Welcome to the blog, Jane. It’s always a pleasure to talk to another Sapere author.
It seems to me that a huge amount of research and planning went into The Forgotten Maid before ever you put pen to paper. Could you share some of the process with us please.
There was a great deal of research because it was the first time I’ve written even part of a book in another era, but on the other hand I made it easy for myself by setting the story in my local area, which meant I knew the settings inside out.
All the same I knew nothing of the history of Truro, so I started with my local library and two wonderful books by a local historian on the town (as it was then) in the Napoleonic war era, and then in the age of reform. The latter even contained a street plan with the actual shops and businesses of the time on so it was great fun to have my Regency main character Therese and young Mary Daniell visit some of them.
I already knew something of the Daniell family’s town house and it still exists as a multi-occupancy office building so I was able to go there. There is a fantastic research facility at the Royal Cornwall Museum and I was able to read articles about it from old magazines – as well as dig into many of the other historical aspects of life in Cornwall at the time I needed to know about.
I could go on… I have become quite boring about the history of Truro in the Regency era.
Absolutely not! Your historic timeline is set in a period that’s close to my own heart. Why did you choose the Regency in preference to any other?
Like you, I enjoy reading novels set in the Regency era, but with Cornwall as the main setting you could call it the Poldark era too. I know I am not alone in adoring those books, so for me it was a pretty obvious choice as readers are familiar with Cornwall at that time.
Trelissick House and the Daniell family are central to your story. What made you choose a real setting with all the research that would involve, rather than make something up?
That’s me all over, I’m afraid – I do like a solid historical basis for a book, although of course in this case there are few records about what the Daniells were like as people, so I needed to make up their personalities. However the shape of the family is right – for example, at the time of the book Lizzie was engaged to William and would have been planning her wedding. There are records of Elizabeth Daniell giving poor relief in the parish of St Agnes so there is some basis for her being a kindly person.
Once I had the Daniells in place it seemed easier to make up the other characters. It all just feels so much more solid to me that way.
Your love of the area you’ve chosen to make your home shines from the pages of your book. Was it easier or harder to create fiction in a place that’s so close to your heart?
Much easier. The north Cornwall coastline where Anna (my twentieth century protagonist) lives is, to me, one of the most beautiful places in the world so taking readers there was an absolute joy. In the end I decided to change the names of the villages (although local people will recognise where they are) because the real community Anna finds herself in is one of the most welcoming and supportive places I know.
It’s a skill to write a dual timeline novel where your readers are invested in both periods, in both heroines. I found myself emotionally drawn to Therese and Anna. Each time you moved century I was disappointed to leave one, wanting very much to know what was going to happen next, and eager to return to the other to find out exactly that. Have you used this device before and do you plan to do so again?
That is such a lovely thing to say, Natalie – thank you. Luckily our mutual publisher, Sapere Books, likes the idea of a series of standalone novels based around the great Cornish houses of the Regency era so there will certainly be more of the same – but different – to come. The books will be known as the Cornish Echoes dual timeline mysteries, and The Lost Heir, based around the Basset family at Tehidy, should be published next year.
I’ll certainly be looking forward to The Lost Heir. And now something about Jane Cable, please.
I think I’ve probably gabbled on for long enough, but if anyone is interested in finding out more about me and my books, they can visit my website which is www.janecable.com, or find me on Facebook as Jane Cable, Author or Twitter @JaneCable.
It’s been lovely talking to you, Jane, but before I let you go, what’s coming next?
I also write emotional women’s fiction as Eva Glyn, and my second book under that name will be published in early September. It’s called The Olive Grove and is set in Croatia, where a decision a woman makes at the end of the Balkan war in 1996 comes back to haunt the child she loves after her death.
Another one for me to add to my list. I’ve really enjoyed our chat and I hope you’ll join me again soon.