Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

everybod's somebody

I received a free copy of this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review team in exchange for an honest review.

 I gave Everybody’s Somebody 4*out of 5*

Book Description:

“Life’s for real an’ you got to get on with it.”

Rosie Goodison is not one to shy away from life’s problems. Whether it’s finding work or challenging injustice, Rosie squares her shoulders, sets her chin high and faces it full on.

Born at the end of the nineteenth century, in the rural south of England and sent into service aged just twelve, Rosie quickly discovers that many good people spend their lives toiling for very little reward, whilst others ‘have it all’.

She decides it won’t be like that for her. Why can’t she ride in a car? Why can’t she work when she’s pregnant? Why can’t she live in a nice flat? Why can’t she be an artist’s model?

Whilst working as a housekeeper for two upper-class boys, Rosie starts to learn more and more about the world, gleaned from overheard conversations and newspapers left lying around. This triggers an ongoing thirst for knowledge, which shapes her views, informs her decisions and influences her future. 

Rosie aspires to have a better life than that of her parents: better living conditions, better working conditions and pay, better education for her children, to be able to vote, to be able to control how many children she has…

Without realising it, this young woman is blazing a trail for all those who are to come after.

Whilst working in London, Rosie meets her sweetheart Jim, but the The Great War puts paid to their plans for the future, and matters worsen afterwards, as she, along with the rest of society, tries to deal with the horrors and losses.

This heart-warming story follows the events of the early twentieth century – the impact and horrors of WW1, the financial crisis and the rapid social and political changes that took place.

All that remains of Rosie now is a quartet of paintings in an art gallery. The artist, now famous but the model, unnamed and forgotten; nobody of consequence.

But everybody has a life story. Everybody leaves some kind of mark on this world.

Everybody’s somebody.

My Review:

 I was really looking forward to reading Everybody’s Somebody. This is my kind of book, set in an era I have read and researched. I wasn’t disappointed; the story has  a true sense of the time, the place, the people. Told with great attention to period detail, there are some lovely passages of descriptive writing, particularly in relation to the interior scenes of buildings and houses.

The characters are well drawn: Rosie Goodison, the protagonist, has many layers; loyalty, love, pride, independence, and holds a great sense of self-preservation. I empathised with her from the word go. I had reservations sometimes with Jim, Though sensitive to a point with Rosie, I found him to be slightly self-centred and self-indulgent. But, for me, this was a sign of good writing, he is brilliantly  rounded. As is his sister, Kitty. And I liked the friendship and solidarity the two women are shown to share.

One of the themes running throughout the book is that of these two women, as well as others, fighting to asserting themselves, both within relationships and in society. This struggle is carried out before a backdrop of patriarchy,  poverty, unemployment and the devastation of the First World War. It is obvious that the author has researched both the social, economical and political backgrounds and changes: the book covers the Suffragette movement, WW1,the London floods of 1928,.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the few problems I had with Everybody’s Somebody are slight and two of the reasons are purely personal. But to balance the review, I will mention them here.

The first is with the dialogue. I found the overuse of dialect a bit irritating and, for me, there was little to distinguish the voice of one character from another,especially between Rosie and Kitty. This wasn’t helped by the ‘head-hopping ‘ between them; in the middle of one character’s point of view, the voice of one of the other character would pop in.

And, for me, the dropping in of so many names of famous people in real life at that time felt contrived. One or two would have worked. As far as I was concerned so many were not needed; it’s blatantly obvious the author knows this era like the back of her own hand.

And, also, sometimes I felt as if time was skimmed over; I was just settling into a certain scene or set of circumstances and  the story moved on. However this is a personal thing; I so love this era I just wanted to read more about particular scenes or circumstances. I do realise that this could have made the book impossibly long,.. though it did cross my mind that Everybody’s Somebody could have stretched to a sequel… even a trilogy. 

But, as I’ve said, I’m only adding the above to balance the review.  I really liked this book, the plot is excellent with many twists and turns and Beryl Kingston has an easy to read writing style.

I would recommend Everybody’s Somebody to any reader who is interested in history, feminism and family sagas with a hint of mystery.

