Saturday, November 28, 2009
Part of the "old" is where I was, on the west coast of Canada. Part of the new is where I am, in Whitby, on the east coast of England. Both beautiful.
On the new, I've started a new book! Normally, that's not quite such an event. Usually, when people ask (as they always do) "So, are you writing a book at the moment?" I answer, "Always." That hasn't really changed. In the process of moving back to England from Canada, I've finished one book, begun and completed another, and written a short novella. None of it has quite been in my "zone", however, which is where I like to write, especially over the earlier part of November when I was rambling around England in the company of dashing young men in regimentals.
Where's my zone? In my study, at my old DOS computer, sitting in my Aeron chair (all shown here part way through unpacking) amid a generally stable and peaceful life.
So when I say I started a book, I mean all of the above, and with a good chance of it continuing. Believe me, my creative process is chaotic enough; I don't need any extra rattling!
The new book is a Georgian. It's not directly connected to my Malloren books, but characters from other books might turn up. I have no idea. I fly into the mist, ie -- I don't pre-plot my books.
I've been blogging for years in a couple of places, and one is my Blogger spot called Minepast, where I put any tid-bit of history I stumble across. I never used to know what to do with them. Now I do.
Here's an entry from a while back.
I was researching one of my Regency-set books, The Rogue's Return, one that started out in Canada. In seeking information about trans-Atlantic travel in 1816 I came across the diary of Laurent Leclerc, a young deaf man, who sailed from France to America and kept a diary in English in order to improve his use of the language. I found some of the events startling. So did he!
"I have forgotten to say in the beginning of my journal that we have in our ship different species of living animals for our daily nourishment, among which are six hogs, several ducks and several cocks and hens. We have also some canary birds to tickle the ears of the passengers by the agreeable sound of their singing. Ah well!! After dinner I was told that one was now going to kill a hog.
In truth, I saw two strong sailors seize the poor animal by his feet, throw him down and thrust a large knife in his neck. The blood flew and gushed-such a spectacle caused too much pain."
On another date, he wrote: "The interior of our ship abounds with mice. Now and then we see some running here and there. From time to time we kill some, and every day we hear them cry in their holes. They make a horrible ravage among our effects. They gnaw our books, papers, linen, clothes, provisions, etc. We have a cat, it is true, but she is so little that she cannot make war on them, and even if she were larger she would not know how to catch them, because she is spoiled and because she is nourished deliciously. She thus loses the taste of the most of the mice. Some one lately presented her with a dead mouse which she smelled and disdained. By way of retaliation our ducks are more warlike and courageous. We once threw a dead mouse upon deck and they pounced upon it, tore it in pieces, disputed over it and endeavored to eat it. And another time they swallowed, in a trice, several little mice which were put before them. I was extremely surprised at seeing that and I said that since ducks eat mice dead or live, doubtless we also eat mice when we eat ducks. I requested, therefore, that I should no more be served duck at dinner."
I love these glimpses into lives of the past. Do you know any unusual on-line diaries you could share?
There's always more on my web site.
Friday, November 27, 2009
The art of letter writing was something that people in previous centuries worked on and brought to perfection. Ladies of leisure really looked forward to receiving letters from their loved ones, because, of course, it was often the only way of keeping in touch. The arrival of a letter was anticipated and seen as something very exciting, and the execution of these letters would have been beautiful. In the last of the A Season in Town series, the heroine is a great letter writer and it is part of the reason for what happens to her.
Next month I am going to begin a story told for you in letters, which will run for some months I expect. Because my posting day has been moved to 27th of the month there doesn't seem much point in doing a Christmas story for you here. However, I may do one on my new Anne Herries Regency blog. www.anneherriesregency.blogspot.com. I also have a new Regency group, which anyone can join, authors and readers. You can find the group if you go to the blog.
At the blog you will find excerpts, a competition and the group details.
Love to all, Anne Herries
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
1. What inspired you to write about the main character?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. She’s a heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve and never loves by halves. In Jane Austen’s book Marianne has two great love affairs – firstly, with the dashing Mr Willoughby, who ignites the feelings of her first great passion but who lets her down badly, and secondly, with Colonel Brandon, an older, steadier man who is the real hero, the one she marries. The ending of Sense and Sensibility surprises some readers who can’t believe that Marianne really loves the Colonel enough to marry him. This intrigued me, and the fact that she is a character we easily identify with – I’m sure most people have known a Willoughby at some stage in their lives, but have been able to move on and find lasting, true love with somebody who really suits them. Colonel Brandon has also suffered from the disappointment of a first love and I wanted to explore not only their relationship but also how the impact of those first attachments might affect their lives together.
