Welcoming Rachel Brimble with A Very Modern Marriage

Today author Rachel Brimble is popping in to tell us about her latest Victorian saga.

Welcome once again to Write Minds, Rachel. First of all, tell us what inspired you to write A Very Modern Marriage?

This book is the final instalment in the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy so it was inspiration for the whole series rather than this particular book. I read The Five by Hallie Rubenhold which explores the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims and (although it might sound gruesome reading) it evoked such deep empathy in me. I was completely immersed in how very different these women’s lives were and the circumstances that led to each of them ending up in Whitechapel.

I just had to write a series about three prostitutes in Victorian Bath who come together in the name of survival and, of course, give them the happy ever after they deserve!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

As a writer of historical fiction, research is obviously hugely important. So much so, that it is often difficult to know when to stop researching and start writing! For the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, my research mainly focused around the lives of Victorian prostitutes as well as the taverns, gentlemen’s clubs and shops of Victorian London and Bath.

I tend to concentrate on the relationships in my books more than anything else so I would say that the research is used to add colour, flavour and realism to the setting and the adventures my characters become involved in. I tend to read a LOT of fiction and non-fiction of the period as well as visiting our local history centre for pictures and letters etc from the time.

As for the time spent…I’d say probably around a month or so.

Is this book a one-off, or is it part of a series?

A Very Modern Marriage is the final book in the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and tells Octavia’s story. The series revolves around three women, Louisa, Nancy (whose stories are told in A Widow’s Vow & Trouble For The Leading Lady) and Octavia who live and work together in a brothel in the Victorian city of Bath.

The books are a combination of drama, intrigue and romance with a whole cast of characters, both main and secondary, who interact and add to the fun of what is my favourite series to date!

What do you find the most difficult part of writing process?

Definitely plotting! I am a plotter at heart and could never write a book by ‘the seat of my pants’, BUT that does not mean it makes my writing process any easier. I agonise over characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts, worry that my initial idea won’t stretch to 90,000 words…it never ends!

I am currently writing my 30th novel, by the way…

That’s incredible, Rachel! Finally if you could tell your younger self anything what would it be?

Relax! I still tell myself that now and I’m 47, haha! I am slowly learning to not overthink things or anticipate what ‘might’ happen. I recently signed up for a self-awareness course and it has helped so much with my anxiety and tendency to jump ahead rather than living in the moment.

I already feel happier, more relaxed and enjoying each day for what it is 😊

That’s great to hear, Rachel. Thank you for taking the time to come and visit us once again, and the best of luck with A Very Modern Marriage.

A Very Modern Marriage

He needs a wife…
Manchester industrialist William Rose was a poor lad from the slums who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but in order to achieve his greatest ambitions he must become the epitome of Victorian respectability: a family man.

She has a plan…
But the only woman who’s caught his eye is sophisticated beauty Octavia Marshall, one of the notorious ladies of Carson Street. Though she was once born to great wealth and privilege, she’s hardly respectable, but she’s determined to invest her hard-earned fortune in Mr Rose’s mills and forge a new life as an entirely proper businesswoman.

They strike a deal that promises them both what they desire the most, but William’s a fool if he thinks Octavia will be a conventional married woman, and she’s very much mistaken if she thinks the lives they once led won’t follow them wherever they go.

In the third instalment of Rachel Brimble’s exciting Victorian saga series, The Ladies of Carson Street will open the doors on a thoroughly modern marriage – and William is about to get a lot more than he bargained for…

BUY HERE

About Rachel

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). In January 2022, she signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for the first book in a brand new series set in past British Royal courts.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

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Publication of Hope in the Valleys and News of a Competition

With the publication of Hope in the Valleys today, Francesca is celebrating with a competition in which you can win copies of the various Valleys books and other goodies.

What an exciting day, with Elizabeth’s (and Gwen’s) stories the next to be published in the third episode of the Wartime in the Valleys series.

To celebrate, there’s a chance to win signed books, ebooks and other goodies in a simple to enter competition. The first prize is signed paperbacks of all three books, plus a basket of goodies. Second prize is all three ebooks, with a box of goodies. Third prize is an ebook of Hope in the Valleys, plus a bag of goodies. The items selected are either retro or connected in some way to World War 1.

