My Review of Parallel Lies by Georgia Rose #FridayReads

parrellel lives

I received a copy of Parallel Lies from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the book 4* out of 5*

Book Description:

My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…’ Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it. Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job. Company… when she wants it. It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect. Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers. But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets. And they never stay buried for ever. Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him. Or her past. Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have. Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new? You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.

 My Review:

I’ve always enjoyed Georgia Rose’s work; she has a writing style that carries the reader along, never quite sure what will happen next in her books.

Parallel Lies is no exception; it’s a cracking good read, a mixture of mystery and crime with an  overlay of romance.

The main characters are strongly rounded,  The protagonist is shown to be flawed; she lives, as the title hints, parallel lives; a damaged woman hidden inside the persona she has skilfully and painstakingly acquired; the classy Madeleine. Then there is Dan, initially disliked by Madeleine, yet it’s a classic case; the dislike turns into reluctant love. A love  endangered by a character from her past life. Say no more!

And, something else I liked; the minor characters are given enough layers to make them believable (I particularly liked  Diane, a strong woman who grew up in the sixties, with all that the era represents)  and Joe, the gardener and friend of Diane, given wisdom and insight. Also Kourtney, a young woman rough around the edges who reminds the protagonist of herself when younger. For me, the way Kourtney’s  life evolves in the story suggests that there is more to come from this character at some times in the future. Or maybe not? Hmm.

Told mostly from Madeline’s  point of view. we get an insight both to the way the plot is progressing and also  to the subtle, inevitable changes in the protagonist. But there is, as well, another point of view, and I did like this; Dan’s point of view. This is in the second person point of view as internal dialogue. It worked well, for me.

And I thought the  dialogue throughout worked well for all the characters.

The descriptions of the settings  give a good sense of place; it’s easy to see the characters moving around the pubs and houses in Crowbridge, the gym and seedy shop in Hartleigh.

All in all, a well  written story by Georgia Rose  that builds the tension of the plot.

I  recommend Parallel Lies.

 Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2evommM

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2vQGEBx

 The Author: 

Georgia Rose 1

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her story lines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.

Links to Georgia:

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/georgia.rose.books

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeorgiaRoseBook

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

Titleband for Narberth Book FairGathering even more of us all together this week 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

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

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

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

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 . 

Our author today is the multi-talented Wendy Steel

 

Wendy Steele

 

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love seeing my characters play out a story that’s been banging around in my head, watching it evolve and develop, often from a single idea. I enjoy editing and finishing less but the joy of completing a draft ready for first readers, makes up for that. Of course, feedback from readers is the greatest joy of all.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I was forty years of age when I read Moon Magic by Dion Fortune. My childhood love of the moon and everything Egyptian and my personal discoveries about paganism, hedge witchery and the Kabbalah were brought together when I read that book. With new confidence, I wrote my first published novel, Destiny of Angels.

Who is your favourite author?

My favourite author is the late, much missed, Sir Terry Pratchett. I read Wyrd Sisters first before devouring every book he had written. I’m a visual reader and writer and Sir Terry conjures up images and scenes in the most beautiful and economical way. His use of language can make me laugh or cry. Magic.

DestinyWrath

 

 

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

An average week will include 16-18 hours of writing plus 7-12 hours of social media/marketing.

I love big chunks of time to write, to immerse myself in the story and characters. My best writing time is if my partner is working away and I don’t need to teach in the evening. I’m happy to write for 12-14 hours in one hit.

The reality is that I rarely get 4 hours at a time but I carry chapters of first draft with me, in case I have the opportunity to read and revise and make notes for the following chapters. Typing them up involves me in the story quickly, often leading to me writing on; I’ll do anything to maximise my writing time.

 

The Standing Stone - The GatheringThe Standing Stone - Silence Is BrokenThe Standing Stone - Home For Christmas

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

The Naked Witch is my first novel in a new and exciting genre, Witchlit. Similar to Chicklit, the female protagonist is a modern woman, juggling work, an ex-husband, a difficult, demanding mother while also the responsible single parent of a teenage daughter. Readers love Lizzie Martin! She’s a woman of courage, beset by the worries and concerns we have but determined to stand up for what she believes in. Being a witch is part of who she is, rather than the label that defines her.

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Compelling, thought-provoking and unique.

the naked witch KINDLE(1)

 

What was the inspiration behind The Naked Witch?

I wanted to write a book for everyone, especially women, whatever their usual choice of genre. Lizzie lives her life in a man’s world, as do we all and I wanted to write a story about a woman making her own rules, willing to defy convention and be successful in her own right.

How long did it take you to write The Naked Witch?

