My Review of Shadows by Thorne Moore #psychological crime

thorne

I received an ARC of Shadows from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the novel 5* out of  5*

Book Description:

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. 

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. 

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip. 

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths. 

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn. 

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? 

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred… 

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Thorne Moore’s work and, for me, Shadows, yet again, proves what a brilliant tale teller she is.

The author’s ability to create an atmosphere is exceptional. In Shadows the descriptions of the rooms and spaces within  Llys y Garn provide an eerie, dark presence and a vaguely distant, though dangerous, affluence in its history. It’s a great  background for the novel. In contrast the narratives portraying the surrounding Welsh countryside underline the myths, the legends of the land, the beauty of the settings, to give a wonderful sense of place.

 The characters are excellent; believable and rounded they instil either empathy, dislike, or exasperation. I loved the protagonist, Kate, and found myself willing her to make the right choices; to stay safe. In contrast, the character of her ex-husband and even sometimes, the lovable cousin, Sylvia, frustrated me. And I despised the “sadistic and manipulative son, Christian” (even though I hadn’t read the book blurb at the time) – I suppose that’s a sign of as well portrayed, multi layered character. And there is one character who was a great disappointment for me… saying no more here

The book description gives a good outline of this steadily-paced plot; what it doesn’t say, obviously, is how the reader is drawn into the story from the onset and then, piece by piece, caught up in the twists and turns of the narrative.

This is  is a book I recommend, without hesitation.

 

Praise for Thorne Moore

‘Thorne Moore is a huge talent. Her writing is intensely unsettling and memorable.’ – Sally Spedding

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University and the Open University. She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” including A Time For SilenceMotherlove and The Unravelling.

Links to Thorne:

 Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting 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 . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Juliet Greenwood.  Juliet’s is  rather a longer post than the others as I’ve also incorporated her #familysaga interview afterwards. Both  fascinating so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Juliet From Trisha Small

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

My most memorable pilgrimage was going to Howarth to the Bronte Museum. I went first as a teenager, when I’d first discovered ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. It was fascinating to see where the sisters lived and worked, and I was amazed at the smallness of their dresses. The things I loved best were the tiny little books they’d written as children. I was creating books myself at the time, not nearly as tiny, and it was great to see that that was how my idols had begun their literary career!

The thing I remember most, though, is the graveyard, and the sounds and the atmosphere. When I was older, I walked the Pennine Way with friends. We reached Top Withens in the morning, swathed in mist, and sat and had breakfast in the ruins. That was definitely one of the most atmospheric mornings I’ve ever experienced.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing is the best buzz ever – but also the most exhausting. I find it’s always hard to get into, the temptation to go into the garden instead (or even clean the house) is overwhelming. But once I get into the story, my mind begins to fizz. Ideas come from all over the place and I can hardly keep up with writing them down. I hate stopping. I find the mind keeps on going, racing away, working at knots in the plot, so I’m always grabbing a pen in the middle of cooking, or meeting friends, or even emerging from the shower, to write things down before I forget. Then, just as suddenly, I crash. If I’ve managed to have several hours at the book, the brain goes to mush, just about up to Masterchef (seriously surreal for a life-long vegetarian), but very little else. But I find flickers of ideas are usually still working in the background, as knots in the plot can miraculously be resolved (usually in the middle of the night – I have notebooks all over the place).

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is thinking the book is finished. When I started, I realised the story had to go through several drafts, but it wasn’t until I first worked with an editor that I realised this isn’t just tinkering, and you need to be prepared to throw anything and everything out if it isn’t working. It gets less drastic as you become more experienced, but all books are worked on again and again, and again and again – and then the real editing process begins. I love the editing process, it’s when the book really comes together, but I never would have believed it is such hard work, and that I would loath the sight of the book by the end, as well as loving it for being the best it could possibly be. Like all good things, the art of writing a book is mostly hidden. Finishing a novel is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I think you need a big ego to give you faith that you can write a book and that someone else will want to read it, but also none at all in order to take criticism and, in the end, put your ego aside to work in the best interests of your novel. When it comes to publicity, you need to be generous and help others and not expect them to help you for nothing. There’s nothing worse than someone on Twitter shouting ‘buy my book!’ and nothing else. And even worse is the one who, the moment you follow them, direct messages you to demand you retweet their book, without so much as a hint they might return the favour. That kind of ego is its own worst enemy – especially as most writers are really supportive of each other and great at returning favours.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I do write under a pseudonym as well as under my own name. I really enjoy the freedom ‘Heather Pardoe’ gives me when I’m writing for magazines. She was how I was first published, so I’m very proud of her – even if she does tend to slope off to a beach in Barbados for long periods while Juliet Greenwood is stuck at home working her socks off!

