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An Interview with Eleanor Swift-Hook

Today it is my great pleasure to welcome the respected historical novelist, Eleanor Swift-Hook to the blog to discuss her bestselling series the Lord's Legacy. Thank you for your time today, Eleanor and for chatting with me about your excellent books.

What inspired you to write your Lord’s Legacy series?

My inspiration for Lord’s Legacy was rooted in a passionate love of the 17th century. But I wanted to make it more than just another story about the civil wars in England. I wanted to try and use the wars as the backdrop for various mysteries playing out, within each book and across the series, as well as exploring the historical events, like battles and sieges, which are featured.

Who is your favourite character in the series and why?

That is a toughie!

I’m not sure I have a favourite as each character is a delight to write in his or her own way. Danny Bristow, who is the undoubted reader favourite is great fun to write, he brings a lot of humour and yet has a very dark side. Gideon Lennox, who is the main point of view character, has a lot of growth over the series and that makes him very rewarding to write. But probably Philip Lord would be my favourite. For all he is ever aloof and enigmatic I found when I was writing that any time he was on the page the words flowed.


Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?

There is more coming, but I can’t promise exactly when.

I have been working on a series exploring the earlier lives of Philip Lord and Kate, set in the perilous and brutal era of the Thirty Years War. The series is largely done, but I will wait for it to be finished before it is published.

At the moment, in response to a request from a number of my readers who all told me they want to know what happens to the characters after the end of Lord’s Legacy, I am currently writing a book that follows on from it. Set at the end of the First English Civil War, about four years after Lord’s Legacy finishes, it deals with the consequences of defeat.

And just for those who keep telling me they want more Danny, there should be a short story about him in his younger years coming out as part of an anthology sometime in the not too distant future.


Who is your favourite author?

Dorothy Dunnett. Her Lymond Chronicles are the most amazing books I have ever read. On every reread they leave me staggered by her brilliance. Before I read them I had never suspected fiction could be so incredibly beautiful and powerful. I have spent my entire writing career trying to get somewhere towards approaching her brilliance. I will never succeed, but having such an amazing mark to strive towards is what inspires me.

My sincere advice is if you have not read her work you should do so. Begin with Game of Kings and expect to spend the first half of the book in a bit of a daze with little idea of what is really going on. All will become clear. Trust me. Just enjoy the ride and the stunningly gorgeous writing. And know that I envy you having that banquet spread before you for the first time, with so many delicacies to explore and enjoy.


When did you know you wanted to write novels?

I was writing stories from the moment I could hold a chunky crayon. I used to illustrate them in those days too, but sadly my artistic efforts never really took off. I loved stories as a young child and wanted to create my own.

I’m not sure when the ambition to write a novel came, but it might well be traced to my nine year old self reading Lord of the Rings and feeling the magic of being pulled into such a huge story and wanting to do that myself.


Do you write in other genres?

This is the kind of thing one talks about in a low voice, behind closed doors and swearing the one who hears to complete secrecy! However, in another author life, I have written a science fantasy space opera series and I co-wrote an alternate history whodunnit series, set in a modern day England that is still part of a Roman Empire that never fell.


What do you like most about being an author?


Yes, that does definitely sound trite, but it is true. When I write the world goes away and takes with it all the problems and issues of the moment leaving me caught up in what is happening to my characters. My writing technique is a form of role-play so I find it utterly immersive.

The only other thing that comes close is hearing from those who have read my books how much they enjoyed them and what aspects of the story meant the most to them. I know the amazing feeling of reading a good book and the sense of making good friends with the characters and sharing their journey. When I hear that I have been able to give that to other people it is truly wonderful.


What advice do you have for those who are starting out on their journey as writers?


Read everything. Read good books and bad books. Read fiction and nonfiction. If you are not a passionate reader you will never be a passionate writer. I truly believe that to write well you have first to love the experience of reading—and all you need to learn to become a great writer is there in the works of great writers.

By all means take whatever creative writing course appeals to you, but I am not a fan. Those who have, too often seem to me to become overly obsessed with mechanics and structure. As if a novel is a clockwork construction where you just put the cogs in the right places and it all whirrs and clunks along, ringing bells at exact intervals.

Writing isn’t like that. Words are not smithed, they are woven—woven from threads of many kinds and qualities. Writing is an art not a science. Give your story a beginning, a middle and an end and then write what and how you would most want things to be in a book you’d love to read.

If you want to get a relevant qualification for your writing career, get a degree or diploma in marketing. It’ll help you a whole lot more than one in creative writing.

Enjoy the journey ahead. It will be much tougher than you think it will be, much less glamorous and much harder slog. But it will reward you in ways you have yet to imagine. Just be sure you do it because you love it. If you only want to write books to become famous or make money, I’d suggest you take the easier route of becoming a social media influencer. The way the publishing industry works today, you can write the best book ever written and still only have a small cadre of devoted fans.

And don’t be shy to approach other writers for help and advice. Some might be stand-offish but most recall all too well how lonely it can feel when you are working through the foothills of your first novel.


The Author

Eleanor has an ongoing fascination with the social, military and political events that unfolded during the Thirty Years’ War and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. She lives in County Durham and loves writing stories woven into the historical backdrop of those dramatic times.

Lord’s Legacy traces the story of Philip Lord, a mercenary commander with a reputation for ruthlessness gained in the wars raging across Europe. He returns to England at the opening of what will become the First English Civil War, with a treason charge hanging over his head, in search of the truth about his identity and heritage.

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The advice about marketing is both hilarious and true. Thanks, Eleanor and Val!


Fab interview! Thank you both, Val and Eleanor. I treasure Eleanor’s advice about marketing degrees. Sadly mine’s in psychology, so I stumble through my own marketing quagmire as best I can.

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