Death Came to Chatsworth

SAM_0573One of my highlights of 2013 was calling in at Chatsworth House. I had been to a very interesting and fun gathering of romance writers at the RNA conference in a heat wave at Sheffield University.  Although Chatsworth was open they were still filming scenes for the Christmas adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley. This I found fascinating to watch and admired the patience of actors and technicians as they reset and acted each take needed, especially in costume in the unusual heat. The amount of attention to detail for each take was admirable especially as much of it is edited for the final version.

Chatsworth House is a magnificent place with a fascinating history of political cunning, fortunes won and lost and a family who strive to keep the place in all its former glory through the Chatsworth House Trust.

PD James sequel to Pride and Prejudice was a very bold and skilful adaptation of one of the most popular classic romances still appreciated today, by using her vast experience as a crime writer to change it into a darker mystery. Elizabeth and Darcy’s matured love is challenged as their connection to Wickham threatens their good name and fortune.

As a member of both the CWA and the RNA I loved this bold move as love and hate fuel both genres.

The year finished with a chance to watch and enjoy the finished televised drama.

Val

An Interview with Cindy A. Christiansen

Photo - Cindy A. Christiansen (1)

My first guest of 2014 is Cindy A Christiansen. To work as an author takes dedication and determination. Cindy appreciates this more than most as she has had to overcome life-changing illness to achieve her ambitions. She has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to share her experiences with us.

How dramatic was the illness that caused you to change from your original profession to becoming an author?

It was devastating and confusing. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I got sick all the time and was missing way too much work. I kept falling asleep at my desk. I was a programmer/analyst and I soon found that I couldn’t follow the logic of a simple piece of code. I was sick for my bridal shower and during my honeymoon. I finally ended up in the ER with an enlarged liver and spleen, Mononucleosis and Epstein-Barr virus. The doctor said I had to make a life-changing decision about my future. He said I needed total bed rest.

However after a month of following his instructions, I was even worse. Despite seeking the help of thirteen different doctors, no one could tell me what was wrong with me. I finally had to quit my job. The illness continued to progress. Six or seven years later, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Epstein-Barr virus. Since that time, I’ve been diagnosed with over thirty other health-related illnesses that affect me physically and cognitively.

 

What inspired you to turn around the situation into a positive step by entering the world of fiction?

Having been raised on a farm with a strong work ethic, staying in bed was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My self-esteem and self-worth plummeted and depression set in. My husband was working and pursuing hobbies. I felt alone, isolated and down-right bored to death. I needed something else with which to think of in my life.

I got a yellow writing tablet and started writing. Articles and stories soon turned into a book. Sometimes I could barely move my hand across the paper, but I felt such a rush of accomplishment. Then I rescued and adopted a Wire-haired Fox Terrier puppy and my life began to change in the most positive ways.

 

Did your childhood fuel your imagination and love for animals – especially dogs?

Absolutely! After twelve books, I still haven’t run out of life experiences to use in my books. Growing up on a farm but within a city, I’ve experienced the best of both worlds. Living in Utah, I have enjoyed the most beautiful diverse landscape that has made the setting for every book unique without leaving the state.

I haven’t begun to share all the wonderful experiences I have had living on our farm and loving and working with dogs. Just to give you an idea of my imagination as a kid, I’ll share that our old hay wagon made a very nice stagecoach and our two-horse trailer made an excellent jail for all those desperate outlaws of the west. Our mixed-breed dog, Poncho, quickly became Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin on a whim.

When did you first break into publication?

Publication didn’t come quickly. I began taking classes, joining writing groups, and doing tons of rewrites on the same book. Although doctors said I would never have children, I found myself in a high-risk pregnancy. Motherhood took everything I had, and when my son was eighteen months he was diagnosed with learning disabilities and special needs. Another child followed three years later, and he was also special needs. My writing was on hold until one day when I read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand and found out she had one of the illnesses I had. It totally inspired me to seek publication, and I began writing again and submitting to publishers.