There are three great prizes to win.

Did you know that ginger nut biscuits, Garibaldi, custard creams, Nice, Bourbons and shortbread were all around a hundred a years ago? So were wine gums, aniseed balls, jelly babies, humbugs, pear drops and chocolate limes, a mixed bag of which has been included in each prize.

And a prize to do with novels set in Wales wouldn’t be complete without a pack of Welsh cakes, would it?

To enter the competition, head over to my Facebook page and either like or follow it. Then go to the post headed *Competition Time* and answer the simple question there in the comments.

Easy! Good luck / Pob lwc!

ENTER THE COMPETITION HERE: https://www.facebook.com/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor

Will Elizabeth choose love over duty?

It’s August 1917 and WW1 continues to take a toll. The villagers of Dorcalon, a mining village in the Rhymney Valley, try to keep hope alive; but every day brings fresh tragedy as more of their sons and fathers are killed on foreign battlefields.

Elizabeth Meredith, daughter of mine manager Herbert, enjoys a privileged position in the village, but she longs to break free of society’s expectations.

Falling in love with miner, Gwilym Owen, brings more joy to her life than she’s ever known… until she’s forced to choose between her love and her disapproving family. Seeking an escape, Elizabeth signs up as a VAD nurse and is swiftly sent to help the troops in France, even as her heart breaks at leaving Gwilym behind.

Separated by society and the Great War, can Elizabeth and Gwilym find their way back together again? Or will their love become another casualty of war?

Available here:

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Announcement: A Third Book in the Valleys’ Series Coming Soon

Francesca is pleased to announce the imminent arrival of a third book in the Wartime in the Valleys series, called Hope in the Valleys, which will be published on January 20th next year.

It’s been a year since the last Valleys’ book, War in the Valleys, was published, so it’s with great excitement that I can announce the publication of Hope in the Valleys in January, by Hera Books/Canelo. There’s also a fourth book in the pipeline, Trouble in the Valleys, but more on that in the coming months.

Hope in the Valleys opens in August 1917, and this time follows the fortunes of both the mine manager’s daughter, Elizabeth Meredith, and miner’s daughter, Gwen Austin. From seemingly opposite ends of the village’s social order, both suffer from the misfortunes of the continuing war. When disaster strikes Gwen, what will her future hold? And when Elizabeth is faced with a choice, will she choose love or duty?

The hub of the action takes place, as in the previous two books, in the fictional mining village of Dorcalon (based on Abertysswg in the Rhymney Valley), though the reader is also taken for a while into the action in France. And for those wondering what fate has befallen the characters from Heartbreak in the Valleys and War in the Valleys, there is also a glimpse at how their lives are progressing.

Hope in the Valleys is available to pre-order now, in either paperback or as an ebook (though there’s also talk of audio and large print at some point). And if you’re a book blogger or reviewer, you can request it from NetGalley.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t caught up with what’s been going on in Dorcalon so far, Heartbreak in the Valleys and War in the Valleys are available in paperback, ebook and audio. Or return tomorrow to see how you could be in with a chance of winning signed copies.

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Exclusive Extract from The Patchwork Girls by Elaine Everest

Today we are thrilled to be able to publish an exclusive extract from the first chapter of the brand new novel, The Patchwork Girls, by well-known saga writer and regular visitor to our blog, Elaine Everest

Chapter 1

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Wentworth, but you shouldn’t be here,’ the grey-haired porter said, reaching out gently to take the young woman’s arm. He could see she was in shock, her face pale and her body trembling.

Helen looked up at the damaged facade of the Victorian mansion block. The building where she’d started her married life with so many hopes and dreams had fared badly: several window panes were missing and the red brickwork was chipped on the first floor. ‘I need to collect a few things,’ she pleaded. ‘I promise to be careful . . .’

‘Okay, missus, but I’ll have to accompany you. I would never forgive myself if something ’appened to you after – well, after what went on here yesterday.’

Without a word Helen entered the building, heading towards the ornate iron lift residents used to travel to the upper floors.

