A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Rosie Hendry

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

This is the sixth of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today I’m so pleased to be with Rosie Hendry

Rosie Hendry

  1. When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story?

The Mother’s Day Club, was always intended as the first of a new series called Women on the Home Front, as I wanted to explore how the second world war affects a family and the village community in which they live. Each book will bring new characters and challenges to the family as the course of the war progresses. The plan is to write more stories stretching across the years of wartime following the lives of the family.

Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?

Definitely the family story in these books. There are romances but they are woven in amongst everything else that’s going on.

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in?

Absolutely essential. I always think the wartime situation is like another character, having a huge effect on the story and the challenges faced by the people. It’s important to get the historical details right, and having not lived through those times myself, the only way to ensure that what I write is as correct as I can make it, is to do lots of research. Luckily, I really enjoy that aspect of writing historical fiction, especially discovering the social history of that period and how people’s lives were affected in so many ways. I especially love finding out snippets which didn’t make the history books but were important to people. It’s a wonderful feeling when I discover a forgotten gem of historical fact which inspires my storytelling.

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

I’m a planner – this helps me keep track of all the characters and what’s happening with them. I have a notebook where I record each characters’ details like eye and hair colour, family details etc, which I can refer back to.

 I use different colour post-it notes on a board to plot out the story scene by scene, giving a set colour to each character. This helps me keep a balance of different characters viewpoints within the story, so that no one has a lot more than the others. I found this is the best way for me to write a multi-viewpoint story and weave the different strands together.

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world, how important is the time period to the development of your narrative.

Writing books set during the Second World War gives me a time period against which to set the story. I will hang characters’ storylines on different events from the wartime, so the factual events act rather like a scaffolding. I choose events carefully so they are appropriate to my characters’ lives, but which will also challenge them.

When I’m plotting the story, I print out calendars from the wartime and mark on the historical events that I want to use to ensure I keep the story’s timeline accurate to the time period. One thing I love about writing the Second World War stories is how women’s lives were challenged, and they were required to step outside of their comfort zones and do things they would never have been asked to do during peacetime. It makes perfect fuel for storytelling!

Blurb for The Mother’s Day Club –

Norfolk, 1939

When the residents of Great Plumstead, a small and charming community in Norfolk, offer to open their homes to evacuees from London, they’re expecting to care for children. So when a train carrying expectant mothers pulls into the station, the town must come together to accommodate their unexpected new arrivals . . .

Sisters Prue and Thea welcome the mothers with open arms, while others fear their peaceful community will be disrupted. But all pregnant Marianne seeks is a fresh start for herself and her unborn child. Though she knows that is only possible as long as her new neighbours don’t discover the truth about her situation.

The women of Great Plumstead, old and new, are fighting their own battles on the home front. Can the community come together in a time of need to do their bit for the war effort?

Out on 18th February.

 Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mothers-Heart-Norfolk-Rosie-Hendry-ebook/dp/B07YD6TW8Z/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+mothers+day+club&qid=1609520131&quartzVehicle=845-899&replacementKeywords=the+mothers+day&sr=8-1

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mother-s-day-club-1

Apple – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-mothers-day-club/id1481637535

Keep in touch with Rosie Hendry via

Twitter – @hendry_rosie

On Facebook Rosie Hendry Bookshttps://www.facebook.com/RosieHendrybooks/

Website – www.rosiehendry.com

A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Tania Crosse

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts, who you’ll soon be able to read about here.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

Today is the first interview and I’m thrilled to introduce a prolific and wonderful author, Tania Crosse.

Welcome, Tania, so happy you’re here today.

Please tell us, when you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga or series of stories rather than one book?