I published three books with a publisher but later pulled my rights and published with Sweet Cravings Publishing. I have seven full-length books published with them, not including the two additional books in A Merchant Street Mystery series that will follow. I also have independently published three novellas, one novelette, and a non-fiction book on writing.

When starting a new novel do you begin with the title, plot outline or character profiles? Or just a blank page and the first word?

I start with a plot idea and have a whole batch of worksheets I fill out before actually beginning to write.

Could you describe what experience a reader can expect from one of your books?

I want readers to know exactly what they are going to get from one of my books, especially since I write outside the box. As part of my marketing plan, I developed a list and post it in as many places as I can. Here it is:

  • A clean read with no bedroom scenes or offensive language.
  • A tantalizing, fast-paced plot.
  • A story without a lot of boring description.
  • Down-to-earth heroes and heroines with everyday jobs.
  • A rollercoaster ride of emotions you face right along with the characters.
  • A special dog to steal your heart.
  • A few added facts, a good message, and that important happily-ever-after ending.

German shorthaired pointer posing in the field

What is next for Cindy?

I am right in the middle of my first series. Time Will Tell: A Merchant Street Mystery Book 1 came out in September 2013 and Hunting for Happenstance, the second book in the series, will be released January 6, 2014. It’s been exciting but also a challenging task with my health issues, my two autistic children, and an ill dog.

Hunting for Happenstance is about high-spirited Daniela Estrada. She is tired of waiting for life and love to come to her in her poppa’s butcher shop. She wants to open her own doggie grooming business on Merchant Street and get practical Duston “Buck” Cooper, who owns the Bird Dog Gun Shop, to step out of his shell and ask her out.

Instead, while her Uncle Benito is deer hunting, he ends up missing and the area is swarming with aggressive black bears which holds up the search party. Duston and his dog, Ruger, have helped the police on other cases, and he is training a Karelian Bear dog. Will he help Daniela find her uncle?

Duston adores Daniela but secrets about his brother prevent him from getting close to anyone. He believes that if something is meant to be, it will just happen. Is Daniela’s missing uncle just the shot in the dark the two need to find love and happiness?

I already have plot ideas for other books and plan to continue writing and helping abused and abandoned dogs.

More by Cindy:

Sweet Cravings Publishing – Amazon – Barnes and Noble

Discovering Ellie

Discovering Ellie KECBuy and read now!

US Readers: Kindle / iTunes / Nook / Kobo

UK Readers: Kindle / iTunes / Nook / Kobo

Early nineteenth century North Yorkshire, England.

Ellie has recurring nightmares, always waking to a life devoid of love, but still she dreams. Living in the old hall with her Aunt Gertrude and cousins Cybil and Jane, the scandal of her mother’s elopement with a Frenchman cast a long shadow over her life. Until Mr William Cookson arrives to shine new light onto her past opening the way to an exciting future…

An Interview with Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick - profileWelcome to my blog, Nicola. I must confess that your childhood interests me. I have visited many stately homes and heritage sites over the years and the idea of going to school in the dower house of C18 Harewood House fascinates me. Was this where your love of history and academic research began?

Thank you very much for inviting me to visit today! It’s a pleasure to be here.

I think I was very lucky to go to school in an 18th century house! It was definitely inspirational. There was a very grand staircase, a beautiful “winter garden” where we took our art lessons and lots of old nooks and crannies to explore. The house was surrounded by parkland too so we could run wild in the grounds and we could tell each other scary ghost stories on the dark winter evenings! I think that being in such a historic atmosphere intrigued me and sparked my curiosity; I wanted to learn about the house and its past occupants and from there my love of history developed.

Could you tell us about the work you do at the National Trust’s Ashdown House?

I’d love to! I work as a guide and historian at Ashdown House, a stunning 17th century hunting lodge in Oxfordshire. I show people around the house and give them a guided tour telling them about the history of the house and the Craven family who owned it. It’s a fabulous, romantic-looking place and the history is rich and romantic too! I also do lots of research into the history of the house. I’m learning about it all the time and the more I discover the more fascinating it becomes. We’ve just found some secret tunnels leading off from the wine cellar!

Your first Regency novel was published in 1998. What is it about this era that appeals to you so much?