‘Best we don’t use it,’ he said, steering her towards the wide staircase. ‘It’s not been checked out yet and gawd knows what damage has been done.’ He scowled. ‘I don’t know what the world’s come to.’ He fell into step beside her as they started to climb the winding black-and-white tiled staircase. Already some of the ornate windows had been boarded up, although chinks of light from the midday sun shone through the cracks, illuminating dust motes dancing around them.

‘Here we go,’ the porter said, pulling open a heavy oak door that led to the upper hallway and the entrance to her home, along with several others. ‘You’ll find a couple of coppers in there. I did tell them not to hang about, as that ceiling’s bound to come down before too long. Who’d have thought this could ’appen here in Cadogan Mansions?’ He shook his head. ‘I’ll come with you to make sure you stay safe. Do you really want to go in there after . . .’

Helen thanked him, but didn’t say any more. The porter and his wife liked nothing better than a juicy morsel of gossip to keep them going during their live-in job of caring for the old building. She usually did her best to slip quietly past if either of them was hovering in the entrance lobby. They could chat for England, and what had happened in her apartment would certainly keep them interested for many a day.

‘Oh, my goodness; I never thought there would be so much damage! A few broken windows and ruined furnishings, but this . . .’ She clasped a hand to her mouth to stifle a sob. The remains of damask curtains flapped in a light breeze coming through the gaps where once there’d been floor-to-ceiling windows. All around the drawing room were scattered pieces of wood and fabric that Helen could only just recognize as her furniture. The desk where John had worked was intact, although scratched by debris, while a large breakfront cabinet had lost its upper doors. Books were everywhere, pages fluttering in the cold air. ‘He didn’t stand a chance.’ Shrugging off the porter’s attempt to place an arm round her shoulders, Helen took a deep breath. ‘I just need to collect . . .’

The Patchwork Girls

A moving story set during WWII, about how the strong bonds of female friendship can carry you through the most difficult times.

1939. After the sudden and tragic loss of her husband, Helen returns to her mother’s house in Biggin Hill, Kent – the one place she vowed she’d never go back to.

Alone and not knowing where to turn, she joins the local women’s sewing circle to find some companionship and comfort, despite being hopeless with a needle and thread. These resourceful women can not only ‘make- do and mend’ clothes, quilts and woolly hats, but the fast-formed friendship with Lizzie and Effie mends something deeper in Helen too.

When the reason for Helen’s husband’s death comes to light, her world is turned upside down yet again. The investigating officer on the case, Richard, will leave no stone unturned – but it’s not long before his interest in Helen goes beyond the professional. As she pieces together old fabrics into a beautiful quilt, will Helen patch up the rifts in her own life?

The Patchwork Girls is out on 14th October and published by Pan Macmillan

About Elaine

Elaine Everest is the author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The
Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and The Teashop Girls. She was born and
raised in North-West Kent, where many of her bestselling historical sagas are set.
She grew up listening to tales of the war years in her hometown of Erith, which
has inspired her own stories.

Elaine has been a freelance writer for 25 years and has written over 100 short
stories and serials for the women’s magazine market. She is also the author of a
number of popular non-fiction books for dog owners.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She now lives in Swanley with her husband, Michael and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry.

You can find out more about Elaine on:

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Welcoming Guest Author Nicola Pryce, Talking Cornwall and Research

Nicola Pryce has popped in today to tell us about her love of Cornwall and her Cornish novels

Hello Nicola, and welcome to Write Minds. First off, do you see yourself in any of your characters?

This reminds me of how I used to read Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of Elizabeth but I’m now so definitely Mrs Bennet! I love my older lady characters and though I would love the elegance, grace, wit, and forcefulness of my very exacting French dressmaker, Madame Merrick, I feel I’m much more like Mrs Pengelly, the boat builder’s wife whom she employs. Unfortunately, I’m not like Mrs Munroe, her talented cook who bakes prize winning pastry – but I’m working on it.

Tell us about your setting and why you chose it?

