Saturday, August 20, 2016

Interview with M.K. Tod, Author of Time and Regret

I am so excited to have M.K. Tod on A Literary Vacation today! She writes wonderful historical fiction, and her  newest novel, Time and Regret, sounds phenomenal! Please enjoy her interview and continue after for  more information about Time and Regret and its lovely author.

Hello, M.K, and welcome to A Literary Vacation! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your newest novel, Time and Regret?

It’s wonderful to be here on your blog, Colleen. Many thanks for asking about Time and Regret. I like to think of it as Mystery + War + Romance and it’s a dual-time story with action taking place in the early 1990s as well as during World War One. Here’s the official blurb: When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her.
The concept of the novel sounds fascinating, especially the fact that the main character is following clues left by her late grandfather to discover long buried secrets from the past. Where did you come up with the idea for the story?
I love telling this anecdote! The idea came while travelling in northern France with my husband Ian to visit the battlefields, monuments, cemeteries, and museums dedicated to World War One. We had dinner one night at a café in the small seaside town of Honfleur. Shortly after the waiter poured our first glass of red wine, I wrote a few words in a small notebook I had with me.

“What are you writing?” Ian said.

“An idea for a story,” I replied.

Refusing to be put off by my cryptic response, Ian persisted. “What’s the idea?”

“Nothing much. Just thought it might make a good story to have a granddaughter follow the path her grandfather took during World War One in order to find out more about him.”

Ian took on a pensive look and no doubt had another sip of wine. “You could include a mystery,” he said.

Now, you should know that mysteries are my husband’s favorite genre. Indeed, I suspect mysteries represent at least eighty percent of his reading. So I played along. “What kind of mystery?”

And that was the birth of
Time & Regret, as ideas tumbled out and the basic plot took shape. Needless to say, the bottle of wine was soon empty.
What a wonderful way for a story to begin! What sort of research did you conduct when writing Time and Regret? Have you ever traveled to the locations discussed in the story before or during the writing process?

The trip I mentioned above provided a significant base of research for the novel. There is no substitute for being there, seeing the landscape, people, villages and towns; hearing the sounds of a summer night or the church bells calling parishioners to mass; smelling the food being prepared at a small café and cheeses available for sale in a market square; watching a man shrug his shoulders in that oh-so-typical French fashion. Beyond travel, I had already amassed a large collection of documents, fiction, and non-fiction books for my earlier novels and was able to reference these again. And I spent ages investigating a certain 19th battalion of the Canadian army that saw action from spring of 1915 to the end of WWI so I could accurately and authentically create scenes for my fictional character Martin Devlin.

Was there anything that shocked or surprised you during the research process? Is there anything in particular that you learned and found interesting that didn’t end up making it into the story?

Almost everything I have learned about World War One is shocking. It was truly a gruesome war with casualties in the tens of millions, however, an aspect that surprised me is the amount of time soldiers spent waiting for something to happen. And the camaraderie men found with one another was heart warming to read about. Some say that men fought more for their friends than for their countries and I can believe that statement. In some ways, anger fuelled my writing and I wrote many war scenes that are now ‘on the cutting room floor’. In terms of Grace’s more present day storyline, I found a lot of material about the New York City art world that was fascinating. But you can’t incorporate everything!

Is there anything in particular that draws you to historical fiction? Are there any particular times in history you gravitate towards or do you just enjoy history in general?

From my early teenage years, I’ve loved reading historical fiction. I love the way it transports me to another time and place and the things I learn about history. What really got me started writing this genre is a story I wanted to tell about the lives of my maternal grandparents. I’m not someone who has always wanted to write – in fact I disliked English and History in school. But when I went digging into my grandparents’ lives and the history they lived through, I became hooked on telling their story (fictionalized, of course). Since my grandfather fought in and survived WWI, I investigated that era thoroughly and felt I had to tell stories to honor those who served both on the battlefield and the home front.

