Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The great reveal - Interview at Fabulosity Reads


I'm over at Wendy's lovely Fabulosity Reads, talking about writing historical novels, giving away books, and revealing a few things about me that you might not already know. Fabulosity Reads

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Would a certain Movie Star approve of his role in my book?

Imagine if you will Sean Bean as this man: William Lord Gantry Earl of Axbridge: a real live historical person? Of course not, he's one of my fictional characters.

I am as much an avid reader as that of crazed writer setting my own tight deadlines and undertaking all artwork necessary for covers and layout of paperback copies etc, Do I do a good job with graphic design: who knows, but I enjoy doing it and the cost is peanuts because I'm the monkey and, the organ grinder. I have an academic historian who beta reads and edits my novels for the sheer love and pleasure of reading historical novels, and yet still typos and mishaps escape her notice as they do mine. But hey, she's only human not a fiendish literary critic nor a wannabe editor!  And,  as a reader I simply settle down to enjoy good books by other authors and have no desire to critique as I go, and willingly skip minor blips. But, there have been many times on reaching the end of a book I’ve wished a sequel might be in the offing, not necessarily a follow-on with existing characters as the lead subject matter, because often as not supporting characters have intrigued my sense of the curious and I would have liked to get to know them better. Hence, I penned The Royal Series, and strange as it may seem, not one of the books is essentially about royalty. Nonetheless, royal persons of note have walk-on parts or minor starring roles. After all, the royals are a well-documented species and therefore relatively easy to chart their lives. However, I had it in mind the whole process had to be a challenge. The characters had to be of my own creation, albeit the backdrop would be that of real-time historical events.



The  series has whirled around in my head since some ten years ago but life and other writing commitments (mainstream published novels) and events beyond my control prevented the books from being penned. At last they are coming to fruition. BTW. For anyone who follows my blog posts or knows me well, they also know how my stories come about, and if you’d like to know for yourself you can find out by reading About Me.


So what inspired the writing of five novels and what could portraits; a house, a diary, a horse and one man’s words, possibly have in common with a series of historical romance novels? With the fourth book in draft and fifth book in scant outline, there is to be a prequel to follow. Sounds silly writing a prequel after the event of having penned five novels does it not, but sometimes it happens that way.


With Book 1: By Loyalty Divided, Three Portraits became the inspiration, and the setting is that of the English Civil Wars. Portrait (1) happened to be that of a young lady clearly of great wealth but no reference as to who she was. She inevitably became the face of the heroine. Portrait (2) was that of a mature Cavalier who became her ward (top pic). The other work of art featured a Cavalier (similar to the first) and that of a young Roundhead officer, both were battling it out on horseback swords drawn. They duly became father and son within the novel, hence the title By Loyalty Divided.


A real-time Diary penned throughout the Civil Wars by a Cavalier, in itself, afforded detailed accounts of the Royalist army and intriguing asides. I utilised his dates of battles and skirmishes alongside other specifics to ensure as near as accurate movement of my fictional troops to coincide with real-time events. Also, private family letters and journals provided further insight to the periods depicted within the novels.


Book 2: A House and One Man’s Words provided the plot for Toast of Clifton, which is set when Charles II attempted to regain the throne of England (1651). His defeat at Worcester forced him as it does the hero and the heroine, to take flight into exile. The house that inspired this novel happened to be where I lived for part of my life, so I have first-hand knowledge of the spiral stone staircase featured in this novel. Needless to say a massive inglenook fireplace has a major role to play in this novel, too. The Man, whose words inspired the second half of the novel, was none other than a descendant of James Scott Duke of Monmouth. His research was akin to discovering a diamond in the sands of a desert. Needless to say this novel is dedicated to that man.



Book 3: Another Portrait inspired Royal Secrets, set nine years after the Restoration of Charles II to the throne of England. Imagine a portrait of a distressed young woman clearly terrified by events spiralling beyond her control. That image became the catalyst to a story fraught with courtly politics and intrigues, in which the life of the heroine is placed in mortal peril of plotters who are aiming to rid Charles II of a barren wife.


Book 4: A Portrait of the Duke of Monmouth inspired the writing of Love and Rebellion, which is set against the backdrop of his infamous Monmouth Rebellion. But of course, the characters from previous books were always destined to play their part in this sad story. And, whilst many of the characters are heartbroken by the duke’s capture and eventual death, two major characters manage to escape the carnage of defeat and set out for home. Evading capture en route proves harder than imagined, for one of the hunters in the King's pay is close kin to one of the fugitives.



Book 5: Lady of the Tower came about purely because a character stole my heart in book 2, her gender unknown until book 3. In book three she’s a charmer, and by book 4 the courage shown by this girl deserved a book all her own. Within book (5) the downfall of James II occurs, and with the Glorious Revolution comes the return of the heroine’s sister to home shores.


But A Ghost Horse and a Misty Morn inspired the plot for the prequel novel. The prequel tells the story of the horse and his master, who later becomes a groom-of-the-bedchamber to Charles II whilst in exile. The man in question in fact (chronicled) post Restoration of the Monarchy was indeed a groom to his majesty's bedchamber. His sister was that of Lucy Walter.