My books are set in Fowey on the south coast of Cornwall, though I call it Fosse. We’ve been sailing into Fowey for twenty-five years and I love the town and its surrounds. The two opposing towns, Fowey and Polruan, guard the river mouth and are both quintessential Cornish harbours with lanes that rise steeply from the quayside and houses huddling together against the fierce winter gales. Some of my books are set in Falmouth, Truro, Bodmin, the Moor, and the River Fal where we also sail. The Cornish Lady is set in Trelissick House and A Cornish Betrothal in Trerice.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I love the research aspect of writing historical novels. I usually have a theme I want to explore. Each book centers round different aspects of the history in Cornwall, 1793-1800 and a lot of my information is gleaned from academic papers or books written specifically about the subject. We are so lucky having google at our fingertips! However I can’t get my head into my characters until I can prove something happened at exactly the time I want it to happen, to a group of people I want to represent, in a specific place, at a specific time. That gives me the authority I need. For example, in A Cornish Betrothal, I have a lady herbalist, a young physician, and others on the infirmary committee which has been called to raise funds and approve the design of the New Infirmary in Truro. Imagine my delight when I found the actual minutes of the committee meeting held in 1790 in the Records Office in Truro. All the records and archives are now housed in Kresen Kernow in Redruth and I have enormous fun making sure I have proof of what I’m going to include in my books. It’s not always easy to read some of the handwriting though, even armed with a huge magnifying glass.

But how long to research? I could honestly spend too long, so I try to curtail myself. Probably, on average, I will spend three months researching, seven months writing, and two months catching up with the cobwebs and the weeds.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

Believe it or not, I’ve written each of my books in a different place. Once I’ve finished writing a book, it’s as if I have to move on. I just can’t write another in the same place. It’s very strange. I wrote my first book at the kitchen table, my second at  the dining room table. The third was written in my daughter’s bedroom and the fourth in my son’s. By the time I was writing my fifth book my grandchildren were older so I could move the cot out of the back bedroom to make an office. Now, writing my sixth, I’ve turned my desk to face the opposite wall and that seems to have done the trick. Any more books and we’ll have to move house. And no, my new office is never usually this tidy!

What do you find the most difficult part of writing process?

Not the idea of the story, nor the characters; not the planning nor the research, but actually putting the words onto the page in the right order! I seem to be terribly slow and often re-write whole pages several times. They say you shouldn’t edit while you’re writing but I feel compelled to do so. My favourite bit of writing is editing which is why I can’t resist it. I suppose one good thing about doing that is that when I finally write The End it’s almost ready to go to my agent. Oven ready, as Mrs Munroe would say.

Other than writing what else do you love to do?

Did I mention my grandchildren? I love nothing more than sewing, gardening, and messing about in my kitchen. I particularly enjoy walking coastal paths and visiting National Trust houses. I love reading though if I’m writing I find it hard to have another voice in my head. I’m very much looking forward to my Christmas present which I understand is going to be a doll’s house to make and furnish.

Thank you so much, Francesca and Elaine for inviting me onto your lovely blog. I’ve so enjoyed answering your questions. The history and inspiration behind my books can be found on my website  https://nicolapryce.co.uk/ . My latest novel, A Cornish Betrothal, is published this November

 

 A Cornish Proposal

Cornwall, 1798.

Eighteen months have passed since Midshipman Edmund Melville was declared missing, presumed dead, and Amelia Carew has mended her heart and fallen in love with a young physician, Luke Bohenna. But, on her twenty-fifth birthday, Amelia suddenly receives a letter from Edmund announcing his imminent return. In a state of shock, devastated that she now loves Luke so passionately, she is torn between the two.

When Edmund returns, it is clear that his time away has changed him – he wears scars both mental and physical. Amelia, however, is determined to nurse him back to health and honour his heroic actions in the Navy by renouncing Luke.

But soon, Amelia begins to question what really happened to Edmund while he was missing. As the threads of truth slip through her fingers, she doesn’t know who to turn to: Edmund, or Luke?

Available on Amazon

 

About Nicola Pryce

Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She loves literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She’s a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she’s not writing or gardening, you’ll find her scrubbing decks.

Pengelly’s Daughter is her first novel, then The Captain’s Girl, The Cornish Dressmaker, and The Cornish Lady. A Cornish Betrothal will be published in November.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers’ Association.

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Remembering Rosemary Goodacre and her new novel, Until We Can Forgive

It’s three weeks now since we were saddened to hear of the death of our friend and fellow author, Rosemary Goodacre

Rosemary had been ill but was recovering and looking forward to the release of the third novel in her Derwent Chronicles series, Until We Can Forgive. She was busy getting started on her blog tour questions, when she was sadly taken from us. Here we recall times we’ve spent with Rosemary, and take a look at her latest novel.

