Welcome to my blog, Shelley. This is such an enticing read. I love the title and the cover is gorgeous!
Thank you so much, Marje. I’m thrilled to be here and able to share Edith’s story with you. The cover is a firm favourite of mine too!
I’d love to find out more about The Last Princess, so let’s chat…
- Tell us a little about your background, your life today and how you came to writing.
Like many of my fellow author pals, I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. As a youngster, I used to write and illustrate a story and then bind it into a book using old wallpaper scraps and string. I think my future was mapped out back then!
I first saw my name in print at 13 when my letter was published in Jackie magazine. Seeing my name in print was an incredible feeling and I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to be an author. However, it would take until I was in my forties for me to get my act together.
In 2014 I self-published my debut book which was a non-fiction title (I worked in the mind, body, spirit industry at the time) called How I Changed My Life in a Year. Thanks to the fabulous support and reviews of the book blogging community it shot up the Amazon charts to number one in self-help and women’s biographies. That book really has changed my life!
I’m an avid networker in my local area and an associate for a women’s business network. As I used each event to introduce myself and my books I began getting asked how I got started writing my books and how I published them. Through the network, I was asked repeatedly to run workshops and speak at events. Over time this grew into my writing mentor business where I help women in business write their own non-fiction books and blogs to boost their brand.
My dream of writing for a living became a reality as I fill my days writing my own novels and helping my clients with their word counts.
- What do you think are the most important qualities of a female heroine?
Great question! The answer may differ for each of us as we all have unique core values that drive us. For me, it’s authenticity, vulnerability, and loyalty. These qualities are important to me in my real life and so I like to see the same in a heroine.
- As it is a historical tale what sort of research did you do for this particular novel?
As soon as I knew I was going to write this book I began reading anything I could get my hands on about Vikings. I’ve always been fascinated by this period so it wasn’t a hardship to immerse myself in the sagas and legends.
The Last Princess is based in Bamburgh, Northumberland, and also Hedeby (once a vital Danish trading settlement at the southeastern base of the Jutland Peninsula, and now in Germany). I couldn’t visit Germany thanks to a certain pandemic, but I did drive up to Bamburgh a couple of times to visit the area. It certainly brings a story to life if you can stand in the exact spot your character stands in.
I also took a trip to the Jorvik centre in York which is a great day out if you’re ever in the area.
- I’m curious, what attracts you to writing YA Fiction?
In 2004 I left a violent marriage and started to rebuild my life. My reading had taken a back seat for so long that I didn’t know what I enjoyed anymore. I couldn’t read romance or crime as these genres were too raw for me at that time, so what could I turn to?
Wandering through Waterstones I came across the teen fiction section. I’ve always loved fantasy, supernatural, myths, and legends (The Folk of the Faraway Tree and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe are firm favourites), so when I picked up Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and read the blurb about werewolves I was hooked. I’m not sure if I enjoy the fast pace, the honesty (no subject is taboo), or the coming of age aspect which allows me to turn back time, but I know I found a genre I adored.
The more I read, the more story ideas began to bubble up. Having three children who were then rapidly approaching their teens also helped me secure my place in writing YA.
- What were the hardest, most challenging parts to write? And why?
As you know, I’m a fantasy fan so I love making stuff up. When I decided to use real places, refer to real people, and other historical references I knew I had to get it right. I also needed to find the balance between history and fiction.
Writing The Last Princess was a passion project as I researched timelines and decided how to fit Edith’s story into real-life events. I didn’t want to recite facts and figures, but I did want the reader to feel like they were part of the action. The challenge was how much reality to include. In the end, I only referred to historical figures such as Ivar the Boneless and Alfred rather than integrating them into the thick of the story.
I hope it worked, eek!
- I believe you also write non-fiction too. Would you recommend it? And why?
Non-fiction was my big break into writing so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m a fully qualified holistic therapist, Reiki Master Teacher, crystal healer, and meditation tutor, and writing about these topics was my way of reaching and helping more people.
I used non-fiction self-help and personal development books to help me piece my life back together and I see the power in books of this genre all the time.
