Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pleasure in many forms

Jo Beverley here.

I'm currently in that early part of a book that requires regular spot research on this and that. Traveling times, Portugal in the Seven Years War, less well known mercantile activity for some minor characters... And from there, plus a visit to the delightful Whitby Museum, alum mining. Of course the result is writing time that disappears into books and internet, but that's part of the joys of the work, especially when one stumbles over something.

When looking into places for some middle class people to frolic in London, I found Cuper's Pleasure Gardens. Unfortunately, they'd shut before the time period of my Malloren books, which opened in 1763, so it perhaps wasn't surprising that I'd missed them, but it's a reminder that there's always a lot more to London life than the familiar territory.

They were made by a man called Cuper and many called them Cupid's Gardens, which was doubtless good for business! As were the winding paths allowing flirtation, and perhaps more. You can follow the above link to read about them on the excellent
Story of London site.

It's a shame that some people see the medieval period as bleak and dingy, because it could be anything but. Just look at that gorgeous illuminated B I'm delighted to have a medieval novella in the collection A Chalice of Roses, in which all the stories weave around the mythology of the Holy Grail. It is available in the UK from The Book Depository.

You can read an excerpt here.

In February, The Stanforth Secrets will be reissued, also available from the Book Depository. This is one of my early classic regencies, and set in my home area of Morecambe Bay. It was a finalist for the RITA award.

And next month will see my second UK publication, Tempting Fortune, which follows on from Lady Notorious, the RITA winning first book of the Malloren series.

Best wishes,

My web site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Letters From a Regency Lady 2

This is the American cover for Forbidden Lady. The English version will be out in April/May time.


Letter from Lady Horatia Melton to her sister Lady Bathurst on January 15th 1816.

My dearest Antoine

Thank you for your letter. I am delighted at your news and understand perfectly that you would wish to have your mama to stay with you at this time. She was all of a dither when she had your letter and begged me to tell her what she ought to do. She fears to upset me but I shall not mind in the least. There are various engagements she needs to keep for we are in town until next month. Melton feels the country is melancholy at this time of year, though he used to enjoy his own company. Of late he has been to his club a great deal but I also have been busy so I do not mind that he is seldom at home, except when we have guests of course.

I dare say I may have mentioned that we dined with the Regent? It was a pleasant occasion and Melton enjoyed the cards. I did not play but found the musical entertainment excellent and I enjoyed some amusing conversation with Major Rossiter. He was with Robert in France, you know. As one of Wellington’s aides, he has been dangling his heels – as he says – at court in Paris, but he was eventually allowed to return home at Christmas. Now that Bonaparte is finally dealt with, the major intends to resign his commission and take up some kind of a career at home. He is not as wealthy as Bathurst or Melton, but he intends to work from choice rather than necessity and I believe he is looking to politics. His estate is not large and well managed by his agent.

You may wonder what I found interesting about such a conversation, dearest sister. Well, I shall tell you. It was not just his charming manner or his undeniable air of authority, but his compassion. He is intending to set up a charity for young children. There are too many living rough on the streets and being forced to steal (or do despicable things) for a living. Rossiter says they end up in prison, where their characters take a turn for the worse and head eventually to the gallows. I cannot bear to think of any child being imprisoned or beaten and starved. Since Major Rossiter is looking for people to assist with his charity I shall volunteer my time. I can at least help with fund raising and I intend to hold a charity ball. Melton does not object, providing I do not expect more than a token appearance from him – and that is all I require. He is pleased to see me busy and, as I mentioned, spends so much time at his club that he will scarcely notice.

I shall stop now for I am going out shortly. Mama sends her love and says she will be with you early next month. As you know, her health is not always perfect but I am certain she will be as comfortable with you in the country, as she is here. I am sure we shall return in a few weeks and then I shall call to see you both.

Your loving sister, Horatia.

PS. If there is anything you would like me to purchase for you in town I should be happy to accommodate you.