2. What is your favorite line from this book?
Gosh, what a good question! This is a difficult one, but when Marianne meets Willoughby again and has to be escorted into dinner by him she finds herself in a very difficult situation. Here’s the line: Despite purposefully leaning as far away from him as she was able, she could not help but be aware of his nearness, and of his smell, emanating like an elixir from a bygone age, mingled into a potpourri of fragrant images from the past.
3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?
I was a very small girl when I first started writing, but then I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I still have a series of little books about the ‘Smiles Family’ that I made when I was about eight or nine. I think it’s taken a lifetime to develop my craft and I’m still learning now!
4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book/books made the biggest impact on your writing?
Of course Jane Austen is a huge influence. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and all of her books have made the biggest impact. But I also love any books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, (The Making of a Marchioness) Edith Wharton, (The Age of Innocence) and Fanny Burney (Evelina) to name but a few of my favourite writers. There are so many wonderful books out there that it’s hard to choose. Writers of the past rather than the present are my biggest influence because those are the books I tend to prefer – I love the quality of writing that you get in an older book.
5. Who is your favorite writer?
No contest – Jane Austen. Her books have been the pleasure of my life and the reason I have become a published writer. She is recognised now as a genius, but I wish she had known in her lifetime how her writing would eventually be regarded - how much her work is revered and loved today!
6. Does storytelling run in your family?
We all enjoy a good book or story. My parents encouraged us to read and told stories when I was young. I hope I’ve passed this love of storytelling to my children. My husband is a brilliant storyteller – I think he’d write a marvellous book.
7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning, middle, or ending?
The middle is the most difficult for me, most definitely. I think you have to be able to keep the reader interested in turning the pages and keeping up the momentum being careful not to give too much away too early and tying it all up too soon before you get to the end.
8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go to for inspiration? What energizes you?
I am a morning person, but that can mean very early morning. Sometimes, I wake at three in the morning with an idea, and I have to write it down because if I don’t I’ll forget it before I wake up again the next day. I think I must be solving problems in my sleep because this happens quite a lot. There is something lovely about writing in the early hours when there is no one about – my little writing room is next door to my bedroom so it’s very easy to pop in there and switch on the computer. I love my room, I am so lucky to have one all of my own. It’s lined with books, and filled with objects, pictures and paintings that I love. I have a desk before the window and watch all the world pass by whilst I’m writing. It’s great inspiration.
9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?
Keep striving to learn how you can improve your writing, and read, read read! Remember why you started writing in the first place when you get bogged down with problems – that’s sometimes forgotten when you are in pursuit of getting published and you’ve just received a rejection letter.
10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
I sometimes get to meet the people who have read my books – I can’t tell you the thrill it is when someone tells me or writes to tell me that they enjoyed a particular book. I indulge myself in my favourite activity on a daily basis and also get to spend huge chunks of the day in another century in Jane Austen’s world (or my version of it, at least) – what more could anyone wish?
The very lovely Anne Herries also interviewed me for the Red Roses for Authors blogspot. Thank you, I really enjoyed your questions!
If you'd like to catch up on my blog tour, please visit my blog, Jane Austen Sequels.
Willoughby's Return - Sense and Sensibility continues...Odiwe's elegantly stylish writing is seasoned with just the right dash of tart humor, and her latest literary endeavor is certain to delight both Austen devotees and Regency romance readers. John Charles - Booklist
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Edward Comely was buried in the Gray’s Inn New Burial Ground on April 16th 1811 after dying on the 11th in the parish of St Andrews Holborn Hill, London. His funeral was “performed” by Samuel Page, Undertaker, Auctioneer and Appraiser of High Holborn.
Given the short time at his disposal, Mr Page did Edward Comely proud. He was buried in “A strong Elm coffin with fine Black Serge close drawn with double rows of the best Japanned Nails, a Double Flowered Plate with Urn and large escutcheons with Wrought Handles.” That cost £5.10s
Within that Edward was dressed in a “Fine crape Shroud with cap” (18s) and laid on a “Fine Crape Mattress and pillow” (12s)
For providing a Mourning Coach and hearse, each with a pair of horses, the charge was 12s but in addition to that there was a 2s for the coachmen’s cloaks and 10s for hatbands and gloves for the men.
“2 Porters in proper dresses to stand at the door and walk in Procession” cost 12s with 10s for their hatbands and gloves. The four men who carried the coffin were charged at a rate of 10s and they were equipped with mourning cloaks, hatbands, hoods and scarves. One of Mr Page’s men attended the funeral, suitably garbed (at extra cost) and the gravediggers charged 5s.