Did I encounter a ghost horse or not?


Read more on Francine’s blog.  The books are available at Amazon.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Hallowe'en Book Give-away Blog Hop

 If you've popped over from Denise' Blog Hop don't run away: I'm sharing my post!. Denise' linky is bottom of page.
My contribution is a double-up jobby
I first published this in 2011 - It's a time-slip flash fiction piece. 
I give you: Haunting!


“Don’t be silly, it can’t possibly have disappeared,” said Amy, kneading dough. “Who in their right mind would stop by to pinch an axe?” She paused, looked her husband in the eye, a glare of accusation. “I bet if I go out there, I’ll find it lying in the long grass somewhere.” 

     Jake threw his hands in the air, frustration evident. “I tell you I left it in the wood shed.”

     Mattie glanced up from her homework. “Dad’s right, mum. I saw him plunge it in the chopping block as I came back from feeding Jupiter.”

     Once again dough received a good pummel. “Then the chopping block is where it’s at.”

     “Was at,” snarled Jake. “O.K., fess up. Who moved it?”

      Amy's hand thumped the dough with zest. “You think I have time to waste playing shuffle the axe?”

      Jake watched as Amy panned her eyes around the kitchen, air of desperation about her. A grin spread across his face. “Lost something?”

      “I swear I left a damp tea towel, on the end of the table.” She glanced at her husband, hands behind his back. “Give it here.”

      He bared his hands. “Not guilty.” Laughter then rumbled from the depths. “Don’t look at me like that, I swear I haven’t got it.”

      Mattie laughed. “He hasn’t moved, mum, not an inch.”

      There was a loud thump and sound of splintered wood and the door swung open. There, in the door frame an embedded axe and blood seeming to drip from the blade.

      Jake stepped forward to shield his wife and child from a potential intruder, but none came forth. With bated breath, he wrenched the axe free and glanced back at Amy cradling Mattie to her breast. “Stay here.”

      It took but a moment to check outside, and Jake’s first thought was that of Jupiter in the paddock. Much to his relief the pony momentarily looked his way and carried on grazing. He checked all around the house, and then it struck him. Smoke. He could smell smoke. He dashed back to the farmyard, an unbelievable scene before him. It could not be, could not be happening.      

      He shut his eyes, prayed it was some strange vision. But no, there were numerous horsemen circling the yard, animal furs about their shoulders. They were warriors from another time, another place. He yelled at them. Threw stones, anything to distract them. He had to lure them away from the house, away from the burning hay barn, away from his wife and child. Not one of the horsemen noticed him, each stone falling short of its target.

      Oh no, Mattie appeared with a tea towel in her hand. What was Mattie doing?

      “Go back, Go back inside.”

      He ran forward protesting, shouting her name, but a warrior scooped her up, cradled her to chest and before he could reach Mattie the horseman turned about and rode off at the trot the other horsemen surrounding the lead horse.

      There was nothing for it but to get the shotgun. He lunged himself through the doorway, and there stood Amy kneading dough, Mattie at the table absorbed in homework.

      What the hell had just happened?

      He glanced back at the hay barn. No smoke. No fire.

      “What day is it?”

       “All saints eve,” replied Amy.

       He kissed Mattie’s head in passing, moved to stand behind Amy and wrapped his arms about her waist. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

      “Yesterday, I think.” She turned in his arms, floured hands about his neck and leaned into him. Their lips met in a familiar and lingering caress, until, “I love you, too,” followed by a smile, and whispered, “They come every tenth year.”


      “The horsemen.”

      “You saw them too?”

      “It’s my second time of seeing them.”

      “And you never thought to tell me when we moved here?”

      “The last time I saw them I was ten years old.”

      He glanced at Mattie. “She’s ten.”

      Mattie suddenly said, “It’s all right, dad. I belong, here.”         


That's all folks. Hope this caused a spine tingling sensation.
Now, if you'd like a Kindle copy of this 17th century swashbuckling novel answer this question: who was King of England in the era depicted?  The clue lies within the book cover blurb.  All those who demand a "treat" will have their names entered into a hat: so please leave your email address!


A 17th century romance involving forbidden passion, lust, betrayal, abduction and all set within Restoration England and the royal court of Charles II.

It's 1669, and Justine Thornton's heart is lost to that of Richard Viscount Axebury. Although wise and malicious counsel from family and friends warn of his reputation as a courtly rake, a chance encounter with James Scott Duke of Monmouth causes her heart to waver and suddenly her life seems infinitely charmed. But family indiscretion at the court of Charles II turns Justine's life from one of carefree bliss to that of surviving rogue intrigues and political ambitions.

As old and new feuds take precedence at court Justine becomes party to information that cannot be allowed to reach the King's ears, for not only does she pose a threat to one of the King's mistresses, the King’s brother too will be called to account for his actions. Upon Justine’s sudden abduction the heroic camaraderie of Viscount Axebury and the Duke of Monmouth pose an even greater threat to her kidnapper, and her father the Earl of Loxton is soon face to face with an old adversary. But who will prove to be Justine’s champion, the viscount or the duke, and can the king’s mistress be toppled from her elevated position?
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