Friday, January 30, 2015

Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift - Book Spotlight, Interview, and Giveaway

About The Book
Title: Shadow on the Highway

Author: Deborah Swift
Genre: Historical Romance

May 1651. 

England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. 
The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army. 

Abigail Chaplin, a young deaf girl, has lost her father to the parliamentarian cause. 

But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to work as a servant at a royalist household - the estate of Lady Katherine Fanshawe. 

Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. 

The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night. 

Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? 

How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? 

And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Silent Highwayman? 

‘Shadow On The Highway’ is based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the highwaywoman, sometimes known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. It is the first book in ‘The Highway Trilogy’. 

Praise for Deborah Swift: 

‘There is no greater compliment than “Give me more!”’ - Susanna Gregory 

‘realistic dialogue, an author’s obvious love for history, and characters that leap off the pages’ - Romance Reviews Today 

‘genuinely engrossing… with characters you can get interested in’ - The Mum Website 

Deborah Swift lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District. She teaches classes and courses in writing, and is the author of three other historical novels: ‘The Lady’s Slipper’, ‘The Gilded Lily’ and ‘A Divided Inheritance’. You can find out more about her on her website, 

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

UK link:

Author Website:

Author Interview:  

I enjoyed the opportunity to interview Deborah Swift about Shadow on the Highway.

What inspired you to write about Lady Katherine Fanshawe?

I was researching something else and came upon Lady Katherine's picture on the internet. I could not quite believe she was known as 'The Wicked Lady' - she looked so innocent.

Katherine’s aunt, Ann, wrote a diary too which features her and is still available four hundred years later. When I investigated further I found the legend surrounding Lady Katherine, which included ghosts, buried treasure and highway robbery. Who could resist such a story? Lady Katherine was a real person, but it was interesting to consider that the real history probably bore little relation to the legend. Of course the legend is very appealing. Who can resist the handsome farmer’s son, Ralph Chaplin, who lures a noble lady into the ways of highway robbery? The only trouble is, history can’t verify his existence. In the book I have tried to provide valid historical reasons for the myth, and use as much real material as possible, without losing the exciting parts of the legend.

What was the research process like? 

I used the diary I mentioned, and also a lot of research on the English Civil War. I visited the locations, including Markyate Manor, the old house featured in the book. It is very atmospheric, but in private ownership now, so I could not go inside. But I visited the interiors of other similar houses to give me the sensory detail I needed. Oak panelling, old mullioned windows, the particular ornate plastering of the period. It is always a peculiar experience walking in your character's footsteps, standing where they stood, looking at the same unchanged view. It brings you much closer than internet research ever can.

What is your daily writing schedule?

I’m quite disciplined, I need to be to get the words on paper, so I have a routine and try to stick to it – mornings I write, afternoons I do research, publicity and promotion and blogging.(oh yes and housework and my other job!) Some days the writing goes better than other days, but I try not to need 'inspiration' as such. I try to choose a period I am passionate about because I will spend a long time alone at my desk with my chosen period and characters, so I need to really love them.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I like lots of tea and biscuits, and enjoy writing with my black cat nestled at my feet. My desk veers from massively untidy and chaotic (middle of a book) to pristine and organised (beginning of a book). My office is stacked high with research books and papers and people wonder how I find anything, but to me everything is just where I need it.  

Who are your favorite authors?

Some of my favourite historical writers are Barbara Ewing and CJ Sansom. And I love historical blockbusters such as Ken Follett’s "Pillars of the Earth". I like Jojo Moyes, Jodi Picoult, Marcus Zusack - the list goes on and on!  

What is your next writing project?  

I am working on the second part of this trilogy, called Spirit of the Highway. It tells the next part of the story from the point of view of Ralph Chaplin, Lady Katherine's lover. It is a thrilling storyline to write as it features the last battle of the English Civil War, alongside his highwayman exploits.

Book Giveaway:
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This spotlight is in association with Enchanted Book Promotions.


Deborah Swift said...

Thank you for hosting my interview. I loved the post about aprons. I still regularly use one when eating spaghetti bolognaise or noodles - and remember my Mum wearing one when she cooked.

Birdhouse Books said...

Deborah, thanks for your visit and nice note. I enjoyed learning more about your interesting novel. I love historical fiction!