Having penned a few Witchlit short stories at the end of last year, the character of Lizzie Martin emerged and her story unfolded easily. The book took me three months to write and a further month to edit once I’d had feedback from first readers.

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

I wrote a few children’s books about Willoughby the Hedgehog in my twenties but I was thirty eight when I began my first novel, Hubble Bubble…and forty one when I finished it! I wrote in forty minute time slots while sitting in the car, waiting for my children to come out of school.

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

I’ve had useful and encouraging feedback from readers in reviews but I also get messages and meet fans at book fairs. I’m delighted to say they find my books inspiring, feeling they can identify with the characters…and more than one of them wants to be Lizzie Martin!

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I’m not sure if it’s a talent but I can recite the alphabet backwards. I taught myself at the age of about twelve…I have no idea why. I learned to read music, when I learned to play the piano, at the age of four, the same age as when I learned to read words.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I lived in a town, I used to have writing trousers, a huge, baggy pair of black tracksuit bottoms which was my preferred attire to write in. Now I write in pjs.

I love beginning a new story with a fresh pad of A4 paper and my Waterman fountain pen.

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

Apart from renovating my current residence and attempting to tame four acres of land, I dance. I learned belly dance from the age of forty, taught it for four years and, while exploring other dance genres, discovered ATS® Belly dance. I’ve been teaching this style as Tribal Unity Wales since March 2014. Belly dance is a fabulous, full body work out and classes are a great way to make friends and keep fit.

Smiles

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

I can only recall one incident that was amusing to those watching while embarrassing for me at the time…five months pregnant with my daughter, I fell through a garden chair and got stuck…even I laughed as my friends attempted to extract me!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Belly dance gave me confidence at a time when I was coping with a debilitating illness and struggling with self image. I wanted a tattoo but money was put to more practical use, bringing up three children so at the age of fifty, ten years later, I had my first tattoo, a delicate triskele that I adore. The eight pointed star of the warrior goddess Ishtar soon followed. Last year, I asked the fabulously talented Abi Hack to design a tribal band for my arm, incorporating a thirteen petalled lotus and a mandala that my daughter and I share, both of which adorn my right arm.

 Wendy’s Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
Amazon author page
Good Reads
The Phoenix and the Dragon

 

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 Review of White Lies by Ellie Holmes for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

white lies

 

I was given this book by the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT in return for an honest review.

I gave White Lies 4* out of 5*

My Review:

White Lies is an  interesting story that explores the different ways in which people in close relationships can so easily lie and deceive one another, however well meant the lie; however ‘white’ the deception. And ultimately reveals the damage such duplicity can cause, both to themselves and to those around them.

Ellie Holmes writes in a skillful easy to read style that smoothly keeps the plot going. It’s a compelling read as we are led one way and then another, following the characters, empathising with them, condemning them, getting exasperated with them, even disbelieving some of their actions and reactions. I suppose the fact that I reacted like this shows how realistic the authors has created and rounded these characters. But, ultimately I realised that I didn’t really ‘root’ for any of the main, not even the protagonist, Sam.

All that aside, I felt the dialogue, both spoken and internal  was realistic and consistent with the characters.

And I must say I did like the minor sub-plot of recently widowed Daphne  and the artefacts. And the benevolent character of Connor, Sam’s business partner, was  a light relief amongst all the machinations of the others.

There were also some good descriptions of the characters’ appearance, subtly drip-fed in. Usually this isn’t something I comment on; I like to imagine how each looks but they were quite understated portrayals that fitted my thoughts from how each acted.

 Ellie Holmes cleverly brings the expectations of Sam’s talents as an interior designer into the narratives so it is easy to picture the settings of the rooms and houses.   And  the external settings were described to bring alive the action of each scene: the misery of the sleet and rain in the initial scenes, the mist over the garden and looming darkness to match the despair of the protagonist in a later scene. (I don’t give away any spoilers if i can help it in my reviews, so you’ll need to read the book to discover what i mean here)

There was only one main problem with White Lies for me. Normally I do like to feel that there is a satisfactory ending, if not a happy one, to a novel; even if it is left open ended for me to imagine. I didn’t quite know how I felt about the denouement in White Lies, I was a little dissatisfied.

Nevertheless, this is a book I would recommend to be read during long summer days.

 Book Description

From the author of The Flower Seller

Have you ever told a white lie?

Sam Davenport is a woman who lives her life by the rules. When her husband Neil breaks those rules too many times, Sam is left wondering not only if he is still the man for her but also if it’s time to break a few rules of her own.

Actions, however, have consequences as Sam soon discovers when what starts out as an innocent white lie threatens to send her world spiralling out of control.

White Lies is a warm, engaging read about love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk; http://amzn.to/2uldTjo

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2t2gcUH

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