From Lady Horatia to her brother Captain Robert Jenson, January 16th, 1816

Dear Robert

I know that I wrote to you two days ago but you will forgive me for troubling you again so soon. I told you of my meeting with Major Rossiter and that I had decided to assist him with his charity. It has resulted in my visiting areas of the city that I should never have seen otherwise. Yesterday Paul – as he insists I call him in private – took me to visit one of the slum areas that concern him. Oh, those poor children. I saw young lads of no more than nine or ten with sores on their faces, arms and legs. Some were so weak in the legs that they had crutches and one poor lad was forced to crawl on his knees to beg for a crust. The sight of him broke my heart, Robert, as you may imagine, for he was scarcely a year or so older than my darling would have been.

Paul saw how distressed I was and insisted on taking me to an inn where the landlord kindly made me some tea and I was able to recover my composure. Paul was concerned that he had upset me and said he would understand if I wished to discontinue my interest, but you may imagine what I said to that, dearest. It has only made me more determined to raise all the money I can for those poor children. However, this is not the reason I write to you in haste, for I am sure that you will have been aware of these things. Mama and Papa always tried to keep their daughters ignorant but you are a man of the world.

Now, you must not be angry, dearest. What I am going to tell you will make you wish to return home at once for my sake, but it is not necessary. In truth I think I have known it for a while, but I should not have been certain had Paul not taken me to that inn. I was sitting in a corner opposite the stairs and I saw them come down together. She was very young and exceptionally pretty, though not of course a lady, but a lady would scarcely have gone upstairs with a man who was not her husband or a relative. Melton looked at her as if he cared for her and he was laughing, much like he used to be at home before we lost our little darling. He looked happy. I think that shocked me more than the discovery that he had been with – I suppose the word is prostitute, though I do not like to use it for she was so young. I am more distressed for her sake than my own. She was little more than a child and it is surely not right that she has to…I shall not go on.

Melton has clearly found comfort in her company. His tale of going to his club was wearing a little thin for I was told that his friends had not seen him in an age by someone I trust. It seems he has not yet set her up in a house of her own, which is a little mean of him I think, because she is clearly good for him. He was so very low.

You are wondering if I am suppressing my grief? I think my pride is a little bruised for I would have hoped that Melton might find comfort in my bed. I have not refused him. Indeed, I would have welcomed him more in the hope of providing an heir and the lack of interest has been on his side. Now I have been terribly indiscreet and I beg you to forgive my lack of delicacy, but if I cannot open my heart to you, whom can I tell?

Since Paul had his back to the stairs I am fairly sure that he did not see Melton. I believe I gave no sign of my shock; at least, he did ask if I was feeling unwell but I think he imagined it was because of our visit to the slums earlier. So, there is my problem, dearest one.

Perhaps I should feel outrage but at the moment I am numb and a little sad. It is not unusual for gentlemen in Melton’s position to find a mistress – but a girl out of his class and so young? No more than seventeen at most, and I am being generous. I do not know what I ought to think. Mama would be too upset and Antoine is wrapped up in her happy event; besides, neither of them would understand. I dare say I should be expected to turn a blind eye. Mama would say I must pretend not to know but I am not certain I can – yet you shall guide me, dearest.

I know you will give me good advice, but please do not say I told you so, though you did. I remember you warning me before I accepted him. I should have listened but…you know the rest. However, I do not see that I have a great deal of choice but to go on as we are. It would be far too shocking to demand my freedom. I am not sure that I can continue with all my wifely duties and last night I locked the door from Melton’s room to mine. He made no attempt to open it but he may and then…I shall not fall into a decline. Indeed, after losing George I sometimes think nothing else can touch my heart, except you, dearest Robert.

Forgive your sister for always laying her troubles on your shoulders.
Your loving Horatia.

PS. Mama is going to stay with Antoine, which will make things easier if relations become strained with Melton.

I hope you are enjoying these posts. My new Anne Herries blog is at
I publish these letters there and also excerpts and in the future short stories
Love to all Linda/Anne

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jane Austen's Persuasion and the Old White Hart Inn

I love all the research involved for a new book especially when a new piece of a jigsaw fits into place. I've read Jane Austen's Persuasion many times, but it was only recently that I read this passage and puzzled over it.

