Monday, May 21, 2012

In the Spotlight with Rosemary G

Today’s In the Spotlight features Rosemary Gemmell. Rosemary also known as Romy comes all the way from a village on the west coast of Scotland, twenty minutes from beautiful Loch Lomond and thirty minutes from the centre of Glasgow. She tells us her surroundings often inspire her writing; both the countryside around her house, and the River Clyde which meanders alongside the M8.

Good morning Rosemary, or by our time difference would be good evening to you. What’s the weather like there in Scotland?

First, thank you so much for having me on your lovely site, Cathy.

The weather? Well it depends what time of day you’re asking! Seriously, we should be having our summer (such as we get) but so far we’ve only had a few hot days in April. We’re all hoping that wasn’t this year’s summer, which is quite likely to happen. Mostly, it’s a little bit of sunshine, some rain, and even a little wind. Blink and you miss the sun here! We also frequently get all four seasons in one week. But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else as I like the variety, and even the cold in small doses.

I’ve seen you sign off as both Rosemary and Romy, which do you prefer? What do your friends call you?

Just to make it more complicated, I’m also known as Ros! I’m usually called Rosemary by family and friends, although a few are starting to call me by either of the two other names, and I really don’t mind any version. It came about because all my short stories and articles were published under my full name over the years. When my first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, was accepted by Champagne Books, I decided to be Romy for any kind of romantic novel. But I also write children’s and tween fiction so decided I needed another persona for that, hence the name Ros! It’s handy having a long first name to play around with. It helps to differentiate my writing, and I wanted to keep the same surname.

Please tell us something about you, who is Rosemary-Romy-Ros Gemmell?

Hm, who indeed?! I’ve been happily married for 37 years, my son and daughter are now grown-up adults, and I’m about to become a first-time grandmother (exciting)! I’ve had a variety of jobs over the years: student nurse, business travel consultant, education/business liaison officer in a school, and other part-time work. Most recently, I was an adult literacy tutor.

I didn’t do university level study until my own children were in secondary school, then I gained a BA honours in European literature and history, then a Masters Degree in Humanities (literature and British Cinema History). That was a real life-changing time in my life, as I love to learn new things and expand my mind. I also love to dance and have tried salsa, belly dancing and tap. Now I do Tae Bo at home to keep fit (at least that’s the intention) and my husband and I go for walks whenever we can. I love sharing writing news and markets with my local writing group and on my main blog, and love to see new writers get published. Oh, and I’m generally optimistic and enthusiastic (to my husband’s annoyance at times)!

(Update: Since this interview Rosemary became grandma to a healthy 8lbs 4oz baby girl, Congrats Grandma.)

You write both adult stories and children, usually authors specialize in one or the other, where does your heart most call you?

A very good question! I can honestly say that I like a variety of genres and types of writing. I’ve called myself a butterfly writer in the past, and that’s partly because I like to flit between different writing projects, spending a little time with each. Sometimes, it’s the character who determines whether it will be for adults or children. Maybe I’ve never lost my inner child, as some days I just want to immerse myself in children’s writing, while on another it might be adult fiction, a short story, or non-fiction that calls to me. And I have escapist tastes, in writing, reading, TV and film!

How many books do you have published to date?

Just the two so far, although I’m working on more for adults and children. And I’ve had children’s stories and adult fiction in several anthologies.

Which of your books would you consider your favorite?

Difficult! Because they are so different, I have to say I like both equally well. Dangerous Deceit will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first published novel – and the first I completed. But Summer of the Eagles has more of me in it, and some themes close to my heart within the story.

Please tell us something about these books and why we should buy them.

Dangerous Deceit is set in 1813 England, during the Regency period. As well as a developing romance between young Lydia and Lord Sheldon, it’s also full of intrigue, spies and villains, and Lydia even dresses as a boy and finds herself in danger in one scene. Here’s the blurb:

Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in society balls or marriage, until her brother's friend, Lord Marcus Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia.

Complicated by a French spy, her best friend's unrequited love for Lydia's brother, James, and a traitorous villain, Lydia gradually finds her emotions stirred by Lord Sheldon. But what is his relationship with the beautiful Lady Smythe and his part in an old scandal? Lydia faces danger before all deception is uncovered and love claims its reward.

Summer of the Eagles is aimed at young people in the 10 to 14 age group, but it also seems to be appealing to many older women! The story is set on a Scottish island and includes themes of bereavement and loss, bird protection, friendship, and a slight allegorical fantasy. Here’s the blurb:

Thirteen year old Stephanie (Stevie) loses her parents in a terrible accident, leaving her lame. Stevie’s dreams of running for Scotland are over. No longer able to cope with Stevie’s moods, Gran sends her to an aunt on a Scottish island.

