Author Interview: Susanna Kearlsey On The Winter Sea

There's no denying that author Susanna Kearsley has a brilliant way with words. Her latest novel, December's historical fiction The Winter Sea is equal parts contemporary romance, historical mystery and is infused with gothic overtones. This unique story captured our editors' attention and won the RT's December Seal of Excellence. Now get an insider's look at this magnificent tale with this author interview.

RT BOOK REVIEWS: In The Winter Sea, your primary heroine Carrie is a historical fiction author who becomes inspired to write a story that happens to include her ancestor Sophia in the action. As the story continues Carrie realizes that what is happening may not be so accidental at all. As a historical fiction author, has anything similar ever happened to you?

Susanna Kearlsey: The closest I ever came to something like this in my own writing would have been when I was doing the research for one of my earlier books, Mariana, while backpacking through the southwest of England with a friend of mine. I already had a very clear visual picture of my fictional village in mind, and I was keeping my eyes open for a grey stone house, a church, a manor house, and a pub, thinking I’d find them all in different places and cobble them together for my setting. While we were in Salisbury my friend, who loves stone circles, suggested taking the bus up to Avebury for the day. I rather grouchily said I didn’t want to, as I was coming down with a bad cold and didn’t want to go anywhere, but she told me to stop whining and get on the bus.

The bus set us down in Avebury across from a grey stone house. The perfect grey stone house. And right across the road from the house was a pub that looked just like the pub in my story. And a little further up the road, beside an old church like the one I’d been hoping to find, was a manor house. I started getting chills. And when I finally went into the church, I discovered the inside was just how I’d described it in a scene I’d written—even the baptismal font was in the proper place. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like that. It was truly my village, the way I’d imagined it. And I might never have found it that day if my friend hadn’t bullied me onto that bus. (I dedicated the book to her, to say thank you).