I never intentionally set out to write a series, it just seemed to evolve. My debut novel, Morwellham’s Child, is set at Morwellham Quay, the major Victorian copper port in Devon that’s been a living history museum since the early 1970s. I discovered it in the late 1990s on our first family holiday in the area, and was amazed to discover that nobody had ever written a story to illustrate its history. Living two hundred miles away, over the three years it took me to complete, we made frequent trips there for research purposes, and fell in love with nearby Dartmoor. So much so that in 2003, we bought a tiny cottage in a  small village on the moor, which we owned for fifteen years, spending one week out of every month there throughout the year and becoming part of the local community. The more I learnt about the moor’s fascinating history, the more subjects I discovered that I wanted to illustrate in human, if fictitious, terms. I’ve written about mining, farming, the gunpowder mills, the infamous prison, quarrying, Tavistock workhouse, the arrival of various railways, the Great Flood of 1890 and the Great Blizzard of 1891. The first five books covered the Victorian era, followed by two illustrating Dartmoor’s part in the Great War. Then I was asked by my then agent, the lovely late Dot Lumley, to set two sagas set in the 1950s, and I set those on Dartmoor, too, again basing them on local history, but also bringing in wider events such as the legacy of WW2 and then the Korean War of 1950s. Although each book in the series stands alone, there is a thread running through them, which readers love to follow. After completing the Devonshire series, I had to take a break for various reasons, but eventually came to write Twentieth Century sagas, Nobody’s Girl and A Place To Call Home, originally one story inspired by a visit to Chartwell. The publishers, Aria Fiction, however, liked it so much that they asked me to expand it into two volumes, although each can be read alone. Finally, the Banbury Street series of two books is set in the London back street where I lived as a small child. The stories are set a decade apart and are completely separate, the main link being the matriarch of the street, Evangeline Parker, who I loved so much in the first book that I wanted to explore her more in the second. I’m so glad I did, as that was the book,The Street of Broken Dreams, that won Saga of the Year in the RNA Awards 2020 earlier this year.

Which do you think is more important, the family story or the romance?

For me what is actually more important is the historical background and the facts that I want to illustrate. I like to place my characters into what was a real life situation and see how they cope with it, weaving a tense, emotional story out of true fact. Inevitably, a family story and a romance will grow out of it, but it’s the social history behind it that’s most important. The Quarry Girl, for instance, illustrates life at remote, windswept Foggintor Quarry, which was a complete little community with cottages, gardens and even a chapel-cum-school, the ruins of which can still be seen today. Then the Princetown Railway opened in 1883, giving the quarrymen and their families easier access to the outside world. How might their lives have changed? One thing I discovered was the particular way in which the quarrymen would conduct the funeral of a colleague, and that found its way into the story as a major event in the life of the heroine and her family.

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in?

Absolutely essential! As you can see, the historical background is what I aim to illustrate in the first place, but I will always go all out to track down the tiniest detail. If I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for, I will never make it up. If I’m not certain that something is correct, then it doesn’t go in the book. But meticulous research must be the same for any genre, except perhaps fantasy and sci-fi! What is fantastic is when you suddenly hit on something that’s exactly what you’re looking for. I’m currently working on the first of a trilogy set in Plymouth – again, all stand alones that happen to be set in the same city – and came across an actual film of George V’s Jubilee celebrations there in 1935 that I wanted to write about. I was cock-a-hoop!

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

Copious hand-written notes! (I don’t trust technology!) Date of birth, stature, colour of eyes and hair, and any other particular features or anything they’ve done before coming on the scene that I might need to refer to later. All quite important if you bring back characters from earlier books as I do particularly in the Devonshire series. In The Ambulance Girl, I wind up what has happened to all the characters and their families from the Victorian era through to 1919, so I had to get that right. The book finishes with an epilogue set in 1939 that provides a link through to the first of the 1950s Dartmoor sagas, Lily’s Journey, which was pretty poignant with most of the earliest characters having passed away by then. There are also tiny links to the Kent/London based series, too. The hero of the two Kent stories is in the RAF during WW2. There were a number of aircrashes on Dartmoor during the conflict, and when his plane comes down one night, he is rescued by descendants of earlier characters in the Devonshire series who remain farmers on the moor, so I had to have all their details correct. Very discerning readers might spot Lily as a small child in London-set The Street of Broken Dreams, so I had to have her at the correct age, of course. I’ve only ever made one continuity mistake. I’m not going to tell you what! Nobody’s ever noticed, or at least, they’ve never said, and I think that with so many books under my belt, I can be forgiven – although I have to say, it annoys me intensely to know I made such an error!