I’ve always loved the Regency era as a writer and a reader. Like so may readers I started with the books of Georgette Heyer and their wit and the beautiful way that Heyer evokes the era really enthralled me. I love the elegance and the manners and the fascinating contrast between the outward show and the intense emotions that may be hidden beneath the surface. One of the challenges for a writer is to find a way for those emotions to be expressed within the constraints of the behaviour of the time.

How did your breakthrough into publication happen?

I had a long journey to publication. My first book, True Colours, was twelve years in the writing because I was also working full time and could only snatch short periods of time to write. Mills & Boon rejected my first attempt as having too much adventure and not enough romance. I re-wrote it twice more before they finally accepted it.

Who or what was your biggest inspiration in becoming a fiction author?

There have been so many people who have inspired me. The writing of authors such as Mary Stewart and Daphne Du Maurier fired me with the desire to be a writer when I was in my teens. My teacher, Mrs Chary, inspired in me a huge love of history and for that I will always be grateful to her. I always knew that it was historical fiction that I wanted to write. The other big influence was my wonderful grandmother, whose collection of historical novels I devoured and with whom I watched costume dramas on a Sunday night!

One Night with the Laird - US copyYou are an enthusiastic traveller on a world-wide scale, but for your latest series you have headed north of the border and changed period for The Lady and the LairdOne Night with the Laird out this month and the final book Claimed by the Laird, which will be published next year. What triggered this change in location and direction?

I do love travelling and have been lucky enough to visit some amazing places all around the globe. One of my favourite places, though, is Scotland and I have wanted to set a book there for years. It was fascinating to research Scotland in the early 19th century and see the similarities and differences in politics and culture compared with south of the border. It was huge fun to write the Scottish Brides trilogy!

What is next for Nicola?

I have lots of exciting plans for next year.  There are several new Regency ideas I’m going to be working on, plus a book inspired by Ashdown House!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing some of your unique experiences with us.

Thank you!
More by Nicola:

An interview with Trisha Ashley

267398_163150827092202_2914025_nI am excited to welcome the lovely Trisha Ashley, an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous romantic fiction. 

How much have your entertaining novels been influenced by your own studies, hobbies and work experience?

There are elements of my interests and experiences woven in all of them, of course, but like most novelists I tend to use turning points and situations in my own life as jumping off points to explore new directions my characters can take – because after all, they’re not me and they would do things very differently.  They constantly surprise me.

      There is, of course, rather a lot about food in my books and all the research has taken its toll on my figure – but then, you have to suffer for your art.   I also love animals and gardens – especially roses – and often, too, my novels reveal the enduring power of good friendships and the supporting love of families, however dysfunctional they may at first appear.

      I’ve had a series of part time jobs over the years to support my writing and I think probably the seasonal work for the National Trust was the most useful.  For a few years I spent six days a week either in the draughty front hall of a large gloomy mansion, or in a little wooden hut at the entrance to the lovely Bodnant Garden in North Wales.  Now, those gardens were really inspiring and I was lucky enough to be there when a new young (and handsome) head gardener, Troy Scott Smith, had just taken over and was slowly revitalising it.  I think you can date my passions for roses, mazes and knot gardens to this time…

      But all of life’s experiences, good or bad, can be composted down and used to grow something fresh and new: nothing need be wasted.

When did the Muse enter your life? I hope he gets on with Dog.

I don’t think I can do better than to quote the update I put at the top of my quarterly newsletters for new subscribers:

      The plot so far: Except when she is occasionally let out to enjoy a couple of days of frenetic partying in London, or to give a talk, Trisha lives in beautiful North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie foisted onto her by her student son and an equally neurotic but also vain, bad-tempered and chancy Muse.  Muse, whose first name is Lucifer, slipped into her head and took up residence while she was reading Paradise Lost at school and refuses to leave.  He is male, steely-blue, wears a lot of leather, is winged, has talons (so that’s where her blue nail varnish went, then) and is devilishly handsome, if you like that kind of thing.  He only eats words, but gets through a lot of Leather Food and Trisha is starting to suspect that he does more with it than just rub it into his wings…

     Lately, Muse has been writing a hiss-and-tell account of his life with Trisha, called The Muse Report, though due to the fact that he eats his words almost as fast as he writes them, it could be quite some time before this appears in print.

