Chatting with Ros Rendle

I’m thrilled to welcome Ros Rendle back to the blog to talk about her latest book, Resistance of Love. Make yourself comfortable, Ros, and we’ll begin.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Natalie. I hope your readers find my answers of interest.

I’ve been waiting for this book, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I thought separating the book into parts was an ideal way of seamlessly moving from one timeframe to the next. Was it in the planning or did it just ‘happen’ and is it a method you’ve used before?

I haven’t used ‘parts’ before. A significant number of people asked what happened to Delphi after Book 1 – Sisters At War, and so it seemed necessary to write that. Moving onto the next part of the story lent itself to having a separation and so Part 2 was born. That meant that section was much longer than Part 1, so my publisher and I decided to split it. Thus Part 3 came into being when the story changed its profile a little.

Without wanting to give anything away, Resistance of Love is a generational book. Can your readers expect a sequel?

In a way, this is the sequel. I haven’t planned one for these characters. However, the youngest sister from Sisters At War, her name is Izzy, is about to appear in The Divided Heart. This is set between 1970 when Izzy is elderly, and much is set during the Cold War when she harbors a secret.

You have set me thinking now, though, about the possibilities of writing a sequel more directly about Flora from Resistance of Love. There were some major world events for France during that era.

I know you lived in France for many years and your geographical knowledge is in evidence. Do you think you could have written the same book without that personal experience, using only Google Maps and reference books?

I do use Google and books a lot but having lived in the regions about which I write has enable some more detailed knowledge. We had a V1 ramp and its associated buildings on the edge of our village in northern France and a couple of the elderly residents were able, though reluctant, to speak of the invasion and building of those.

I should not have heard it were in not for the fact we lived there and got to know these residents well.

I learned of the Resistance escape route through Chateau de Chenonceau when we visited, and that information is on Google. However, to tread in the steps of my protagonists is always helpful for those small details. A small example is the dint in the limestone steps where hundreds have trodden before, which lends authority to a story, as does the weight of a dark oak door.

When we were renovating an ancient wall at our house in the Loire region, we found a German coin from 1944. One of our farmer neighbours spoke of when troops were sent there to ‘rest’ and of the strain of living with the enemy and with the culture of being encouraged to inform on each other. I think life in this country must have been dreadful during the war but life in an occupied country was extremely stressful at times.

The drama of Part 3 had me racing through. It certainly brought home to me the fear and terror that people lived through. Did your research include talking to anyone who experienced it first-hand?

One man who was a boy, during those times told me of how his family planned to outrun the Nazis and escape to the ‘Free’ Zone further south. They were half-way down his long driveway in the middle of the night, when the invaders arrived, and they fled back indoors. This story was too good not to use from the time distance we are in now, but the people who lived through it were extremely reluctant to speak in detail, especially about the bullet holes in the wall of the church. I never did get to the bottom of that, and if I had, I wouldn’t have included it.

There was a real sense of family but some of the scenes were very harrowing. Did you find them difficult to write?

The particular scene to which you refer was hard to read about. I discovered a lot more information, through reading and old TV programmes, than I used. The difficult part in writing was to decide what to use and what to leave to the imagination and how best to interpret cold facts and bring them into a personal domain. The balance of these things was testing as I didn’t want to make it too horrific for the genre in which the story resides.

You’ve given us a really interesting cast of characters. Was each meticulously planned beforehand or did some present themselves to you as you were writing? It was really good to see Delphi achieve her happy ever after but for me this is Flora’s book. A brave young woman who did what so many had to at the time.

It became Flora’s book. She took over and got on with what had to be done during the time and place in which she found herself. One or two of the other characters in her sphere became more prominent as I wrote, and the influence of the Great War could not be denied. It had tentacles which influenced long into the future for some, and even for the future families of those who fought in that.

I know your writing covers different time periods. Is there anyone, past or present, who is your own personal hero or heroine and what makes them stand out from the rest?

For the last eight years or so, my husband has befriended, via a local charity, an old man who was suffering from loneliness. Cyril, known as Sid, became a good family friend and often came to our house as well as my husband visiting him far more regularly than the charity suggested, sometimes going in the night when he was called, because Sid had fallen. In 2017, on learning of Sid’s exploits in the Channel and elsewhere during WW2, my husband informed the relevant authorities, and after their research and much form, filling Sid was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French President. The letter of thanks and congratulations arrived, and Sid became proud to wear the accompanying medal at our local Remembrance Day services. He had volunteered early to join the navy, going aged only just seventeen, and some of his real-life exploits, I have written in the book.

He died last month, aged 96, and the Royal British Legion played the last post at his funeral. Sid never believed he was a hero … but he was.

There were so many unsung heroes, weren’t there. I’m so glad Sid ultimately received recognition.