My writing mentor clients tend to write books based on their business coaching programmes, leadership, business development, and wellbeing. There are so many topics you can write about that will help your audience, and position you as an authority.
If you’ve got a non-fiction book idea then it’s definitely worth exploring.
- Why Vikings? And which actor/s would you cast to write the main/various male part/s? Or female parts!
Why Vikings? Aside from my fascination with the Viking age I also discovered a tenuous link between Vikings and my ancestors. A few years ago I did the Ancestry DNA test where you spit in a tube and send it off for analysis. The data that comes back is incredible. According to my DNA, I’m 38% Scandinavian! So, obviously, I’m descended from shield maidens! 😉
It was this DNA result that inspired the entire book as I let my mind wander to the possibilities of who my ancestors could have been. Genealogy is a wonderful tool for writing inspiration.
At a talk I gave recently one of the questions from the audience was ‘do you cast actors when thinking up your characters?’ This is something I do with all my books as I find it helps bring the story to life for me, although I tend to choose images of actors when they were younger so they probably couldn’t play a seventeen-year-old if Netflix came knocking!!
In The Last Princess, I cast Lyndsy Fonseca as Edith and Greyston Holt as Leif, with Laura Donnelly as Solveig, Rune Temte as Jarl Aaric, and Rossif Sutherland as Aelle.
- I believe you have a camper van. Where do you like to go? What adventures have you had whilst out travelling?
Buying Snoopy (yes, it’s the law to name your camper) was the best decision I’ve ever made. It took me twenty years to manifest him but I got there in the end. Since picking him up in August 2020 I’ve been to Staffordshire, the Lake District, Norfolk, Edinburgh, Wales, Somerset, Warwickshire, and Northumberland. Snoopy accompanied me on my research trips for The Last Princess.
There’s something special about packing up your laptop and writing on the road!
Thank you so much for letting me share my writing journey and The Last Princess with your lovely blog readers, Marje.
My pleasure Shelley.
If anyone wants to connect with me then here are my links:
Author website: https://shelleywilsonauthor.com/
The Last Princess, is out on 24th May 2022, published by BHC Press Books.
The Last Princess Blurb
Northumbria, 866 AD
Edith still has much to learn about the art of ruling a kingdom, but when her family is murdered, she’s faced with the challenge of staying alive.
As a young woman in Anglo-Saxon England, Edith finds it hard to be heard above the Eldermen who are ripping the kingdom to pieces, but nothing can prepare her for the arrival of the pirates and the Vikings. Torn from her homeland and sold into slavery, she’s determined to survive at any cost.
Finding allies in the unexpected and enemies closer to home, Edith clings to her dream of returning home one day to reclaim her throne and to exact revenge on those who harmed her family.
BUY your copy of The Last Princess
Well, after reading the blurb and seeing the beautiful cover I had a feeling I would love this story. And I was right.
This is such a compelling tale of bravery, love, friendship, family, disloyalty, greed, slaves and vikings! Everyone loves a good viking story… who could not? There is passion, war, fight scenes, sword wielding and shield maidens! Yes, women are fierce too. And, I liked the finer touches of this story too… the details of viking marriage ceremonies. It is obvious that Shelley Wilson has researched with care and this is evident in her descriptive passages, and the finer details.
In my opinion, the story really comes into its own as it progresses. I’d say the beginning had me wondering a little… My initial uncertainty was perhaps not quite enough emotion at the beginning given the terrors of what happened to the heroine Edith. But, in the midst of such terror perhaps there is not much time to pause and reflect. This is a time period when such experiences, death is all to common I suppose. So, this slight hiccup, which pulled me momentarily out of the story is soon swept away by the brilliance of the storytelling. Everything thereafter is captivating A real page turner, I loved this.
My rating… 4. 5 stars from me.
About the Author
Shelley is an English multi-genre author. She has written nine young adult/middle-grade supernatural, fantasy, and historical novels, a children’s meditation book, and six motivational self-help titles for adults.
She is a proud mum of three and lives in the West Midlands, UK. Shelley loves travelling in her VW camper called Snoopy in search of stories. She also enjoys paddle boarding, Tudor and Viking history, supporting Leeds United, and obsessing over to-do lists!