      Muse takes little notice of Dog, except to eye the name tag on his collar when hungry…

Meeting your agent, Judith Murdoch, was a major turning point in your career.  What key advice would you offer to, as yet, unpublished authors?

There’s too much temptation now to rush out your first novel yourself as an e-book, so if you take that route I’d advise you to have your novel independently edited, and consider the constructive criticism you receive very carefully.  You want your novel to be perfect and whole, not some poor, half-formed creature, and with a first novel you aren’t going to spot what’s wrong with it yourself.

      If you’re lucky enough to be taken on by an agent or publisher, of course, they will tell you what’s wrong with it and being able to accept and work with constructive criticism is something you need to embrace if you’re taking writing seriously.

Are you a very planned and disciplined writer, plotting an outline in advance or do you start with a scene, character or situation and go from there?

I am character driven and, since I write in first person, must get to understand my heroine and her background first. Then I put her into a situation and see where she goes, and the book unrolls before me as I write like a magic carpet.  I don’t know where we’re going until we get there.

You have achieved success as a writer despite having macular degeneration. For those unfamiliar with the condition, would you  please share with us how you have worked around this?

 I have had myopic macular degeneration and very poor eyesight (minus 20) for many years, but the MD has been getting increasingly worse recently.  Macular degeneration means that blind patches increasingly appear on your retina and although I automatically focus around them, when tired that gets harder to do and my vision generally blurs.

      I have little night sight either, so tend to fall off kerbs etc and have been known to try and flag down any dark and vaguely taxi-shaped vehicle in London at night…

      There’s currently no treatment for my kind of MD and I’m supposed to take regular breaks from the computer screen…

      I am exploring new ways of writing at the moment in case I ever get to the point where I can’t see the screen at all, but this isn’t easy since I’ve been touch typing my books since I was fifteen and made the transition to word processors and then computers as soon as they appeared.

      At the moment, I write on screen in large print, but still have lots of room to increase the font size if necessary, so it’s okay.  I print everything out to work on.  But then, I’ve always needed to see my words on paper before they become real.

Please tell us about your new novel?

Wish Upon a Star jacketWish Upon a Star will be released on November 7th and has a Sticklepond setting, the village in West Lancashire where some of my other books are set.  It’s very much about following your star, wherever it may lead you and however hard the going gets.

    Single mum Cally’s life revolves around her little girl, Stella, who has serious health problems and when her condition suddenly worsens, they move in with her mother in the remote village of Sticklepond, while she tries to raise enough money to take Stella to America for a potentially life-saving operation.

      Cally only realises quite how tough it’s been shouldering everything alone when all the villagers – and especially laid-back and charming baker Jago – rally round to help.  All Cally wants for Christmas is a miracle to save Stella and with Jago’s help she may yet discover that all the best presents aren’t always found under the Christmas tree…

What is next for Trisha Ashley?

      I’m very happy to say that next year Avon will be doing a new edition of one of my long out of print novels, Every Woman for Herself.  I know you shouldn’t have favourites among your children, but I have to admit that this book is the closest to my heart.  It’s set in Yorkshire, where the Rhymer family, Emily, Charlotte, Anne and Branwell (the result of a failed attempt by their father to recreate the Bronte family situation) slowly return home, one by one to the haven of Upvale – only to find that things are about to change, forever.

      Every Woman for Herself was voted one of the three best romantic novels of the last fifty years in a reader poll, which was a truly wonderful moment, and I’m constantly being asked by readers where they can buy a copy, so I’m delighted it will soon be out again in paperback and e-book formats.  I’m adding a couple of new recipes to the end, too and it will also, of course, have a lovely new cover.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Valerie, and I wish everyone lots of very happy reading!

Good husband material high resMore by Trisha:

Another warm, wise and witty offering from Sunday Times bestseller Trisha Ashley.

