Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, I have one son, three beautiful grandchildren, a dog and five birds. I've been print published since 1984, hit the USA Today lists with most of my historical romances and won numerous awards for "Best Book of the Year" from Romantic Times.
Hello Marsha. Please tell us about your latest book.
The newest book is an anthology, Masters of Seduction written with five other authors with whom I've shared daily emails for the past 12 years or so. We fondly call ourselves the Loopies, and came up with the idea to release a book with 6 original short stories, all of them linked by a jeweled antique pendant that travels down through the centuries from Medieval England (one of my favorite time periods) to present day Texas (Julie Ortolon's sub genre) In between we have Virginia Henley, Jacquie D'Alessandro, Jill Gregory, and Sherri Browning Erwin writing in their own sub genres, which should make for an interesting progression through the ages.
IAN. How long did it take to write your story for the book?
MC. What the Heart Sees is my first ever short story, and to be honest, I found it harder to write than a full length book. My historicals usually take a hundred pages or so to set the scene, introduce the characters, get the plot twists going. I had under 40 pages to set the scene, intro the characters, have them fall in love, arrange a battle, resolve a plot line... and... set the jeweled pendant off on the first leg of its journey *whew*
IAN. What inspired you to be a part of an anthology?
MC. It was a mutual inspiration, passed back and forth via emails when a couple of us Loopies first ventured into the brave new world of indie publishing. We'd had the idea years ago of writing an anthology together, but the hassles of multiple publishing houses, multiple agents getting involved...was just too much to overcome. When Amazon and Smashwords opened up the world to self publishing, the problems vanished. We even have the first (as far as we are aware) stepback digital cover.
IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?
MC. I tend to write whenever I get that tingle at the back of my neck and whenever I'm in the right frame of mind. I can't force myself to sit and write ten pages a day. On the other hand, I don't even try to stop myself when it's and I'm still scribbling away.
IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
MC. I wing everything. A new editor who was unfamiliar with the way I worked... no outline, just a finished manuscript handed in on deadline...insisted I send her an outline of a book. So I did. I slapped a paperback down on a piece of paper, traced around it and wrote my title on the "cover" and sent it to her. And yes, she was laughing when she called me and said okay, okay, no outline needed.
Q. How is Masters of Seduction different from others in your genre?
A. I have often been criticized for being "too realistic", sometimes "too graphic" when it comes to the violence and brutality of war, but when you love history and you love medieval knights and Scottish Highlanders and pirates...violence and brutality were part of every day living. Publishers Weekly has recommended several of my books to readers who don't just want the history to be wallpaper in the background. I try very hard to make the history as important as the characters rather than have characters who just change their clothing to match the time periods.
IAN. Are your books published in print, e-book or both?
MC. Three of the books currently at Amazon...my Scottish trilogy...are still available in print. The other 14 are ebook only. The anthology will be ebook only, as will my next new release, The Following Sea.
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
MC. A sense of having experienced an adventure vicariously through my words. I try to write each scene as if I am living through it, not just writing about it as a narrator. In the words of Willy Wonka, "Come with me and you'll be in a world of my imagination." I hope my readers enjoy it there. *g*
IAN. Where can we go to buy your books?
MC. All of my books are available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
MC. The Following Sea is a direct sequel to The Iron Rose. The book opens, in fact, the same day The Iron Rose ends. Many, many readers have written to ask me when and if I was going to be writing more of the Dante adventures and, after being retired for 6 years, what better way to return to the career I loved than writing Gabriel Dante's story.
IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
MC. I often blog over at www.marshacanham.wordpress.com, sometimes even about books *g*. I'm on Facebook and Twitter as well as @marshacanham. My website has information about all of my books as well as upcoming projects. www.marshacanham.com
Masters of Seduction: What the Heart Sees by Marsha Canham
She offered no immediate reply and he smiled again. Walking over to his escritoire he searched amongst the papers for a moment until he found the one he wanted. The wax seal had been broken and the page smudged through various attempts to cipher the words.