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

I try to write the kind of book I know readers love, but put my own slant on it. I write historical family sagas and timeshifts, usually focussed around a big old house and a family secret. I have a fascination with the lives of ordinary women in the past, who were often far more active and in control of their lives than history remembers them (if they are remembered at all). I tend to set an intensely personal story against a historical background. ‘We That are Left’ is set in WW1, but focuses on the experience of women working on the front line, as well as those keeping life going at home, and on the changes that made to their self-conception and expectations, as well as the tragedy of war. In ‘The White Camellia’, the story of one of the first women photojournalists is set against the long struggle of the suffrage movement, and the beginnings of the suffragettes, and the struggle for equal pay and the rights for women to have control over their lives and their money, as well as for the vote.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It made me approach the whole process with much more professionalism. It made me see that if I was going to be serious about this, I wasn’t just writing for myself, but to entertain and move readers. The first draft is always for myself – that’s okay, it’s a total mess and no one is going to read it. But from then on, I need to consider the needs of the reader, how they will see things, and what they need from a book, in order to make it at all publishable. That doesn’t mean compromising – it’s means more skill and more ingenuity, and being able to listen to others’ opinions – especially those with far more experience!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my original computer. A very long time ago. It was a really difficult decision as I didn’t have much money, and it took a month’s wages. You’d fall about laughing at it now, but it changed my writing life. The miracle of not having to use a typewriter! And there were rumours of this strange new thing called the Internet. Little did I know how much that would change my writing life too, as well as allowing me to work freelance to support my writing.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Loads! I read somewhere that an unpublished writer (and more than one ‘overnight success’) has about ten unpublished manuscripts lurking in a drawer. That’s about right for me. They aren’t all languishing. Some have become the basis of other books, and others the basis for serials I’ve written for magazines. Others are waiting for their time to come – while others (usually the early ones) will never, ever, see the light of day!

What does literary success look like to you?

Enchanting your readers, while writing what you love to write. And being able to earn enough money from your writing to live on, so you don’t have to try and squeeze writing and marketing in between the day job. Not zillions. Just enough to concentrate on the writing.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

The day job! Mind you, working as a freelance academic proofreader does help my language skills and makes me super critical of my own manuscripts. I enjoy it, especially seeing the world from the point of view of students as far afield as China and Saudi Arabia, but I’d love to have the time to concentrate on my own work. One day ….

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Approximately a year. I write the first draft in a mad rush, then, once I know my characters and the story, the real work begins. I’m usually thinking about the next one by the time I’m finishing the current one ready to go off to my editor. I spend a couple of weeks making the house look presentable again, then I’m off. It’s a never-ending process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 Product Details

 

 The White Camellia

Cornwall 1909

Sybil has fought her way up from nothing to become a successful
businesswoman. It seems she has the world at her feet.

Then, against her better judgement, she buys faded Tressillion House
on the wild Cornish cliffs. A house with a tragic past of greed, folly
and revenge, linked to the goldmine in its grounds. Sybil cannot
forget that the Tressillion family once destroyed everything she held
dear, or the revenge that, in a moment of bitter fury, she took to pay
them back. Her actions have had consequences that have haunted her
ever since, and surround her with secrets that could destroy
everything she has fought so hard to become.

But help comes from the most unexpected places, from the very family
she has destroyed, setting Sybil off on the long, hard road towards
self-forgiveness.

A thrilling story of loss and redemption, of the power of friendship,
and the enduring power of true love.

And now for the Narberth Book Fair Author Questions:

http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Why do you write?

I write because I have to – I get itchy fingers and can’t settle unless I get my regular ‘fix’ of writing.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love the transformation of the original idea into the final book, and the many stages it goes through to get there. As new characters arise as the story develops, the book so often goes in entirely unexpected directions, so it becomes a voyage of discovery.  I also love the final editing, when it all finally comes together – even though by that time I’m usually sick of the book, and have to fall in love with it all over again when I see it in print!

