Saturday, 15 July 2017

Diana talks to JB Nichols, author of young adult books.


Hello! I am delighted to welcome you to Diana Talks…




First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

* Am I going to make a difference for the better to anyone's life? My rock of a husband has Asperger's syndrome, and I know I'm good for him


If your latest bookLoveupmanship’ was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?

* I think a young Mayim Bialik; someone not wildly good looking but enormously self possessed, could play Lynne Jones


What made you choose this genre?

* I'm a young adult at heart

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?

* They were all around me at school; the good, the bad, the beautiful and the redeemable. And the villain was based on a close relative


If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?

* I'd like to do a murder story. And yes, I always have plot lines. My problem is with keeping plot lines at bay


Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.

* I always had a story to tell. From the first stories my mother ever enthralled me with, I wanted to get on the story creating band wagon


Marmite? Love it or hate it?

* Love it. Pile it on thick


Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??

* No rituals, no distractions, no music; nothing that would interfere with the sounds, smells and pictures in my head


I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?

* My characters. They consume me. I can temporarily switch them off absolutely if I have to though


Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?

* If not providing an entertaining escape route and guiding anyone who cares to switch on into a different take on the world, I my limit free,  no holds barred dream job would be - ach! I was going to say a pimple popper! But who am I trying to kid? Writing full time is the only dream, because wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, it's all experience to be stored up until it escapes through my finger tips on the keyboard

Coffee or tea? Red or white?

* Coffee. And red wine


How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?

* I usually have an end in mind shortly after doodling with a beginning, otherwise the doodle doesn't get any further. I let it go its own way until I need to steer, and sometimes let my original ending get derailed for a better one


If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?

* Any font that doesn't distract; Plantin, Times Roman, possibly Arial. I once put comic sans on my phone when fiddling around, exploring what could be done. It nearly drove me crazy quite quickly because humour in a font is rarely appropriate and I couldn't  recall the moves I'd made to put it on in the first place. Got there in the end though. It's back on Arial

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?

* What? Only one? I would probably waste it on something to do with religion, and I'd expect to be disappointed


Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?

* Yes, often. I have to remind myself that they’re my invention, or at least an imagined creation based on observation, so I have to take some responsibility. Sometimes I've had to abandon them to their own devices as they might not go away until I've let them have their head


How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?

* I never have gone on a research trip because I mostly stick with what I have experienced naturally. Having said that, I've done voluntary work with the disadvantaged and with victims of crime, and this involves delving into dark minds and dark circumstances which are way beyond my personal experience and stretch my capacity for shock and sadness. It's involved speaking to police officers, lawyers, psychologists and fellow volunteers with their caseloads.


Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?

* No, so far I've managed to dislike with understanding. Actually it's not even real dislike.  Actually I can't really remember disliking anyone real imaginary. I've hated people, but that's quite different


Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?

* No, it irritates me when the laws of physics are broken, or historic certainty is overturned - unless a key part of the fiction is explaining why. I would lose trust for an author who did it through ignorance and expected me to go along with it


Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?

* Of course


Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?

* I'm currently in love with Steve Raven, a kind, considerate psychopath I'm writing about now. And I was a little in love with Lynne Jones in Loveupmanship too. An ugly girl with inexplicable, magic charima a and sex-appeal - I loved her so much it made me cry

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

* Garrison Keillor's short stories

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?

* Coke zero


Last but not least... favourite author?

* Anne Tyler


About Loveupmanship:

Funny and feelgood. A south Wales community is stirred up when Lynne Jones brings Miles, her aristocratic boyfriend home for the summer. The gossips have a field day. Not everyone is pleased - from the murderous Mrs Price to lost, lonely little Mandy. Yet it is a summer of hope, redemption, love and laughter - and everyone gets a magic wish.


© Diana Milne January 2017 ©







Saturday, 8 July 2017

Diana talks to Carolyn Hughes

 
 
 
Hi Carolyn, Lovely to welcome you here. Hopefully this interview is an interview with a difference and I have come up with some unusual questions!
 
First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!
Don’t you regret not getting published earlier in your life?
 
Yes, I suppose it would have been lovely to be, say, an Elizabeth Chadwick or a Philippa Gregory, successful historical novelists for decades. I’d have liked that, of course I would. But I didn’t think about it when I was younger and, anyway, I might well have never achieved their great success!

As it is, I’m pretty thrilled to be published at all, even at my (relatively aged) time of life, and I look forward to many more years of writing and publishing. In truth, I’m probably really lucky to have found this source of inspiration so late in my life, something to keep my mind and my imagination active and vigorous!

If your latest book "Fortune's Wheel" was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?



Mmmm, I’m not sure about this! Fortune’s Wheel doesn’t have a single lead role, but if I were to choose Eleanor (who is pretty much the lead in the first sequel) then the actress would have to have red hair. So, let’s say either Emma Stone or, even better, Rose Leslie, who I think probably has the right “look” for Eleanor.