Anne...hastened forward to the White Hart, to see again the friends and companions of the last autumn, with an eagerness of goodwill which many associations contributed to form. They found Mrs. Musgrove and her daughter within, and by themselves, and Anne had the kindest welcome from each. Henrietta was exactly in that state of recently improved views, of fresh-formed happiness, which made her full of regard and interest for everybody she had ever liked before at all; and Mrs. Musgrove's real affection had been won by her usefulness when they were in distress. It was a heartiness, and a warmth, and a sincerity which Anne delighted in the more, from the sad want of such blessings at home. She was intreated to give them as much of her time as possible, invited for every day and all day long, or rather claimed as a part of the family; and, in return, she naturally fell into all her wonted ways of attention and assistance, and on Charles's leaving them together, was listening to Mrs. Musgrove's history of Louisa, and to Henrietta's of herself, giving opinions on business, and recommendations to shops; with intervals of every help which Mary required, from altering her ribbon to settling her accounts, from finding her keys, and assorting her trinkets, to trying to convince her that she was not ill-used by anybody; which Mary, well amused as she generally was, in her station at a window overlooking the entrance to the Pump Room, could not but have her moments of imagining.

The part that puzzled me was about the White Hart and the fact that Mary could stand at the window and see the entrance to the Pump Room. The only White Hart I know in Bath is in Widcombe, but nowhere near the Pump Room, certainly not at a distance to be able to see it or the entrance. After a little further investigation I discovered that there had been a White Hart Coaching Inn situated opposite the Pump Room in Stall Street. It was a major coaching inn, a stopping place for new arrivals to the spa town as well as a hotel.

Charles Dickens also makes mention of it in Pickwick Papers.

And at seven o'clock p.m. Mr. Pickwick and his friends, and Mr. Dowler and his wife, respectively retired to their private sitting-rooms at the White Hart Hotel, opposite the Great Pump Room, Bath, the waiters, from their costume, might be mistaken for Westminster boys, only they destroy the illusion by behaving themselves much better.

Not only was this building eventually demolished but the Grand Pump Room Hotel which replaced it was also pulled down in1958/9 to be replaced by shops. I found this really interesting site with lots of images of Bath from the past Click here to see Bath in Time.

Another wonderful site is Bath360 If you click the link you can see what the Pump Rooms look like today - the White Hart and Grand Hotel are shops today, which can be glimpsed through the colonnade.

I can just imagine in its heyday how exciting it must have been for new visitors to Bath to arrive outside the imposing inn with views of the Pump Room and Abbey on the opposite side - I would love a trip back through time just to witness it in all its splendour!

Jane Odiwe

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Smuggler Returns

I read Frenchman's Creek by the legendary Daphne du Maurier many years ago and for a long time wanted to write my own story set in romantic Cornwall. So it's exciting to say that The Smuggler Returns will be out as a Linford Romance in February, and will also shortly be available as an ebook from Regency Reads.

When Daniel Locke returns to Penhaven, the Cornish village of his childhood, he is intent on revenge against the smuggling gang who betrayed him as a young lad. What he doesn't count upon is the distraction of beautiful Jane Tregarron, who has become involved with the local smugglers to save her penniless family from losing their home. Can Daniel still inflict his revenge or will his plans be muddied by love?

The Smuggler Returns at amazon
The Smuggler Returns at Barnes & Noble

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inspired by the Small Ads

Some years ago I came across a wonderful collection of advertisements in ‘The Times’ from the 1870s. It’s been a source of inspiration ever since.

Stuck for plot? How about:
C.C.C.C. Do not despair, my Marguerite. Only have patience. I hope we shall meet on the 3rd at P. Be cautious and attend to all the advice I gave you. Do write to the London address if you possibly can, and tell me what has happened that prevents your writing. If I wrote in l.j. it would betray us. Thine for ever, B.B.B.B.

Want an unusual setting for hero and heroine to meet? Try:
CAPTAIN CHIOSSO’S LONDON GYMNASIUM and FENCING SCHOOL, 123, Oxford Street, Regent-circus. Open from 9 am to 10 pm. Single lessons and classes every hour of the day. Ladies’ classes for drilling and deportment at 12, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, superintended by Mme Chiosso. (Hero, flushed from fencing, bumps into heroine with a pile of books on her head?)

Heroine desperate for a (dodgy) job? What about:
CLAIRVOYANCE, Somnambule, Extralucide, - Mme Fontenelle, 41 Baker Street. Séances tous les jours de 2h. à 4h. Prix, une guinée; luncheon and evening parties, 20 guineas. (I love the sudden switch from elegant French to prosaic English.)