What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

I’m incredibly fortunate to have discovered writing after thirty years in business and I’ve become obsessed with it. However, there are days when I fear that my balance is out of whack! Days when I write from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and barely notice the passing hours. And beyond whatever novel I’m working on, I blog, conduct surveys, do book reviews and occasionally write feature articles. But then there’s life: my husband, adult children who still need their mother from time to time and whom I always want to see, and friends and family. And lately there’s a delightful grandson to spend time with. I’ve come to see writing as a balancing act – at times the balance tips towards the writing side at others to the life side. Perhaps we should recast ‘writing life’ as writing + life?
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
In today’s world readers expect to interact with authors. They get annoyed when an author hides behind their agent or publicist. As a relatively new author, I’m in the early stages of developing a fan base. Readers will find my email in each novel I have written – it’s mktod [at] bell [dot] net, by the way – plus links to me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I consider it an honor when a reader reaches out to me via any of these media and I always respond. Every few months I check Amazon and Goodreads to see if new reviews have been posted and I always thank each reader for taking time to comment on my novels, even if they’re less than enthusiastic. In general, I prefer to use social media to discuss historical fiction and to bring books I’ve enjoyed and authors I admire to the attention of other readers rather than use it as a megaphone to shout about my own novels.
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?
Setting aside non-fiction, which I often read for research purposes, at least 80% of my reading is historical fiction. I’m diverse in terms of authors and time periods and I often choose an era or part of the world I know nothing about or I choose an author who has been mentioned as a favorite in one of my surveys. A few recent favorites: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John, Call to Juno by Elisabeth Storrs, and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

I have most of those books on my wish list already, but I'll check out Call to Juno too! Are you working on any other books that we can look forward to reading in the future?
How nice of you to ask, Colleen! My next novel – working title Camille and Mariele – is set in 1870s Paris. I had no idea what a turbulent time this was in French history until I began my research and discovered the Franco-Prussian war (Prussia is now part of Germany), the siege of Paris when the Prussians who had defeated Napoleon III surrounded Paris and starved the city into submission, and the Paris Commune which followed the siege and was almost as fierce and destructive as the original French revolution. Caught in the midst of this chaos, two very different women become close friends.
Oh, wow, Camille and Mariele sounds so good! I had no idea 1870s Paris was so turbulent either, so now I want to know more!
Thank you so much, M.K., for stopping by! Everyone, find  more information about Time and Regret below. Enjoy!
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 366 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

A cryptic letter. A family secret. A search for answers.

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her.

From her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a many very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harbouring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

Praise for Time and Regret

“With fluid prose and a keen eye for detail, M.K. Tod takes readers on a decades-spanning journey of wartime loss, family secrets, and, ultimately, redemption.”-- Holly Smith, Managing Editor, Washington Independent Review of Books

 "Spiced with mystery and a spark of romance, TIME AND REGRET is an immersive journey into one man’s brave but terrifying slog through the killing fields of France and Flanders during WWI. Tod’s prose brims with exquisite atmospheric detail, drawing the reader into an unforgettable story.
-- Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy

"Time and Regret, equally captivating and suspenseful, presents well-drawn characters who strive to resolve past mysteries and overcome present obstacles. M.K. Tod is an impressively gifted storyteller who creates relatable conflicts and believable dangers. Highly recommended!-- Bestselling author Margaret Porter
“Hugely satisfying - impossible to put down.” -- Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower

“Time and Regret is something as rare as a treasure hunt with heart. Between the gritty trenches of World War I, the romantic allure of present-day France, and the cut-throat New York arts scene, M.K. Tod has spun a gripping family drama that delves deeply into the effects of war on the human soul and takes us on an intriguing journey of self-discovery. It is a book rich in hard-won wisdom and crucial historical insights, and Tod’s perceptive voice leads us unfalteringly through some of the darkest chapters in human history to a very satisfying conclusion." Anne Fortier, author of The Lost Sisterhood

Purchase Time and Regret


About M.K. Tod

M.K. Tod began writing while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her novel Unravelled was awarded Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. In addition to writing historical novels, she blogs about reading and writing historical fiction at
Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET will be published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website



  1. Hi Colleen ... many thanks for having me on your blog. I enjoyed your questions very much and appreciate your interest in my writing. Warm wishes - M.K. (Mary) Tod

    1. Hi Mary! It was completely my pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and stop by my blog : )!
      All my best!