 

 

 

 

Francesca: I first met Rosemary in an Adult Education class for creative writing, run by Elaine Everest, back in 2006. We’d been in various classes together since that time, as well as both attending Writers’ Holiday weeks and many Romantic Novelist Association events. Often she wrote things that were a little different, like a novel she was working on several years ago that involved chemistry classes and poisonings!

She was a well informed and cultured woman, with knowledge of foreign languages, yet never blew her own trumpet. She was great fun at social events. I recall the last RNA conference we were at, one evening, sitting around our flat’s kitchen table, playing a game which involved singing various songs, and Rosemary joining in as enthusiastically as the rest of us (I dare say a little alcohol was involved!). She will be sorely missed by me, and there’ll be a Rosemary-shaped hole in our group of friends for evermore.

Elaine: I first met Rosemary at The Write Place in 2012. I will always remember Rosemary as a well read and intelligent person. Her interests were quite diverse, as indeed was her reading. I know she loved playing bridge, going to the theatre and having some more unusual holidays. However, she also had a scatty side to her unassuming nature. She was a lovely lady that would never want to offend anyone and was also someone you couldn’t get cross with.

When we were travelling to Romantic Novelist’s Association events together, like the conferences, she was often waiting for everyone in the wrong place. We all worried about losing her when we were going anywhere as a group. I remember arranging to meet her just inside the doorway of a summer party we were both attending and I waited for sometime before I was told she was already upstairs. She was very apologetic when she realised but it was just another moment where you just thought ‘that’s Rosemary’, she didn’t have a malicious bone in her whole body.

I will miss her more than words can say, as I’m sure everyone who knew her will.

Until We Can Forgive

Spring 1919: WW1 is over and a fragile peace has descended over the country. Now living in Cambridge with husband EdmondAmy Derwent is settling into her new life as wife and mother to little Beth. But the shadow of the Great War looms large, particularly as the injuries Edmond sustained at Ypres still take their toll on him today.

Edmond’s cousin, Vicky, has now grown into a fine young woman, eager to help her
country. Throwing off her privileged background to train as a nurse, she spends her days tending to the many soldiers still suffering the after-effects of their time on the battlefield.

Meeting Maxim Duclos, a young Frenchman who has arrived in Larchbury, fills her heart with joy – but when it is discovered that Maxim may be hiding the truth about his past, Vicky is faced with an impossible choice. Follow her heart’s desire and risk her family’s disapproval or keep her family – but deny herself the chance of true love?

The war may be over, but Edmond, Amy and Vicky must all face a new battle, finding their own peace in a country wounded by loss.

Available on Kindle and paperback at:

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The first two books of the Derwent Chronicles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available here:

Until We Meet Again

Until the War is Over

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Time for Tea with Elaine Everest and the Teashop Girls

Today we say hello once again to Elaine Everest, talking about the latest Teashop Girls book, World War 2 and her characters

 

Hello Elaine, and welcome back to the blog with your second ‘Teashop’ novel.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog and being part of the blog tour for Christmas with the Teashop Girls.

You often mention the lovely Forties’ clothes that your characters are wearing. Do you like Forties’ fashion, and where does your research for it come from?

I do like fashions from the forties as despite rationing women always dressed smartly and made the most of what they had. I enjoy reading about women’s clothing from that time and have quite a collection of books, magazines and newspaper cuttings that I refer to – everything from couture designs down to home dressmaking and make do and mend. I even refer to my collection of Woolworths staff magazines. The New Bond is an invaluable source for fashion ideas. I spend far too long reading these publications.

There are a lot of details about Ben’s mill business in the East End, along with the docks. It’s almost like you’ve walked around it yourself. Where did the details come from? Were there photographs of the area to study?

