AUTOBIOGRAPHIC INSERTS

8. juin, 2019

it’s not easy writing true stories – even bits of the truth inserted into the novel you’re working on – as I have found. But sometimes you can’t help it. It can be helpful, sad, happy, cathartic.

When I first started out being published [I had been writing for many years before then] I was persuaded to write romantic ‘shorts’. After a lot of digging in my heels, insisting that I was not a romance writer and preferred suspense, I gave in. Getting inspiration, for me, was the hardest thing to do – no problem with the suspense. Now, of course, I marry the two and am finally succeeding [hopefully] towards writing the out and out suspense. When my late agent told me that I had turned the saga he wanted into a wartime thriller you can guess how thrilled I was. That book, of course, was The Glory Girls [1] which had one of my three great-aunts ‘sort of’ in it.

Long before The Glory Girls, I ploughed on gainfully with my novellas, but, to the surprise of my writer friends who, at that time, only wrote romance, these shorts were accepted and well received. One of my favourites – well, even writers have their own favourites which they have written – was Valley of Brave Hearts [2]. This was inspired by my first dog, Bertie [3] a most beautiful cross beagle and collie who came from an animal shelter at the age of 3-4 months.

Bertie was five when we came out to France to live and the local farmers used to stop me on our promenade around the field and admire him. I was always relieved that they went away happy with all fingers intact. Bertie was only friendly once people were inside our house, as long as our guests was ‘doggy’ people.  He was my protector. Despite his ‘issues’ I loved him to bits.

Three weeks after our arrival in France my stepdaughter got married. I was supposed to go and put him into a shelter recommended by the only person we knew here in France at that time. I knew the minute I saw the place and the people running it that there was a chance I would never see Bertie again. I cried all the way home and my husband decided that the best answer was for me not to go to the wedding and stay here with Bertie, which I did – and thank heavens.

He came out of the shelter less than 24 hours later, soaked in stale urine and with a huge haematoma on one of his back feet. I told the vet that it was a tumour, but he refused to believe it and treated it as a cyst. There were numerable operations – I had to spend a whole month dressing the wound on my own with Bertie’s head clamped between my bare feet – I thank goodness that I still have all my fingers. The vet was amazed at how well I had done. Unfortunately, the ‘cycst’ soon turned into cancer and he had to have a total amputation. But he could still chase next door’s cat over a high wall and lived until he was 15. I still cry when I see him on that last day, having suffered a stroke overnight, dragging himself across the kitchen floor, big smile on his face and making sounds like: ‘Oh, Mum’, look what’s happened now!’

So, he was a perfect secondary character for Valley of Brave Hearts. I cried all the time I was writing it.

 

9. nov., 2018



    When I decided to try my hand at a story much further back in time than I had previously done, i.e. the 1850’s, it was the biggest writing challenge I’d had to date. I had never researched the 1800’s, knew nothing about the history thereof. As usual, I planned to take my characters across the world to Africa. I had already visited South Africa and years later I spent some time in Kenya with my second husband, Brian, naturalist and wildlife photographer.
    The inspiration for the book, which I called THE JEALOUS LAND was all there, handed to me on a plate – only I had to take it back to the days when the young Queen Victoria was on the throne, the days of The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London, early train travel, great white hunters and early photography to be carried out by the hero Daniel, adventurer and wildlife photographer.
As I have said, many times, the research was enormous and filled more pages than the book itself. It also took longer to do than the actual writing, but it gave me a taste for writing the historic novel more than ever before. It was new and exciting for me as a writer and animal lover. And being married to a serious photographer was also a great help. I had seen the places I was writing about; experienced getting up close to the beauty and the danger of the wildlife that hadn’t changed.
 
5* Review by Rosemary Morris:
  
    I congratulate Gadsby on her historical research. The description of Sophie and Thomas Brixby’s journey by train from Newcastle to London is excellent. So is the description of Daniel’s camera “the latest daguerreotype camera from France, together with the necessary glass plates and chemicals required for his trip.” Gadsby handles a large cast of characters in this unusual novel filled with searing emotion and prejudice. The more I read the more I wanted to find out what happened in the end, and despite tragedies before I reached it, I was satisfied.
 
BLURB:
     Following the death of her parents, Sophie is sent to live with relatives in London, where she is treated like a servant. Later, her chance to escape an imposed life of hardship comes in the form of Daniel Clayton – a formidable explorer and photographer. Sophie agrees to his proposal of a loveless marriage, but this union plunges her into the midst of a family feud. She faces unforeseen treachery, a terrible secret in her husband’s past and her greatest dilemma yet.
There’s plenty of emotion, mystery, murder, danger and romance – and a baby elephant called Billy that will steal your heart.
 
To read an extract from THE JEALOUS LAND please go to my EXTRACTS page to get a taste of the story.
 
 
 
2. oct., 2018

I'm not one for making public appearances or getting involved in public speaking, finding it all a bit stressful. However, in the last ten days I've given a 20 minute talk on my writing to an audience of English readers and attended a French book festival, sporting most of my recently published books - on of which [Heritage de la Guerre] - is in French. The first was quite enjoyable. The second made me feel like a fish out of water and nerves made me forget my camera. My photographer husband was so anxious to get back to sport on the telly that he forgot his camera too. I'm hoping that my fellow-writer friend Ruth Hartley will send me some photos, so watch this space. I've put it all down to experience and lesson well-learned.

2. oct., 2018

Seeing my first translation into French [A TOUCH OF MAGIC] is quite exciting - a good read for Christmas in either language.