Interview with Marsha Canham

Describe your desk
My desk has been described as organized chaos. I am pretty much the only one who knows my filing system and therefore the only one who can find something. The desk itself was custom built for my height and because I have recurring back problems, but it was also built to fill the length of one wall, roughly sixteen feet; with three banks of deep drawers. When I moved and had to downsize, my search for a new house included space for my desk and the matching wall unit of bookshelves which is also sixteen feet by nine feet. I found a house that gave me the space I needed to set up my office again, but now I have no dining room and the desk had to be shortened by three feet *s*
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. My parents moved us out of the city and into the suburbs when I was six years old so I have never been one for crowded cities and busy streets. Each time the area began to expand with houses and busy traffic, I have moved further and further north out of the greater Toronto area. I currently live in a small town which fits the cliche, if you blink you miss it, but I can still go for a short walk and see horses in the fields and chickens in back yards. Writing is a solitary business and, for me, at any rate, distractions too easily pull me out of the mood to write. Living away from hustle and bustle always helped focus me, and it was not unusual for me to work sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. I recall being invited out for dinner to a friend's house...and resenting the need to leave my medieval characters halfway into a battle. But the hubby prevailed and I went. When I arrived everyone was sitting in the family room glued to the TV watching in dead silence as the cameras were following a white Bronco on the freeway. Twelve pairs of eyes stared at me in disbelief when I asked what was going on. Yeah. That's how isolated a writer can be.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in my mid twenties. Purely by accident. I'd not had any burning desire to become a writer or a journalist, but I did read a lot, mostly crime and mystery novels. One of my neighbours used to buy a certain brand of detergent all the time because it came with a romance novel packed inside. She asked me if I had ever read one and I said no, so she loaned me her latest acquisition. To this day I can't remember the title, but it was about a woman driving along the highway somewhere in Texas and stopping when she sees a stranded calf on the road. For some unfathomable reason she put the calf in her car and when she pulled into a motel for the night, she got into an argument with the manager about keeping the calf in her room as a pet. That was about as far as I got into the book before I gave it back and told my neighbour what I thought of it. She said, well, if you think you can do better, write one yourself. And that was the beginning. It took me six years and four unpubbed manuscripts before I finally won the interest of an editor and the rest, as they say, is history.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I actually have three on the go, all completely different, all in various stages. I'm waiting for the bell to go off in my head for one of them to surge ahead of the others. So far it looks like another medieval has nosed into the lead. I love the time period, love everything romantic about knights in armor, dark forests, gloomy castles, and damsels in distress. Right now the working title is Mark of the Rose.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was one of the first places I went to self publish. The fact Smashwords distributes to Kobo and Nook and Apple along with several other outlets means I upload it once and it fans out like a wave to other sellers. I have never had any problem with the much-feared meat grinder turning my .doc into other forms. And any time I've had a question or problem, Mark Coker has personally replied to my emails. The annual sales are great. The updates and news keep us informed of changes in the publishing world. And the dashboard is clear and easy to use, to track sales, to offer coupons for sales and promotions. I probably shouldn't say this, but I was at a conference a while back and listened to enthusiastic support for another digital publisher/distributor along the same lines as Smashwords, and out of curiosity, I tried uploading my latest project with them. After SEVEN attempts to upload the .doc, and SEVEN attempts to figure out how to add something as simple as a double space between paragraphs, I gave up and deleted my account and took it happily to Smashwords.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had a very long and not so lucrative career in print as a midlist author. Back when there were financial crises going on in the publishing world, we midlist authors were the first to find ourselves cut adrift so the publishers could ante up the bazillions needed to buy sure-fire NYTimes big name authors. The house I worked for, Dell, for over ten years cut me along with a few dozen other good and loyal authors. I had luck being picked up by another house for a couple of books, but then the rules started changing. They started telling me what I should write, how long the book should be, how I should cut back on the battles and bloodshed, and how I should consult a list of acceptable themes since no one read pirate novels anymore. Hmmm. By that time I had two lovely grandchildren I adored and I decided I didn't want to miss watching them grow up the same way I had missed a good deal of my son's younger years. I told my agent I was retiring with my dignity intact (yes, he argued, but he knew better than to try