Interview with Rosalind Tate, Author of Stranded

17 Nov 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Stranded?

Stranded was inspired by a question that popped into my head a few years ago when I was watching Downton Abbey on TV. How would a modern girl cope – or not – if she found herself in a grand house a century ago?

I love time travel stories, but I wrestle with the paradoxes and consequences of time travel. A quantum computer couldn’t track all the effects that someone just traveling would bring about, never mind interacting with people in the past and future. The main character in Stranded, Sophie, thinks she’s traveled in time, but she’s actually landed in a similar parallel universe where time passes slower – so that world is a century behind ours.

Here in 2020, the scientific community is so convinced parallel universes exist, they’re searching for evidence of them in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Going with parallel universes made the story real for me.

The portal between universes is at the heart of the story. The portal isn’t magic. It works within the laws of physics. So, if Sophie can unpick its secrets, she’ll be able to get home.

Stranded also has romance and a love triangle, and Sophie, Hugo and Freddy’s friendship will continue and develop in subsequent books in the series. Readers have asked me whether I’m on ‘Team Hugo’ or ‘Team Freddy,’ but my lips are sealed!

What or who inspired you to become an author?

My mother inspired me. She wrote historical novels that were published in the 1980s. As a teenager, I never thought much of it, but now I appreciate how hard she must have worked and appreciate the high quality of her books. It’s a commonplace tragedy nowadays, but she has advanced dementia, so I can’t tell her how proud I am. Her novels are out of print and I intend to republish them, so she’ll live on in those stories.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

For me, very special books take you out of reality, keep you gripped, make you think and — the ultimate test — when you get to the end, you can’t bear it and have to read from the beginning again. I’m afraid my choices aren’t very original!

These need no explanation…

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien,

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.

A bit more up to date…

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Deborah’s knowledge of history (she’s a history professor) and modern DNA techniques, and the way she weaves that through her story of vampires and witches, means you’re hooked until the very last page.

Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord. This novel knocked my socks off. It won the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off competition (SPFBO) last year, and I stopped reading the eBook on the second page and bought the paperback. Her wonderful writing needed to be savored slowly and that merited a physical book!

My final choice is not a book, but can I cheat? The TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, written by Joss Whedon, has to be up there. The best dialogue, how you can succeed with the help of your friends, and how hard it is to be a leader. I’m not sure it’s even about vampires…

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

The scientist, Jane Goodall.

Jane conducted a six-decade study of wild chimpanzees in Africa, debunked the assumption that humans are uniquely different from other animals by proving (among other things) that animals construct and use tools. And because of her tireless campaigning, there are now no laboratories in the US that experiment on chimpanzees.

Jane is my hero and her work influenced how I’ve portrayed Sophie’s dog, Charlotte, who also falls through the portal in Stranded. Charlotte has her own personality (as anyone who has a dog will know!) and she’s just a regular dog. But (no spoilers) she’s not in the book by accident.

The question I’d ask Jane is: why and how did you not give up, when for years eminent professors and scientists ridiculed you and your work?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

When complete scenes and dialogue come into my brain from the ether (usually when I’m in the shower) and I have to write it all down or it’s lost. It feels as though it’s come from somewhere/someone else and that I’m ‘cheating,’ as I haven’t consciously created them!

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up at 4 am while my family are asleep. When my head is in 1925, any well-meant interruption (‘How’s the book going?’) can stop my chain of thought for the day! I write in a shed in the garden until 11 am (at the moment, I’m writing Escape, the next book after Stranded), then I have coffee with my long-suffering husband, and in the afternoon I do marketing, publishing admin and answer reader’s emails. I’m not superwoman, so I’m in bed by 8 pm most nights. I take it easy at weekends and spend time with my family. That’s not typical at the moment. We’re in lockdown here in England and because two of my grown-up children are miles away, we can only Zoom.

What scene from Stranded was your favorite to write?

The Summer Ball at Shorten Manor. Sophie is wearing a fabulous dress, posh white gloves to above the elbow and looking as pretty and delicate as Cinderella. But when a lecherous guest tries to seduce her, she puts him on the floor with one punch. Yay!

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

‘Carpe diem’ or ‘Seize the day.’ We’re only here once (probably), so enjoy it. I don’t always succeed in living by that motto though. Life too often gets in the way…

Rosalind Tate is the author of the new book Stranded.

Connect with Rosalind Tate
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