 Links;
 Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2y0a3v4
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2wUVgmW
About the author
 
beryl

I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then.

I am proud of the fact that I was in Tooting for the first four months of the blitz, and only left it to be evacuated again when our road was bombed and our house was uninhabitable. I spent the middle part of the war in Harpenden and returned to live in London again at the end of the war at the time of the V2’s, this time without my family.

When I was just sixteen I met the love of my life, who arrived on my doorstep in Air Force blue one February evening in the coldest winter on record. Despite heavy opposition from my parents, we married three years later during my first year at King’s and spent the next 53 years 11 months and 6 days living more and more happily together. We had three much loved children and five much loved grandchildren and once I’d embarked on my career as a novelist, researched all the books together, which was great fun. We finished work on ‘Gates of Paradise’ six weeks before he died. So this publication is special to me.

I have enjoyed two careers in my life – as a teacher from 1952 to 1985 (with ten years off to bring up my family, which some might consider a third career) and as a published writer from 1980 to date. I am also, although it sounds immodest to say it, an easy and charismatic public speaker, usually unfazed by any audience no matter how big or how small or what questions they might throw at me.

In the two schools where I was head of the English department, I deliberately covered the full range of age and ability, believing that as I was paid the largest salary I should carry the heaviest responsibility. My work was filmed by KCL Education Department for use in their PGCE course and I have given talks at various colleges and schools on a variety of educational subjects, from teaching poetry to ‘tackling’ sex education. I have never subscribed to the Gradgrind theory of education which is current now, but always believed that the job of a teacher is to enable her students to learn.

I have always been a political animal, taking part in street demonstrations, walking from Aldermaston to London, involved in the 1945 election despite the fact that I was only fourteen, taking to the streets again, along with a million others, to protest against the Iraq war when I was 72.

And as a last and rather lighter touch, I was a beauty queen in 1947. It wasn’t all protests!

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Today I’m hosting my very first guest – the wonderful saga writer, Judith Barrow. Her latest book is just out – A Hundred Tiny Threads. So come and meet the Howarth family!

Image

http://merrynallingham.com/a-hundred-tiny-threads/?doing_wp_cron=1503679765.9046089649200439453125

A Hundred Tiny Threads

Today I’m welcoming Judith Barrow to the blog – my very first guest! It’s lovely to have you here, Judith. I really enjoy the family sagas you write, so my first question is:

What made you decide to write in your genre?

Families fascinate me. We live in such diverse situations and, a lot of the time, tend to take it all for granted. Being a family member can bring the best and the worst out in all of us, I think. So a wealth of human emotions to work with.

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

I recently held a series of interviews with other family saga authors. Through those posts it was lovely getting to know them and the way they work.  With some I’d already read their books, others, it was brilliant to discover their novels. I also have met writers, both Indie and traditionally published, through social media over the years and feel I know some of them quite well. My greatest support has come from the group of authors published by Honno. We have a Facebook group where we can chat and ask for help/ information and generally boost moral when it’s needed. And we’ve met up in real life on many occasions. My dearest Honno friend is Thorne Moore who is an invaluable help with the book fair we organise annually; I’d go so far to say it wouldn’t be half the success it is without her.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