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

I always think my characters come purely from my imagination, but I think they really tend to come from an amalgamation of many people I have known, which then create a unique individual.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

It would be Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the suffrage movement in the UK. Although she is being honoured as the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square, she has been overshadowed by the Pankhursts and the suffragettes. She was an amazing woman, who, despite having no legal existence, successfully out-witted the male politicians. She won many rights we take for granted today and began the fight for equal pay for equal work. We owe her a huge debt, not least for ensuring that the UK parliament voted twice for women to have the vote. It also explains the anger and the violence of the suffragettes, which was due to the democratic process being overturned.

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

I’ve written four books, three for Honno Press, and three magazine serials. My favourite book is always the one I’ve just finished, because with each one I grow as a writer. But I’ll always have a soft spot for my first book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’, because that was where my real journey as a writer began.

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

I write historical fiction, set against the backdrop of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, usually involving a big old house, and family secrets, and women struggling to follow their own paths against the expectations of society. I’ve flirted with writing cosy crime, but I find I always come back to my own kind of book – although I’m always open to trying something new.

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

‘The White Camellia’ is about a fading mansion in Edwardian Cornwall, and two very different women, whose families have been in a conflict that has led to tragedy. Both Bea and Sybil are increasingly haunted by a danger from the past, and have to decide whether to continue the family feud, or join forces. It’s a complex and entwined story about two brave, independent women and the men they love. Although the men are there to support them, it is Bea and Sybil who have to make their own choices, and who finally do the rescuing, in a nail-biting climax, when unexpected truths are revealed.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

That revenge always has unexpected consequences, and self-forgiveness is the hardest lesson of all.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The very last scene, which brings the story together – so I can’t say why!

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

The characters always hijack the story. I’m in control for the first page of the first draft, but the moment the heroine requires a sister, friend, or even random passer-by, they’re off on their own path, and it’s anybody’s guess where we’ll end up. I just follow, bemused, feebly trying to keep them in order (unless they try to wander of into zombie territory, which my readers would not like at all, so then there’s trouble).

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can make a pretty mean hand puppet with nothing more than a few bits of cloth and plenty of sequins (I used to do puppet story-telling workshops with children).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A touch of dry humour in unexpected places. It happens in both books and serials. I can’t help myself.

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

I love gardening, and walking my dog in the Welsh hills where I can also indulge my passion for photography.

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

My day job is as an academic proofreader, mostly for students whose first language is not English. There are sometimes some very inappropriate expressions (usually down to the spellchecker) in the middle of a thesis. I’m afraid they are not repeatable, and the question is always whether to explain why you can’t say that sort of thing in polite society, or quietly brush it under the carpet…

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Before I had a dog, I rode a green lady’s bicycle, with three gears, all over Snowdonia. It didn’t half annoy the proper cyclists (especially as I unashamedly got off and walked at the slightest hill).

 Juliet Bio

Juliet Greenwood is published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Wales, London, and Cornwall in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of strong, independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfilment. Her novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store, while ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary. She also writes serials and stories for magazines as ‘Heather Pardoe’.

Juliet’s great grandmother worked as a nail maker in Lye Waste, near Birmingham in the Black Country, hammering nails while rocking the cradle with her foot. Juliet’s grandmother worked her way up to become a cook in a big country house. Their stories have left Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, so often overlooked or forgotten.

Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, and loves gardening and walking. Despite being halfway up a Welsh mountain, she grows delicious black grapes from a cutting from the Hampton Court vine.

LINKS

The White Camellia’, Honno Press, 2016

myBook.to/TheWhiteCamellia

 The White Camellia visual small (1)

‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

myBook.to/WeThatareLeft

we that are left

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

myBook.to/EdenGarden

 edens garden

Blog:                http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood

Pinterest:         https://www.pinterest.com/julietgreenwood/

new honno_logo

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting 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; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Thorne Moore. Thorne is also a Honno author and hard working fellow organiser of the Book Fair. 

 

Thorne Moore

 

Welcome, Thorne, let’s start by you telling us why you write, please.