Although Stevie gradually makes new friends and discovers an interest in the bird sanctuary, she soon falls into danger from two bird poachers intent on harming the eagles.

Karig, a strange boy in the hills, helps Stevie to heal. Does he have anything to do with the eagles or the painted rocks and legends of the island?’

I’ve been told both books are a good read!

 Now a question I always want to know, when did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

 Another good question! I’ve always been a prolific reader, right from an early age, and loved to escape inside the pages of books. I didn’t start writing until high school – mostly romantic type poetry, which I also loved to read. While studying for my degrees, I rediscovered a love of writing essays and non-fiction.

Then, when we moved to our present village, I found a writing group in a nearby town. Gathering the courage to go along, I’ve never looked back. I won the woman’s short story competition at my very first Scottish Association of Writers annual conference, judged by the editor of a well known national magazine. When he then bought the story, I reckoned I’d finally found my destiny! Of course, it took many a year after that until I began to sell a lot more work. But I never had a moment’s doubt that writing was now my life.

Thank you so much Rosemary for your delightful interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Just to thank you so much again for letting me witter on (do you use that expression?)! And I’d love to encourage anyone just starting out to please send your writing out to editors and publishers. Professional writers are those who never gave up!

Dangerous Deceit is available from,  and

Summer of the Eagles is available from, and


Blogs: Reading and Writing – (main blog)
Romancing History – (historical)
Flights of Imagination - (children’s writing)
Twitter: @rosemarygemmell

Next weeks In the Spotlight will feature Author Linda Rettstatt


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your lovely blog today, Cathy!

Jude Johnson said...

Congratulations on becoming a "gramma" Rosemary! I thought of you this past week as the Craig Ferguson Late Late Show ran episodes they filmed in Scotland around the Glasgow area. Such beautiful country--you must be constantly inspired.
And Cathy, you ask excellent questions for an interview. Makes for an informative and fascinating read.


Linda Swift said...

Rosemary, I can't believe how much we have in common. I, too, started college after my two children were in school. My husband and I enjoy ballroom dancing. And we both write in a variety of genres.
Lovely interview, Rosemary and Cathy. And your books sound wonderful. I wish you continued success. Linda

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Jude - thanks for your kind words. How lovely you got to see some scenes around the west of Scotland!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Linda - many thanks for dropping in with such a lovely comment. What a coincidence about our careers!

Bill Kirton said...

You always give value for money, Rosemary, in print and in person. And something else that wasn't touched on in the interview (which was excellent, by the way) is your generosity to other writers. But look at that photo - hard to believe you're a grandma.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Oh, Bill, you've put a smile on my face! Thank you for your continuing support - I really do appreciate it/you. As for the photo, it's not my most recent one that Cathy used, but it isn't that old either, so thank you!

Cathy Coburn said...

I left two comments yesterday from my iPad do you see either of them? I didn't think so. Try again from PC. Thanks Rosemary for sharing with us, and always giving of yourself to others such as myself. Thanks Jude for joining us your also one of those people who is always willing to help out, no wonder you two like each other, two peas in a pod.
Thanks Linda, I did the collage after my kids started school, and my husband and I love Dances with the Stars, does that count? ;-)
Bill thanks for joining, your right, I missed that part, but I felt it in my heart.
Thank you all, Rosemary deserves every bit of support she can get.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Cathy - I just saw the photo of me and the baby. Thank you!

Bill - maybe that's the photo you meant? If so, that's very recent!!

Allison Knight said...

Loved the pic of grandma and grandbaby. Interesting interview as well. I love stories about long term happy marriages. And I'm amazed that write romance and YA. Fascinating.

Allison Knight said...

Opps, I missed the "you" in the last sentence of my comment.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for visiting and commenting, Allison - much appreciated!

Pat McDermott said...

What a great photo of you and your new grandchild, Rosemary. Congratulations! That little lady will grow up proud of her author grandmother, I'm sure. Best to you and your writing.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Pat - many thanks for coming over to visit. And thanks for your lovely comment!

Erin O'Quinn said...

Hello, Rosemary-Romy-Ros, wonderful writer!

I would like folks who have not yet read your Summer of the Eagles to know that it is one of the best tween books I have ever read. I wish so much I had read a book like that when I was just becoming a little adult. I hope your wee granddaughter will read it (I'm sure she will) and hold it dear to her heart the rest of her life.

Congratulations on your books, and even more on your new grandbaby.

Warmest regards, Erin

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Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Erin - thank you so much for coming over to leave such a lovely comment (I'm blushing)! Much appreciated.