Friday Favourites # 11: Sandra Schwab


After a short summer break Friday Favourites feature is back. Please welcome to the blog Ms Sandra Schwab, writer of historical romance, lover of cake and tea. Her book recommendations are more than curious to me and I ended adding a ton of books to my TBR pile. 

Friday Favourites

1. Favourite place
Gosh, this is a difficult question. The place I have the most visceral reactions to is Waldkirch, a small town in the Black Forest, where my family lived during my primary school years. The town is surrounded by low mountains covered with dark forest, and the sight of them does strange things to me. There is a very strong yearning inside of me to return to that place of my childhood. But I suspect that this yearning is in large parts due to nostalgia.

Apart from that, my most favorite place in all the world is probably Oxford in England. When I was 22, I spent three weeks there and fell in love with this beautiful, old, golden city. The many wonderful bookshops and museums are an added bonus. I could spend years in the Pitt Rivers Museum, an anthropological museum, staring at all the wonderful and weird objects on display. 

I learnt the word "slug" in that museum… 

2. Favourite food and drink
Now that one is easy! I LOVE cake (I also love baking, which is…useful *g*). One of my family's favorites is red wine cake: it's rich and chocolatey and oh so good! It's not a very good cake for summer, though, so as a summer cake, I really, really like Victoria sponge with a raspberry jam filling or with a filling made of mascarpone and lemon curd (homemade! the stuff you can buy typically tastes like dishwater). Yum!

As for my favorite drink, I love tea. I like a cup of plain black tea in the mornings or when I need a little down time. In addition, I've lately become obsessed with mint infusion, made with fresh mint leaves. It's so refreshing, even when hot, and it also makes a wonderful ice tea. And there are so many different kinds of mint! It's awesome! 

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
I don't listen to a lot of music these days, but I grew up immersed in classical music: When I was little, I went to music school because my Mum thought this would be a nice way to make new friends when we moved to the Black Forest right at the end of my kindergarten years. As a result, I took piano lessons from about age 6 or 7 to age 19. From the time I was very young and saw a production of a children's version of The Magic Flute, Mozart has been my favorite composer. There is a lightness in much of his music that is simply irresistible.

My piano teacher during my teenage years, when we were living once again in Frankfurt, often had free or cheap tickets to concerts in various venues in the area, which is how I ended up seeing my first classical ballet. I only realized when I arrived at the concert house that I was about to see a production of Swan Lake. Surprise! Not knowing anything about the story, I firmly believed it would have happy ending — after all, it's a fairy tale, right? Well, I was in for a rude awakening! I just couldn't believe it when the curtain fell and that was it. Oh gosh! To make matters worse, I was crying buckets when the lights came on again. Gah!

Despite the weepy parts, Swan Lake has remained my favorite ballet, and my favorite version of it is, hands down, Matthew Bourne's "all male" Swan Lake. His swans are such powerful creatures, and when the Stranger, clad in black leather, struts into the ballroom in Act 3? Oh. My. Gosh. *swoons* 

A few years ago, I also discovered my love for old musicals from the 1940s and 50s. I particularly like Gene Kelly as a performer. His rendition of "Singing in the Rain" is just magical, and his performance with Jerry Mouse in Anchors Away is so charming.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
I adore Studio Ghibli films. Adore, adore, adore them. I love the aesthetic of the films, the lush landscapes, and the story-telling. My favorite is probably My Neighbor Totoro, closely followed by Whisper of the Heart and From Up on Poppy Hill. 

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Since last winter I've been dabbling in 3D art — and I love it so much! I'm a very visual writer, and I've started to use the images I create to develop story ideas. I also like sketching, and I usually take a sketchbook along when I'm visiting a new-to-me place. Sketching is such a great way to explore a new city or new surroundings. It helps you to take note of the little things, and it's a fantastic conversation starter because a lot of people will stop and talk to you.

Favourite books — A Selection

Anything by Rosemary Sutcliff. She's been my favorite author since I was eight, and she made me fall in love with British history. I particularly like Blood Feud, The Eagle of the Ninth, Frontier Wolf, and Sword at Sunset, though this book ripped my heart out. 

Anything by Dorothy Dunnett, another favorite author of mine. What she does with language is just mind-boggling. If you want a long, epic series of historical novels, try The Lymond Chronicles (though these might also rip your heart out), but her stand-alone, King Hereafter (yes, this one, too, will rip your heart out), and her contemporary mysteries are also great.

Terry Pratchett is another author I much admire. I love his humor, and I enjoyed many of his Discworld novels, in particular Witches Abroad and Guards! Guards!.

Among my comfort reads are several of Georgette Heyer's novels. I love Bath Tangle, Venetia, The Grand Sophy, and especially "A Clandestine Affair" from the anthology Pistols for Two.

Jacqueline Gilbert is another comfort-read author for me. She wrote for Harlequin Mills & Boon in the 1970s and 80s, so her books tend to be a bit old-fashioned, but still lovely! What I find particularly intriguing is that many of her books are set in the world of theatre. Among my favorites are Poppy Girl (which contains lovely references to Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles!!), Scorpio Summer, and Dear Villain

Author Bio and Links

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her old pink fountain pen for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel, The Lily Brand, in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She holds a PhD in English Literature and lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Just in time for its tenth anniversary, Ms Schwab re-released her debut novel, The Lily Brand, which was originally published by Dorchester in 2005


Troy Sacheverell, fifth earl of Ravenhurst, was captured in France. He'd gone to fight Napoleon, but what he found was much more sinister. Dragged from prison to an old French manor on the outskirts of civilization, he was purchased by a rich and twisted widow. And more dangerous still was the young woman who claimed him.

Lillian had not chosen to live with Camille, her stepmother, but nobody escaped the Black Widow's web. And on her nineteenth birthday, Lillian became Camille's heir. Her gift was a plaything: a man to end her naiveté, a man perfect in all ways but his stolen freedom. Yet even as Lillian did as she was told, marked that beautiful flesh and branded it with the flower of her name, all she desired was escape. In another place, in another world, she'd desired love. Now, looking into burning blue eyes, she knew there was no place to run. No matter if should she flee, no matter where she might go, she and this man were prisoners of passion, inextricably linked by the lily brand.

And while her heart remained locked in ice, his burnt with hate. Would they ever find true happiness?

Purchase links: Amazon / Kobo

You Might Also Like


Flickr Images