Because I’ve never been able to stop myself. I was a chronic daydreamer as a child, and daydreams are the first step towards writing. I invented worlds and peopled them, and then I disappeared into them. Then I learned to read and started disappearing into books. The obvious next stage was to combine the two and disappear into my own books.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To say something significant, to make people stop and think. For immortality. Which doesn’t mean I write for fame or fortune, though both would be nice. I am my thoughts and, in writing a book, those thoughts get recorded in a form that will survive me, even if it’s only in a few mangled pages at the back of a second-hand bookshop in Mongolia.

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

Both? I invent my characters, or they invent themselves – sometimes I know the sort of person I need for a book but I have to wait for that character to acquire a life of its own before they really work. I never base characters on actual specific people. But then we all learn about human nature by seeing people, the way they talk and walk and dress and think and agonise and emote. That knowledge has to feed into the makeup of our fictional characters, or they wouldn’t come across as real.

What do you think makes a good story?

Convincing characters, pace that doesn’t send you to sleep, a plot that flows organically, without being too contrived, natural dialogue, language suited to the story, without superfluity and an underlying theme that leaves the reader thinking, if only for a second or two.

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

I write about ordinary people in crisis, dealing with trauma and its aftermath, sometimes through generations. That trauma is often a crime, so I suppose they count as crime novels, and my protagonist is always a woman (write what you know), so they could count as women’s literature, and they sometimes delve into the past, so they could be classified as historical novels, or sagas. Can I settle for Domestic Noir? It could encompass anything really.

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

My third novel, published by Honno Press, is The Unravelling. It’s about a woman, Karen, who is a little bit troubled – actually very troubled, with some serious mental issues. A chance and seemingly meaningless event – an apple rolling into a drain – sparks off a memory of a girl she knew at school, Serena Whinn, the angel of the playground, whom she had worshipped at the age of ten. Karen becomes obsessed with finding Serena and the circle of friends who had surrounded her. As she searches, hidden memories of awful events back in 1966 come to life, and as the story of what really happened in 1966 begins to unravel, Karen unravels with it, until, finally, the truth emerges and sets her free.

The Unravelling: Children can be very very cruel (A gripping domestic noir thriller) by [Moore, Thorne]

It’s a story about the secret world of playground politics that adults don’t see, and the damage and cruelty that can result when boundaries are pushed too far and things get out of hand. I imagine everyone will recognise something from their schooldays, even if they don’t remember the sixties.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Not a moral, exactly, but I do delve into questions of evil and its source. And the long-term effects of guilt. I always deal with guilt. It has to be one of the most fascinating aspects of human identity – the ability to feel guilt.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Difficult to say, but I did enjoy some of the scenes where I was drawing on my memories of my own childhood. My characters are all fictional, but Marsh Green, in the book, bears a very close resemblance to the estate where I lived and went to school.

What was the inspiration behind The Unravelling.

It was simply remembering the place where I grew up and where, with a child’s imagination, all sorts of monsters and nightmares could exist, alongside all the fairytales and games. I used to walk home down a wooded lane, crossing a stream on a great iron pipe, running past the witch’s cottage… All sorts of things might have happened. And then in real life, far away, all sorts of things really do happen, and you wonder how it could possibly have come to that.

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

I have the reins, but the horses have minds of their own and often refuse to respond. It’s quite encouraging when I tell them to do or say something, and they turn round and say ‘Yes, but I wouldn’t, would I. Think again, please.’ Then you know you’ve made them real.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Far too many to mention. I do make hand-carved miniature furniture.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A disinclination to get up and dressed, before starting to write in the morning. I write in bed.

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

Gardening. Walking. Reading. Watching the broody swallow nesting in my porch.

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

Needing to relieve myself, in thick mist, while climbing the upper reaches of the Watkin track on Snowdon. I was modestly crouching, pants down, behind a rock, when the mists suddenly parted and I found myself looking straight across to the Miner’s Track, and a band of boy scouts.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

At the age of 10 I won a bronze medal for old time ballroom dancer. Don’t know how – or why.

A Time For SilenceMotherloveThe UnravellingMoments of Consequence

Links to Thorne and her books:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #authors Narberth Book Fair #bookfair Today with me: Judith Barrow

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting 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. 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; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  I thought I should start by  introducing Thorne. But then realised I should answer a few of the questions I’ll be putting to the authors, myself.