No, I really don’t. It’s one of the things I stress to my adult creative writing classes; they have to feel what they write. If they don’t how can they expect the reader to empathise with their characters? I have laughed out loud with my characters, cried through some of the situations they’ve found themselves in, felt admiration and even envy for the strengths they have dealt with the hard times. And been completely exasperated and cross with some of them.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s funny you ask that. Not long ago I was told by another author that all my books were ’Samey’. I was quite incensed for a few moments until it was explained to me that she meant of the same genre. But even if they are all family sagas I still think that, like life in different families, each story needs to be original; both for my own satisfaction and for my readers. And writing style comes into that as well. Just lately I read a book by an author whose past books I’ve devoured. Her latest is written in such a different style I could have sworn it was by a different author. It wasn’t, of course but I wondered how she managed to write in such a diverse way. I’m not sure I could change my voice so drastically.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Ah, this is our great friend ‘foreshadowing’; I like to drop subtle hints of things to come into the main body of the story. I drive my husband mad by saying who’s done what/ what’s going to happen/ how something will turn out in television dramas. I do try to keep quiet but even then I say triumphantly, “Knew it!” afterwards. There’s satisfaction in being a reader and guessing the action to come. Then again, there’s great satisfaction as an author in leading the reader down the wrong track as well.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I set off to write Pattern of Shadows as a stand-alone but I knew here was another story about the Howarth family waiting in the wings. And that happened again after Changing Patterns, so Living in the Shadowsemerged. I breathed a sigh of relief when that last book of the trilogy was finished but after a week the two main characters of A Hundred Tiny Threads, the parents of Mary Howarth, the protagonist in the trilogy, stared clamouring. So their story had to be written.

Front of Secrets

I actually thought I’d finished with them all then. But up popped eight minor characters from the three books mithering and pecking at my head. So I wrote a set of short stories for them in my anthology, Secrets.A couple of them are still buzzing around… hmm!

 

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

 

Thank you. A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel to my trilogy. It’s a family saga set between 1911 and 1922 in Lancashire and Ireland during a time of social and political upheaval. So it covers the years of the Suffragettes, the First World War and the Uprising in Ireland with the Black and Tans. The two main characters are Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth, the people who become the parents of Mary Howarth, the protagonist in the trilogy. As with the trilogy, it’s published by Honno (http://www.honno.co.uk) and has been described as an engaging, emotive novel.

 And finally where can readers find you?

 

Bloghttps://judithbarrowblog.com/
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrow_judith
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Judith-Barrow-327003387381656/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JudithBarrowauthor
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-anne-barrow-02812b11/

judith heashot last

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, Yorkshire, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for almost forty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen, a BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University and a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong learning Scheme

Brook Cottage Books Presents The House With Old Furniture  by Helen Lewis

                   The House With Old Furniture Tour Banner (1)                    

The house with old furniture

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: 20 July 2017

Publisher: Honno Press

 The ghosts of a century’s worth of secrets and betrayals are coming home to Pengarrow…

 Evie has lost her eldest son, Jesse, to gang violence. Leaving the house he grew up in is pulling apart the few strings left holding her heart together. Only the desire to be there for her younger boy, Finn, impels Evie to West Wales and the ancient house her husband is sure will heal their wounds.

Days later, Andrew is gone – rushing back to his ‘important’ job in government, abandoning his grieving wife and son. Finn finds solace in the horse his father buys by way of apology. As does his evasive and fearful new friend, Nye, the one who reminds him and Evie of Jesse… Evie loses herself in a dusty 19th century journal and glasses of homemade wine left by the mysterious housekeeper.

As Evie’s grasp on reality slides, Andrew’s parents ride to the rescue. It is clear that this is a house they know. They seem to think they own it, and begin making changes nobody wants, least of all Alys and her son, Nye, the terrified youth who looks so like Jesse.

My Review:

This book hooked me from the start: ” I don’t want to leave. I’m being ripped from the rock I cling to…” Right away i was in the protagonist’s heart and mind. The story of Evie Wolfe, her grief, her bewilderment, her sense of loss is threaded through the whole of The House With Old Furniture. Helen Lewis has a talent for writing phrases that evoke instant images, moods and sensations.This is rich,flowing prose.

Told alternately from the points of view of Evie and her young son, Finn, the contrast in tone is stark, yet the empathy, between the two is palpable.  The author relates many of the same scenes throughout the novel from their different perspectives, with their different voices, allowing each scene to come alive and enabling the reader to ‘see’ the confusion in each character’s mind. Yet also to begin to see the machinations of the other characters surrounding them.

All the characters are multi-layered and convincing in the roles they play, whether they live in the ‘real’ world or are more ephemeral. As a reader I found myself alternately empathetic, saddened, perturbed, intrigued, angry. The House With Old Furniture is not a book that lets the reader go so easily; I discovered it is quite easy to dust, to make a meal one -handed, to iron, with only occasional glances to see what I was doing. And to read.

