooked smile. “That was me being a fool of a man, wanting to prove myself cock over a dung heap that wasn’t mine to begin with.”
And Alex was humiliated – and hurt.
“Aye.” He exhales softly. “Not my finest moment, that.”
I think you like it, that she’s jealous. Look at all that business with Nan.
“Nothing happened with that wee baggage! Nothing! And Kate – it’s more about the past we share than anything else.” He looks away. “Whenever I see her, I am reminded just how close I came to dying, and so there’s an element of gratitude, I suppose, liberally mixed up with guilt. Guilt for not holding to my marriage vows, guilt for allowing Kate to hope that there could be more between us than those hasty couplings that served to help me forget where I was and what I was – a slave.” His right hand curls into a fist. “A slave,” he repeats in a hoarse whisper. “And all because my miscreant of a brother.”
Ah, yes. Your brother. Not the closest of relationships, is it?
Could you perhaps elaborate?
Bright eyes bore into mine. “He cuckolded me, accused me of treason, had me rotting in jail for three years, and then some years later he abducted me and sold me as indentured labour in Virginia. He did more than that, mind, but I dare say it suffices to give you some insight into his character.”
But you forgot one thing, didn’t you? His nose
“His nose.” Matthew laughs darkly. “Aye, I swiped off his nose when I came upon him threatening my Alex. But what’s a nose when compared to years of stolen life?”
So why all the bad blood between you?
“Because of Margaret.” He frowns. “Beautiful, she was, all black hair and eyes like shards of an April sky. Luke loved her, she loved him – but she married me.”
Luke says you forced her.
“Luke lies. Our father banished Luke – a heartless thing to do, when your son is only a laddie of fifteen – and told him never to come back. Margaret despaired, and with her true love gone, she set her eyes on me. Unfortunately, some years later Da died and Luke came back.”
Unfortunately? So you’d have preferred for that not to happen? To have stayed married to Margaret instead of meeting Alex?
He actually pales, mouth tightening into a gash. “No,” he finally says. “A life without Alex would have been a wasted life. She was meant for me, and I for her, no matter that we were born three centuries apart.” He scowls. “Maybe you shouldn’t include that in your interview.”
What? That you were meant for each other? I find it sort of sweet.
“Sweet?” Matthew looks embarrassed. “I’m a grown man, not some lovelorn lad. But I meant what I said about Alex being from the future – I’d prefer it if you didn’t include it. It’s too much magic, and in the here and now such things can lead to accusations of witchery.”
Ah. Too late. Besides, it adds quite the twist to your story, doesn’t it?
“Too many twists if you ask me,” he says darkly. “Too many times I’ve near on lost her to the tug of time.” He looks away. “If I were to lose her, I’d die. She lives in my blood, and without her…” He makes a face. “Maybe I am lovelorn, after all.”
You think? (I smile and pat his hand before nudging the plate in his direction. I then allow him some time to regain his composure, mainly by stuffing his face with the last of the cake) So, what is she like, your wife?
“Stubborn. Opinionated. Brave – a lioness when she needs to be. Something of a handful, and she hasn’t mellowed much with the years. A good mother, an even better wife.” He shakes his head. “My very own personal miracle, that’s what she is.”
A miracle? Seriously?
“How else to describe it? The good Lord made sure she plummeted through time to land at my feet.”
And why would He do that?
“Why?” Matthew sits back and regards me for a long time. “Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it?”
Not to me – not to my readers.
He snorts softly. “I reckon it’s because He knew I needed her – just as much as she needed me.”
After this, Matthew decides he is done, clapping his hat on his head as he makes for the door. A swirl of dust, an instant of seeing his tall, broad frame outlined in the sun and he is gone, leaving but an impression of a dark-haired man clad in a worn linen shirt and breeches. One could almost think I’ve imagined it all – if it hadn’t been for the very, very empty cake plate.
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.
When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.
Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.
Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.
The first instalment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.
Follow the Tour!
This wonderful tour has been put together by IndieBRAG, here are the stops:
September 21- The Maiden's Court
September 22- Of History and Kings
September 23- everyday happy foods
September 24- Just One More Chapter
September 25- Layered Pages
September 25 – The Many Worlds of Charlene Newcomb
September 26th- Stuart S. Laing
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