to change my mind) and for the next eight years, I was a 24/7 Grammy and loved every minute of it. But...along came an unexpected and ugly divorce and there I was with a massive big house and no income. I had alimony for three years, but after that...nada. The royalties had all played out on most of my print titles, but even those that were still earning only paid me every six months. I often thought editors and publishers should get paid every six months to see how they would cope, but that's another subject. One of my author buddies, Julie Ortolon, started talking about digital books, and asked me if I had the rights back to any of my books. As it happened, I had three books published very early on with Avon and the rights had been returned a few years before. I thought, what the heck, worth a shot, so I started with China Rose, my first book. I retyped the entire book, since there were no discs or electronic copies, and was able to revise it to reflect the changes in my style over twenty years. When I finished that, I tackled Bound by the Heart, retyping and revising, then The Wind and the Sea. I called my agent to inquire about getting the rights back to my other books and...because this was before ebooks really exploded...he just sort of sloughed me off asking why would want them, they had no resale value. Hah. Fine. I wrote to Dell and NAL myself and within a few months had all the rights back to all of my books, included the ones that were still earning through print sales. But I guess they thought the same way as my agent...what could I do with them? Who would want them? Double Hah! Within twelve months I had all of them converted to digital and was earning a 60-70% royalty on each sale as opposed to 8-10% for print. Can you spell motivation? *s*
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me. I have been called a dinosaur, my writing has been called old fashioned because it is heavily laden with research and history. I write bloody battles in time periods where bloody battles existed. I write as realistically as possible in every time period because really, I have yet to imagine the probability of a pirate captain looking over a young, beautiful captive and thinking to himself: I will win her over with my charm. Yes, I am overly descriptive at times, and yes, I tend to kill off main characters if the story calls for it, and yes I get grief from some reviewers. But I also get kudos from others who appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a book in such a way that it plays out like a movie where the reader can see and smell and feel the heat of a cannon being fired. My day is always brighter when I get an email from a reader, even when they yell at me for writing so slowly *G*
Who are your favorite authors?
I tend to read anything outside my own genre. I have always stayed away from reading romance, either contemporary or historical, just so nothing influences what I write. My favorite authors would have to be crime writers like Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Lee Childs. I have all of Winston Churchill's great huge volumes on my Kindle but confess I've been a bit intimidated about starting them. Ditto with the Game of Throne books. Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum, even some John Grisham have made it to my auto-buy lists. My three favorite books of all time are Gone With the Wind, Mila 18, and Auntie Mame.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a few hobbies, when I'm not writing. I love working with stained glass and have a workshop in my basement. I've done it for years, even when I was writing 24/7. I found the cutting, grinding, foiling, and leading a panel very relaxing and helped me work out plot twists. I also crochet and search for increasingly more challenging patterns, some of which can be seen in my photo album on facebook. I found, especially after having a knee replaced, that I'm not as active as I once was and my metabolism seems to get slower and slower every year. So keeping my hands busy with yarn and hooks at night keeps my fingers out of the potato chip bag *G*
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I mostly go on recommendations. Friends know what I like to read, so if they come across a good book they pass the title along. Last fall I travelled to Europe on a bucket list trip and one of the most amazing stops was in Florence, where I saw Michaelangelo's David. I bought and devoured about a dozen ebooks about the sculptor and his life, and yes, ideas were swirling around in my head when I was finished.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The very first story I wrote that gained attention was in grade eleven. We had an English teacher who fancied herself a dramatic poet and reader of avant garde works. She gave the class an assignment to write a descriptive two page story... I can't even remember the official topic... but I wrote two pages on the moon fading and the sun rising that made it sound like a sexual awakening. She mortified the crap out of me by reading it out loud and announced it was the first A++ she ever handed out.
Published 2018-07-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Recipes for Romancing my Heroes
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 56,530. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Entertaining
What would I serve the heroes in my romance novels if they came to dinner? The mere idea of having all of them sitting around the dinner table eating, chatting, comparing stories on how they inspired me to write this or that about them… well, it makes my heart beat a little faster. And isn't that what all heroes, not just the ones in romance novels, should do? Bon appètit!