The spoken dialogue defines each character to their part in the plot, yet it is so subtly written that it is easy, initially, to miss the manipulations that are woven throughout. Only through the internal dialogue of Finn and the gradual slipping of reality with Evie did the unease grow in me.

My review wouldn’t be complete without a word or two about the setting of the novel. The descriptive narrative brings alive the surrounding countryside of Wales; the isolation, the beauty, sometimes the danger, to give a great sense of place. I also love the title; The House With Old Furniture encompasses the descriptions of both Pengarrow and the cottage where Evie finds Nye and Alys.  Ah, Alys, an elusive character that I will leave other readers to discover for themselves, just as Evie ‘discovers’ her.

This is a story where a sense of disbelief has to be, and is, easily suspended. And it’s expertly brought about by Helen Lewis’ writing.

Love the cover by the way…and the wonderful inscriptions and patterns on the pages that divide the chapters.

As you can probably guess,I wholeheartedly recommend.The House With Old Furniture.

BUY LINKS

 http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781909983663

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Old-Furniture-Helen-Lewis/dp/1909983667/

https://www.amazon.com/House-Old-Furniture-Helen-Lewis/dp/1909983667

 ABOUT HELEN LEWIS

Version 2

Helen was born in 1967 in the New Forest. She spent her childhood dreaming of becoming a ballerina and doodling in the margin. She graduated from Southampton Faculty of Art and Design (so long ago now, that the place doesn’t even exist!) and worked as a professional Doodler of Margins (Graphic Designer) for twenty years. In 2006 She moved to Pembrokeshire with her family and lives in the middle of nowhere where she reads, writes, and runs.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helenlewisauthor

Twitter:  @hedlew

Blog: http://www.helen-lewis.co.uk/blog

Website: www.helen-lewis.co.uk

 The House With Old Furniture Tour Banner (1)

GIVEAWAY

3 ebooks (open internationally)

3 paperbacks (Uk only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017242/

My Last Saturday Round-Up Of the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Gathering the last of those authors and poets who joined in with the interviews to  help to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

There is still time to  enter the poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

I must say I’ve enjoyed interviewing all the poets and authors and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. There will still be plenty of news about the book fair over the next few weeks. In the meantime, do think about entering the competition and don’t forget to put your name down for any of the workshops; numbers are limited.
Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Tracey Warr

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Tracey Warr

 

Tracey Warr. Photo by Tiffany Black cropped

 

Tell us first, please, Tracey, what you love most about the writing process?

Getting to the point with a novel where I have a complete first draft and I can print it out and go, ‘Wow, that is quite a chunk and I made it all up!’

Who is your favourite author?

Penelope Fitzgerald. And George Eliot and Jane Austen and loads of others!

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

My lead characters are real people who I research but since I am writing about the early medieval period, there are often few facts about them to go on so they still come significantly from my imagination. And then many of my other characters around them, such as servants, nuns, and female troubadours, come entirely from imagination.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I am a workaholic so I work all day, everyday, but I have to start writing first thing in the morning. If my morning is disturbed I can’t get any writing done that day, but I can read, research, organise my notes instead.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Almodis: The Peaceweaver

Four historical novels, all set in the early medieval period and one future fiction novella set in the 23rd century on another planet. Hard to say which is my favourite, but if I must, I guess I can say the first, Almodis the Peaceweaver. She was an extraordinary woman, active in the rule of Toulouse and Barcelona in the 11th century, and I’m still obsessed with her. I’m writing a biography about her and her two sisters now.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King

My latest books, Conquest I: Daughter of the Last King and Conquest II: The Drowned Court, are the first two books in my trilogy on the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Normans. Nest had an extremely colourful life and lived through tumultuous times. She is one of the most famous medieval Welsh women but we don’t know a great deal about her for certain. I took the bare bones of her story in the medieval texts and asked myself questions about why things happened, how they happened, what she thought and felt about the events of her life.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Not a lesson or a moral, but it is about human motivations and purposes. What drives us?