All this totalled £13 2s 6d while the charge for the service “etc” was £4 7s and the minister received £1 9s.
At a time when a butler in a great house might earn £60 to £80 and a footman £25 to £35 a year, you could get dead drunk on gin for 2d and pay 6d for a place in the pit at the Opera a bill of £18 18s 6d suggests that Mr Comely must have been a man of comfortable means – a merchant perhaps. I wonder if his executors queried that £4. 7s for the service and "etc" though - I'd be very suspicious!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
When a new book comes out it's always a frantically busy time. We need to let the public know the book is available through different types of publicity: this blog for example. Because I write Cornwall-based historical romance a press release to the local weekly papers and glossy monthly and bi-monthly magazines is another opportunity. A copy also goes to BBC Cornwall. This paid off particularly well a week ago when I was invited onto the afternoon show to do a live 15-minute interview. Because it was going out live I spent the entire morning preparing - writing notes about the characters and the background (a granite quarry inherited by my heroine and a badly scarred hero who manufactured gunpowder.) I included a page from the book to read out as a "taster" and some bits of information that I found interesting and thought listers might too.
The interviewer was terrific. When he phoned me to set up the interview he apologised for not having read the book. Actually, I hadn't expected him to: so many interviews, so little time. Once we were on air he asked me about my life as a writer and about the background to this story. Then I read the page. All too soon my time was up and I hadn't had an opportunity to tell him about the origins of saltpetre - one of the three constituents of gunpowder. From the late Middle Ages until the late C19th this vital ingredient was obtained from beneath dungheaps or from urine-soaked straw that was kept wet with more urine and left to rot for up to a year. The resulting crystals were washed out of the straw with water which was then evaporated, leaving behind crude saltpetre crystals. These would be further refined before being made available to the gunpowder makers. Because of the source of the material, saltpetre-makers were called Devil's Men or The Dark Men. Coming across facts like these is what makes research so fascinating.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Like most writers, I’m fascinated by language. Some of the oldest forms in English are amongst the most evocative. What about these expressions, all derived from medieval hunting jargon?
- A sounder of wild boar
- A drift of pigs
- A shrewdness of apes
- A watch of nightingales
- A skulk of foxes
- An unkindness of ravens
- A murder of crows
Ages ago, I heard James Naughtie talking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme about this. He produced these, which I loved:
- A smear of journalists
- A pedant of Today Programme presenters
That made me start musing about romantic novelists. So far— deliberately excluding those that would be X-rated — I’ve come up with the suggestions below.
- A passion of romantic novelists
- An escape of romantic novelists
- A happiness of romantic novelists
and (I wonder why?)
- A vineyard of romantic novelists
I’m sure visitors to our blog will have lots of ideas here. I’d love to hear them.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I also write contemporaries and if I can’t visit the place in question (I’ve set two books in LA, but not made it there yet) I find someone who has, to see if I have the “feel” right.
While we can’t contact someone who lived there in Regency times, we can visit people who have visited it now. And we can read the impressions of people who lived there.
The country house was the seat of power for the Regency nobleman. While he would visit London regularly, to attend Parliament, visit his man of business, attend social functions, even have his wife give birth there (the best accoucheurs preferred to remain in London), the country house was his home, and the base of everything he did.
In those days, most of the power was in property and the land. Even the new industries depended on mineral resources and suitable locations. Most of the populace lived in the country and London was an exception. The largest city in Europe, maybe in the world, it was an aberration that didn’t reflect the way things were done in the rest of the country.
Feudal structures lingered and the basis of power in the counties was the gentry. So to carry this forward and represent their influence and power, the great country houses were built.
From Hardwick Hall, and several houses before it, the castle became virtually obsolete. Through the eighteenth century, Palladianism was the ideal, the familiar structure of a columned portico and a series of great state rooms was adhered to. Blenheim was built by “A grateful nation” for John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough. His wife, Sarah, complained that it wasn’t a practical house because the kitchens and dining room were so far apart, but that was dealt with in later structures by having a smaller preparation room close to the dining room, so food could be heated up and finishing touches added.
The state rooms, first in a line, “enfilade” and later in a circular layout, formed the heart of the house. Not where the family lived, but where they entertained and met the people they needed to impress. Without that, the status of the family and the whole of the local gentry would be depressed.
In modern books set in the Regency, the country house is often neglected in favour of London life. I’d love to see more stories set in places like Longleat, Chatsworth and Holkham.