James is everything Tish has ever wanted in a husband – she’s married a man who even her mother approves of. He’s handsome, dependable, and will make an excellent father – unlike Tish’s first love, the disreputable Fergal. Her teenage sweetheart abandoned her for a music career and now lives a typical celebrity lifestyle. Fergal broke her heart – James helped mend it.

Now, they’ve bought a cottage in the country. The next step – kids and a lifetime of domestic bliss. Well, that’s the plan. And even if James has a slight tendency to view the village pub as a second home, their relationship is still in pretty good shape after seven years of marriage. So why is marriage to Mr Right making her long for Mr Wrong?

An interview with Henriette Gyland

Author photo - HNS Conference 2012, v2 - cropped (1)I have the pleasure of welcoming novelist Henriette Gyland as my guest of the month. Her second novel, The Elephant Girl is due to be published on the 7th July 2013. 

I read in a recent interview that you have an ‘ideas box’. How and when did this begin?

I’ve had this box for years. I used to toss anything in there – newspaper clippings, notes from talks, overheard conversations etc. Even conversations I’d “heard” in my own head. I then discovered that I had real problems deciphering my own reasons for keeping a particular item and ended up throwing stuff away. Now I carefully date the note or clipping, and scribble my reasons in the margin, whether it’s a short story idea or an idea for a longer piece. I also bundle notes together if they relate to the same idea or theme. So there’s a certain method now to what used to be just madness!

How would you describe your work?

Some genres are easier to pin down than others, but mine is tricky because it straddles two of them – crime and romance. Romantic suspense or romance mystery explains it quite well, but I also add a hefty dose of difficult family or personal issues, social topics, political comment. The Elephant Girl is a very loose reworking of Cinderella, which is a fairy tale with a LOT of family stuff going on in it!

What has been your proudest or most memorable moment of your career to date?

There have been a few – being awarded the Katie Fforde Bursary, winning the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance – but I think the absolute proudest moment to date was when my first novel Up Close was heralded as “Nora Roberts territory” by Sarah Broadhurst in The Bookseller. I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts, so this was really the best kind of compliment.

I love the cover design of The Elephant Girl. What inspired the idea for this intriguing novel? Did it start by rummaging through your ideas box?

9781781890202

The idea is based on a real-life horrific murder, witnessed by the victim’s young child, and also the old maxim that elephants never forget anything, hence the title. The pendant on the cover is one the main character, Helen, inherits from her dead mother. This story didn’t come from the Ideas Box because I wrote it very shortly after the real crime had happened, and although in some ways I feel a bit strange about creating a story out of another person’s tragedy, I think as writers we just can’t help ourselves sometimes.

Is there one piece of advice that you were given as a new writer which you consider helped you to make the breakthrough as a writer?

When I met the lovely Katie Fforde, about ten years ago, she told me to “keep the faith”. And I she was right. Perseverance and the belief that one day you will get published is the only way to survive the numerous rejections leading up to it.

What do you choose to read to relax?

I’ve just finished Scarlet, the second in a series by Marissa Meyer and now have to wait until 2014 for the next one (sigh). I’m also hoping that C J Sansom will write another Tudor mystery novel in his Shardlake series, but in the meantime I’ve started reading Blackout by my favourite writer, the American sci-fi author Connie Willis. As always, I find every sentence of hers a genuine delight.

What is next for Henriette?

THD_front4 - shaded eyesMy next novel is a complete departure from anything I’ve written so far. It’s a swash-buckling historical tale set in the Georgian period, with highwaymen, a spirited heroine, and a mystery at its core. Well, mystery is my trademark, isn’t it?

My thanks for being my guest. I wish you every further success with your fascinating novels.

More by Henriette:

An interview with Gwen Kirkwood

Welcome, Gwen!

Your warm-hearted family sagas are based in rural Scotland. When and where did your love affair with Scotland’s beautiful country and history begin?