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world. How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

It really depends on what the story demands. My books do tend to cover a period of years, sometimes four or five, or sometimes taking a character from childhood to maturity. I do make use of prologues and/or epilogues in some of my novels if I think it’s appropriate. In The Street of Broken Dreams, for instance, I have a prologue set in 1944 that’s crucial to the plot, although the main part of the book takes part during the summer of 1945, from April to the autumn. There is then a gap before the epilogue in 1951, necessary as the heroine tries to come to terms with the trauma she suffers in 1944, but then something happens in 1951 that finally sets her free. The break is also necessary for the sub plot involving her best friend whose moral fibre has driven her to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of another. However, whatever I consider the necessary time scale to be, the most important thing is that the characters find peace or at least hope for the future in one way or the other, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion for the reader.

Thank you for being here on my blog today, Tania.


Tania Crosse was born in London and lived in Banbury Street, Battersea, the setting of her two latest novels, The Candle Factory Girl and The Street of Broken Dreams. Later, the family moved to Surrey where her love of the countryside took root. She  wanted to be an author since she was a child, but having graduated with a degree in French Literature, she did not have time to indulge her passion for writing until her own family had grown up. She eventually began penning historical novels set on her beloved Dartmoor. After completing her Devonshire series, some of which are currently being re-published by Joffe Books, she took her writing career in a new direction with four Twentieth Century sagas set in London and the south east, which were published by Aria Fiction. She was thrilled when the last of these, The Street of Broken Dreams, won Best Saga of the Year in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2020 Awards. Tania and her husband have lived in a small village on the Hampshire/Berkshire border since 1976. They have three grown-up children, two grandchildren and a variety of grand-dogs! Tania’s interests, apart from reading and writing, of course, are dance, gardening and rambling, especially on Dartmoor, naturally!

A list of Tania’s books:

Morwellham’s Child: amzn.to/2OFElhq

The River Girl: amzn.to/2oQzRd4

The Gunpowder Girl: amzn.to/3iDAXjh

The Quarry Girl: http://amzn.to/35Dxf5P

The Railway Girl: amzn.to/2FL56io

The Wheewlright Girl: http://amzn.to/2SHQXFw

The Ambulance Girl: amzn.to/2uGaGxd

Lily’s Journey: amzn.to/2Z0qgAL

Hope at Holly Cottage: amzn.to/335SNEo

Nobody’s Girl: amzn.to/31m6Ioi

A Place to Call Home: amzn.to/2kzxcCJ

The Candle Factory Girl: amzn.to/2oqyq16

The Street of Broken Dreams: amzn.to/2Bjeg0g

For further details, visit Tania’s website at


Follow her on Twitter: @TaniaCrosse

Follow her on Facebook: https://bit.ly/3fZ8BQ7

Tania Crosse Author

Honno: “Great Women, Great Writing, Great Stories.” Today Thorne Moore interviews me: https://bit.ly/2WWQ1jW #weekendReads #Honno

Thorny matters

Thorne turns the tables on me today!

Fellow Honno author Judith Barrow has been running interviews on her blog (https://judithbarrowblog.com/) with other authors published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press. (Read her interview with me)  I thought it was about time that the table was turned on her, so here is my interview in similar vein, with Judith Barrow.

Judith Barrow

So, Judith, you are the tireless champion of other authors. Let’s hear about you, for a change.
How did Yorkshire lass come to be a Pembrokeshire author?

We found Pembrokeshire by accident. After we were married, and before children, we always holidayed for a week in July in Cornwall. But after seven years of marriage and with three children under three and our only mode of transport being an ancient van, we decided it was too far with a young family. So we thought we would go to Wales; not too difficult a journey from Yorkshire, we believed.
I borrowed books on Wales from the library and, balancing our 8-month-old twins, one on each knee, I read as much as I could about the county of Pembrokeshire. With wonderful beaches it sounded just the place to take children for a holiday

We booked a caravan and, when the big day came, packed the van to the hilt with everything the children would need, remembering only at the last minute, to throw a few clothes in for ourselves.