Being born and brought up close to the Thames in Erith I grew up watching life on the river and knowing people who worked in the docks. Dockland wasn’t just in London. When I decided that Ben’s family business required the shipping of grain from Canada, I started to research how the docks worked during the war. I was able to watch Pathe News as well as look at images of that time. I was also fortunate that some of my relatives lived close to Tower Bridge which meant that at time we’d go along the Thames and see the old warehouse that still remained after the devastation of the Blitz. Even in the sixties there was still much to see before the buildings started to be turned into expensive apartments. News reports told of ships containing grain being sunk during the relentless bombing on the first day of the Blitz. I used much of this in my story.

The air raids come thick and fast in the book, set in 1940 as it is. Was it really as bad as that?
1940 was the year the air raids started in earnest after the ‘phoney war’. I pride myself in never inventing an air raid that didn’t exist. My plots have to fit around what happened during the war, and at times I wish there had been something happening in the area where the book is set. For the people of Ramsgate, it was truly horrendous, but thankfully they had the famous Ramsgate tunnels in which to take shelter. It is said that no resident of the town was more than ten minutes from a tunnel entrance. It was the foresight of own mayor, Alderman A. B. C. Kempe, with the backing of the borough council that permission was granted and work on the tunnels began in March 1939 saving thousands of lives.

Anya is an interesting character, fleeing from Poland as she did. Where did you get the idea for her, and her husband Henio?

When Anya popped into my mind it was a gift. She appears in the opening of The Teashop Girls when Flora comes to her rescue with young boys stoning her for being a German. I wanted to show how people in WW2 reacted to anyone with a foreign accent and assume they are the enemy. The invasion of Poland started our involvement in WW2 and for me the Polish have a special place in my heart. Our current resident freeloader, Henry, is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog and through exhibiting him and belonging to breed clubs I got to know some lovely Polish people both online and in person and wanted to depict them in my stories. As for Anya’s husband, Henio – his name is Polish for Henry, so yet again I manged to feed one of my dog’s names into a book.

Some pretty nasty characters pop up in the book (we won’t give away who!). Do you prefer to write about the nice guys or the bad guys?

I love a nasty character! At times it can be quite therapeutic to write a nasty character and see how the main characters react to the person. I do like my Nippies as they are plucky women and tend to fight back when the baddies appear.

Who’s your favourite character in the book?

I do like Mildred as she is a character that calls a spade a spade, come to that so does Anya! In Christmas with the Teashop Girls I have developed Lady Diana’s story and had such fun with her I had to be careful she didn’t take over the book.

We’ve had two outings with the Teashop Girls now. Can we look forward to any more?

I hope we can return to Thanet one day to continue with stories about the Nippies. I would like to tell more of Anya’s story and follow the residents of Ramsgate through the remainder of WW2. In fact, I’ve just purchased a Polish cookery book, and that alone has given me ideas …

What can your readers look forward to next?

Both my books for 2021 are now filed with my publisher. I’m excited to be able to tell Ruby (from the Woolworths Girls series) story of her younger days in A Mother Forever which is on sale in January, for the hardback version, and March for paperback/audio/digital etc. The story starts in 1905 when Ruby moved into her new home in Alexandra Road with such hopes for the future. I hope readers enjoy finding out about Ruby’s early life.
Pre order details here 

Thank you very much for popping in, Elaine, and the best of luck with Christmas with the Teashop Girls.

Christmas with the Teashop Girls

It’s late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy.

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother?

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .

 Available on Amazon

About Elaine Everest

Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women’s magazine market. When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest

Read more about Elaine and Christmas with the Teashop Girls by catching up with her tour:

From The Home Front To The Far East…

Francesca and Elaine are pleased to welcome Jean Moran to the blog to talk about her novel Summer of the Three Pagodas

Hello Jean, and welcome to Write Minds. Normally you write sagas set in the UK. What made you decide on a change of setting? 

I wrote this in a bid to have a change from Home Front sagas and set the story of both the first book, Tears of the Dragon, and this one, Summer of the Three Pagodas, in the Far East, a less used theatre of war. They’re both far grittier and violent than my books written as Lizzie Lane and so in a bid not to confuse readers, I became Jean Moran.

The main character in both books is Doctor Rowena Rossiter. In the first book she has the ill luck to be in Hong Kong when the Japanese invade and to have an opium baron obsessed with controlling her life. Luckily she’d also met the love of her life, Connor O’Connor, owner of a bar in Kowloon.