There’s also a section on books – with reviews:
DEBENHAM’S VOW. By AMELIA B. EDWARDS, 3 volumes at all libraries. ‘A clever book. The story is fresh and interesting, and most of the characters are natural, while some of them are charming.’ – Saturday Review. Hurst and Blackett, publishers. (Talk about damning with faint praise!)

However, some of the book titles are terrific. For example: ‘False Hearts and True’ by Mrs Alex Ander Fraser, author of ‘A Fatal Passion’. But if I wanted to pinch a title, it would have to be ‘Vixen’, by Mrs Braddon. I can see the cover now!

Elizabeth Hawksley

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy New Year!

The new year has got off to a very good start for me and I hope it's the same for everyone else! The first good thing was a sight of the cover for a Darcy Christmas anthology, which will be out in time for Christmas 2010! The publishing industry works a long way in advance as you can see! I finished the story in November, and I can't wait for it to hit the shelves, although I will have to, just like everyone else.

I had great fun writing the story. It takes place fourteen months after Lizzy and Darcy marry, and nine months after the end of Mr Darcy's Diary. Lizzy and Darcy go to visit Jane and Bingley over Christmas and there are some unexpected arrivals! I can't show you the cover yet, but I will be posting it nearer the time.

The second good thing was another cover, this time for The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance.

I was delighted to be asked to contribute a story for the anthology, and it will be out in June (or July if you're in the US). The story isn't related to Austen in any way, it's a Regency in the tradition of Georgette Heyer. Miss Annabelle Langley is a dashing aunt, but has love really passed her by?

I loved writing this story and I hope you will love reading it, too.

I'm also busy with other projects. I'm getting on well with Henry Tilney's Diary, and loving Northanger Abbey more and more as I write it. I always forget how much I love Northanger Abbey until I read it again. It has so many great lines, and Henry is such a witty hero. I hope to finish the book by Easter - famous last words! I think part of the reason I'm taking so long with it is that I just don't want to let it go. Life won't be the same when I can't run around Northanger Abbey and call it work!

Amanda Grange

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 1809 - snow, floods, frozen birds and the Duke of Cambridge in full song

Digging through my stash of original 19thc newspapers I found several copies of The Globe for January 1809 and discovered that the weather that month was at least as bad as we are experiencing now.

On January 6th, under the heading "Severity of the Weather", there are accounts of numerous accidents and lucky escapes. A young manservant to Mr Ashton, near Haydon-bridge was rescued from a swollen river into which he had fallen, when drunk. "A servant-girl of the family was unable to rest until she had prevailed upon one of the menservants to accompany her to look for him... they heard a faint cry from the river below the ford and, heroically plunging in, oft times to her middle, found the object of her search up to his neck in water...He was reanimated and hopes are entertained of a complete recovery."

"A more severe night than that of the 17th inst. has not been experienced on the coast of Yorkshire within the last twenty years, nor has a larger quantity of snow ever been known to have fallen within the same period of time; for several miles in the parish of Esington, near Whitby, the snow lay from four to eight feet deep; thus completely interrupting the communications between the villages in that neighbourhood, till the roads were cut - an operation that cost the parish alone not less than forty pounds."

"A boy in the service of a miller at Leybourne, near Malling, Kent, went into a field of his master's and saw a number of rooks on the ground, very close together...he threw snowballs at them, to make them rise, but still they remained..he went in amongst them, and actually took up 27 rooks; he also picked up 93 larks, 1 pheasant and a bustard. The cause was that thing of rare occurance in this climate, a heavy rain fell on Thursday afternoon, which freezing as it came down, so completely glazed over the birds that they were fettered to the ground. Several of the larks were dead, having perished from the severity of the cold. The bustard being strong, struggled hard for his liberty, broke his icy fetters, and effected his escape."