The Far Horizon
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 104,400. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
(4.00 from 1 review)
Jonas Dante is the eldest son of Simon Dante, the infamous Pirate Wolf. While conducting business in London, Jonas meets his match in the beautiful jewel thief, Bellanna Harper. When Dante rescues her from an attack that leaves her homeless and hunted by killers, Bella finds herself in even more peril, trapped aboard Dante's ship and carried south to the Pirate Wolf's tropical island stronghold.
The Scotland Trilogy
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 436,360. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Three complete, bestselling, award-winning historical romances based in Scotland during the Jacobite Rebellion. The Pride of Lions and The Blood of Roses are direct sequels, while Midnight Honor is the story of Colonel Anne Moy.
Midnight Honor
Series: The Scotland trilogy, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 137,350. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
(4.00 from 1 review)
An unforgettable romance between a man bound by honor a woman fated to both desire and defy him. This much acclaimed novel tells the story of Colonel Anne Moy who called out her clan to fight for Prince Charles Stuart even as her husband, the Chief of Clan Chattan, served as an officer in the Hanover army. Love and war in one sweeping adventure.
The Pride of Lions and The Blood of Roses
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 299,370. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
Here for the first time, two full length novels, The Pride of Lions and The Blood of Roses together in one volume. Multiple award-winning, including Best Book of the Year, Best Scottish Romance, Best Historical Romance.
The Blood of Roses
Series: The Scotland trilogy, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 175,780. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Romance » Historical
The Stunning, award-winning sequel to The Pride of Lions, sweeps the reader into the passion and romance of Catherine and Alexander as their destinies follow the ill-fated Jacobite army marching to its fate on Culloden Moor.
The Pride of Lions
Series: The Scotland trilogy, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 127,880. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Bestselling, award-winning author Marsha Canham sweeps the readers into the turbulence and romance of Scotland's quest for freedom, mirrored in a passionate love affair between two born enemies whose lives and destinies become irrevocably bound to the fate of a nation.
The Dragon Tree
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,310. Language: English. Published: July 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
(5.00 from 1 review)
The story of a former Templar Knight banished to a castle deep in the forest of Lincoln, a woman running from her past, a plot to kill the king, and a love that changes destiny.
The Pirate Wolf Trilogy
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 323,130. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
(4.00 from 1 review)
Three high seas adventures in one volume: Across A Moonlit Sea, The Iron Rose, and The Following Sea. The trilogy begins with Simon Dante's story in Across A Moonlit Sea, and continues in The Iron Rose with his daughter, the fearless Juliet Dante. The third volume is The Following Sea, Gabriel Dante's story of ghost ships and sunken treasure.
The Following Sea
Series: Pirate Wolf, Book Three. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 95,810. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
The Following Sea is the third book in the Pirate Wolf Trilogy which began with Across A Moonlit Sea and The Iron Rose. This is Gabriel Dante's story involving sunken treasure ships, revenge, and love on the high seas.
What the Heart Sees
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 19,270. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval
(2.00 from 1 review)
An original SHORT STORY first published in the anthology Masters of Seduction. A medieval tale of a knight defying Prince John's edicts, and a forester's daughter whose chance encounter with a blind jeweler offers the only possibility for escape... and for love.
The Pirate Wolf Duet
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 230,090. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Two exciting, award-winning romances in one volume. The story of Simon Dante, the Pirate Wolf is told in Across A Moonlit Sea. Book Two, The Iron Rose, continues the swashbuckling dynasty with Juliet Dante's adventures on the high seas. "Marsha Canham is the undisputed Queen of Swashbuckling Romance" Romantic Times
Straight For The Heart
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 148,680. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Mississippi riverboats, gamblers, a beautiful woman known as Montana Rose leading a double life in more ways than one. Will Michael Tarrington call her bluff or will they play for each other's hearts and lose all.
The Iron Rose
Series: Pirate Wolf, Book Two. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 117,850. Language: English. Published: June 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
(5.00 from 1 review)
Bound for the Caribbean on a mission for the king, Varian St.Clare's ship is attacked by a Spanish galleon. When a privateer, the Iron Rose comes to their rescue, cannons blazing, the emissary is suprised to learn the captain is a woman, Juliet Dante, daughter of the infamous Pirate Wolf.