 

judith, showboat2

 

Here goes: This is a bit weird but hey-ho.

Me: What do you love most about the writing process?

 Me: The ability to become lost in another world

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

 Me: My characters are a mix of both real and imagined people. It’s the ability to transpose personalities, characteristics and the inevitable ‘oddities’ that we all have in one way or another that rounds out fascinating characters.

Me: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

Me: My sister. After a lifetime of knowing her, I’ve never been able to fathom out what makes her who she is. If I was going to write about her then I’d need to study her. It’s a forlorn hope; she’d not let me in.

Me: What do you think makes a good story?

 Me: A good story grips from the first sentence to the last.  There should be a great plot, good rounded characters, a believable sense of place for them to move around in and evocative phrasing. Not forgetting dialogue that really works for each character and is consistent. Not a lot to ask for, huh?

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

 Me: Eight, three of which will probably never be sent out into the world.

  

My favourite is Pattern of Shadows for a few reasons: it took me years of research to make sure I had all the facts about the first German POW camp in the UK (based in a disused cotton mill) and the truth about life in that time towards the ending of the WW2, it brought back the memories of my childhood when my mother worked as a winder in a cotton mill and I would go there to wait for her after school. It was in this book that my favourite protagonist was born, Mary Howarth; I’ve now lived alongside her for ten years. And last but not least, it was this book that Honno: http://www.honno.co.uk/ accepted. I’d had stories in their anthologies published and I was thrilled when they accepted Pattern of Shadows.

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

 Me: My books are family sagas. I love writing about the intricacies of relationships within families. I have to admit, (and  I suspect most authors are the same) I am a people watcher. I think that the casual acceptance of one another within families can bring the best and the worst out in all of us; it’s fascinating to write about that potential.

 I have written a children’s book for middle grade; it needs a lot of work before it sees the light of day

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

  

 Me: A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel to the trilogy.Once I’d written ‘The End’ on Living in the Shadows, the family wouldn’t leave me alone. I realised I wanted/needed to write about their origins.

As with my other novels it’s been described as a gritty family saga. It’s set in Lancashire in the 1900s and Ireland at the time of the Black and Tans

The protagonist, Winifred, is the mother of Mary Howarth. She’s a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother. When her friend Honora – an Irish girl, with the freedom to do as she pleases – drags Winifred along to a suffragette rally, she realises that there is more to life than the shop and her parents’ humdrum lives of work and grumbling.

Bill Howarth, is Mary’s father, a man with a troubled childhood that echoes through his early adult life and the scars linger, affecting his work, his relationships and his health. The only light in his life comes from a chance meeting with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife. But does he?

It’s an emotive novel set in Lancashire and Ireland during a time of social and political upheaval. I’d like to think it’s a must read for anyone who loves both family sagas and historical fiction.

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

Me: I always start writing with a clear plan but sooner or later , usually when I’ve plotted exactly what will happen next it dawns on me that a particular character wouldn’t act in that way. It’s strange; they are my invention but they do seem to take on a life of their own. When that happens I nearly always take a couple of days to work out what I’m going to do… or rather what I think they would like to do

 Me: If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

 Me: It would be Mary Howarth, the protagonist of the trilogy. She takes a bit of a back step in the last book, Living in the Shadows, so I think I’d ask her what she wanted to do (there I go again; letting her take control). Like me she’s not a great fan of shopping so I’m hoping she’d opt for a long walk and talk across the moors of the Pennines. It would be a gloriously sunny day because, when you do get on the tops, it’s always breezy to say the least. I’d like her to tell me how she’s enjoyed her life in the trilogy. At lunchtime we’d find a good pub and stop for a ploughmen’s lunch and a cup of tea(she loves her tea1). In the afternoon we’d wander over to a cinema and watch the film Yanks with Richard Gere

 Yanks

Since Pattern of Shadows was published I’ve been back to my roots to an event called  YANKS ARE BACK IN SADDLEWORTH:    http://bit.ly/2sN1661. This film was made around the group of villages that are known as Saddleworth in 1979. Yanks Back in Saddleworth is great fun. Everyone dresses up in Forties clothes or various uniforms of the British, German, American services of that era and there are so many things going on over the weekend; A Vera Lynne singer, A Churchill lookalike, forties fashion stalls, military memorabilia stalls, a dance, a procession with all kinds of military vehicles, a fly-past of WW2 warplanes.