What made you choose this genre?
When I had to choose what to write as the creative piece for my Masters in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University, I mostly just wanted a change from the contemporary women’s fiction I had been writing for the previous few years (none of it yet published).
Searching for inspiration, I was looking through some of my old scribblings, when I rediscovered the fading handwritten draft of about 10,000 words of a novel I’d written in my twenties. Set in fourteenth century rural England, it was about the lives of peasant families. To be frank, the novel’s plot (indeed the writing itself) weren’t terribly good, yet I was drawn to its period and setting. I had one of those light bulb moments and, a few days later, I was drafting an outline for the novel that is now Fortunes Wheel.
It’s true that I’d long been intrigued by the mediaeval period, for its relative remoteness in time and in our understanding of it and, I think, for the very dichotomy between the habitual present-day perception of the Middle Ages as “nasty, brutish and short” and the wonders of the periods art, architecture and literature. The briefest of investigations quickly convinced me that I wanted to know more about the period, and I suppose I soon realised that, by writing an historical novel, Id have the opportunity both to find out more about the mediaeval past and to interpret it, which seemed like a thrilling thing to do.
How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
I really don’t know, which everybody says, I’m sure! With Fortune’s Wheel, as I’ve already said, the spark for the setting and period came from an old novel draft. Research suggested that the fourteenth century had a rich social history, and I thought the period after the Black Death might be interesting. So I had a timeframe, setting and context… The characters – Alice, Margaret and Eleanor – then somehow “presented” themselves to me. I honestly don’t know how that happens – it just does. The plot simply evolved from wondering how people would have coped in the aftermath of something so devastating as a plague that wiped out half of your friends and neighbours, and possibly most of your family. For the sequel, two years further on, I’ve developed one or two minor characters from Fortune’s Wheel, and thought up plot threads surrounding “women’s issues” in the context of the time – I’ll say no more. The truth is that characters and plots do just sort of evolve, seemingly without all that much input from me… How weird is that?!
If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
To be honest, no. Perhaps because I’ve become a published author quite late in life, I’m still fairly in love with my chosen genre, historical fiction, both as a writer and a reader. I do read other types of books, and I especially enjoy crime thrillers, but I can’t ever imagine being able to write one. So I’ll stick to historical fiction for the time being!

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I’ve been writing on and off all my adult life – short stories, novels, children’s stories, ideas for non-fiction books. But for a long time it never occurred to me to try and have anything published – I wrote for pleasure, or perhaps because I couldn’t NOT write. Eventually, though, I did begin to think publication might be possible and tried submitting my contemporary women’s fiction to agents, but I got nowhere. Then, quite late in life, I decided to take an MA in Creative Writing – to give a “focus” to my writing, as I told myself. And it worked. The result was Fortune’s Wheel, which I eventually self-published. And I WAS then a “published writer”, a writer of historical fiction, and that is what I now think I am.
 
Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Definitely love. On hot toast, with butter preferably, or low-fat something-or-other if I really must…
 
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music…??
Not really. I’m not a terribly disciplined writer, so I tend just to get out my laptop and write whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. I do drink rooibos tea almost all the time, and sometimes I’ll listen to music – Chopin typically, rather than anything “medieval” – but really I don’t have any particular needs…
 
I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Oh, the characters, definitely. Although perhaps I’m lucky in a way that I don’t have the “family” at home any more (apart from my OH). So I can quite safely “forget” about them while I’m writing and let my characters be my family.
 
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I was a technical author (a different sort of writer) for thirty years, and I loved my work. If I hadn’t done that, I might have liked to be something like a curator in a museum – surely handling old and interesting artefacts all day long would be wonderful! 

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Tea, preferably rooibos – I drink it all day long (it has no caffeine…). Red and white, as long as the red is full-bodied and the white is dry, although actually I don’t drink all that much of either these days!
 
How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
Once I have a broad concept for the novel, I write an outline of the whole story, a summary of each chapter, sometimes down to scene level, depending on how much I already “know”. The ending is usually pretty vague at this stage. At the same time, once the characters have “presented” themselves, I make closer acquaintance with them by writing their profiles – physical characteristics, occupation/interests, where/how they live, families/friends, and my initial thoughts about their motivations and anxieties.
When I feel I’ve made sufficient acquaintance with the characters and have a storyline with a reasonably workable structure (and I’ve also done “enough” research), I start writing the first draft. As I write, I follow the outline, but not at all slavishly. Nothing is set in stone. I expect change. The plan is just a framework, which I expand and round out with description, character interactions and dialogue as I write the draft. It works for me!