It took us ten hours. In 1978 there was no easy route from the North of England to West Wales. We meandered through small lanes, stopping for emergencies like much needed drinks, picnics and lavatory stops. The closer we were to our destination the slower we went; in the heat of the day the engine in our old van struggled; we needed to top up the radiator every hour or so. For the last fifty miles we became stuck in traffic jams. We got lost numerous times.

All this and three ever-increasingly fractious children.

We arrived at the caravan site in the middle of the night so were relieved to find the key in the door. The owner, a farmer, had given up and gone home.

The following morning I woke early. Leaving David in charge of our exhausted and still sleeping family, I crept out. The air was warm; a breeze barely moved the leaves on the trees around the field. Although the caravan was one of four in the farmer’s field, we were the only people there.

I walked along a small path. Within minutes I was facing the sea, glittering in the sun; dark rocks jutted out of the water surrounded by foaming waves. The horizon was a silvery line far in the distance. Faint voices from two small fishing boats carried on the air. The cliffs curved round in a natural cove. It was so quiet, so peaceful.

I fell in love with Pembrokeshire.

Within months we’d thrown caution, and our past lives, to the wind and moved into a half-built house in what was a field. It took us years to finish it but it’s been a labour of love.

How could anyone not fall in love with Pembrokeshire? But your books are mostly set up north. How important is location in your books?

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For me it’s vitally important, because it sets the scene for where my characters live. |And I try to portray the locations as they would exist in a certain era. It takes a lot of research to make sure the details of both the place and the time are correct. Luckily I enjoy researching.

I always draw a map of the town or village so I can see the characters moving around, see what they see; experience what they experience. It’s the only way I can picture it.

Location was especially important for the trilogy. The first book, Pattern of Shadows, was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, Lancashire and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country. Rather than the noise of the machinery, the  colours of the cotton and cloth, the smell of oil, grease and the new material, I envisaged only vehicles coming and going, the sounds would be of men with a different language and dialect, no riot of colour, no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; just the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And the camp retains its importance throughout the trilogy after the war and into the sixties. It falls into ruin at the same time as the cotton industry is declining and the mill town where it is situated also deteriorates.

But, in the sequel, Changing Patterns and the last of the trilogy, Living in the Shadows, the characters are also in a small Welsh village; a complete contrast to the industrial town. And this disparity between the two locations is where the many layers of the human condition can be explored in order for me to create rounded characters that, hopefully, come to life on the page.

I hope that makes sense?

Perfect sense. Your first books, the Howarth stories, are a family saga. What appeals to you about that genre?

I love writing about the intricacies of relationships within families; it 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, with the casual acceptance of one another that the circumstance brings, can bring the best and the worst out in all of us. So there is a wealth of human emotions to work with. It’s fascinating to write about that potential.  And, of course, behind closed doors, anything can happen. So the family saga is a genre that can cross over into historical fiction and the crime, mystery and romantic genres.

Your latest, The Memory, is still family-based but quite different. What made you shift direction for that one? What inspired it?

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It is new territory for me but the book is still set around a family unit so, from that point of view, I don’t think I strayed too far with The Memory. In the Haworth trilogy and the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, (set against the background of the first World War, the Suffragettes and the Irish War of Independence),  there is still an underlying theme of reactions to a situation. But the difference between those books and this one is that those characters, as well as reacting in a domestic setting, respond to a wider situation; their lives are affected by what is happening in the outside world.  In The Memory it is only Irene Hargreaves, the protagonist that the reader learns about; mainly from the claustrophobic atmosphere she is living in presently, but also through her memories.

It’s a more contemporary book than the others and also it’s written in a different style. The book runs on two timelines: Irene’s life from the age of eight, after her sister is born and her grandmother comes to live with the family because her mother refuses to accept her second daughter, Rose, a Downs Syndrome child. That’s written in past tense. The second timeline, over the last twenty-four hours is written in the present tense and shows Irene’s life as the carer of her mother, who has dementia.

