Writing Superheroes: Alison Stuart

This superhero wears many hats! Read on and find out more…

superhero copy

If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

This story’s origins are traced back to a visit to Harvington Hall in Worcestershire when I BTS 1974was 11 years old. It fired my imagination and the embryo of this story is still to be found written in pencil in a childish hand filed in a blue folder along with illustrations, maps and family trees. (I can produce the photographic evidence!) and several later revisions of the same story. It must have stuck with me because it many, many years later when I dislocated my shoulder skiing and found myself stuck in a ski chalet alone with a notebook computer that I thought for a lark I would have a go at writing a story and it was a version of this very, very early piece that became BY THE SWORD.


All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I AS_cavalier hatpromise we won’t tell.

Bespectacled Historian…


Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

Chief partner in crime is my own personal hero (and Harrison Ford doppel ganger). He is an engineer… that is superpower enough!


Where do you get your superpowers from?

I attribute my love of history and language to my father.


Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?2013-03-05 09.24.00

 Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of a “Room of Your Own” and as soon as my son moved out, I moved in to his bedroom. I figured everyone in the house had their own space except me. I keep all my favourite things around me… from little knick knacks, photos, old stuffed animals, my many unfinished sewing projects… but my pride and joy (apart from the glorious Turkoman rug on the floor) is my antique cedar office desk which has been with me since I was a teenager.


What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

I love my ereader but when it comes to research nothing beats a B-O-O-K. I accumulate reference books.


Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

It might depend what I am writing… I have writing hats… a cavalier hat for my 17th century stories, a pith helmet for my Singapore stories… all sorts of hats and if I get stuck I just put one on. They are literally my “thinking caps”.


What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Procrastination.  I have world enough and time these days but there is always something else, another FB status to update… a website to tweak…


What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

The biggest supervillain I have encountered is the contractual deadline. Writing to a contractual deadline, I have learned, is counter intuitive to the way I write. I am a pantser not a plotter and it takes several drafts of a story before it is fit to be seen…. I’m not sure I have vanquished this particular supervillain!


What important lessons have you learned along the way?

That you never stop learning the craft.


What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

The most important experience along the way has been my membership of Romance Writers of Australia (of which I was even President for a couple of years). I have so many wonderful writer friends, I would never have met without this amazing organization. They are my tribe.


If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I should have taken better notice of those people who told me I should stop writing cross genre and write either historical novels or romance novels. Then again they wouldn’t be my stories if I had heeded that advice, would they? You can only write the stories you want to tell…


What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

Actually it was to look at the books you like to read. Oddly I don’t read a lot of romance but I do read a lot of crime, particularly historical mysteries. I would like to take my writing in this direction.


Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

BY THE SWORD is not a new book… it’s actually my very first book with a totally new lease on life. It’s been revised and re-edited to make it what it was always intended to be, the first of a series.  There will be three books out this year, the Guardians of the Crown series, covering the years of the Interregnum (1650-1660 – Cromwell and the roundheads).  This book is Kate and Jonathan’s story and revolves around the defeat of Charles II at the Battle of Worcester. The hero of Book 2 makes a brief appearance, as does his brother who is the hero of Book 3.  Book 3 will bring both books together with the Restoration of the King. It was a dark period of English History – ten years without a King on the throne – but such fun to write about!

BY THE SWORD won the 2008 EPIC Award for Best Historical Romance (as well as being runner up in the Australian equivalent of the Golden Heart). It is the book of my heart! I am so excited that it will finally get the readership it deserves.


What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

I would like to be able to continue on with the Guardians of the Crown series. There is a “next generation” story already mostly written.

Otherwise my big project is a historical mystery series set in Singapore around 1910 – the colonial era. Book 1 of the Harriet Gordon Mysteries is written and looking for a home.



 You can find Alison at:

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  1. Thank you for inviting me to take tea with you, Maria. This was a fun post to write 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Alison!

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