News, views and memoirs

21. sept., 2018

WRITING HISTORIC ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

I never thought I would ever do this. History was not my best subject at school. I had no interest in it at all. However, I was very interested in writing sagas set in the 19th and 20th centuries and this took me into researching the times and places where my characters lived. At first, it was hard – still is at times. I inevitably end up with a fat file of research notes bigger than the finished novel.

Fascination, however, soon took over. I am now hooked on historic research and often get ideas and inspiration from real life events that happened in the past.

Take Voices of the Morning, set in the thirties in north-east England [my home counties] at the time of the Jarrow Crusades and the miners’ strikes. Coming from a long line of mining folk there was an added incentive to write about my kind of people, but with a story of high-level suspense woven in and around actual historic fact.

For me, the story is the most important thing, with characters that draw the reader in, make them turn the pages, holding their breath and getting involved with protagonists that aren’t particularly glamorous – just ordinary souls that get caught up in dangerous, frightening situations, such as murder and rape and anything else I can dredge up from my imagination – sometimes autobiographic details that give the story a touch of reality.

The ‘blurb’ is always the most difficult thing to write, because how can you squeeze into a few words the true essence of the whole novel. But here it is for Voices of the Morning:

The last thing Patrick Flynn wants is another mouth to feed, so he does his best to ensure that Billy does not survive. But survive he does, with the help of a warm-hearted prostitute and Laura Caldwell, the daughter of a wealthy local family. Patrick deserts his family and Billy struggles to eke out a meagre living, all the while looking after his alcoholic mother. As he matures, so does his obsession with Laura. One day, he dreams, he will win her heart, but Laura has other ideas, and it is with Bridget, the prostitute’s daughter that Billy joins the Jarrow crusaders marching to London to demonstrate against unemployment. Neither of them, however, is prepared for the reappearance of the evil Patrick Flynn…

This is not the only 5-star review Voices of the Morning received, but what author could ask for better?

***** Loved it! WOW! Talk about being on the edge of your seat. This book was amazing. I had no idea what was coming next. [by BOOKLOVER64]

 

And getting a write-up in the local press was a great bonus too. 

 

In the book, the hero, because of his short stature, got the nick-name of Billy Big Boots because the hand-me-down boots from his brothers were far too big for him. One lady, who had bought the book as a birthday present for her husband, was a teddy-bear maker and she made a teddy-bear and sent it to me. He bears a medallion around his neck with his name on it.  How nice is that! I love my furry Billy Big Boots and no child will ever get it – not because I’m mean, but because this lady uses lead shot to fill the bears with [husband was a game-keeper and the lead shot was spare!]

9. juil., 2018

A PRINCELY HAND

Storylines aren’t always totally made up from imaginary situations. A lot of my books contain cameos from my own life, embroidered into the pattern of the story – factionalised. Here are two cameos that I would love to include in a book someday, if only I could think of a storyline to go with them.

 Meeting VIPs -  from famous footballers to royalty - was a part of my life that has left me with many a memory that is still great to share with guests at the dinner table. Back in the UK my husband was the director of Sir Peter Scott’s Wildfowl and Wetlands Park at Washington [north-east England, rather than the USA]. Sir Peter was the son of the famous Scott of the Antarctic. HRH Prince Charles is the President of the charity and I had the pleasure of meeting him twice. On both occasions, he came to my rescue.

 One incident was when Prince Charles came to open a new wing at the Washington centre. It was a freezing January morning and a group of us who were chosen to be introduced to the prince were lined up by the official photographer. I was to be the first to be introduced [don’t ask why, but I was rather pleased about that]. We stood there waiting for about an hour, frozen stiff, with the photographer constantly rearranging the group – mostly my position. It was a case of: “Mrs. Gadsby could you move back just a little please?” After the third time of asking, I suddenly realised that I was balanced at the very top of a flight of stairs, the heels of my shoes nearly hanging over. I felt very unsteady – more so when Prince Charles arrived and signed the visitor’s book right next to me, saying: “I can’t join up my letters this morning.” Then I was introduced and had to curtsy as we shook hands. I teetered on that top step, bending my knee and having visions of falling backwards with HRH on top of me. But he tightened his grip and I was saved the embarrassment of appearing on the front pages of Britain’s newspapers. He then made an apology to the group for having a bad cold, which he claimed he had caught from his son. William was then only a year old.