"As much as you find Latin and French to be a test of your patience, I find Saxon Englishry to be a maze of confusion. Think you it would go against your grain to read it for me? It is ancient and the script is ruined in places, but it was found along with some trinkets in this old box, which, in turn was discovered recently in the wine cellars."
Cassie approached the desk slowly. Beams of sunlight were streaming through the tall arched window behind him, making tiny dust motes that were suspended in the air glitter around his shoulders. His hair gleamed blue-black, his face was in profile and the sight made her heart leap high into her throat.
To distract herself, she looked at the box. It was old and made of wood, banded with leather straps. It bore a sturdy iron lock that had obviously been forced open, for a jewelled dagger lay beside it, the tip snapped off.
"As stubborn and unyielding as some Saxons I know," he murmured.
Cassie was about to offer up a retort when a stray beam of sunlight flashed off something inside the box and caught her eye. A frown creased her brow as she drew forward and the retort turned into a small gasp.
Nestled inside the box on a scrap of velvet was the silver mirror pendant, the one she had seen and touched not two hours ago.
"I see he finished it," she said.
"Who finished what?"
She pointed. "The pendant. The old jewel-maker was polishing it when I went to the cellars to fetch iron for my father."
"You must be mistaken. The chest and the pendant have been here, in my chambers for a sennight or more. As I said, it was found in one of the empty storerooms and I only broke through the lock last night. The parchment, the pendant and a handful of other jewels and chains were inside."
Cassie shook her head, making the pale cloud of her hair dance in the sunlight. "No. It is the same pendant. I saw your jewel-maker polishing it. There could not be two so much alike."
Thomas's eyes narrowed. "There is no jewel-maker here at Belfontaine. What you see before you is the extent of all this castle possesses in terms of gold or silver. And that, as I said, has only recently come into my possession."
"But I saw him. I spoke to him. He was at his work table and he..." she stopped and looked at the pendant again. She could see her reflection in the mirror and for one heart-stopping moment, she stared at her tousled blonde hair and thought it looked exactly the way—
She pulled her gaze from the pendant with an effort. "H-he said the silver had come from Damascus, the stones had belonged to a Syrian prince."
Thomas scoffed. "Who has filled your head with such tales? Did he have a name?"
"Godfrey. Godfrey the Lombard. And..."
"And... he was blind."
Thomas folded his arms across his massive chest and regarded her from beneath an arched eyebrow. "A blind jewel-maker?"
"But I saw him." Her voice trailed away and she bit her lip. "I could not have imagined it. If so then I must have imagined the other gold and silver plates, the cups, the chains..."
Thomas's left eyebrow arched as high as his right. "Gold plate? Here, in Belfontaine?"
"In the jewel-maker's workroom. In the cellars. I saw them. And I touched this," she reached into the box and lifted the pendant, curling her fingers around it. "I held it, just like this, and... and look!" She opened her palm and pointed to the scratch on the pad of her thumb, then turned the pendant over and found the tiny rough edge on the silver that had dug into her hand. "It even pricked me."
Thomas was looking at her as if she had lost half her senses.
"You don't believe me."
"I don't disbelieve you, I just—"
"I will not be called a liar," she said, her cheeks flushing hot.
"I am not calling you a liar," he said gently. "But you have been up on a tower roof for several weeks without respite, you suffer from lack of sleep, poor food—"
"I saw him," she insisted flatly, the green of her eyes flashing as hot as the emeralds on the pendant. "I saw him and I spoke to him. His hands touched mine. He was as real as you or I."
Thomas clamped his jaw to a square ridge. "Fair enough. There is, of course, one way to verify the existence of this... this Godfrey the Lombard."
He took her by the hand and strode out of his chamber. She had to run to keep apace, hair and skirts flying out behind her. His grip remained firm as he led her down the winding steps and across the dais of the great hall. He went directly to the narrow portal that led to the covered, winding steps and dragged her round and round the steep corkscrew case until they were in the cellars below.
Only then did he leave go of her hand to take up a pitch-soaked torch and touch it to one of the candles in the passageway. When the flame burst into life, he shoved the torch into her hand and pointed. "Show me."