Thank you for joining me. It’s been lovely to chat. Let’s do it again some time.

Blurb

Delphi’s peaceful new life is threatened by the spectre of war…
England, 1927
After spending ten years in Australia, Delphi Strong is on a ship back to England with her daughter, Flora.
While on board, Delphi meets Rainier, a charming vineyard owner on his way home to France. Forming an instant mutual attraction, the two share a whirlwind romance before disembarking.
Unable to forget her, Rainier crosses the channel a few months later and asks Delphi to marry him. Equally lovestruck, Delphi accepts, and she and Flora join Rainier in France.
However, their idyllic lifestyle is shattered when war breaks out and the Nazis begin to occupy the country. Forced to flee to the Free Zone in the south, the family must now pull together to resist the enemy…

Can Delphi keep her family safe? Will they find a way to defy the occupying forces?

Or will the brutal new regime destroy their peace forever…?
RESISTANCE OF LOVE is a page-turning romantic saga set in England and France during World War II. It is the second book in The Strong Family Historical Saga series.

To find out more about Ros you might visit her website or join her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. She loves to interact with readers.

www.rosrendleauthor.co.uk

www.Twitter.com/Ros_Rendle

www.Facebook.com/RosalindRendleAuthor

www.Instagram.com/Ros_Rendle

Resistance of Love purchase link: https://amzn.to/3EAr2pC

Do you have a short story you’re burning to tell?

Rosemary Goodacre

A little over a year ago we lost a dear friend when Rosemary Goodacre passed away suddenly. For some of us Rosemary wasn’t just a writing colleague but also a valued friend with whom we spent time in various places. At conferences, as a flat-mate, she was a joy though it was sometimes difficult to keep tabs on her as she had a habit of wandering off on her own, usually on a mission. Our regular Saturday writing retreats would almost always see her arriving last and in a flurry. Lunches and afternoon teas featured in our programme as well and I’ll never forget the week-long writing retreat in Ramsgate when we ‘lost’ her several times. All this seemed to be at odds with her own writing which was meticulously researched (she was the author of WW1 sagas) and a joy to read. At the time of her passing, her third book in The Derwent Chronicles series had just been published.

Rosemary didn’t confine herself to novels. She was a keen short story writer, widely published and winning several competitions. It is to this we turned when seeking a way of honouring our friend. So, here it is, The Friends of Rosemary Goodacre Short Story Competition. All proceeds will go to Rosemary’s favourite charity, Spadework

About the Competition

1500 words maximum
Theme: Friendship
Each entry costs £7.50

Prizes

1st £150.00
2nd £100.00
3rd £50.00 

Entries open 1st November 2021
Entries close midnight 31st March 2022
Please see entry details below

Our Main Judge

Vivien Brown

Vivien gave up her job in finance when she gave birth to IVF twins and started writing instead, winning the annual Mail on Sunday ‘Best Opening to a Novel’ competition in 1993 and reaching the shortlist again three years later. She has since sold 150 short stories to UK women’s magazines and written more than 250 articles for childcare magazines, based on her subsequent highly rewarding career introducing the magic of books to the under-fives and their families through the Sure Start and Bookstart programmes.

She became a creative writing tutor in the evenings and contributed a regular column to Writers’ Forum magazine that followed the ups and downs of her writing life. She has also had a book about ‘cracking’ cryptic crosswords published, and several humorous children’s poems included in school anthologies.

Now established as a successful novelist, Vivien has had six women’s contemporary novels published, all with domestic drama and family relationship themes. Vivien is a fellow of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists where she oversees competitions and social media, and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. In 2020, she judged the Nottingham Writers’ Club ‘Home’ short story competition and was one of three judges for the Time and Tide ‘Brilliant Women’ Writing Competition for high school students. Away from writing, Vivien is a doting grandmother, watches and occasionally takes part in TV quiz shows, is an avid reader and reviewer of women’s fiction, and enjoys the challenge of both solving and compiling cryptic crosswords.

The Charity

Spadework is a charity, based near West Malling in Kent, which supports its beneficiaries to be more independent, less isolated and to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.  

Through the many on – site activities, we help our Trainees (adults with learning and other disabilities) to be more independent and prepared for life outside their family and Spadework. By feeling the value of doing a good job, being part of something bigger than themselves and playing an active part in the community our Trainees have an increased sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.  

We also have a Farm Shop and Garden Centre that are open to the public. 7 days a week. All the profits go to support the charity.  

You can find out more about Spadework at https://spadework.org.uk or by following us on Facebook.