By the end of the month the snow had melted and the problem was flood. On 27th January it was reported that:
"The principal part of Chelsea was under water during Wednesday night; and yesterday there was no passing but by boats and carts, to take persons to their Anderson's brewhouse, near the College, the horses and pigs were taken out for fear of their being drowned."
And in "Dorset-street, Portman-square, a considerable part of the pavement has been washed away by the rapidity of the common sewer which runs through that part of the town on its way from Hampstead to the Thames." - one of the tributaries of Tyburn Brook making itself felt again, no doubt!

But despite the weather London society was continuing as normal. At the Theatre Royal, Haymarket one could see De La Peruse or, the Desolate Island, the cast including Grimaldi the clown and Master Oscar Byrne as Champanzee [sic] ("an Animal of the Desolate Island"). The Duke of Cambridge visited Lady Charlotte Finch, but "We are sorry to say her Ladyship was considered worse today." (One does hope he did not sing to her - see below). The guards around St James's Palace had to be moved from their usual stations because parts of the building were in a "dangerous and tottering state." The Lord Chamberlain rode off to Windsor to discuss repairs with the king.
The highlight of the week was apparently a dinner given by the Lord Mayor for the Duke of Cambridge and "a numerous party of distinguished persons." After dinner the Lady Mayoress, "who has obtained great proficiency in the musical science, played several charming pieces...His Highness the Duke of Cambridge, who is a great admirer of glee music, as usual, in the most affable manner, joined in the glees that were sung, and took part in a very difficult duet."

I will leave you with a chilly view of skaters in St James's Park with Buckingham House (later Palace) in the background.
Louise Allen

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snow, but nothing like the real thing

Here in Hereford, we’ve had snow since before Christmas but not a huge amount—about 6-8 inches, I suppose, 15-20 cms. We British aren’t very good at dealing with bad weather, especially snow and ice, nowadays. So I thought I’d go back and look at how the army in the Peninsular War coped.

This is an extract from Schaumann’s diary in which he’s part of the retreat to Corunna.

Schaumann is with the rearguard in Astorga and has been desperately trying to secure food for the soldiers and forage for the horses.

“Eleven o’clock had just struck, when suddenly one of the hussars in my billet, springing up as if electrified, cried, “Get up, get up! The trumpets are blowing!” and ran out into the kitchen, followed by us all. All you could hear in the streets was the ominous clatter of horses’ hoofs, and cries of command, and the sound of general flight. In a great hurry I wanted to bridle my horse which had remained saddled the whole night, but forgetting to tighten his girth, which I had loosened to let him feed more easily, I fell, saddle and all, on to the floor at his feet. Fortunately the beast stood stock still.”

Poor Schaumann. By the time he saddles up and flees, he’s alone and almost rides into the advancing French, saved only by meeting some of the 18th Hussars.

“Our rearguard remained in Astorga until four in the morning. It was pitch dark, and the road taken by the army ran to the right across the mountains. Together with various detachments of troops, I rode forward the whole night, and in the mountains we came upon glaciers or roads which were so deep in snow and ice that the horses could not stand and we were obliged to dismount.

“I passed by a number of glowing bivouac fires which, flaring up now and then, illuminated the wild, desolate, wintry scene, the expressive stillness of which was gruesomely broken by the retreating army. The sausage I had had for supper made me feel dreadfully thirsty; and my horse, too, badly wanted a drink. But there was no water; everything was frozen hard. Both of us therefore ate the snow. I slept while walking, for the road was too steep and slippery to ride, and it was too cold to sit in the saddle.

“At last the day broke and we found ourselves in the mountains that join Galicia and Asturias to Leon. The road was incredibly bad, and we sank knee-deep in mud and snow. Not far from Manzanal, three to five leguas from Astorga, we reached at dawn the serpentine road which from this point follows along the mountains. It is a noble piece of work, broad, frequently cut through the rock, and marked by milestones after the manner of a great highway, and leads from here to Corunna, a distance of 160 miles without a break.”

And by comparison with the hardships they suffered, a few inches of snow on UK roads is a mere nothing, I’d say.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eyton is out!
It's the fifth Richard and Rose book, and the first new one for four years. Poor Rose has been holding her baby in for long enough!
The book is available here and you can get a free short story associated with the book here.