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
I really don’t know much about suitable fonts for books. I like Garamond and Baskerville, but as long as my books are printed in something with a serif, I’m easy…
 
Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Something that almost certainly doesn’t exist – letters from an educated (just taught to read and write) fourteenth century peasant woman. Something like the letters of the real fifteenth century lady of the manor, Margaret Paston, but those of a far lowlier woman, one of those whose voices have not come down to us. How wonderful it would be to read her thoughts and concerns! But, sadly, the wonder of it will have to remain in my imagination.
 
Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
I haven’t had quite that experience, of them going off on their own… But characters do often seem to develop sufficient “agency” to determine events in the novel. Initially, as I write, I put words into their mouths, and thoughts into their heads, and I move them about on the stage I have set, in the role that I have planned for them. And I’m pretty sure that, for a while at least, they do what I say. But then, without much warning, I sometimes realise that I’m writing something that I hadn’t actually planned – typically, a passage of dialogue, or maybe some sort of introspection – that changes some aspect of the story. The characters, it seems, have become strong enough – real enough – to decide for themselves what to do or say or think, rather than just letting me decide for them. They don’t completely take over, but they do seem to take on a sufficiently real existence to enable them to share with me the telling of their story.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I do spend a lot of time reading history books of one sort or another. I’m always coming across more books to read, with fascinating new information, and I can find the research quite a distraction, especially if the writing is not going too smoothly… I do enough research initially to enable me to make a reasonable stab at writing a draft, and then continue researching as I write, when things inevitably arise that I realise I dont know about at all, or have only a vague memory of and need to check.
Because I live where my Meonbridge Chronicles books are set (in Hampshire), I don’t have the need to undertake research trips to exotic foreign places, which is perhaps a pity. But I do love visiting medieval places in England, including those managed by English Heritage, such as the Medieval Merchant’s House in Southampton, and castles and manor houses, such as Stokesay Castle in Shropshire. A favourite visit of mine is to the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex, where buildings of different centuries have been reconstructed so that you can gain a sense of what it was like to live inside them. And of course, there are always museums…
 
Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
That hasn’t so far happened to me, as there are no real characters in any of the Meonbridge Chronicles.
 
Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
It hasn’t arisen so far, but I don’t think I would alter facts for the sake of the story, but rather mould the story to fit what we know happened. At least I think I would…
Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
It’s not really an issue in my books.
 
Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
I can’t think where that’s happened so far. But I’m sort of hoping with the third Meonbridge Chronicle, where I’m creating a very nasty character, that I’ll write him so terribly well that I really will loathe him… We’ll see.
 
What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Historical fiction, mostly – all periods, in principle. But I also do enjoy a good crime thriller, something a bit bloodthirsty perhaps, which I could never write myself.
 
What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Mmmm, well I suppose it should be weak ale, if you’re feeling “peasanty”, and rich red Gascon wine, if you identify more with the gentry. But, for me, it’d just be a cup of rooibos – I wonder what on earth fourteenth century folk would make of it, or even of just a cup of Everyday Breakfast?
 
Last but not least... favourite author?
I always say the late William Trevor, because he was such a master of the short story, and of the subtleties of human interactions. So, not an historical novelist, but just the most brilliant writer.

About Fortune's Wheel:

Plague-widow Alice atte Wode is desperate to find her missing daughter, but her neighbours are rebelling against their masters and their mutiny is hindering the search.
June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter Agnes mysteriously disappeared, and it prevented the search for her.
Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, and have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for.
Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. When one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord's son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

About Carolyn Hughes:

Carolyn Hughes was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After a first degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. It was fun for a few years, but she left to become a school careers officer in Dorset.

But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the Government.

She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest, several years ago, that creative writing and, especially, writing historical fiction, took centre stage in her life.

She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University, and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

 
© Diana Milne January 2017 © Carolyn Hughes June 2017


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sharon Reviews The Scribe's Daughter by Stephanie Churchill

Today Sharon Bennett Connolly reviews The Scribe's Daughter by Stephanie Churchill, a fascinating historical adventure. The author has kindly offered 2 e-book copies as a giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous story, simply leave a comment below of on our Facebook Page.
The winner will be drawn on 12th July. Good luck! 




Kassia is a thief and a soon-to-be oath breaker. Armed with only a reckless wit and sheer bravado, seventeen-year-old Kassia barely scrapes out a life with her older sister in a back-alley of the market district of the Imperial city of Corium. When a stranger shows up at her market stall, offering her work for which she is utterly unqualified, Kassia cautiously takes him on. Very soon however, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving a usurped foreign throne and a vengeful nobleman. Most intriguing of all, she discovers clues to the disappearance of her father three years prior.

When Kassia is forced to flee her home, suffering extreme hardship, danger and personal trauma along the way, she feels powerless to control what happens around her. Rewarding revelations concerning the mysteries of her family’s past are tempered by the reality of a future she doesn’t want. In the end, Kassia discovers an unyielding inner strength, and that contrary to her prior beliefs, she is not defined by external things -- she discovers that she is worthy to be loved.