Entry Details

Send your email entry to FORGCOMP@GMAIL.COM with two attachments:

First attachment:

Your story
Maximum 1500 words
Time New Roman size 12 font
One side of page only
Double line spaced and numbered
ONLY ADD TITLE OF THE STORY TO THIS DOCUMENT
No headers or footers
Please keep your story to the theme of friendship

Second attachment:

The front sheet to the story containing:
The entrant’s name and contact details
Title of story and wordcount
*Ensure the name used is the same as entered on the bank payment.
Your email entry will be acknowledged
An email acknowledgement will be sent

Send payment to our competition account c/o:

Elaine Everest
Account number: 08389897
Sort code: 60-83-71
In the reference line please add your name so we can cross reference entries.

RESULTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT THE BEGINNING OF JUNE 2022

*The organisers reserve the right to refuse entries that do not meet the rules of this competition or are deemed inappropriate.

The long list of entries will be drawn up by ‘The friends of Rosemary Goodacre’ consisting of Elaine Everest, Catherine Burrows, Natalie Kleinman, Francesca Capaldi, Elaine Roberts, Ann West.

GOOD LUCK!

Chatting with Elaine Everest

It’s lovely to share tea with you again, Elaine, and with a full pot and a plentiful supply of biscuits, let’s head straight on in.

Hello again and thank you for such a warm welcome. A mug of builders and a jammy dodger please.

Insider knowledge informs me that you once bred and judged Old English Sheepdogs. You’ve given us a great insight into the dog world in The Patchwork Girls. Was this always going to be a large part of this book?

Dog have played a big part in my life ever since we purchased our first Old English Sheepdog and entered the show world in the early 1970s. Before I sold my first novel

I’ve always wanted to write more about the dog world, but never thought it would be set in WW2. However, in the days when I edited a breed club magazine, I interviewed a stalwart in the breed about feeding dogs during the war years and that thought stayed with me. While I was planning The Patchwork Girls, I started to think what else would be in the surrounding area and a kennels came to mind. After that the story grew…

I see that Lizzie’s daughter is named Natalie. Naturally that resonated with me, but it also made me think. How do you choose your characters’ names, or do they tell you?

Above anything else the names I use have to be correct for the period I’m writing about. I do like to use familiar names in my books and many of my dogs’ names have popped up from time to time – it does help that they have ‘human’ names. I will also go back into my family history to use the surnames of my ancestors. Caselton, Missons, Neville, Sayers will be familiar to readers.

It’s quite evident you have an extensive knowledge of quilting and other activities involving the use of needle and thread. Research or experience?

I’ve always sewn ever since I was a schoolgirl and made my own clothes. I did make my bridesmaid dresses; many girls did back then. My sewing skills have seen me making bespoke raincoats for show dogs as well as soft toys and rag dolls that were sold at craft shows and in a reproduction furniture shop I owned with my husband. As for patchwork quilts, I only ever made the one, but sadly that was lost in a house fire. Working on The Patchwork Girls has made me decide to attempt another quilt and I hope to start that once the promotion work has finished for the book. At the moment the joy is choosing the pattern I’ll follow along with the fabric. I do know that I’ll not be attempting the ‘double wedding ring’ quilt shown on the cover of The Patchwork Girls.  

The Patchwork Girls doesn’t have a triumvirate in the way your Woolworths and Teashop series do. Helen is a lovely main character with whom we are immediately in sympathy. Will there be another Patchwork Girls to follow? The Patchwork Girls does have the three girls (as is typical in traditional sagas), however they don’t work together as characters do in my previous books. Each of the three, Helen, Effie and Lizzie have their part to play in the novel and each other’s lives, along with the supporting cast. At the moment I don’t know if there will be a second or third book as it depends on readers’ enjoyment of the story and what my publisher has planned for the future. I do have a few plot ideas for future books, but time will tell if they get into print.

Ah, I take your point about three girls.

One of the things I love about your books is the attention to detail. Just little things that are fed into the story here and there. I suspect they don’t in any way reflect the amount of research that has uncovered them. More tea, by the way?

I’d love a top up please and another biscuit. I love the research and of course I uncover much more than will ever appear in a book. However, it gives me a flavour of the setting and characters. I think of this as slipping my feet into a comfortable pair of slippers knowing everything fits and is cosy.

I have to ask…are you planning to return to your previous series?

Yes, in March 2022 The Woolworth Saturday Girls will be published. Set in 1950 we move on with the lives of the much-loved characters from Erith. Later in 2022 there will be another book looking back at the life and an older Woolies character.

It’s lovely to be able to look forward to some old favourites and it’s been lovely chatting to you again, Elaine. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you so much, Natalie and cheers for the cuppa! XX

Links:

Website and blog: www.elaineeverest.com

Facebook author page: Elaine Everest | Facebook

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Amazon author page: Amazon.co.uk : elaine everest books

Chatting with Ros Rendle

It’s my great pleasure to welcome another Sapere author to the blog. Thank you for joining me, Ros, and for agreeing to answer my questions.