As Pattern of Shadows  is set during the forties I was invited along when it was first published and have been quite a few times since. I’m there again 6th/7th August this year.

 Oh, I’ve digressed – sorry Mary. After the film we’d have a slap up meal at one of the lovely restaurants around Saddleworth … and then, after such a long day it would be time to sleep for me. Mary would need to hurry to get back into the second of the trilogy,  Changing Patterns.

Me: When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Me:  I was eight. The book was called, The Death of the Teapot. My mother used to say all my childhood stories were gory (wonder what that shows?) The teapot fell off the table, broke its spout…and died.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Nope; I’m an open book as they say. (Whoever they are!!) Though I am a dab hand at making novelty cakes… does that count as a talent… hmmm?

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Well, I don’t know is it’s interesting to anyone (it drives Husband mad!) I sometimes write all through the night.

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

What I would really like to do would be to have a camper van and travel around the country. As it is, I read, walk along the lovely coastal paths around Pembrokeshire, sit and watch Husband gardening (and sometimes joining in with the boring jobs like weeding or mowing the lawns). Given chance I love clearing out clutter (opposed by said Husband – the hoarder). And I enjoy making up different creative writing exercises for my classes.

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

I once went to a book fair held in a primary school. The loos were those miniature types for the little people. I got locked in by a faulty lock and had to climb over the door. One of the buttons on my blouse got stuck around the top hinge and I landed feet first on the floor with my blouse around my neck and showing my rather raunchy new bra. Not amusing to me at the time but hilarious to the two author ‘friends’ who just happened to walk in at that moment

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I hated school. I was well into adulthood before I gained all my qualifications and was brave enough to start sending out my work.

 Well, that was fun… I think!

Book Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2klIJzN

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2s8hGiB

Honno: http://www.honno.co.uk/

 My links:

Website: https://judithbarrowblog.com/about-me/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrow_judith

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-anne-barrow-02812b11/

Pinterest: https://in.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/

 

 

“Judith Barrow has surpassed herself in writing this great family saga… There is such a wealth of fantastic characters to fall in love with and ones to hate!” (Brook Cottage Books)

 

Front of Secrets

Ashford, home of the Howarth family,is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?
Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns and Living in the Shadows, along with the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, published by Honno Press, is peopled with just such characters. Here are some of their secret stories – the girl who had to relinquish her baby, the boy who went to war too young, the wife who couldn’t take any more…

 

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Madalyn Morgan #MondayBlogs

Over the last few months I’ve been chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures. I am thrilled that so many excellent writers agreed to meet here with me.  I thought I’d completed these last week but I’m delighted that Madalyn Morgan has decided to join us here today and she will definitely  be the last in this series before I move on to introducing the authors who will be at the Narberth Book Fair that Thorne Moore and I organise http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/-.  I have read Madalyn’s novels and whole heartily recommend them.

 

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Hi Madalyn, glad to see you here at last

Hi Judith. Thank you for inviting me to talk about The Dudley Sisters Saga.

Tell us, what made you decide to write in your genre?

I am fascinated by the achievements of women in the first half of the Twentieth Century, in particular women who worked and served in WW1 and WW2. Also, my mother used to tell me about her life in the Second World War; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend named Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum’s life was interesting, so when I did a writing course, and it came to the Biography module, I wrote about her. The tutor liked the work but said, as mum and I were both unknown, I should turn it into a fiction. At that time, Mum wanted to give back a brass aeroplane; a Wellington Bomber that was made for her by a Polish airman in 1940. He had died, but I found his son, and he was delighted with the plane. It was then that that I decided to set my novels in WW2. I had so many ideas; too many for one book, so I plotted four: Four sisters, four wartime careers, and four loves. I still have Mum’s biography. Her wartime experiences are only part of it. Her life as Landlady of a big pub from 1955 to 1983 is very interesting. It was occasionally dangerous too. One day I shall turn it into a fiction.

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

Funny you should ask, Judith. I do have several author friends who write in the genre – and one of them is you. I loved Pattern of Shadows, which I have in paperback. Changing Patterns is on my Kindle, ready to read during my writing break.

