Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview with Anna Belfrage, Author of SERPENTS IN THE GARDEN (GIVEAWAY/US)

On a muggy August day in 2002, Alexandra Lind was unexpectedly thrown backwards in time, landing in the year of our Lord 1658. Catapulted into an unfamiliar and frightening new existence, Alex could do nothing but adapt. After all, while time travelling itself is a most rare occurrence, time travelling with a return ticket is even rarer. Serpents In The Garden by Anna Belfrage is the fifth book about Alex, her Husband Matthew and their continued adventures in the second half of the seventeenth century. Let's find out more about this new installment of The Graham Saga with the author. 

Anna, thank you for gracing my blog with the favor of an interview!


Let's start with the most obvious question. It's hard not to make comparisons between your time-travel themed saga and the Outlander series. In Diana Gabaldon's epic story, each installment is treated as a chapter in a larger story: you really need to read her books in the order they were published. Did you structure The Graham series in the same way? Can the readers pick up Serpents In The Garden and enjoy it as they would do with a stand-alone?

Before I answer that, let me start by saying  "Hi Mina, how nice to be here!". I think all series benefit from being read in sequence, but I have actually strived to ensure they can be read as stand-alone books. I test if they are by approaching people who have not read the previous books and asking them to beta read - in general, they all want to read the previous books, but agree that they don't have to. The best of both worlds, from my perspective ;)

Let's bring our readers up to speed on characters and storyline: who are the main players of Serpents In The Garden? Any major changes in the setting of the story? Any pivotal new character?

The main players are always Matthew Graham and his Alex, my own personal hunk of Scottish granite and his time-travelling wife. Of course, as time goes along and their children grow up, at times center stage is given over to the younger Grahams, in this book especially to Ian and Jacob. The story is set in Maryland - no change versus the previous book - and in London, where Jacob ends up when he sets off to see the world without parental consent. I do like it that Luke Graham, Matthew's estranged brother, makes a reappearance in Serpents In The Garden.

Alex and Matthew, the saga's lead couple, are a wonderful example of enduring love. After many years and several children, their marriage sparks with great emotional connection and delicious sensual tension. What is the secret of their romance?

I'm glad you find it delicious - so do I! Love is something you have to work at to keep alive. Being fortunate enough to live in a relationship as enduring and as loving as Matthew's and Alex's, I'd say it's basically all about communication - about picking up on when the other is troubled and not taking the "nothing is wrong" for an answer. It's also about being there, a hand to hold on to when everything around you is spinning too fast. It's about long mornings spent in bed, laughing your head off at whatever silly story he is telling you, it's about nights falling asleep in his arms, safe from the world outside. And finally, it's about nurturing the romance; soft caresses, telling looks, the odd whispered compliment while you're cooking dinner for the entire boisterous family, a finger running tantalizing down an exposed nape...

How many more installments are you planning to write?

The Graham Saga consists of eight books, so three more to go.

Historical fiction and time-travel romance have always found a great match on the screen, big or small. If The Graham series were to be translated into a movie feature or tv series, who would you like to star in it? Any dream cast in mind?

That's a very difficult question - and one I'm not entirely sure I want to answer as I prefer for my readers to envision their own images of Alex and Matthew. Still, I think Michelle Williams would be a good fit type-wise with Alex, and I have a thing about Michael Fassbender, and after seeing him only in his shirt (not for real, sadly, but in Jane Eyre), I can well see him doing my Matthew justice.

I read in your bio that you have a multi-cultural background. Different countries, different travel a leit-motiv in your life? Has your experience with the 'otherness', meant in a geographical and cultural way, shaped your interest in writing historical fiction and time travel?

I think my upbringing has left me with a constant curiosity about new cultures, New places. And yes, just as you point out, that "otherness" has also taught me just how important it is to be able to adapt to new circumstances. When you change school for the third time in the same school year - and every such change is also in a new country - you either adapt or collapse. This has been valuable input when it comes to imagining what would be like to time travel, which is why Alex so quickly gets on with coming to grips with her new life rather than mooch about yearning for the life she has lost. To mope for what you have lost is to die inside, bit by little bit...As to the historical fiction, this stems from my avid interest in history, starting already when I was a very small child.

In the epigraph to Serpents In The Garden, you dedicate the book to your mother, "who very early introduced [you] to the magical world of books". Do you have any particular book or author who influenced you? What is the best writing lesson you have learned from your favorite reads?

I couldn't name "a" book, or "an" author. What my mother did was throw her arms wide open and invite me to read whatever caught my eye among her masses of books. She guided me to read certain books (well, very many books, as she had me read a broad selection of classics), but otherwise left it to me to choose.  On my ninth birthday, she gave me Lord of the Rings - the book is by now so well-read it is falling apart and has been taped over and over again. What my mother also did, was to encourage me to reflect on what I read, this done through long discussions over tea. The best writing lesson is rather simple; write what you yourself would like to read - after all, if I don't love it, how can anyone else?

Let's hop on a time-travel machine. Where are we going and why? And most of all, are we coming back?

We are definitely coming back! I am old enough to enjoy my creature comforts, including such modern amenities as central heating, toilets and hot showers. As to where we are going,  I think we are off to Providence (now Annapolis) in the 17th century. There we will do a quick tour of this rather small town, after which we will set off due northwest on horseback. Around us, soaring American chestnuts will rise towards the skies, interspersed with maples and educators. It is autumn, the first frost has set the leaves to shivering, and as we ride, leaves all around us drift towards the ground, adding to the multitude carpet that muffled the sound of our horse's hooves.
Alternatively, we'll all go back to Troy, on the momentous evening when the Trojans rolled the gigantic wooden horse the Greek had left behind into their walled city. The rest, ad they say, is history - very bloody, violent history, which is why it is good to have that return ticket on hand - and rather unfortunate if this is when the dratted time-machine decides to malfunction!

Thank you wholeheartedly for this pleasant chat, Anna! Hope to have you on the blog again soon.

The blog tour organizer is generously offering 1 copy of book # 1 in The Graham Saga (A Rip In The Veil) to one lucky follower of this blog. Open to US residents only. Leave a comment below for a chance to win. Please, include your email address.

(The Graham Saga # 5)
SilverWood Books; March 1, 2014 
Ebook, Paperback, 379 pages
Historical fiction, time-travel

About the book

After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution (coming August 2014)
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest


Buy the Book


About the Author


I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website.  You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.


  1. A Rip in the Veil sounds captivating and fascinates me greatly. Thanks for this great giveaway and wonderful interview. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I have read this author's novels and they are extraordinary for the writing and the storyline and era. Thanks for your giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com