The Warring Heart is the second book after Sisters at War. Did you always plan to write a series and is it something you’ve done before?

I did. The original series was three books featuring sisters and troubled times during the early 20th century. However, I decided to add to the series with this book set during WW1. I haven’t written a series before and nor have I written historical fiction, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the intricacies of linking stories and characters, so I have embarked on another series but set in contemporary times.

I loved the touches where established characters from the first book are subtly included. Was it more difficult to incorporate them or was their familiarity welcome?

Thank you. I was loathe to leave some characters behind. As a writer, I become entwined with the lives of my characters.  Since publishing the first book, other people asked what happened to some of them, too. That, in particular, influenced the next book in the series which should be coming out soon. However, in this one it’s an opportunity to round off some characters, who did have a happy ending before, but as in life, it’s always good to catch up and exchange news. I did have to watch timelines carefully, though.

You display considerable skill at moving your scenes between the relatively quiet life in England and the horrors of the frontline. How did you cope with two such different scenarios?

I wanted to maintain the momentum of characters in geographically different places but who have a deep connection. They each need to concentrate on what they have to do but always they have the other at the back of their mind. In real life we do this all the time, although fortunately for most, the circumstances of our lives are not so dramatic. I tried to show, even during those dire historical times, life for those at home was very dissimilar to those in the trenches but also very difficult and often stressful in a different way.

There is a saying ‘less is more’, and your battle scenes are gut wrenching but circumscribed. Nevertheless, it is patently evident that a huge amount of research has gone into this part of your work. How did you approach this aspect?

I did do a vast amount of research both geographically and through books and archives. Since we lived in northern France for many years, I have visited the areas of Belgium and France I describe many times and have attended ceremonies at the sites of battles. As a representative of the Royal British Legion, I’ve attended reburials of soldiers rediscovered during modern-day building works, for example. I’ve also used books, and documents of the day from Kew Archives Office. I read many reports from soldiers in the trenches but some of their circumstances were too traumatic to detail. I hope I’ve done justice to their experiences and sacrifices albeit through the medium of a novel.

How many more books do you have planned for this series?

There are three more books to come. Two are set during WW2 – one mainly in France about French resistance and the other featuring a prisoner of war camp built in the UK . They feature children of the characters in the first two books. The third is set before and during the Cold War as well as in the 1970s. The youngest sister from the original story is an old lady but remembers her time travelling to East Berlin after the wall was built. Her story reflects the emotions of her care-giver in a home for the elderly.

I know you write in other genres as well, and in different times. Will you be sticking with WW1 for the time being or are there other ideas in the pipeline?

Other than the books I’ve mentioned above, I’ve written three books, accepted but yet to be published and a fourth is coming. They’re more contemporary and set in and around a rambling and ancient property called Moondreams House. One is a relationships story around eMotion School of Dance. Another is about a girl who discovers she is a foundling and a woman who had to abandon her baby. Tea and Sweet Dreams is the business established at the House for this one. A third features second time love, an enigmatic French gardener with a secret, and a rural rough sleeper. The most recent one is about a young ex-soldier missing a limb, who must find a new purpose. She comes to Moondreams House to start a flower shop and becomes involved with the meanings of the blooms she is arranging for others.

Readers are a nosy bunch (well I certainly am). What can you tell us about Ros Rendle when she isn’t entertaining us with her books?

We love dancing and dog walking although not normally at the same time. We have been caught out practising on a farm track once or twice, however! When we came to live back in the UK, we took up ballroom and Latin dancing. Under normal circumstances we would either have lessons or go to dances two or three times each week. We’re getting back into it again now. We met some very good friends through this, and they all said, ‘you should write a book about it’. Now I have. Rhythm of Life at Moondreams House was born.

With dogs we walk each day. During the lockdowns we walked the Lincolnshire lanes and tracks and as my husband has health issues it meant we both, but he in particular, lost a lot of weight. He has benefitted directly from this. Having got into the habit we shall endeavour to maintain it. Both daughters and all four granddaughters are encouraging.

We still have a house in France and hope to return at some point. I have a feeling there will be a significant amount of work to be done in the garden and a DIY project to complete.

Thank you, Natalie, for this opportunity. I hope readers find my responses of interest. Your questions certainly got my brain cells working.

Thank you so much for joining me, Ros. I look forward to the next book, and the next, and…

BLURB

England, 1914
When the man she loves deserts her, young Pretoria Redfern is left broken-hearted. Facing public embarrassment, she must become betrothed to another as quickly as possible to deflect gossip.
To her surprise, family friend Nathanial Moore — a well-off farmer — soon asks for her hand. Harbouring a secret love for Pretoria, he is eager to help protect her from scandal.
Sensing his kindness and honesty, Pretoria accepts his offer and tentatively settles into married life.
But with Britain at war with Germany, the newlyweds’ peace is soon disturbed. Feeling duty-bound to serve his country, Nathanial enlists and leaves for the front line in France.
Though not yet in love with her husband, Pretoria is soon missing his warmth and companionship, and longs for his safe return.