Well, thank you, Madalyn. You’re very kind. Tell us, do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

It’s possible, but I couldn’t. My emotions are on the surface all the time. It’s why I was a method actress. I believed in the characters I played. If I go to the theatre to see a play and I don’t enjoy it, it’s usually because one or more of the actors are acting, not reacting. It’s the same with books. If characters aren’t real, don’t communicate, I don’t enjoy the book. Anyone can put words on a page, but bringing them to life through a character, that’s what is important.

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

Original, I think. I’ve never consciously tried to deliver. I couldn’t contrive an ending, for instance, that would be a lie. I’m lucky that my readers like what I write.

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

I don’t think I make demands on my readers. I make huge demands on myself. I care deeply for my characters and I have great respect for my readers.

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

Both. The Saga is a collection of five novels, but each book does stand-alone. The first four books are the stories of four very different sisters; their lives, work and loves during World War 2. The sisters are together in the first novel, Foxden Acres, which is the oldest sister, Bess’s story. It’s in Foxden Acres that their futures are decided. Each story stands alone, but is interwoven with the other stories. When the sisters are at Foxden – for Christmas, a birthday or a wedding – they have to be at Foxden in their own stories. The same for events in the war – the bombing of Coventry, Battle of Britain, D-Day, etc. Everyone is affected in Foxden Acres, as they are in their own stories.

To ensure someone wasn’t enjoying Christmas in one book and overseas in another, I kept a day diary. Every time something significant happened in Foxden Acres I made a note of it, leaving four blank pages – one for each of the other books, and one for luck. I couldn’t have kept control of who was doing what, when and where, without the diary.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two plotted novels and a memoir. One novel to be developed from my mother’s biography, and a contemporary novel about a relationship between a young man and an older woman. He treats her badly, but he isn’t very bright. In the novel he gets his comeuppance!  The memoir is about the time I lived on a reservation in Granite Falls, Minnesota, with Native Americans. In 1961, aged eleven, I was adopted into the Dakota Sioux tribe. One day I shall write about that amazing time in my life, and my wonderful Native American family.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

The most difficult thing for me is getting into the head of a man without being biased, or influenced by my own experiences. I to use what I know about men – the good and the bad – to give substance to my male characters. I do with my male characters what I do with my females – I try to walk in their shoes.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For the first four novels in The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, I needed to know everything about WW2 – from the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 to Germany’s surrender in May 1945, ending the war in Europe.

Foxden Acres

Research for my first novel took more than a year. Foxden Acres needed intensive research on, teaching, evacuation, the Land Army, farms, billets, and the Commonwealth Aerodromes near Foxden – Bitteswell and Bruntingthorpe. Also the RAF, Wellington Bombers – and the Polish airmen who escaped Poland and came to England to fly with the RAF, because they feature in the first novel. Foxden is near Coventry, so I needed to research the bombing of the city in November 1940.

 

Applause

The second novel, Applause, was easier. I set it in one of the London theatres where I had worked as an actress in the 1980s. I still had to research the Luftwaffe’s blitzing of the East End, ENSA, the shows and songs of the time, fascists, Nazi sympathisers, GIs, and how Jewish Londoners were treated. But because I knew the West End, and had already done extensive research for Foxden Acres, research for Applause only took three months.

 

China Blue

China Blue, the third book, set in England and France needed a huge amount of research. I was used to the process, but with this book it was also necessary to research as the story developed. What I knew about the Special Operations Executive, you could have written on the back of a postage stamp. So I researched the SOE and the training: Parachuting out of aeroplanes, surviving interrogation, living in occupied France, working with the French Resistance, sabotage, and the roads, rivers, and  bridges that were held by the Germans. Although I made up the town of Gisoir, I needed to be familiar with parts of Paris. Thank goodness for Google-walk. China Blue was the most difficult of the four books to research and write. It was also the most exciting.

Bletchley-Final-TEMP.indd

The 8:45 To Bletchley needed less research, again about 3 months. It begins on the night Coventry was bombed, November 1940, which I’d already researched. I needed to know about some of the work they did at Bletchley, but the facility was top secret, so if it didn’t directly affect Ena, I didn’t need to know about it. I researched engineering factories, MI5, poisons that put you to sleep but didn’t kill you, and I read some great biographies about spies.