When I write a book set in a country house, I use a particular house as a model, but I change its name, and occasionally its location. In “Yorkshire” I used Calke Abbey as a patterncard for Hareton Abbey, and moved it a few miles north, from Derbyshire to Yorkshire. I might try to blog about that at a later date because it was the most remarkable house I’ve ever visited!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Nov 7 (1812)
The land is now more firm than it has been for some time. I have drilled nine acres Upper stoney & finished sewing Wheat yesterday in Grassy peice, nearly the whole of which I have drilled & have done 4 or 5 acres of my pea land over again; I fear Sweetendiness will be a very deficient plant. I had lodged 43 wether sheep in Hillyfield & last night 3 were slaughtered, the Offal and carcases taken away. I sowed 10 stretches of white wheat hither side of Nine acres & on the thirteenth stretch from the side began to sow 1 Quarter of Buncle wheat I bought of Freesland. Grassy piece is sowed with Day's Wheat except about 3 rods to Woody piece.
I love this diary entry. It would seem that this farmer either moved at the speed of Superman or when he refers to himself he actually means his farmworkers. Day's Wheat is probably seed he got from someone with that name, but I've no idea what Sweetendiness is. What a fabulous name for something - I think it could be a type of pea plant.
Today my novella, Lady Charlotte's Secret, should be in all major supermarkets and WH Smiths. Look in the My Weekly Pocket Novel container which is usually on the top shelf of the magazine section. Unfortunately my author copies haven't arrived because of the postal disruption so I can't show you the cover.
Two Gentlemen From London, which came out on the 31st of October, is available from Amazon, Book Depository and the Robert Hale website. Don't forget most UK libraries will order the book if you request it .
Saturday, November 07, 2009
It took about an hour to reach Staffa from Mull, where we were staying. The island is uninhabited and is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. It was originally formed 60 million years ago as a result of violent volcanic activity. Staffa’s magnificent basalt cliffs, which resemble enormous organ pipes, were created when liquid rock cooled and hardened into columns. The sea caves for which Staffa is also famous were formed when the sea wore away the soft volcanic ash at the base of the columns. The name “Staffa” comes for an Old Norse word meaning wooden building staves which suggests that like modern tourists, the Vikings also marvelled at Staffa’s basalt columns.
Staffa was farmed during the late 18th century and the ruins of several stone structures on the island suggest that people either lived there permanently or seasonally. The island was first brought to the attention of the wider world in 1772 by the famous botanist Joseph Banks, who wrote: “Compared to this what are the cathedrals and palaces built by men! Mere models or playthings, imitations as his works will always be when compared to those of nature.” It was Banks who coined the name “Fingal’s Cave.” This was a reference to the then fashionable Macpherson’s Ossian, the tale of the great deeds of the Gaelic hero Fingal, a bestselling epic poem, which was later proved to be a forgery. The poem was discredited but the name of Fingal’s Cave stuck!
Banks’s “discovery” of the island coincided with the spread of the Romantic Movement across Europe with its emphasis on wilderness, emotion and natural splendour. Staffa soon became one of the “must-see” sights of Scotland. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell attempted to land on Staffa during their tour of the Hebrides in 1773 but were beaten back by heavy seas. Fingal’s Cave went on to become a place of pilgrimage for the Romantics: William Wordsworth, John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, JMW Turner and Felix Mendelssohn all visited and were moved to write, paint or in Mendelssohn’s case create a piece of music inspired by the island. The island proved so popular with visitors that in the 19th century a romantic-style folly was built to provide some shelter and a place to rest and eat. This is in ruins now but it’s possible to imagine Regency and Victorian visitors huddled within its walls when the weather turned stormy and I did think what a wonderful setting it would make for a book!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
My lovely romantic comedy, The Dream Chasers has a new life and a new cover with Regency Reads. When I re-read this book again prior to e-publication, I realised why I love it so much. It is a sparkling romance with our heroine tumbling from one scrape into another, but finally coming up with a solution to suit everyone! You can find it at http://www.regencyreads.com/
The new cover is on the right: which one do you prefer? The original cover does show my heroine in boys' clothing, and her hero's carriage approaching, BUT in the story she is hiding in a tree at this point! As for the new cover - the costume is about the right period (although my Eustacia is a red-head), also the story moves from Bath to London, and the background reminds me more of Derbyshire. But hey-ho, they say one should never just a book by its cover.