In this second book, fearing that Kim, the opium lord, has found her and is threatening to harm her daughter, Dawn, she takes the offer of a job in an hospital run by nuns in Korea. The offer is made to her by an American officer who, she gradually finds out, has his own reasons for sending her there.

Within months she finds herself caught up in the Korean War. This time the invaders are soldiers of the DPRK, Democratic Republic of Korea, Chinese communists.

Rowena is a woman of principle and strong character – I suppose a bit of me is in her. I’m told I’m strong and tend to hit the ground running. Rowena is like that too. She is also selfless in helping others and even though her daughter is with her, she refuses to leave her patients when Connor comes to her rescue. Her responsibilities take priority. 

Like many others trapped in Korea she endures a death march that meanders through the interior through tree covered mountains where the air is crisp and snow still clusters in deep ravines. There’s little to eat and people die of hunger and exhaustion. Others are killed by their captors, including one of the nuns.

The title Summer of the Three Pagodas reflects something that happened back in WW2. Three Pagodas Pass was where the slave labour on the Burma ‘Death’ Railway were finally freed following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

Summer is the name of a victim of this war, given by her dying mother.

Research for stories set in WW2 are comparatively easy compared to the Korean War, especially when it came to the plight of civilians. To this end a record I found written by the Carmelite nuns was invaluable.

I dithered about sending it off to the publisher, asking myself the same questions I always do: is it flawed? Have I dropped a huge faux pas that both the commissioning editor and copy editor will see and I haven’t? The doubt is always there; does it read as well as you think it does? Being close to a project can fool you into thinking it could be better. All would be writers should bear this in mind.

Luckily I received nothing but praise.

Where to next?

I would have liked to write another book in the series making it a trilogy, perhaps even a quartet. I’d already chosen the titles; Night Train to Bangkok, (a prelude to the Vietnam War and set in Thailand), and Sayonara Saigon – set in the Vietnam War.

Covid19 threw in a curved ball so I had to rethink. My thoughts turned to an idea that had been brewing for some time – a series set around the Bristol tobacco factories. This would be real home front stuff and therefore it suited for me to return to the pseudonym Lizzie Lane – so that’s what I did. The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane comes out in January.

I’m a waste not, want not person, so perhaps I would have been quite at home in WW2 – making coats from blankets, knitting hats and handbags and cutting up old tyres to glue to the bottom of my worn out shoes. I would have survived, and that’s what the women that feature in my books are doing be it home front or abroad in more violent scenarios – they’re surviving.

Thank you for taking the time out to tell us about your writing, Jean.

 

Summer of the Three Pagodas

HONG KONG, 1950.

Now the war is over, Dr Rowena Rossiter is ready to plan a new life with her great love, Connor O’Connor. But before they can, bad news arrives.

A female doctor is urgently needed in Seoul and the powers that be want Rowena to go. She refuses – until rumours begin to swirl about the sinister, beautiful man who held her captive during the war.

They say he may still be alive and looking for her. By comparison, Korea on the brink of war seems safer, but will Rowena ever truly be able to escape the shadows of her violent past?

A brilliantly exotic saga set in post-war Hong Kong and Korea, where Dr Rowena Rossiter longs to follow her heart, and her love, but the shadows of a violent past threaten to engulf her.

Summer of the Three Pagodas is published by Head of Zeus and available on Amazon

JEAN MORAN

Jean Moran was born and raised in Bristol where she took many office jobs, none of which excited her. She was, she decided, always a square peg in a round hole.

After having over fifty books published, she thinks she may at last have come to where she should be. All she worries about now is that somebody might find out that she doesn’t really consider writing ‘real’ work. She loves what she does.

Of those fifty books, a number written as Lizzie Lane have entered the top thirty bestselling paperbacks and the Heatseekers Chart. She’s been translated into a number of languages and hopes to write in a few other genres before finally shutting the lid of her laptop.

Besides writing, she’s also lived on a sailing yacht in the Med for four years, bred and showed Irish Red Setters and developed many properties moving every four years – the boat seemed a sensible option. It moved by itself without all the hassle of removal vans.