Setting novels in such a well documented time as WWII means you have to get your facts right. Thank goodness for Google and Amazon. When I wrote Foxden Acres my research was done by reading books, now it’s a 50-50 mix.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I’d like to think it is strong believable characters and interesting plots. To me the characters are real people. I put myself in their minds and walk in their shoes, as far as possible, because doing that gives the characters life.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t select names. They come with the characters.

What was your hardest scene to write?

A rape scene.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Alcohol. I love a glass of red wine with my dinner, but if I’m writing after I’ve eaten, I don’t drink. I didn’t drink before going on stage either. Afterwards is another story.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing energises me. Proof reading exhausts me.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

Stop doubting yourself. Have faith you can do it, and you’ll do it.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My Muse is a grey haired old lady sitting at a typewriter. In my head she’s saying, “Get on with it, dear? Writer’s block, dear? Not me dear!”

Muse with typwriter

Love her!!

Okay, now tell us, what was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my first computer. Before that I tapped out my work on an old typewriter. Spelling is not my strong suit. I got through a lot of Tipex.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d expect I’d still be acting. There’s very little work for actresses of my age, so I’d probably be doing temp jobs to pay my mortgage. Perish the thought.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

Yes. When three close friends/relatives died within three months of each other, I was devastated and couldn’t write a shopping list. I honestly wondered if I’d ever write again.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Gone To Earth by Mary Webb.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

Twitter. I create posters and add captions and book links to advertise my books. As an Indie Author it’s important to Tweet, and to Re-Tweet other authors. This poster for China Blue is one of my favourites.

 

bravery

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I read reviews. I thank the person, share to my author page on Facebook and Tweet them. I’ve been lucky. I’ve only two bad reviews, both for my first novel, Foxden Acres. One said, ‘Reading FA was like pulling teeth, I didn’t get beyond the second page.’ I can’t remember the other one.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

I had tea with Heather Craven, the owner of Misterton Hall, which, in my first novel Foxden Acres is Foxden Hall, and in my last novel is the Foxden Hotel. I found several things interesting. When I was a Saturday girl in a hairdressing salon in 1965, I used to wash Mrs Craven’s hair. Another thing, in Foxden Acres I describe the grounds, the lake, the steps leading from the French windows to the tailored lawn where there had once been peacocks – and when I went there to take a photograph of the hall for Foxden Hotel’s book cover, it was almost as I had described it. But the most wonderful thing was, my grandfather, who I never met, was the head groom at Misterton Hall between WW1 and WW2. Heather showed me the stables where he had worked. It was very moving.

When I was writing The 9:45 To Bletchley, I visited Bletchley Park. While I was there, I met a lady who, as a child, had lived in the cottage next door to Dilly Knox’s codebreaking ladies. She took me under her wing. I felt very privileged.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

Thank you, Judith, I’d love to. I’ve just finished proofreading the digital copy of Foxden Hotel, the 5th novel in The Dudley Sisters Saga. It’s now ready for publication – Kindle and paperback – on June 10.

Foxden Hotel opens on New Year’s Eve, 1948 – ten years after the first book in the saga, Foxden Acres, which began on New Year’s Eve, 1938.

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                                      The war is over. It is time for new beginnings.

Celebrating the opening of Foxden Hotel, New Year’s Eve 1948, an enemy from the war years turns up. He threatens to expose a secret that will ruin Bess’s happiness and the new life she has worked so hard to create. Bess’s husband throws the man out. So is that the last they see of him? Or will he show up again when they least expect?

Bess had hoped fascism was a thing of the past, buried with the victims of WW2. Little does she know the trouble that lies ahead, not only for herself, but also for her family.

Oh, do love the sound of that.  Well, Madalyn, all I can say is thank you for rounding off this series. I’ve been fascinated by your answers today. Good luck with Foxden Hotel, I hope it flies off the shelves.

Please give us all your links.

Glad to. My novels:

Foxden Acres: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCX59LE/

Applause: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00J7Y5LCW/

China Blue: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XD85NQW/

The 9:45 To Bletchley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GEVW3Z8/

Foxden Hotel: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LDYD2D/

 

Writing Blog: http://madalynmorgan.blogspot.co.uk/

Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgansfiction.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