 Another saving experience took place when we attended the AGM at Slimbridge, the headquarters of the Trust. Lady Philippa Scott asked us if we would like to be introduced to Prince Charles, and of course we would.  We were the last in line and Lady Scott apologised profusely, saying that there wasn’t time for us to meet the prince after all as lunch was about to be served.  We were left standing only a few yards behind Prince Charles, who was conversing with Sir Somebody on one side of him and Lord somebody else on the other. They ended their conversation and the two men departed in different directions, leaving Prince Charles standing alone, everyone having disappeared into the dining hall. HRH spun around and saw us standing there, strode up to us, hand outstretched.  Brian introduced himself as the Director of the Washington branch of the Trust, then turned to me – we weren’t married at the time – and simply said: “And this is June.” The Prince shook my hand with a broad smile and said: “Hello, June.” He and Brian exchanged a few words, then HRH looked pointedly at me and asked what I thought was needed to improve the north-east of England. Well, that was unexpected, but I managed to pull out, hopefully, the right answer: “We need more culture,” I told him. “More art and music.” He just nodded and smiled and I hoped that he agreed and might do something about it.

 The dinner bell sounded again and Brian reminded the prince that lunch was being served. We walked hesitantly with him, completely unaware of the required etiquette. And he knew it, for he placed a hand on my back, leaned down to me and whispered: “You go first and I’ll follow.” All I could say was a simple “Thank you” and led the way into the dining hall, with Brian bringing up the royal rear. I was immediately pounced on by all the women there who were desperate to know what we had been talking about.  I smiled and shook my head, leaving them to wonder.

 Today, the north-east of England [Newcastle and Gateshead in particular] has become a real cultural region. It’s taken over thirty years, but I like to kid myself that my few words to Prince Charles on that memorable occasion had helped in some small way.

 

4. juil., 2018

A PRINCELY HAND

Storylines aren’t always totally made up from imaginary situations. A lot of my books contain cameos from my own life, embroidered into the pattern of the story – factionalised. Here are two cameos that I would love to include in a book someday, if only I could think of a storyline to go with them.

Meeting VIPs -  from famous footballers to royalty - was a part of my life that has left me with many a memory that is still great to share with guests at the dinner table. Back in the UK my husband was the director of Sir Peter Scott’s Wildfowl and Wetlands Park at Washington [north-east England, rather than the USA]. Sir Peter was the son of the famous Scott of the Antarctic. HRH Prince Charles is the President of the charity and I had the pleasure of meeting him twice. On both occasions, he came to my rescue

One incident was when Prince Charles came to open a new wing at the Washington centre. It was a freezing January morning and a group of us who were chosen to be introduced to the prince were lined up by the official photographer. I was to be the first to be introduced [don’t ask why, but I was rather pleased about that]. We stood there waiting for about an hour, frozen stiff, with the photographer constantly rearranging the group – mostly my position. It was a case of: “Mrs. Gadsby could you move back just a little please?” After the third time of asking, I suddenly realised that I was balanced at the very top of a flight of stairs, the heels of my shoes nearly hanging over. I felt very unsteady – more so when Prince Charles arrived and signed the visitor’s book right next to me, saying: “I can’t join up my letters this morning.” Then I was introduced and had to curtsy as we shook hands. I teetered on that top step, bending my knee and having visions of falling backwards with HRH on top of me. But he tightened his grip and I was saved the embarrassment of appearing on the front pages of Britain’s newspapers. He then made an apology to the group for having a bad cold, which he claimed he had caught from his son. William was then only a year old.

  

Another saving experience took place when we attended the AGM at Slimbridge, the headquarters of the Trust. Lady Philippa Scott asked us if we would like to be introduced to Prince Charles, and of course we would.  We were the last in line and Lady Scott apologised profusely, saying that there wasn’t time for us to meet the prince after all as lunch was about to be served.  We were left standing only a few yards behind Prince Charles, who was conversing with Sir Somebody on one side of him and Lord somebody else on the other. They ended their conversation and the two men departed in different directions, leaving Prince Charles standing alone, everyone having disappeared into the dining hall. HRH spun around and saw us standing there, strode up to us, hand outstretched.  Brian introduced himself as the Director of the Washington branch of the Trust, then turned to me – we weren’t married at the time – and simply said: “And this is June.” The Prince shook my hand with a broad smile and said: “Hello, June.” He and Brian exchanged a few words, then HRH looked pointedly at me and asked what I thought was needed to improve the north-east of England. Well, that was unexpected, but I managed to pull out, hopefully, the right answer: “We need more culture,” I told him. “More art and music.” He just nodded and smiled and I hoped that he agreed and might do something about it.

 

 

The dinner bell sounded again and Brian reminded the prince that lunch was being served. We walked hesitantly with him, completely unaware of the required etiquette. And he knew it, for he placed a hand on my back, leaned down to me and whispered: “You go first and I’ll follow.” All I could say was a simple “Thank you” and led the way into the dining hall, with Brian bringing up the royal rear. I was immediately pounced on by all the women there who were desperate to know what we had been talking about.  I smiled and shook my head, leaving them to wonder.

 

Today, the north-east of England [Newcastle and Gateshead in particular] has become a real cultural region. It’s taken over thirty years, but I like to kid myself that my few words to Prince Charles on that memorable occasion had helped in some small way.

8. juin, 2018

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. 
#Amazon

 

14. mai, 2018

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.