"All the required ingredients of a Regency romance… skilfully written" (Historical Novel Society)
This book continues the story of Vivyan Lagallan, a secondary character from an earlier book, Autumn Bride: when I re-read The Dream Chasers I found myself thinking that it might be fun to follow the rogue, Nathan MacCauley, to find out just what happened to him!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Here is an extract from THE LOVEDAY CONSPIRACY that I hope you will enjoy. For new readers this is the story background in the earlier books of the series - Japhet Loveday was falsely accused of highway robbery by Sir Pettigrew Osgood, found guilty and transported to th enew penal colony at Sydney Cove. He is now back in England and wants revenge. His cousin Adam also wants revenge on the man he blames for his twin’s death.
Japhet dismounted and flung the reins at a young groom. Gwendolyn came out of the house and waited for him. There was a look on her lovely face that warned him she had seen through his ruse. He should have known that nothing missed his wife’s concerned eye.
‘Another dawn ride, husband. The fifth in three weeks.’
‘I could not sleep. The horses need their exercise.’ He dragged his fingers through his black hair that lapped over his collar; unfashionably long, it added to his roguish features and his hazel eyes could melt a woman’s heart by their smouldering intensity.
‘With a sword strapped to your saddle?’ Her colour was high as she voiced her anger. Her features were striking rather than beautiful, but Japhet had known many beautiful women who had left his heart cold. Gwen had won his love by her courage and faith that the character of a rogue and reprobate he showed to the world but masked more noble sentiments beneath. That faith had saved him in his darkest hours and given him the strength to prove that she was right. Though there were times when he wished his wife did not know him so well. There was resignation in her eyes when she continued. ‘Are these meetings with Adam? I can guess their purpose.’
He shrugged and gave a reassuring grin. ‘Adam and I always practised our swordplay in the old days. It is a sport we both enjoy.’
‘And I doubt either of you are doing this for old times’ sake. You promised me you would not pursue Osgood.’ She was trembling in her distress.
Japhet took his wife into his arms. ‘I would not break my word to you, Gwen.’
She pulled back from him, her eyes accusing, and her skin pale against the rich chestnut of her hair. ‘But this swordplay is not innocent. Adam is capable of calling out Tristan. And you…. You will not let Osgood escape your justice, will you? But we have been home for just a few months.’ Her voice rose in alarm.
‘A gentleman should never neglect his fencing skills.’ Japhet was deliberately flippant.
She struck his chest with her fist. ‘Do not humour me. I know what you plan. If not this week, this month, this year, or the foreseeable future, but you will not let this matter rest. Forget Osgood. He is a cowardly knave.’
‘I am not the only one of our family whom Osgood planned to ruin. Adam said that Osgood’s lecherous eye also singled out my cousin’s half-sister, Tamasine, during a visit she had made to London. When she refused his advances Osgood had tried to abduct her. Fortunately, Tamasine had been rescued by Maximillian Deverell – the man she later married.’
‘But that was years ago when you were still on ship to the penal colony.’ She breathed heavily in her exasperation. ‘Tamasine had been staying in London with cousin Thomas. He called Osgood out. Family honour is satisfied. He even scarred the knave’s face in the duel. Since then little had been heard of the baronet. He retired to his country seat to hide his disfigurement.’
‘And he was there until last year.’ Japhet announced. ‘He has since disappeared – rumoured to have gone abroad. So you see your fears are in vain. He is out of reach.’
Her stare searched his and showed no sign of being reassured. ‘Promise me that you will not seek him out.’
He took her into his arms and his voice was husky and seductive. ‘Have I not promised that I will live quietly and concentrate on establishing a racing stables and stud? That is my intention.’ Hi s hand stroked her cheek and his gaze lingered upon her lips before capturing them with his own. There was the briefest resistance before she surrendered to his kiss and he felt her body melt against him. Then with a sigh she pulled away. ‘I will not be sidetracked by sweet words and caresses, my love. Say you will not go after Osgood?’ When he did not immediately answer, she gripped the front of his greatcoat, her eyes beseeching. ‘Promise me, Japhet.’
He cupped her lovely face gently in his hands. ‘I certainly have no intention of going off on a wild goose chase hunting him down. But I will make you no false promises, Gwen. If Osgood crosses my path then that is a different matter. But he is not likely to search me out. He has proved himself too craven for that.’
He kissed her until he felt her anger melt and the tension leave her body. ‘Do you think that I would risk all that we have for that knave? I am no longer the hothead, the reckless rakehell. You and our sons and this stud farm are what is important.’ His arms held her tight but over the top of her head, his stare was uncompromising.
When the time was right Osgood would face his retribution and pay for his treachery.