Marian Thorpe

Sunday Spotlight


About Marian Thorpe

I'm 61. My parents emigrated to Canada after WWII, and my grandparents followed a few years later. I grew up with stories of 'home' and an ingrained love for England, even though I'd never been there. My interest in history, passed on from my father, has focused on Romano-British history and the years after Rome left Britannia to its own devices. I've written all my life, but beyond some published juvenilia, I began writing seriously again in the 1990's. I spend nine months of the year in Canada, three in England, have two cats, and a husband who also writes.

Empire’s Exile

Empire's Exile, the third book in my Empire's Legacy trilogy, follows a young fisherwoman, Lena, as invasion and war threaten her country. It opens with Lena facing exile for violating a treaty. With her, also exiled, is a bitter, angry man she barely knows. Lena travels east, searching for the fabled Eastern Empire, a land she knows of only through rumour and ruins. Her companion, Cillian, educated in a different land and tradition, knows more of its history, but not of its reality.

The world of the trilogy is based loosely on northern Europe between 400 – 800 CE. Historical events are reflected in the story, but they are not recreations, but rather starting points for the writers' question of 'what if?' The focus is on ethical and moral questions rather than non-stop action. In Empire's Exile specifically, Lena faces very difficult choices, both personal and societal. Where does loyalty lie, in the face of war? Does personal happiness come before the needs of your country?

The books are set in an unreal land and time, but the seed from which they grew was the experience of my mother in WWII. She volunteered in 1939 for the British army, serving alongside one of my aunts throughout the war, including in France. Another aunt was active in the Danish resistance. They weren't heroines, simply women serving their country; ordinary people whose lives were changed by war. As is Lena: a reluctant fighter who will carry the scars of war all her life.

Marian’s Writing Process

I'm a pantser, not a plotter, although as I work on the second, related trilogy that follows Empire's Legacy, I am plotting more than I did. Nor do I outline. I write the first 30,000 words or so, and then the ending, and then get my characters from the beginning to the end. Or they get me there, more accurately.

I articulate thoughts best through writing, not just in writing fiction but in my previous professional lives (research scientist and education) as well. So I write backstory that never makes it into the books, except as a line or two. I need to do that to understand my characters and their motivations.

I also edit-as-I-go. I start each writing day (which is every day) by reading over yesterday's work, making changes, and then I begin writing. This doesn't mean I don't edit thoroughly again (and again, and again) but it does make the process easier.

One comment I get frequently is 'you must have done a lot of research'. I have, and continue to, but because I was already interested in Roman and post-Roman European history, it hasn't felt like research. Although now I am always thinking: how can I use this?

My avocation, birding, also is reflected in the books: birds are mentioned frequently, to invoke setting and mood. Landscape infuses my books, and the historic landscape of my winter home in Norfolk, UK, has its influence: I frequently walk on a path that follows the line of a Roman road; the ruins of both Roman and Iron Age forts lie not far away, as well as several Romano-British villa sites. Had I known there was such a profession as landscape archaeologist 40 years ago, my life would have been very different...and these books may never have been written.

How to Find Her!


Twitter: @marianlthorpe

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