I don’t know that it was inspired by any one thing. The Memory actually began as a short story I wrote a long time ago, which just grew and, which, in turn, started from a journal that I’d kept from when I was carer for one of my relatives who had dementia. I read many articles on coping with the disease at the time, but writing how I felt then helped tremendously. Writing like that always has; it’s something I did through many years from being a child.

Another memory was of was a childhood friend of mine; a Down’s syndrome child, though I didn’t realise then. We would sit on the front doorstep of their house and I would read or chat; well, I would talk and he would smile and laugh. I didn’t think that it was odd that he never spoke. Thinking about it, I never even wondered why he wasn’t in school either. Anyway, one Monday after school, I went along the lane to their house and the front door was closed. I didn’t understand; one day he was there and the next gone. No one explained that he’d died. I‘m not sure I even understood what that meant anyway. So, I did what I usually did; I wrote about it; how I felt losing a friend. So, from finding the short story in a drawer I was clearing out, my memories, and remembering the journals, came The Memory.

What matters to you, apart from your writing? 

Family and friends. At least the small family that David and I created. I suppose that sounds odd; perhaps even a little selfish to exclude any extended members of our families. But I’m being honest here. I wasn’t close to my parents for various reasons; reasons that partly underlined the decision to move so far away from Yorkshire. They weren’t bothered about their siblings, who we rarely saw, so I never really got to know any of them.  Don’t misunderstand me; when any of them needed us we willingly did what we could. But moving away from where most of them live meant we were unable to rely on instant support; there was no childminding, no unexpected welcome visits. It made us more self-sufficient. So by family I do mean David and the children. And their children; our grandchildren. Whatever happens; however much changes, whatever life chucks at us, they will always matter to me.

 And friends? Well, at my age (and I think this happens to most people as they get older), friends are fewer and become more important. And, at this stage, true friends tend to know you inside out; all the good bits and the not so good bits. And they still like you. I think that’s wonderful. And it works both ways!

How did you come to be a Honno author?

For many years, whilst writing books that stacked up in drawers, never to appear again, I was writing poetry, plays and short stories and entering creative writing competitions. I also used to look for notifications for submissions to anthologies. A friend told me about a call that had come from Honno. The remit was to write a story around the subjects of gardens and life. The title of the anthology, published in 2008, is Coming up Roses. My story is called Whose House is This? (I wrote a post about it here).

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Shortly after the anthology was published I attended a workshop run by Honno and, in conversation with the editor, Caroline Oakley, I said that I had recently completed a manuscript. I think I should mention here that this book was the first I’d ever been truly excited about; even reluctant to consign it to the drawer with the others. Caroline told me to send it to her, which I did.

But, previously I’d sent the book to an agent.  And this is where it all gets a bit messy, drawn out  and tedious; so all I will say is that the agent wanted me to work with a commercial editor to change the genre from family saga to chick lit ( not that there is anything wrong with chick lit, it’s just not what I write.) So, after much discussion, the agent and I parted company and it was a great relief when the book was accepted by Honno as a family saga. That book became the first of the Haworth trilogy, Pattern of Shadows.
The rest, as is often quoted, is history. I’ve been with Honno for over twelve years now and had five books published with them and another, The Heart Stone, to be released in 2021

What do you value most about Honno?

Honno  is my kind of publisher; small, independent, and led by strong women who know what kind of  books they want to publish and don’t accept anything but the best that an author can produce. So the editing is hard, but fair, and leads to many discussions – and a few compromises on both sides.
Because it is known to be a Welsh press it is sometimes assumed that all its authors will be Welsh as well. So, often, when I’ve appeared at events, people are surprised to hear my broad Northern English accent. The supposition is false; Honno’s aim as an inspiring, feminist, Welsh press is to provide opportunities for women writers. The only proviso is that they are either Welsh, are living in Wales or have a connection to the country – which actually covers a great many writers. I love their strapline -. “Great Women, Great Writing, Great Stories.” So it always gives me a thrill when the manuscript I’ve been toiling over for months (or years!) is accepted by them.

Judith’s website

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