The Robin Hood Trilogy
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 441,460. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Three award-winning medievals in one: Through A Dark Mist, In the Shadow of Midnight, and The Last Arrow. Follow the author's imagination as she weaves together the threads that may have gone into creating the legend of Robin Hood. Book One starts at the beginning, in the misty greenwood, when an outlaw named the Black Wolf kidnaps a young bride...
Pale Moon Rider
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 134,330. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Set in Coventry, England, 1796. A story of blackmail and intrigue, of double-crosses and secret identities. And above all, the story of a dashing Highwayman who steals hearts as well as jewels.
The Last Arrow
Series: The Medieval Trilogy, Book Three. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 153,690. Language: English. Published: June 5, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
(5.00 from 1 review)
Book Three of the author's medieval trilogy takes the reader onto the jousting fields, into the donjons, into the forests and into the arms of an assassin. "Rousing action, a strong sense of medieval life, a satisfying love story, and intriguing spins on historical events as well as familiar Robin Hood characters that should bring readers back for more.” —Publishers Weekly
In The Shadow Of Midnight
Series: The Medieval Trilogy, Book Two. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 142,760. Language: English. Published: June 5, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Book Two of the author's classic medieval trilogy, this is Eduard's story as he returns to England to find and rescue the Lost Princess of Brittany. Award-winning, Best Medieval of the Year from Romantic Times. "Definitely one of the best novels of the year… Marsha Canham has written a fast-paced, action-packed medieval romance.” Affaire de Coeur.
Through A Dark Mist
Series: The Medieval Trilogy, Book One. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 150,500. Language: English. Published: June 5, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Book One of the author's popular Medieval trilogy, Award-winning, Best Historical of the Year from Romantic Times: “A legend is brilliantly brought to life on the unfolds with all the adventure, rollicking good humor, wildly exciting escapades, cliff-hangers, and, most of all, smoldering sensuality any reader could desire."
Under The Desert Moon
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 146,240. Language: English. Published: June 4, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Disguised as a prim schoolteacher, Aubrey Granger travels to Santa Fe to avenge a past wrong. Along the way she meets a cast of characters who prompted Kathe Robin of Romantic Times to say: "Under The Desert Moon is the 'Silverado' of Western romances. With the vivid prose, vibrant descriptions, fast-paced action and a strong story readers will be spellbound. Yippee!"
Across A Moonlit Sea
Series: Pirate Wolf, Book One. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 111,380. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
(4.91 from 11 reviews)
A book of high adventure and romance, set in the time of Queen Elizabeth's infamous sea hawks, privateers who banded together to disrupt the armada Spain was building to invade England. This is the story of the Pirate Wolf, Simon Dante, and the only woman who could be his match in battle and in love.
The Wind and the Sea
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 169,550. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
This action-packed swashbuckling adventure is a classic tale of romance, revenge, and breathtaking exploits on the high seas. The time is 1804 and the U.S. Navy is attacking and destroying pirate strongholds on North Africa's infamous Barbary Coast. Says Publishers Weekly: "Packed with well-drawn characters, fiery sea battles...this book is a good read."
Bound By The Heart
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 133,170. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
A swashbuckling adventure involving shipwrecks and kidnappings, forbidden romance and breathtaking battles at sea. Originally published by Avon Books..."Poignant...heroic...This gifted author has created an intriguing adventure that should not be missed." Booklist "Canham leads readers on a sweeping tale that cements her place as a writer that knows no bounds" Romantic Times
Swept Away
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 126,470. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
Set in Regency England, a dangerous time of spies, treachery, and intrigue. A stranger has washed up on shore, half dead, with no memory of who he is or why he has been accused of treason. Originally published by Dell..."a glorious tale of romance, adventure, and intrigue...plenty of deftly woven plot twists to keep the reader turning pages well into the night..." Romance Fiction Forum
China Rose
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 96,980. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
When China Grant arrived in Portsmouth, her wedding to Sir Ranulf Cross was two weeks away. The first night there her life is threatened by a handsome stranger, and threads from a decade-old mystery on the high seas begin unravelling faster than her wits..or heart...can keep apace. Originally published by Avon Books