I have three Scottish grandparents so I had a yearning to see Scotland for myself. I came to Dumfriesshire to work as a milk officer, inspecting dairy farms. The work was not as I had expected but the people were very friendly and I loved the warmth of the red sandstone buildings and the beautiful landscapes with fresh green hills and glens and lots of trees. I have never wanted to leave, especially not after I met and married my husband, a Scottish dairy farmer.

Are any of your wonderful characters based on real people or are they all purely of your own creation?

My characters are all fictional but I think writers must be influenced by people they have met, even if it is only subconsciously. I had a wonderful mother-in-law so a few of my older characters may have some of her kindness and wisdom. We can read of bad characters every day in the newspapers. I have three adult children who keep me up to date with the opinions of their generation. My grandchildren are of varying ages and I often include children. Writers keep on learning and developing and so do the characters but I have never written about a real person.

You took a six year career break. When you returned to your writing did you feel as if your work had changed at all?

I don’t think my writing changed. I still wrote another series of four in a family saga following the generations. My books are shorter, 100,000 words or less now, but that is due to the policy of different publishers.

To date, what has been the most memorable or significant event within your writing career?

I had written four short romances but it was a tremendous boost to my confidence when an agent sold my first long saga to Headline in a very short time. A good editor can have a big influence and Jane Morpeth helped me a lot.

Secondly, I rarely enter competitions but after a long gap from writing it was a lovely surprise to win the Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2000 when it was resurrected by the RNA for the millennium. It was judged by Richard Lee of the Historical Novel Society.

What top tip would you give new writers wanting to become published writers in today’s market place?

Persevere. Try to write a little every day, even if it is only a couple of sentences. Keep a notepad handy. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your characters, or improve your plot, while you are travelling, ironing, peeling the vegetables. Thinking time is important too. Listen to the advice of agents and editors, not friends. If you do self-publish pay a reputable copy-editor to check your work first.

You have seen many changes within the publishing industry. What do you think of the new emphasis on social networking and Internet presence?

Honestly? I hate it – well some of the time! I want to be left in peace to write, BUT writing used to be an isolated occupation so I am pleased we now have opportunities for keeping in touch with other writers, getting and giving help, as well as marketing. Networking has become essential so I do my best, but it can take up a lot of time.

Your new book Darkest Before the Dawn has a very strong cover. Can you tell us something about this novel and what inspired you to write it?

This is the fifth in a series of 5 novels beginning with Dreams of Home at the end of World War II. Darkest Before the Dawn brings the series up to present day with the third generation of the Caraford family. Two of the characters are quite young with problems belonging to their generation so it could almost be a young adult novel, although I did not set out to make it that way. However, it also brings farming up to date with robots for milking cows, arguments between the generations about changes, as well as an unexpected and rather satisfying love affair for two of the older characters.

Darkest Before the Dawn

Joe Lennox becomes bitter and deranged and blames Billy Caraford when his son is killed in a car accident, but Billy has lost his best friend and is badly injured himself. Despite the misgivings of his parents he is still determined to be a farmer. He summons his courage to go to university but privately he regards himself as a cripple now. He is convinced no woman could love him or want to be his wife.

Kimberley is orphaned when her father dies. She moves to Scotland with her aunt but she is nervous about changing schools until Billy helps her find new friends. Both Kim and her aunt become involved in the affairs of the Caraford family and as Kim grows into a lovely young woman she finds the strength of character to confront problems and fight for the life and the love she craves.

What is next for Gwen Kirkwood?

I am going back to the 1800’s and this will be a single novel rather than a series. It has less emphasis on farming but is still set in Scotland. No title yet.

My thanks for taking the time to answer the questions in such an honest and open way. I shall look forward to reading Darkest Before the Dawn when it is available later this month!

More by Gwen:

An interview with Linda Mitchelmore

LINDA WRITING ROOMI am delighted to welcome prolific short story writer and successful Choc Lit author, Linda Mitchelmore.