Without further ado, here's a clip from the book:

“It’s been so long,” he said, his voice soft.
“We’ll have to practise,” I said back to him and heard his throaty chuckle.
“We might get it right one day.”
A flicker alerted me to the fact the candles were beginning to gutter. I sat up again to light some of the fresh ones from the drawer before the old ones went out and I would be forced to use a tinderbox. I wanted to see him, memorise the loving expression he only showed to me in private.
Richard swung his legs out of the bed, presumably on his way to his dressing room, but he stopped halfway across the room. “I’ll get us something to drink. I think there’s some wine left in the sitting room.” He picked up his robe and slipped his arms through the sleeves. He went out, and I got out of bed, the better to light the fresh candles. I replaced them all, on the nightstands, the dressing table and the mantelpiece, and went into my dressing room, finding everything quiet.
As I leaned over the washstand to wash my hands I looked up, and suddenly, in the tousle-haired woman in the mirror, I caught a glimpse of the girl I used to be—a sullen, confused person who withdrew more into herself the more hurts she received. No wonder Tom never realised how he felt about me. I hadn’t been a figure anyone could have admired easily. Perhaps Richard’s outré appearance had startled me into dropping my usual expression of sullen compliance, and he saw me as I should have been. As I was now.
I brushed my hair hard until it crackled, restoring it to some semblance of order, and turned to go back into the bedroom, hoping he would be waiting for me there.
Then, tearing through the tranquillity of the quiet house came the sound of two shots—and another two.

There's another clip from the book on my website:

Here are the short description and the details:
When Richard and Rose visit his family estate in Derbyshire to celebrate the christening of their firstborn, Rose comes face to face with some hard realities about the powerful Kerre family. The vast majority of them are far from delighted with Richard’s choice of wife. Plus, they think a man who shares his bed with his wife every night must have something wrong with him.
Rose is driven half mad by Richard’s overly careful love for her. Somewhere underneath that smooth, sophisticated surface lies the passionate, intense lover she longs for—and she takes steps to seduce that savage lover back into her bed.
Their joyous occasion is marred by the theft of a valuable necklace. Richard’s family looks to him to solve the crime—but something isn’t adding up. Evidence pointing to two trusted servants seems too convenient…and then they’re murdered.
From the tangle of jealousies, secrets and desperate lies, Richard and Rose once again dance on the edge of danger to achieve justice—without dragging the family name into public scandal.

Scandal, murder and passion - an ordinary day for Richard and Rose
ISBN:  978-1-60504-691-4

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy New Year

The photo is from a bedroom window looking out over our orchard - I can't remember seeing so much snow since we were marooned here in the eighties. I'm thankful my work is now writing and I don't have to worry about getting to work.

On 1st January Festivites at Hartford Hall was published - as it's a Christmas story this was a bit later than I'd expected. This is the eighth novella My Weekly Pocket Novel has published and there is a ninth due out in the Spring.

This bad weather makes me think of how hard it must have been for the farm workers who lived in our cottage 400 years ago. We ran out of oil last winter and that was a horrible week as we huddled in front of the one open fire and begged and borrowed electric heaters. At least we could go somewhere warm, use the cars , but this time we are totally snowed in. The postive side to this is that I've done far more writing than usual as I can't go out and meet friends for coffee. I have just finished a WW2 romantic suspense and have written the first chapter of my next Regency novella. I'm setting this one in the summer!
Fenella Miller

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Great Frosts and Freezes!

As I write this I am snowed up in our Oxfordshire hamlet, looking out over trees bent almost double under the weight of snow and ice. It all looks extremely pretty but as I have to walk 4 miles to get a pint of milk I am reconsidering how practical it is to live in the depths of the country!

This type of extremely cold weather in the UK must have been familiar to most people during the winters of the Georgian and Regency periods. Newspapers, almanacs and records of the time all report periods of extreme cold. The river Ouse in York froze solid in 1807/08 and 1813/14 was the year of the last great Frost Fair on the Thames in London when a solid field of ice blocked the river between Blackfriars and London bridges. As with 2009/2010, the great freeze that year started with dense freezing fog so bad that the Prince Regent was obliged to turn back on a journey but not before one of his outriders fell in a ditch in Kentish Town because no one could see in front of their nose!