But when a shadow from her past reappears, Pretoria must decide where her happiness truly lies…
Will Nathanial survive the war? Will Pretoria learn to open her heart to him?
Or will the distance drive them further apart…?
THE WARRING HEART is a breath-taking romantic military saga set in war-time England and France during World War I.

Links:

Website – www.rosrendleauthor.co.uk

Twitter –  www.Twitter.com/ros_rendle

Facebook – www.Facebook.com/RosalindRendleAuthor

Chatting with Jane Cable

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?

Trelissick

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?

Chapel Porth Cliff Line

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.

CHATTING WITH VALERIE HOLMES

Welcome to the blog, Valerie. It’s always a pleasure to talk to another Regency author. So, here goes…

Wow! I have just read the prologue to Betrayal and now I can’t wait to read more, but I wanted to come to this interview in ignorance, if you like. To find out more about Valerie Holmes. Your writing career has spanned some twenty years and more than 45 books, most of which are historical and all of which as far as I can tell seem to be filled with romance and adventure. So what is the most important to you…Genre? Setting? Characters? What is it that leads your writing?

Thank you for the lovely compliment. My first publication was in 2002 when I won the Annual Ghost Story Competition in Writing Magazine. This was shortly followed by my first novella – I have not stopped writing since.

I think every writer loves the characters they create; the challenge is to convey this passion to the readers. I also love the region of North Yorkshire and its dramatic history over the centuries. I created my own typical market towns of Gorebeck and Beckton and the seaside fishing/smuggling village of Ebton that features in my To Have and To Hold, published by Sapere Books.

You will know that in Sapere Books we share a publisher and that I too write Regency romance. I know what drew me to the genre, but what about you?

Most of my books are set in the early nineteenth century. It is a fascinating period of turbulence and conflict. So much was changing: wars, inventions, religion, smuggling, class divides, and population shifts that it is ripe for conflict – the essence of drama.

I feel that Regency is so often limited to The Ton and a very limited and somewhat glorified view of the period, when it was a time of great change and often suffering. I find the North Yorkshire setting beautiful and dramatic, but romance and love are always at the core of the adventure.

Romance is at the heart of life, if you pardon the pun. The world needs more romance and happy endings. Genres are separated but are interdependent –  love is very often at the centre of many plots, or the lack of it.

I admit to having had a peep at some of your books on Amazon and I see you frequently have a prologue. Is it a device you employ deliberately or does it just fall that way for you?…

Some people do not like prologues, which is fine, but if they do what they were intended to do – set up a situation, a past event or scene that directly impacts on everything that happens from Chapter One moving forwards, then I am happy to use them.

Often though it depends upon the plot and if one is needed to avoid clumsy flashbacks.

…Which begs the question, plotter or pantser?

I used to be a pantser when I just wrote novellas. Now I have developed into a plotter and ‘tweaker’. I still write from the heart, but I redraft and edit, refine, tweak and tighten the writing.

I have learnt to slow down and revisit. I used to be too eager to move on to the next story. Like anything you do over a number of years, the more you do it the more proficient you become.

I’ve just ordered Betrayal and can’t wait to begin. Are your books sequential or can I just dip in at will?

Thank you!
The next Regency Friends and Foes, Silent Revenge, will have Lord Farrington, an important sub-character from Betrayal reappearing, but most of my titles are stand-alone books that are linked by region.

The North Riding Novellas can be read in any order.

After more than 45 books, what is it that inspires you, and what’s coming next?

I have always been drawn to history – locations, historical fiction, non-fiction, folklore, customs and atmospheres. Ideas trigger from anywhere. It is amazing how learning and research on any period in history is a never-ending process. I have always enjoyed conjuring up characters, situations and adventures.

I have two more titles in Regency Friends and Foes being released this year and hope to see a prequel to the Sapere Books in print beyond that.

I have two other projects in draft for 2022 – but more on them later! J

Thanks so much for inviting me!

It’s been my pleasure. I hope you’ll come and join me again soon

Natalie

About Betrayal

1814 North Yorkshire, England

Lydia Fletcher is party to a secret. The lives of her father, a young woman and an unborn child depend on her keeping it. Lord and Lady Bagby are using her ailing father’s situation to ensure her compliance with their plans.