What was the inspiration behind Conquest I: Daughter of the Last King?

Weekly train commutes I made between Pembrokeshire and my teaching job in Oxford, crossing the glorious triple river estuary at Carmarthen Bay and looking at the Norman castle of Llansteffan on the headland. I started imagining my characters moving in that landscape. Then I stayed in Llansteffan and walked along the headlands myself. My initial inspiration often comes from landscapes.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

There is always a point when the characters ‘start to fly by themselves’, when they seem to start making their own decisions based on who they are, their motivations, and their interactions with the other characters.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Increasingly I do, yes, and I really like that. They tell me to hurry up with the next book and they tell me what they felt about some of my characters. It’s fascinating to hear how my stories are playing out in someone else’s head. Recently a reader in Australia told me she and her husband travelled round France with an itinerary based on my second novel, The Viking Hostage. Amazing!

The Viking Hostage

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I am a fanatical swimmer. If I see water, I long to get in it. I used to be a fast backstroke swimmer. Now I take a more leisurely pace and especially enjoy swimming in rivers. I have a waterproof Kindle.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a muse: my best friend, who lives near Narberth. I’ve known him all my life and he is a great support for everything I do.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read, hang out with family and friends, swim and walk.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing?

Most of those stories involve sex, alcohol, poets, and artists so I’m keeping them to myself. Umm, I travelled for ten days on Greyhound buses in Arizona and New Mexico to meet an artist for an interview in a remote location. We were both in the same tiny one-street town, but managed to miss each other nonetheless. Hmm, when I was a student, someone I had a big crush on asked me out and I was so excited I didn’t listen properly to when this date was going to take place. So I sat waiting, all dressed up, the weekend before, as well as the actual, following weekend, when he turned up.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I was May Queen at my primary school and sat on a floral throne with a floral crown and sceptre, and presided over the maypole dancing.

My social media links:

https://traceywarrwriting.com/

https://www.facebook.com/traceywarrhistoricalwriting/

https://twitter.com/TraceyWarr1

My Fourth Saturday Round-Up Of All the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Just gathering more of us all together to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

Will be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair for some weeks to come.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

My Series of Interviews of the Authors and Poets appearing at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair #FridayReads. Today with Judith Arnopp.

Throughout July I’ll be posting more interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the prolific and popular author Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp

Let’s start by you telling us what you love most about the writing process, please, Judith?

I love the escape from the present, especially when the plot is really flowing and the characters are speaking to me. It is like stepping away from the troubles of the present day and into the past – usually, although not so often lately, it puts our own woes into perspective. Sometimes I become so engrossed in the Tudor world that I forget to stop for lunch!

Who is your favourite author?

Hilary Mantel, I particularly loved Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. She took a traditionally unloved stock Tudor villain and made him human, although I don’t think she did Anne Boleyn many favours.

I think, these days, the bulk of my reading is non-fiction relating to my current project. Although it is my favourite genre, while I am writing I try not to read historical fiction for fear of tainting my own voice. Instead I read contemporary crime, or something set much later in history. Thorne Moore is one of my favourites. I am always on the lookout for a new release from her. I also read a lot of indie authors. I enjoy Anna Belfrage’s time slip novels, M.M Bennetts, Of Honest Fame, and May 1812, oh, and so many more, it would take too long!

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I’ve never thought of it for fiction but have been involved with other authors in non-fiction anthologies. Castles, Customs and Kings Vol I and II is a compilation of authors specialising in different historical eras and makes for great coffee time reading. It was fun to do and sells very well, particularly in America where readers are often far more passionate about British history than we are. I am currently involved with another anthology (title yet to be decided) due to be published in 2018 by Pen and Sword Books. My chapter is about a possible relationship between Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt – since I researched so heavily for my novel about Anne, The Kiss of the Concubine, I had a lot of material to hand and I was glad to put it to use. Time will tell if it is successful or not but the publisher is already putting out feelers for a second volume.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I have always been an author. Since I was really young I’ve written stories and have continued to do so all through my adult life. I never thought they were good enough for anyone else to want to read them though, so I never showed anyone apart from sharing kids stories with my children. It wasn’t until I went to university as a mature student and my tutors suggested I write something for publication that it even occurred to me that I could make a career from it. I had dreamed of course, of being a fabulously successful author with floaty scarves and heaps of confidence – ha ha. I have managed the author part but I am still me, usually in gardening clothes with muddy marks where I’ve wiped my hands on my trousers. As to confidence – no, I have none of that. I still think I am going to be exposed as a fraud sometime soon.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

The King’s Mother: Book three of The Beaufort Chronicles will be my tenth book!