Heartbreak in the Valleys: Blog Tour

Francesca shares the dates for the upcoming blog tour for Heartbreak in the Valleys

Only one more sleep and it’ll be publication day for my debut saga, Heartbreak in the Valleys. Despite all the short stories and the three pocket novels I’ve had published, this marks a new chapter in my writing life.

The blog will be a mixture of interviews and reviews. Do pop in if you have time and say hello.

In the meantime, Heartbreak is available for downloads by reviewers and bloggers on:

Net Galley  

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Welcome to our own Francesca Capaldi and Heartbreak in the Valleys

Today Francesca is popping in to answer a few questions

 

Tell us about your setting and why you chose it?

Abertysswg today

The setting came out of the initial idea. Since that was to do with a miner being discharged from the army, it seemed likely he’d come home to a mining area. And since it was based on my own great grandfather Hugh’s experience, and he was from the Rhymney Valley, that seemed like the perfect choice. However, I didn’t even consider Hugh’s actual place of residence at the time as the basis of my imaginary village. He was living in New Tredegar. I immediately knew I wanted to set it in a village based on one up the road, Abertysswg. This is where my other great grandparents were living, along with my great great grandfather. I’d visited it a couple of times, once with my mother, who was born there, and later with one of my children, so had a better idea of its layout. It was built around 1900 as a ‘model village’, according to newspaper reports, for the workers of the McLaren pit. The houses were placed on the hillside overlooking the colliery in the dip of the valley.

As I researched the village, largely via the Welsh local newspapers which can be accessed online, I discovered there was quite a community here. The funds for both the hospital and the Workmen’s Institute were raised by the villagers themselves, through subs. Health care continued to be paid for by subs, a kind of early national health system. The Workmen’s Institute, far from being just for the men, laid on all sort of talks and social activities. It also contained a library. Studying the village was like researching my own past, knowing that my grandparents and some of their family members would have partaken of these activities.

Abertysswg with red outline showing roughly where the colliery was.

I took the decision to rename the village Dorcalon (which literally means ‘heartbreak’) because I wanted to be flexible with some details and dates. For instance, there was a mining disaster in Abertysswg in 1902, but I needed one in 1915. Where real places are concerned, I do try to be as accurate as I can. My village does sit in the same spot on the map though, with Rhymney up the road and New Tredegar down the road. The other useful aspect of picking somewhere real as a basis is that it’s easier to be consistent with places like chapels or shops.

The pit itself was closed in 1969 and is long gone. I’ve never seen it in reality, but have seen plenty of photographs which give me an idea of what it must have been like to live with such a brooding presence. It’s a character in itself.

Where do your ideas come from?

As with Heartbreak in the Valleys, quite a few of my ideas have been sparked by my family, including a serial I wrote for The People’s Friend and several short stories. A few have come from my own childhood, living on the Sussex coast. Often something will occur that makes me think, there’s a story there. Stories in the media and overheard snatches of conversation are good too.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

Whitstable – where I’ve often sat to write

If I could, I’d sit by the beach for ever, writing, but since I don’t have a seaside shack at my disposal, I tend to sit in the dining room at home so I’m overlooking the garden. I go on week-long writing retreats with writing friends every now and again, and invariably a seaside location is picked by us all. On occasion the house will overlook the sea, which is marvellous. I’m the one most likely to take my notebook down to the beach or to a café overlooking it, to write. There is something soothing about the water and the lapping of the waves.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the second Valleys book, which is now with the publisher. I’m not sure yet whether they’ll want a third in the series, so I’ve gone back to another saga I was writing, again set in the First World War. This time it’s set by the seaside (surprise surprise!).

 How do you select the names of your characters?

For Heartbreak in the Valleys I looked at the 1911 census, a list of top names in different decades and an online list of Welsh names. I think there are possibly more Welsh names in my novel than there would have been in that area at the time, judging by the census, but I’m unrepentant! The local newspapers were also handy for this.

 

ABOUT HEARTBREAK IN THE VALLEYS

The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong

November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War.

Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.

But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.

In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?

“Heartbreak in the Valley is a fabulous debut. Rich with well drawn characters, twists and turns, sense of history and place…  it was hard to put down. I loved it!” Author Rosie Hendry

Book Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2XUSTyB

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2XZ0RGI

Apple: https://apple.co/2KsIfqJ

 

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