Stories of animals surviving astonishing lengths of time without food are frequent and well-authenticated. The Northampton Mercury of 1808 records the case of a sheep that was buried under snow for three weeks and when it was finally pulled out it ate its way through a pile of sticks, straw and anything else it could get hold of. The benevolence of the local gentry was also relied on to help the poor and needy in times of extreme cold. The Lancaster Gazette tells how Lord and Lady Lowther distributed bags of coal and 200 pairs of flannel blankets in January 1805.

In this part of the world the Ashdown Park gamekeeper earned himself a hero’s reputation for saving the life of two people who fell in a snowdrift on the Lambourn Downs. A convoy of carts had set out from Lambourn on the ancient track across the high Downs intending to deliver coal to the nearby town of Faringdon. As it started to snow the drivers lost sight of the road, the carts plunged off into the fields and they all wandered around aimlessly for several hours until exhausted. One of the party finally managed to struggle as far as Ashdown House before he collapsed; the gamekeeper marshalled a search party and went out in the dark and in snowdrifts of 8 feet to try to find the rest of the party. Although some of the group perished in the cold, a man and a boy (and the horses!) were all saved and taken back to Ashdown where the humans at least were revived with brandy and hot milk.

It’s interesting to reflect that with all our technology these days we’re still almost as much at the mercy of the weather as our ancestors although we are infinitely more fortunate to have better heating and other modern comforts. I’m off to buy a pint of milk now. I may be gone some time...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

At last I have a new book coming out! A new Sarah Mallory hits the shelves in February and it is one of my all-time favourites (in fact I like it so much that I am going to put my feet up and spend the last little bit of the Christmas holiday reading it again - very sad, isn't it???)

It feels like a lifetime since I wrote Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife; the idea first came to me when I was having lunch at the Mermaid Inn at Rye, Sussex (pictured here – just imagine the road without the cars!). This is a beautiful old inn and is well known as the haunt of smugglers. Sitting in the old dining room surrounded by oak beams and dark panelling the imagination really went wild, resulting in a romantic adventure that involves smugglers, treacherous villains and a heroine who thinks her life is far too safe and sheltered, until the wickedly handsome Nick Wylder rides up to her door!

Wicked Captain Wayward Wife is published in February in hard back, with the paperback following in April.

Sarah Mallory
(Melinda Hammond)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Deadlines, distractions and discipline

Snow, cold and rain brings out my natural instinct to curl up by a log fire with a glass of mulled wine and some energising chocolate and resist the urge to hibernate. Then along comes Yule with its prerequisite obligation to get out there to overindulge, overspend and be the life and soul of the party. And all this with novel deadlines looming that should be shackling us to our desk, where our bright witty dialogue and original plot ideas will rivet our readers during the forthcoming year. I would have thought by my time of life I would have got the balance right and yet every year chaos becomes the mother of invention and somehow I muddle through and everything gets done.

My greatest helpmeet (apart from my wonderful "longsuffering" husband) becomes the internet for the not too last minute shopping and double checking research when the snow has stopped you getting to the library. Yet this becomes another distraction as I get side tracked by skipping from website to website gathering absolutely fascinating yet completely unnecessary trivia. Then just as a get myself disciplined to get back to the writing in hand the door bell blasts announcing the arrival of some rather merry and well meaning family and over excited grandchildren bursting with the joys of the season. They are of course completely oblivious that I am in panic mode over a particularly difficult plot twist for my penultimate chapter. So I put this on subconscious hold and count my blessings that I have such a loving and charismatic family that want to spend time with the grouchy old fossil, who by now is muttering over her mince pies about some daring, dashing Loveday who has charged headlong into life threatening danger in their bid to right an injustice. But that can be a typical day in the Tremayne household when I am living with the Lovedays.

Yet the years of discipline needed to juggle family and the great privilege and joy of being published is that somewhere within all this chaos my essential plot twist arrived at 5 am this morning. Admittedly after seeing in the New Year I could have done without the lousey timing. A brilliant sunny dawn after all the rain and snow had woken our 16yr old and somewhat senile springer spaniel desperate for a visit to the garden. Yet what better way to start a new writing year with an amazing burst of inspiration and getting back on track to meet my deadline.

I may be a little late in the day putting up my blog for you this month but I wish you all every joy and success for 2010. May all your troubles be behind you and your dreams be fulfilled.

Kate Tremayne