Lord Samuel Speers, a consulting physician, arrives in the village to purportedly complete a study on the health of the local people. He is really there in search of his cousin, a young woman who had been the Bagbys’ governess, and has disappeared since leaving their employ. He quickly recognises that Lydia may well be the key to solving the mystery and is drawn to her. Realising she is working beneath her natural station in life he presses for information. Lydia is desperate to trust someone, but is that person the handsome doctor?

Lydia needs a solution to her problems and time is becoming desperate. Who can she turn to? Dare she disclose what she knows about Samuel’s cousin? Will she be the next victim of the Bagbys’ plans?

About Valerie Holmes

Valerie has had forty-six large-print novellas published by F A Thorpe and four novels by Sapere Books.
She has independently published the eBook versions of some of the novellas and most recently launched a new Regency series.
Valerie is also a creative writing tutor for the London School of Journalism and Writing Magazine as well as independently and can be contacted via her website.

www.ValerieHolmesAuthor.com
She is a member of the: RNA, CWA, HNS, Society of Authors and Alliance of Independent Authors.

A Blast from the Past

and probably why you’ll usually find my heroines atop a horse at some stage or another

I was looking through some old photos when this one came up from many years ago and reminded me, as if I needed reminding, how much I used to love to ride. I’ve tried to explain in the past to those who haven’t ridden what an amazing feeling it is galloping across the ground, just you, your horse and the countryside around you, but it’s something you can never really appreciate unless you experience it.

The hard hat and jodhpurs of today are nothing like the fashions created for women in the early nineteenth century, though formal wear is still quite splendid. Today one’s hair would be tied back, but the feeling of the wind in one’s face would have been the same. Even at a distance of many years it is something I’ve never forgotten.

I think it’s no coincidence that horses figure quite prominently in my books. A hankering back perhaps not just to those incredibly satisfying times spent mucking out the stables, grooming one’s horse, or riding free, but also to two centuries ago when my heroines were clothed in the most glorious riding habits. Don’t you just love the feather. I’m not sure though how I’d have felt about riding side-saddle.

Until next time

Natalie

Tea Time with Elaine Everest

So here we are again, Elaine, five months since we last met for tea and another book for us to talk about. And what a book it is! I thought you’d lost the power to surprise me but in giving us Ruby’s story you’ve crafted an immaculately written novel in A Mother Forever, bearing in mind you had six sequels to take into account. So many potential hazards and yet you brought us through without falling into any of the pitfalls. Tell us about it.

Is it that long? Time has flown by. Thank you so much for inviting me back – builders tea for me please! I loved writing this story as it took me out of my comfort zone of writing about the thirties and forties. However, as any historical author knows we have to get the history of the area correct. I love research and covering 1905 to1924 I found a lot of extra historical facts to check out to ensure my characters were following history. I also needed to make sure that anything that was ever mentioned about Ruby’s past life in my first six Woolworths books was correct in A Mother Forever.

Ruby didn’t have the easiest of lives to put it mildly, but life was harder generally in the early twentieth century. As I read about her younger self, I watched her overcome many trials and tribulations to become the matriarch we first met in The Woolworths Girls. So, did you work backwards, or were you always aware of the youthful woman even as you wrote about her in later life?

After my editor at Pan Macmillan agreed I could go back in time and tell the story of Ruby’s early life I took a great big gulp and wondered what I’d let myself in for. It felt such a responsibility to create the right back story for Ruby. My major worry was that devoted readers would feel differently about Ruby’s past life to how I see it. I was also bringing her first husband Eddie into the story when he’d only ever been mentioned in The Woolworths Girls. Who was this man and how could he have his own story?

When Ruby appeared in The Woolworths Girls, I had no idea of her past life, well not the early part, as it was to be a stand-alone book. Many books later Ruby is still there as large as life, but I’ve always looked towards the future rather than the past with the series. I’d often wondered about her past life and when exactly she arrived in Alexandra Road and suddenly I was able to create her past life!

Your readers will know already how meticulous your research is. Early on in the book I came across the phrase ‘promises and piecrusts’. I didn’t know it though I felt I should, but you feed in so many gems which leave us in no doubt as to the era. A phrase here and there might well be the product of hours of poring over a reference book. Tell us something about your methods. More tea, by the way?

A promise can be broken as easily as a piecrust. I love a good saying, and of course I have to check they were said in the time period I’m writing about – research never stops.

I like to get the timeline of my books sorted out first. As is often said of sagas, history is the wallpaper of our stories. I like to know the world history, UK history, and local history before I start to write. I knew Alexandra Road was built around 1903 – it was in the deeds of the house when I purchased number thirteen in 1972. Having Ruby arrive there in 1905, aged twenty-five, with young George at her side along with a nagging mother and problematic husband seemed right to me. Let’s start with a problem right at the beginning!
I’d love another cuppa – have we eaten all the biscuits?
Oh and at the time my fictional characters lived at number thirteen there was in fact a Thames Lighterman living there with his family. I moved them over the road to number fourteen…

There are always more biscuits! Without giving anything away – we know from your previous Woolworths books that Ruby survived to a good age – I was delighted to read the epilogue and I must confess to a tear or two. As you know, I always enjoy a good prologue, but I believe this is the first time you’ve used this method to ‘close’ one of your books. I know you plan meticulously so I’m wondering while you were still writing if anything took you by surprise and demanded to be included.