The Beaufort Woman: Book Two of The Beaufort ChroniclesThe Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort (The Beaufort Chronicles Book 1)

Ooh, I hadn’t realised that, I think it calls for a celebration of some sort. Asking which is my favourite is rather like asking me to choose a favourite child, I love them all for different reasons. My best sellers are The Winchester Goose and The Beaufort Chronicles so I love them for that reason.

The Winchester Goose: at the Court of Henry VIII

The main character in The Winchester Goose is fictional but based on research. Joanie Toogood was a great character to write, she was a prostitute from Southwark during the reign of Henry VIII – she appeared in my head so easily yet I had no idea she was there.

A Song of Sixpence: The Story of Elizabeth of York and Perkin Warbeck

A Song of Sixpence was great to write, I really lost myself in that one and the persona of Elizabeth of York was really strong; she remained in my head even when I was away from the keyboard. I know it is a cliche to say so but sometimes it is as if I am channelling them. I have researched the Tudors for years, written blogs and articles about them but it isn’t until I have written about them in my fiction that they assume human qualities and become ‘real’. Peaceweaver was my first published novel, so I have a soft spot for it even though, if I was to write it now, it would be very different.

Peaceweaver

My early books were set in the Anglo-Saxon/medieval era, The Forest Dwellers just after the conquest illustrating the social conflict between Saxon and Normans. 

The Forest DwellersThe Song of Heledd even earlier in the 7th century against the backdrop of the pagan-Christian conflict between kings Penda and Oswiu, and the king of Pengwern, an ancient kingdom in what is now Wales. I love this one for the wild, passionate, flawed character of Heledd. I suppose a short answer to your question should be that I can’t choose a favourite.The Song of Heledd

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

All my books are Historical Fiction. I studied for a master’s degree in medieval history at university and when I began to write seriously historical fiction was my instinctive choice. I am far more at home in the middle ages than in the modern world. There is nothing I like more than dressing up in my 16th century style gown for the Tudor Weekend at Raglan Castle where I meet readers old and new and sign books, discuss history and generally have a great time.

Judith at Raglan Castle

You should come. It is on August Bank Holiday this year. I have written short contemporary stories but I am far more at home in a historical setting. This might sound strange but the world I access when I write is a place inside my head, a place I retreat to when this world becomes too trying. Writing is a great healer for the soul.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

I am on book three of The Beaufort Chronicles. It is the hardest thing I have attempted so far. Margaret’s life was long and very eventful so it was necessary to split it into three volumes.

Poor Margaret not only suffered some dreadful life experiences but now suffers a really bad reputation. Because she has been portrayed in fiction and on screen in a negative light, people think they know Margaret but in my books she is telling her own story, providing the reader with insight into why she made certain actions, took some brave, often rash decisions. By the way, in my books, she does not kill the princes, or sleep with Jasper Tudor.

People in Margaret’s position had to make choices to preserve both themselves and the people they loved. When she makes a harsh decision, she provides reasons for her actions, and emerges very differently to the overly pious harridan previously described. The response to the first two books of The Beaufort Chronicles has been great. Every day I have a pile of emails to go through asking when book three will be available. Readers can be very demanding but I love that, it keeps me motivated, although sometimes I panic that I won’t get it done, or they won’t like it.