When did you first realise that you wanted to be an author?  
I did things rather back to front. I didn’t consciously start out to be a writer. One Christmas – back in the day – there was a short story writing competition in Woman’s Own. On Christmas Day evening, my family were all glued to the TV – something I don’t get a huge lot of pleasure from as I am deaf. So I thought I’d have a go at the short story competition for something to do. To my utter amazement my short story was short-listed  and published. And I was paid for it. The old cash registers behind my eyes started to ring and I thought, hey, I could make money from all the ‘stuff’ that goes around in my mind…

Your stories have sold internationally. How many have you had published to date? 
I’ve lost count of the exact number of short stories I’ve had published but it is definitely 300+ now. I’ve also had a story broadcast on radio – the irony of that not lost on me.

Writing short stories and longer fiction involve two very different disciplines. What attracted you to short fiction initially, and how much of a challenge was it making the switch to longer fiction? 
Short fiction is just that – short. 750 word stories are quite popular with some magazine editors. I tend to write 1000 word or 2000 word stories as they’re the lengths that tend to fit into most magazine slots. When working on a short story I don’t have to think too much about viewpoints – I only ever write one character’s viewpoint into a short story. I don’t have to have sub-plots, and foreshadowing is something that – depending on the story – doesn’t raise its head much. So they are much quicker to write. When I first started writing I had two teenage children at home, a husband (still got him!) and a part-time job as well as ageing parents and parents-in-law to be doing things for. Short story writing was easier to fit in around all that. Writing longer fiction – 80,000 words or so – seemed a natural progression for me once I had more time to write it. The same premise of ‘person, problem and plot’, with a ‘beginning, middle and an end’, is the same for short stories and novels. The only difference is the time it takes to tell the story.

Your novel, the first of a trilogy, ‘To Turn Full Circle’ is set in your beautiful home county of Devon. Please tell us something about the inspiration behind it? 
The seeds of To Turn Full Circle were sown when I was helping my husband research some family history. We discovered that his great uncle, George, had fished out of Brixham. George had had two trawlers. One of them was lost to the sea in a storm (although with no loss of life) and George had a bad accident on board the other one which meant he had to come off the sea and lost his livelihood. He had to move his wife and daughter back in with his mother. I had a ‘What If’ moment! What if it wasn’t a man who had lost his home because of circumstances, but a young girl? And ‘What If’ the sea still controlled her struggle to survive? And so, To Turn Full Circle was born.
When you begin a new project does your initial idea start with a character, situation, place or theme or does it vary? 
For me a story always starts with an emotion or a feeling – something deep inside my main character. In To Turn Full Circle’s story it was Emma’s determination to survive which drives the story.

You have two more novels to write to complete this trilogy. What do you see as the next challenge for Linda Mitchelmore? 
Writing the next two books is keeping me busy at the moment. I do, however, have a contemporary novel under consideration – the heroine is older than Emma. The feeling driving this story – tentatively called Red is for Rubies – is regret. Most of us have them and in Red is for Rubies, my hero and heroine have lived – apart – with their own regrets for a long time. Will they get a chance to redeem themselves?

Also, I have now signed a contract with Choc Lit for a novella – Hope For Hannah. It will be an e-book initially and out in the close future.

My thanks for a very insightful interview, Linda.

More by Linda:

CHOC LIT LOVE MATCH Layout 1

The World of Valerie Holmes

“…dread of wandering mariner, where often, alas, the proud vessel hath floundered against thy iron ribs, or perished on they cruel rocks!” –W Braithwaite in his “Rural Reminiscences”.

Love is a timeless essential of life. Throughout history, love in all its forms is a constant: be it passionate, caring, needy, manipulative, possessive or one that is strong enough to cross barriers of culture or faith. When two souls meet in a situation which takes them out of their normal social strata or into a shared danger, a relationship forms as the adventure unfolds.

The historical romances are based in the early nineteenth century, set against dramatic social change at a time of war with France. Smuggling, espionage, press-gangs all add to the drama that the hero and heroine can face.

Created to be entertaining reads that pass away a few hours lost to the thrill of an adventure, the core of my work is based around the same area of North Yorkshire. My world features the rugged headland of Stangcliff, the old inn sheltered in the bay of Ebton below and Gorebeck, the fictitious market town on the edge of the moors, marking a major crossroads for travellers to Newcastle, Harrogate, Whitby, and York.