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Times of Turmoil

Anna Belfrage's new novel blends time travel and historical romance in colonial America

I’m happy to welcome Swedish historical novelist Anna Belfrage back to the blog to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Times of Turmoil. A delightful blend of time travel and historical romance, Times of Turmoil is the sequel to her 2021 release, The Whirlpools of Time. Read on to learn more about this intriguing tale and go behind the scenes with the author in an exclusive interview.

Times of Turmoil

It is 1718 and Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, are concentrating on building a peaceful existence for themselves and their twin daughters. Difficult to do, when they are beleaguered by enemies.

Erin Melville is not about to stand to the side and watch as a child is abused—which is how she makes deadly enemies of Hyland Nelson and his family.

Then there’s that ghost from their past, Armand Joseph Chardon, a person they were certain was dead. Apparently not. Monsieur Chardon wants revenge and his sons are tasked with making Duncan—and his wife—pay.

Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Duncan’s cousin, fleeing her abusive husband. Or the reappearance of Nicholas Farrell in their lives, as much of a warped bully now as he was when he almost beat Duncan to death years ago. Plus, their safety is constantly threatened as Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslavement or even death.

Will Duncan and Erin ever achieve their simple wish – to live and love free from fear of those who wish to destroy them?

Interview with Anna Belfrage

AM: What’s the tagline or ‘elevator pitch’ for your book?

AB: Times of Turmoil – in which time traveler Erin and her Duncan must fight, or die

AM: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

AB: Times of Turmoil is the consequence of incomplete research. In my first book about Erin and Duncan, The Whirlpools of Time, I sent them off to Pennsylvania there to enjoy a Happily Ever After. Okay, okay: I knew there’d be a sequel, seeing as the baddie from book one wanted revenge. What I hadn’t counted on was how much Times of Turmoil would centre round the fact that Erin was a woman of colour—hard to be in a time and place where a woman of colour was considered, at best, a second-class person, at worst, a slave. And I quickly discovered Pennsylvania would be no safe haven for Duncan and his multiracial wife.

AM: What inspired you to write about that particular era or character?

AB: Honestly? I never, ever wanted to write about the 18th century. I have a problem with all that hair, all those extravagant dresses that feature towards the end of the century, dresses so wide a woman had to walk sideways to enter a room. But there was Duncan Melville, and while he’d grown up loved by his adoptive father, he still had unhealed wounds from his mother’s rejection of him. So, in 1715 Duncan was twenty-nine and yearning for someone with whom to share his life. Evidently, I had to swallow my dislike of the period and do something about it.

AM: How did you create a realistic setting for your story?

AB: Research. Hours in the Victoria and Albert Museum studying clothes and furnishings, just as many hours studying portraits of the period, a lot of reading about Pennsylvania’s geography, Penn’s initial impressions upon seeing his recently granted colony for the first time.

AM: What surprised you in the course of your research?

AB: Just how prevalent the anti-miscegenation laws were. I knew such laws had been implemented in Maryland and Virginia—laws that forbade any form of sexual relationship or marriage between people of different races—I knew several other colonies implemented them as well, like the Carolinas and Massachusetts. I was taken totally by surprise when I realized Pennsylvania implemented such laws in 1725. I had sort of assumed that a colony founded by Quakers would steer clear of such, but nope, that was not the case. I came away disappointed.

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, The Birth of Pennsylvania, 1680

AM: Do your research findings guide the plot, or do you plan out the plot first and flesh it out with research? (Or perhaps both?)

AB: Part of the plot was planned in advance—specifically that part which segued from the first book. But the more I read about the anti-miscegenation laws, the more information I found about the status of free people of colour in Pennsylvania, the more that became important to include as well.

AM: Do you completely plan out your cast of characters before writing, or do you sometimes add new characters as you go along? What are some of the reason you’ve added new characters to a story?

AB: I always have room for new acquaintances. InTimes of Turmoil, that was Tim, an indentured boy who grew from a sad side story intended to illustrate how terrible the indenture system could be to an integral part of the plot. I also added Antoine, the younger son of baddie Armand Joseph Chardon. I needed him to allow me to keep an eye on what was happening with the Chardons’ promised revenge. Antoine grew into a strong and important POV character.

AM: Do you prefer to write in silence or with background music? If music, what kind and why?

AB: I write in silence. I edit to music, preferably country music. I am a sucker for the sad songs, the ones about heartbreak and loneliness. Every time I play “Mamma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” I get a little bit teary-eyed. So I take a break, take some deep brreaths, before reverting to chasing commas and plot holes.

AM: What do you have planned for your next writing project?

AB: Well, Erin and Duncan are off to Russia next and expect me to accompany them (reluctantly. It is dark and very, very cold in winter). But before that, I aim to finish Their Castilian Orphan, which concludes my series The Castilian Saga. As this is set in 1294, I have to shake free of the 18th century before properly diving into a world of rebellion, of bloody battle and loss. *sniff*

AM: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

AB: I enjoy long, long walks in which I can sink into daydreams and pretend I am someone from an entirely different time. I like baking—and eating the results. It is therefore fortunate I also enjoy working out regularly.

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More about the author:

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

More recently, Anna has been hard at work with her Castilian series. The first book, His Castilian Hawk, published in 2020, is set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, while the third, Her Castilian Heart, finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain! The fourth book, Their Castilian Orphan, is scheduled for early 2024.

Anna has recently released Times of Turmoil, the sequel to her 2021 release, The Whirlpools of Time. Here she returns to the world of time travel. Where The Whirlpools of Time had Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin navigating the complexities of the first Jacobean rebellion in Scotland, in Times of Turmoil our protagonists are in Colonial Pennsylvania, hoping for a peaceful existence. Not about to happen—not in one of Anna’s books!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website,

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  1. Cathie Dunn says:

    Thank you so much for hosting Anna Belfrage today, Amy, with such a fascinating interview.

    Take care,
    Cathie xo
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

    1. Amy Maroney says:

      Always a pleasure, Cathie!

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