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Margaret Beaufort Redeemed.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Henry VIII appears in several of my books as a small child or a young man and I love spending time with him. His very name evokes the pictures we are all familiar with: a huge brooding oppressor, the bestial despoiler of the church, the wife killer, the autocratic monster; but he wasn’t always so. Early historic descriptions show a precocious child, endearingly sociable and confident and later a golden prince, loved by all and eager to step into his dead brother’s shoes to become a noble and gracious king. Something went wrong for Henry and the jury is still out on the reason for the decline in his personality. Whether it was disease, a medical condition or the result of his failure to achieve all he had been schooled to do we will never know.

During his infancy Henry was surrounded by women. His mother, having been obliged to see her eldest son move to his own household at a very tender age, concentrated her attention on her remaining children. There is some evidence to suggest it was Elizabeth who taught them to write. I love to spend time in the nursery, explore Henry’s possible relationships with his sisters, Margaret and Mary and, for a short time, Elizabeth – the sister closest to him in age who died at the age of three years. There were many influences on Henry, most of them likely to cause detriment in later life. His sudden propulsion from second son to heir to the throne must have rocked his world. He was kept close to his father, refused the sporting activities he loved and required to focus entirely on his future role as king. Henry Tudor made his son aware that every king’s imperative duty was to provide heirs; as many legitimate male children as could be managed. In my opinion it was that failure that was the root cause of all the subsequent failings of Henry VIII.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Usually they say how much they enjoyed The Beaufort Bride and The Beaufort Woman and when will the next one be published! I hear from my readers a lot and I am surprised and pleased that they bother to contact me. I always reply, make it a priority before I begin the business of my writing day. There are some who write to me every few months, asking me questions about historical characters or if I can recommend any non-fiction. It is always very gratifying when my novels make readers curious enough to learn more about the era or the character, some of my readers have even gone to university to study the subject. My work is very accessible and lots of them say they have never liked the genre of historical fiction before but now read it almost exclusively. I wish I could write faster, I know their pain for I have been waiting ages for Hilary Mantel to finish her third volume of her Thomas Cromwell series and also David Starkey to complete his biography of Henry VIII – get your finger out guys, if you’re reading this.

I write five days a week, even if it is only for an hour. A few hundred words on the page each day moves things forward even when things become difficult but mostly I manage at least three hours writing and then spend the afternoon researching for the next part.

One of the most surprising and touching communication I had was from a couple who read Peaceweaver and thanked me because it had helped them come to terms with the loss of their teenage son. They mentioned a passage from the end of the book that I could not even recall writing. At the end of the telephone call, I flicked through to find the part they referred to near the end of the book.

‘How things change,’ I say. ‘How strange that, even when all is lost, we still find beauty in simple things.’

He stands behind me with his hands upon my shoulders, both of us looking up at the sky; a sky that reminds me of the night Harold returned from Normandy and asked me to be his wife.

‘Resilience is what keeps us all from madness,’ Godwin says. ‘If we didn’t have the power to heal, to move on and overcome our grief, the human race would not survive.’

I was astounded that a few throwaway lines I had written had somehow given them the strength to move on. I don’t think anyone can make a more rewarding comment about my work than that.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

No, I don’t think so, my only real talent is writing. I have a lot of hobbies though. I love gardening, reading of course, and I crochet blankets and baby clothes. Sometimes I do embroidery, make historic linen coifs embroidered with blackwork. I have made some French hoods but they are fiddly and not easy to do while watching or listening to the television. My dad was a talented artist, specialising in acrylic and watercolour and I would love to be able to say I share his talent but, although I have tried, the results are not pleasing. It is better to stick to writing, I think.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Judging from reader comments, I would say the thing that makes my writing stand out is the fact that I write in the first person, present tense, providing first hand insight into the lives and emotions of my characters.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

It depends on the season. Gardening is my main hobby. We used to have about an acre on a smallholding in the Welsh hills which was very difficult to tame but we downsized to the coast about eighteen months ago. I now have a manageable garden in a mild (if rather salty and blowy) clifftop. My roses are thriving and I am enjoying discovering new plants that I could never grow before. At sea level everything is thriving. I have a small gardening blog that I try to keep up to date with. It is rather like a diary helping me to catalogue our activities and record what works and what doesn’t.

Links to Judith:

Website
Blog