My only excuse for the shameful neglect of this blog is that I’ve been very busy! For several reasons, starting with this:
When we came home from the USA in early May, after I’d won the Grand Prize for romantic fiction at the CIBA conference based in Bellingham in the beautiful Pacific North West, I thought I had no more to say about the characters in The House at Ladywell and prepared to carry on with the sequel to The Convalescent Corpse. However, I might have thought I was done with Ladywell but Ladywell wasn’t done with me and gradually the idea of writing a story about the house at Christmas wormed its way into my mind.
A short story, I thought; I’ve enjoyed seasonal stories from favourite authors so I felt I could come up with something suitable. The short story grew and grew into a novella, about a third of the length of the original book; my trusted readers both loved it (thanks, Liv and Sugar!)and eventually I sent it to my publisher, Crooked Cat Books. They also enjoyed it and it’s coming out on 4th November: in eBook only (Details soon)
Christmas – a time for spilling secrets…
Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and with a small child – has to transform her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according to plan…
In the past, old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.
Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.
Readers have told me they loved Ladywell and have asked for more, so I hope they’ll be pleased with this update, and who knows? The house might have more stories to tell…
Another piece of exciting writing news is running pretty much in parallel with my Christmas story. I’ve always been fascinated by Richard III, ever since I read Josephine Tey’s famous novel, The Daughter of Time. I was about thirteen and I’ve remained true to my historical crush ever since. His portrait hangs at the top of our stairs as it has for more than thirty years and last year I was intrigued to learn that an anthology of stories about the enigmatic king was to be published in aid of the Scoliosis Society – the condition Richard himself suffered from. Grant me the Carving of my Name was such a success that a second anthology is to be published in November this year – and I have a story in it, which is a huge thrill! Mine is called The Silent Boy and is adapted from a chapter in The House at Ladywell. If you’ve read my book, you’ll easily guess which chapter – and you might learn a bit more about the very secret link between Ladywell and the King in the Carpark if you read the novella! The new anthology will be called Right Trusty and Well-Beloved, details when I get them.
As if two forthcoming publications aren’t enough, The House at Ladywell has recently gained Amazon Bestseller status and has a shiny gold sticker to prove it – another exciting milestone!
Later this month I’ll be gallivanting off on my own for a weekend in deepest Surrey, leaving the Resident Engineer in charge of the house! I’m booked to be the after dinner speaker on the Saturday and I’ll be talking about my own books with reference to authors who have influenced my writing. A particular interest of mine, which I know is shared by the audience, is the way the First World War influenced books for girls and young women during and after the war. I’ve read so many of these books, written at a time when young women found a different future staring at them: too many future husbands dead but also hitherto unimaginable careers open to them. I know how they spoke and how their lives changed, which is probably why so many readers of The Convalescent Corpse have commented that reading it felt like time-travelling to 1918, it feels so authentically of the period.
And now for the sad news. When Scuba Dancing was published in 2005 I suddenly needed a website and a dear friend, Keri Thomas, came to my rescue. He designed and has maintained it all these years and when I later wailed that I thought I’d better have a blog, he designed that too. It was all done in kindness and friendship, though he was amused when I paid him in fudge! the photos of Winchester on the blog heading are all by Keri, who was a terrific photographer. Sadly, he died very suddenly two weeks ago, far too soon, and the Resident Engineer and I will miss him very much.
Here’s something gorgeous to finish with – a bespoke banner for Facebook, Twitter and other places to showcase my writing. Designed by Hugo Brookbanks.