News, views and memoirs
I've written numerous novels since 2001, but this is the first big romance and so very different from everything else I've written. It's a love story, written in the first person and there is no suspense [as in danger and violence]. It is out today in print form and e-book and already I've received this wonderful review from Judith Pittman:
This Affair will grab hold of you from page one and you won't be able to close the book until you've read the very last page. Make sure you start it on
a day when you've time to forget everything else you're supposed to get done.
This is a story inspired by an old house in the town where I was born. A small mining town called Felling, once in County Durham, now in Tyne & Wear, north-east England. My heroine, Rosa, is born into poverty in the early 1900’s where she has to deal with her alcoholic, amoral mother and look after her crippled brother and two younger siblings. She bears no resemblance to the rest of her family and rumours abound regarding her biological father. Was he the son of the rich Italian family who once owned the house that became an obsession with Rosa, together with the young man who now owns it. There is no hope of this handsome young man ever falling in love with the beautiful girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
But Rosa continues to dream. She dreams of Richard through a violent rape by her mother’s lodger. She dreams of Richard while giving her affections to the travelling salesman who eventually becomes the father of her illegitimate child – a child that was taken from her the day it was born. But Rosa refuses to give up and finding the child, she becomes its nanny, only to discover that the adoptive father is, ironically, her daughter’s biological father. Another affair develops, then disaster strikes when the family are lost at sea. Rosa, strong-willed, finds a way to survive, fighting everything that fate throws at her through two world wars finally realising two dreams that have haunted her all her life – to live in Orchard House and win the love of Richard…
So how come this was the novel that almost never was published? I wrote the original version more than twenty years ago. It was accepted with enthusiasm by two important agents. The first asked me to shorten it by 30,000 words, which I did with great difficulty, but his ‘reader’ then said ‘no’. The second agent asked me to lengthen it by 20,000 words and I faithfully did the work, but his publisher said: “If I had seen this book three years ago I would have accepted it, but now it’s out of vogue.” I had been trying to market the novel for twenty years or more without any success.
The I heard of Books We Love, Canadian publishers who only accepted writers who were already published. By then I had 26 titles in print. My husband, who had never lost faith in ‘Where The Wind Blows’, which we fondly referred to as ‘Rosa’, the title we finally agreed on, persuaded me to get the book off the shelf, revise it and send it off. I did and it was the fourth rendering of the novel that sailed off to Canada and was accepted with the editor’s one-word review coming back to me: “Wonderful!”
I am now waiting for another book to appear – my first real romance – ‘THIS AFFAIR’ – due to be published in June 2018 and am at present working on a romantic suspense about a dysfunctional family during the First World War – ‘FORBIDDEN’.
But it will always be ‘Rosa’ that will be closest to my heart…until another dream book is realised – and I have plenty of those to work on.
Despite the rickety back which refuses to heal properly, I have been able to sit at the computer for a longer time and am happy to say that Chapter One of "FORBIDDEN" is well under way. A tiny piece of it needs researching and, believe me, the research is taking longer than the writing. I am not, however, tempted to leave out this scene, because it is important in establishing the personalities of the main characters. Since it's fiction based on fact, if you know what I mean, I could possibly bluff my way through the incident that involves a German plane crashing in Northumberland early on in the First World War. I have found some references, but not enough information for me to feel confident. I could blast away with this information and my own imagination [I've done that before], but there's always the chance that some 'expert' out there will come up with a crushing criticism.Ah well. The story is the main thing, so I'd better get on with that and come back to the research when I'm not so frustrated about German Fokkas nose-diving on the Northumberland moors.
I loved my front garden which, in the 27 years we've lived in France, has gone from a half-acred of grass and weeds to a real little forest of beautiful trees. Yesterday, my husband had a friend cut down most of those trees and I was devastated to see how bare the place looked with a sea of cut off trunks. My husband assures me that they will grow again, but it will never be the same for me without my 'magic forest'. He never told me that this was going to happen or why. There were a couple of trees that needed cutting down, but that was all in my opinion. He says it now allows the undergrowth to grow up because there's more light coming in. What undergrowth? I once looked out onto beauty and now it's all gone and I don't have enough years left in me to see it grow back, apart from a few branches and twigs that will never look like proper trees.
What with unexpected injuries to my back and a very slow edit to my latest novel "THIS AFFAIR", I thought I would never get on with the next book, which was crying out to be written. But, at last, I've made it and the first chapter of "FORBIDDEN" is on its way.
"THIS AFFAIR" is with my publishers and fingers crossed they like it because it is totally different from anything else I''ve ever written. A few years ago, had anybody told me that I would have written a love story in the first person, I would have pooh-poohed the idea. However, this story begged me to change style and content just for this one book. It was inspired by a dream I had about a certain television celebrity that I developed a crush on - and yes, I did meet him in person - gorgeous, a perfect gentleman, much older than I was - and married. The dream remained a dream until I heard he had died and I just knew I had to write the story the dream had inspired. "This Affair" is planned to appear, hopefully, in June of this year.
As for "FORBIDDEN", I'm back to my old romantic suspense, guts and thunder style in the third person, but a little more hard-core writing and content - the sex more explicit, which is again new to my books, some incest and violence - and some forbidden love. It's another family story that takes place during the first world war. The main setting: an isolated farm in Northumberland. Well, enough clues to keep you guessing and to looking out for my latest book, the 28th since 2001.