Monday, March 30, 2015

Come Winter

Clare Gutierrez

A lowly maidservant. A disguised fugitive. A savior to the poor and endangered. A queen.

Such is the paradox of Lady Caterina Tabor, an extraordinary young girl who, en route to England, finds herself captured and at the mercy of a stern and powerful lord. Forced to work as a common kitchen maid in the dank halls of Dermoth Castle, Caty dreams of her past as a free and autonomous maiden with a bright future in the English courts—did fate have other plans?

This early trial is but the first in a litany of shocking tribulations; imprisoned, abused, accused of sorcery, and kidnapped, Caty’s life is for so long anything but charmed—but you can’t keep a soaring heart shackled. As we follow this misunderstood maiden's journey through both the unexpected, electrifying joys of new love and the pain of mind-boggling adversity, we become eyewitnesses to the astonishing way she not only transforms herself but enchants, inspires, and invigorates those around her.

Spanning decades of castle life, treacherous journeys, bloody battles, and heartache, Come Winter is a sweeping yet personal tale of a brave woman who at once embodies and transcends the prescribed and oftentimes oppressive roles her society demanded. Let Clare Gutierrez (author of Dancing with the Boss) curate your voyage back to the Scottish highlands of ages past—a time and place in which simply staying alive constituted a noble adventure, and becoming a patron of the oppressed and the impoverished could make you a hallowed queen.

Ever so often, and not nearly as often as my longing heart would desire, I stumble across a true diamond amongst the many crystals and gemstones that make their way to my desk.  When I read the synopsis for Come Winter, it sounded intriguing. 
Once I opened the book and began to fall into the spell of the first lines of the story, I realized that this was going to be something more than just another historical novel.  Within pages I knew I had found a master of the written word.  The words seemed to have slid off her pen and onto the written page with a magic all their own.  They wove their own tapestry and came off the page in such imagery that my mind’s eye was a rolling screen throughout the story.
Clare demonstrated a great appreciation for the plight of noble women during the early mid ages when they were but chattel of their lords and kings, to be traded and passed on as part and parcel of the holdings.  Though this subject has been demonstrated in many a novel, I have never seen it set as the central theme, nor presented so passionately through the eyes of a woman of noble birth as it was in Come Winter. 
Katy, the heroine of the book, was a woman of strength, a lady of great passion and one who had the capability to love deeply.  She was a unique lady of her time, having received a well rounded education, speaking several languages, reading and writing in the same, a healer, and a leader.  But because she was a woman, she was but an item to be owned, to be traded and bartered by parent, captor, until she finally obtained the highest position that a woman could obtain, Queen.  Even when she reach this vaulted position, she found she was still but a possession, a captive, and at the pleasure of her lord and master, the king.  She would never be free.
Clare took the time to develop her characters to give them the breath of life and to allow the reader to see what it was to live, through their eyes. We learned to feel their pain and despair as well as their joys and ecstacies.  The POV was not limited to that of Katy, but also that of the men who were a part of her adult life through the years.  It added an additional dimension to the characters, giving them well rounded perspectives and allowing the narrative to provide a complete picture of the story as it moved ever forward through the years, first from France to Scotland, then to Spain and finally to Italy. 
After finishing Come Winter, out of curiosity, I looked up to see how many books Clare Gutierrez has written and only found one addition book published in 2012.  I believe Clare has the talent to become a writing force to contend with.  Her ability to write a believable historical novel, not so much one that was based on factual events, but one that nailed it, on living conditions of the time.  Her style is much that of Michelle Moran, or Phillipa Gregory.  It is rich in imagery and full bodied prose that throws the reader into the Age of the setting without actually forcing them to try to deal with terms and language they do not know or understand.  Most of all she leaves you wanting more.  You cannot ask for better than that.  This is a must read book for any historical, romance, adult fiction, woman’s fiction fan.  FIVE STARS

Why did your choose this story to write?
The story unfolded on its own. I had the beginning in my head but needed a time and place were such a thing could take place. A little research, such as the wifenapping, and I was off running.  While doing research to find a way to use the scenes I had in my head, I kept returning to the very great difficulty women have faced in every 'age' in history. The research gave me LOTS of ingredients for a story. The way I write is, I suppose, a little strange. As I begin to put into words the story in my mind, the characters take on a life of their own. Caty developed in just such a way. As she moved through her life, the world around her changed.

Do you have a love affair with history?
I do love historical movies, books, architecture etc. 
I noticed that you live on a wonderful preserve and ranch in Texas.  Can you tell us a little about it?
My husband is from the Valley, as this part of Texas is affectionately called. When his dad became ill, he requested Beto come home. We did. The preserve/ranch we have is not where we actually live. It's a long distance from where his office was located..about 50 miles. He bought the ranch with the idea in mind to create a place were people could go to photograph wildlife without the land around changing. A place where the wildlife could live without man's intrusion. We could not have imagined how much people would enjoy our ranch.

What was the title of your first book?  Synopsis in one paragraph?
My first book is titled Dancing with the Boss.  In the American Southwest, criminal organizations from all over the world conspire to control everything from human trafficking to drug running and gun smuggling. Caught in the midst of all this is the smart and sassy Annie, the owner of a rare-art dealership in Arizona. In a chance encounter, Annie meets Tony, a veritable gangster and mafioso who finds the brutal nature of his work at odds with his growing feelings for Annie. But when Annie learns that her brother Allen, a former special ops agent for the FBI, has gotten himself into some deep trouble, she finds an unexpected ally in Tony.

Do you already have another book floating in your head? or on paper yet?
 Whenever I am at a corner in my writing, and can't decide how to get around it, I work on something else. Consequently, I have several other projects on my MacBook Pro. 

Does storytelling run in your family?
Storytelling was not in my family that I know of, however, my mother made certain we all had tons of reading material, although we were on a ranch miles from any library. Granted, I read, reread and reread again the books, but they were always there. After my mother died, I found a notebook with short, two verse poems. Just as she was, they are gentle.

Where have I found help?
 I subscribe to several periodicals for writers. Although certainly not everything is useful, they do provide a great deal of information, both in the arena of doing the work itself and the arena of trying to get as clean a copy as possible before submission. Oh, and I'm sure everyone already knows this, but Google is a GREAT source for research. 

 How important is research?
 As important as the story itself.

Don't give up. Keep typing, writing (I write on planes, in motels, etc) and talking. It does come together.


Clare Gutierrez grew up on a cattle ranch in rural Colorado as one of four children. A registered nurse, she now lives in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. Together with her husband, a medical doctor, they host first-class photographers the world over at Santa Clara Ranch—a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary for native species, some of which are unique to the area.