Ruby is still with us! I’ve just written a scene in my WIP progress where she is very much running the family in 1950. I dread the day we say goodbye to her. It will be like saying goodbye to a dear friend.

Yes, my first epilogue, but it was important to me to bring Ruby’s story full circle to the time where readers remember her. I’ll not say when that is for now …

At the time the book was being planned we could still go out to talks and visit archive centres – oh how I miss that! I attended a talk about the brickworks of Erith, something I needed to know more about. However, the speaker, Will Cooban mentioned lads from the brickfields who’d gone off to war in 1914 and another idea crept into my mind. In fact, I promised Will to include one of the lads in my book just to keep his name alive. It was an honour to do so.

Local history is a gift to any saga author, and I kept coming across little gems about the town of Erith and how it was so different to the time period I’d already covered. I needed to weave Ruby’s life through this maze of history and world events. But where to stop? I decided on 1924 with Ruby now in her mid-forties and George a married man with a baby daughter who we know as Sarah Caselton from the Woolworth series.

I’d grown up knowing about a tragic explosion at a munitions works in the middle of the Slades Green marshes – perhaps I could include it in my story? I discovered my paternal grandmother had worked in the very same munitions works so of course she had to have a walk on part in the book. I just wish we’d known more of her life back then. Recordings from The Imperial War Museum filled in the gaps, but there’s nothing better than personal experiences shared over a cup of tea.

Much as I’d rather not talk about Covid 19, I feel I must ask in what way your writing has been affected by the restrictions you’ve had to face over the last year.

What a year it has been for us all! A Mother Forever is my third ‘lockdown book’ and I hope the last. I miss going out to meet readers and doing physical research but do enjoy all the extra time to work on my books and to read. Ideas are still springing into my head faster than I can write them which is a good thing. Like you I’m very active on social media and being able to meet readers in cyber space in Zoom interviews is a godsend. I have some coming up in the next few months so please keep an eye on my website www.elaineeverest.com for news.

Like everyone I’ve eaten too much despite my attempts to lose weight – I’ve lost and gained it all back – and I’ve binged watched TV series and binge read so many books my brain is complaining. But we are fortunate to be well and that’s what counts!

And finally, can you tell us a little about what’s in the pipeline? Any more Woollies to come?

There hasn’t been an official announcement yet, but I can say there are more Woolies books on the horizon. However, before then we have The Patchwork Girls coming out in the Autumn with new characters and more WW2.

Thank you so much for your entertaining questions and also tea and biscuits. Do we have time for a fresh pot?

Elaine xxx

There’s always time for more tea, Elaine. Thank you so much for joining me.

Natalie xxx

ABOUT A MOTHER FOREVER
1905: Ruby Caselton may only be twenty-five years old but she already has the weight of
the world on her shoulders. Heavily pregnant with her second child, penniless and
exhausted, she is moving her family into a new home. The Caseltons left their last place
when they couldn’t pay the rent, but Ruby’s husband Eddie has promised this will be a
fresh start for them all. And Ruby desperately hopes that this time he will keep his word.
With five-year-old George at her feet and her mother having a cross word for everyone
and everything, life is never dull at number thirteen Alexandra Road. It doesn’t take long
before Eddie loses another job and once again hits the bottle. It’s up to Ruby to hold them
all together, through thick and thin. She remembers the kind, caring man Eddie once was
and just can’t give up on him entirely. What she doesn’t know is that Eddie has a secret,
one so dark that he can’t bear to tell even Ruby . . .
Through Ruby’s grit and determination, she keeps food on the table and finds herself a
community of neighbours on Alexandra Road. Stella, the matriarch from across the way,
soon becomes a friend and confidante. She even dreams that Ruby will ditch the useless
Eddie and take up with her eldest son, Frank. But when war breaks out in 1914, the
heartbreaks and losses that follow will fracture their community, driving both Stella and
Ruby to breaking point. Will their men ever return to them?
A Mother Forever is a moving but heartwarming story about the family we’re connected
to through blood, but also the family we make for ourselves with neighbours and
friends. A prequel to The Woolworths Girls, it can also be read as a compelling novel in
its own right.
Published in Paperback on 11 th August 2016,
Priced £7.99

A Mother Forever is published by Pan Macmillan on 4th March priced £7.99 as paperback original and ebook. For further information, review copies and interview requests, please contact Rosie Wilson – rosie.wilson@macmillan.com

ABOUT ELAINE EVEREST

Elaine Everest, author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and Wartime at Woolworths, was born and brought up in noth-west Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to her broadcasting on radio about our four-legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio, from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent, and has a long list of published students.

Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Crime Writers’ Association, the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and the Society of Authors.

You can follow Elaine here:

In the name of Research

Almost exactly a year ago I went with my sister to the V&A with the specific aim of seeking out all things Regency. I’m very lucky to live on the edge of London within striking distance of all it has to offer. On a very blustery and quite unpleasant day, my husband dropped me at the station and, two Underground trains and forty minutes later I found myself exiting South Kensington Station via the huge tunnel that leads to ‘The Museums’. Under cover all the way. It was packed! Half term. Maybe not the best time to go but wonderful to see so many excited children (and adults) heading to their chosen venue. I turned off at the arm signposted Victoria & Albert to find my sister already there but she hadn’t been waiting long. We headed straight to the café for coffee.
It’s all a bit of a blur but mobile phone cameras are a wonderful asset. So, in no particular order and with details courtesy of the information plates…

Watercolour BoxAbout 1820
As watercolour painting became increasingly popular among fashionable young men and women, suppliers of art materials such as Reeves and Woodyer in London began to sell portable paint boxes. Colours were pre-formed into cakes with a binding medium, avoiding the messy preparation previously needed. Wood, paper and mixed materials including pigments

One of the characters in the novel I was writing at the time is a keen artist so I was particularly interested in this. Easily portable and beautifully set out. I wanted it!

Walking Dress(spencer, skirt and bodice)1817-1820
            England. Silk with satin appliqué, silk frogging, tassels and braid.

GownAbout 1805
Women’s dress changed dramatically after 1785. The rich fabrics and complicated formal shapes of the late 18th century gave way to simple, lighter fabrics that draped easily. These new gowns achieved something of the effect of the simple tunics shown on classical Greek and Roman statues and vases.
Muslin embroidered with cotton thread.Fabric made in India, gown made in England.

Evening Cap1818-23
England.Silk and net embroidery with silk thread; wired paper and muslin artificial flowers.

This last was, I think, my favourite piece. There are other photos, other descriptions, but I hope this will give you a taste and perhaps convey some of my excitement. One of the most difficult things was walking through some of the other galleries staring fixedly ahead. I was on a mission! But, oh, so many wonderful things to see. Almost inexpressible thanks to those who had the forethought to create these spaces and those who donated or loaned their artefacts for the continuing joy of anyone who chooses to go and see them.
Our last stop was back to the café for lunch. These lights were dazzling but not as dazzling as some of the amazing things we saw.

Now we’re in lockdown and I can only dream of such an expedition. Lucky I have these

Until next time

Natalie

Don’t Get Me Started!

Language evolves all the time. As a historical novelist I know this – and the rules (there are rules) change. I accept that. But, being a bit long in the tooth, it took me many years to do so and even more to implement some of those changes into my writing. You will no doubt have observed that I began the previous sentence with the word ‘but’. But is a conjunction. Its purpose is to connect ideas that contrast. For example:

I like my coffee black but she likes hers with milk.

Had I put…I accept that but, being a bit long in the tooth etc…there would be no controversy. However it seems to me that it carries more weight this way. And, while I’m talking about breaking old rules, what is more important? Adhering to convention or using the best way to make your point? My poor English teacher would turn in her grave. Not only have I begun one sentence with But, but I began another with And.

A fairly recent innovation in the spoken word, not so much yet in the written, is the use of the word So at the beginning of speech, a propos of absolutely nothing at all, with not the remotest connection to what is to follow or anything that came before. Now this one really irritates me – I’m sorry if you’re a convert but I’m not.

Imagine my dismay then when, in the middle of the night, one of those times when a jumble of thoughts comes flooding in when you’d far rather be asleep, I found myself thinking…So, I wonder how my day will pan out tomorrow? Why the So? What’s the matter with just I wonder? And then I giggled. Silently. I didn’t want to wake my husband. Well, (a similar misuse I fear) was that so very bad? It isn’t the best example but it made me (metaphorically) sit up and think.

I’ve been known, when editing my work, to alter the text because it feels old-fashioned and stilted. I know I write historical fiction but I still want it to flow. Does the grammar really matter when what we’re trying to do is entertain? Old habits die hard but newly-acquired ones aren’t always so bad. (acceptable use of both but and so in that sentence)

And (see, I’ve done it again) don’t even get me started on split infinitives. I’m prepared to be shot down in flames. What do you think?

Until next time

Natalie

PS If you enjoy the Blog, why not follow by clicking ‘like’ at the foot of this page