It is not often that you come across two exceptional books in the same number of weeks, but that has happened to me. I was lucky to read Stephanie Churchill's The Scribe's Daughter after just finishing Richard Abbott's Half Sick of Shadows. Both books are two unique and amazing novels that it has been a privilege to be able to read - and review - one after the other.

My first thought after finishing The Scribe's Daughter was 'Wow!' It is hard to believe this is a debut novel. It is so polished and intelligently written, having none of the naivety that can be found in, even, the best debut novels. I found myself picking up the book at any opportunity - every spare five minutes were spent in the world Stephanie Churchill has created. I was often reading late into the night, just to devour that little bit more of the story. 

The author draws you into her world, building cities, towns, palaces and swamps from her imagination and setting them down in a medieval atmosphere from which it is impossible for the reader to escape. The language, descriptive expertise, attention to detail and wonderful use of imagery helps to create a world that surrounds and embraces the reader. From a strange town, with stranger customs, in the middle of a swamp, to a dismal prison or a fairy tale palace, Stephanie Churchill weaves a world and stroyline that is, at once, colourful, vivid and  full of a sense of mystery.

The story opens with a gripping chase through a medieval city, taking the breath from the reader and continues at much the same pace to the very last word. The plot line is well-defined, and cleverly reveals itself as the story unfolds. With sadness and humour interwoven into the story, the author subtly creates a realism that is deeply embedded  into every aspect of the story.

I retrieved my cap, but when I turned, I nearly collided with a woman blocking my path, staring sown her long patrician nose at me. "Gutter rats in our haven," she scoffed as she stepped closer. I stood my ground. "How dare you invade this place with your pestilence, you vermin infested son of a ..." she paused then, considered my long hair and delicate facial features, and her mouth twisted into a sneer, "... or should I say daughter of a muddy street cur and a mongrel..."
Likely she would have continued on in this vein for some time, but I wasn't about to let her. Without thinking what I did, I slapped her face. What happened next was unintentional, but I won't pretend not to be pleased by the outcome. The slap so discombobulated her that she staggered backward, her momentum stopped only by the pool. With a startled cry, she tumbled into the water. I didn't even bother to wait for a reaction; it had been two days since I'd eaten a meal, and despite the partial apple I'd nearly inhaled not long before, I was hungry. Let the old carp in the pool fend for herself. It was how the rest of us lived.


The Scribe's Daughter is built around the heroine, Kassia; a unique individual; a 17-year-old orphan trying to create a better life for herself and her sister, who is drawn into a world she knows little of and a secret she wasn't even aware existed. Kassia is brave, witty and often brash and hot-headed - you can't help but love her. The author has thought hard over the experiences - and experience - of her heroine, knowing that a teenager may have some skills, but still has a lot to learn. For example, living in a city, Kassia has never ridden a horse so, of course, she suffers from sore thighs and falls off the first time. Such little details make this a delightful story, leaving the reader sympathetic to the heroine and desperate for her to win through.

All the subsidiary characters in the book are just as well thought out and interesting as the heroine herself. The love interest is provided by Jack; a helpful young man who has secrets of his own, is drawn to Kassia, but love never runs smoothly, especially in books! The villains are suitably vicious, colourful, subtle and devious - shadowy figures who may know the secrets Kassia has yet to discover.

And the best thing about having read this book? Stephanie Churchill's second book, The King's Daughter is due for release on 1st September. I can't wait to get stuck in - because if this was a debut novel, I can't wait to see what the second novel brings....

It is hard to imagine how this book could have been improved; it is so perfect in so many ways. The Scribe's Daughter is a masterpiece of historical fiction and should not be missed.






About the Stephanie Churchill: I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and after attending college in Iowa, moved to Washington, D.C. to work as an antitrust paralegal.  When my husband and I got married, I moved to the Minneapolis metro area and found work as a corporate paralegal.  While I enjoyed reading, writing was never anything that even crossed my mind.  I enjoyed reading, but writing?  That’s what authors did, and I wasn’t an author. One day while on my lunch break, I visited the neighboring Barnes & Noble and happened upon a book by author Sharon Kay Penman.  I’d never heard of her before, but the book looked interesting, so I bought it.  Immediately I become a rabid fan of her work. In 2007, when Facebook was very quickly becoming “a thing”, I discovered that Ms. Penman had fan club and that she happened to interact there frequently.  As a result of a casual comment she made about how writers generally don’t get detailed feedback from readers, I wrote her an embarrassingly long review of her latest book, Lionheart.  As a result of that review, she asked me what would become the most life-changing question: “Have you ever thought about writing?”  And The Scribe’s Daughter was born. When I’m not writing or taxiing my two children to school or other activities, I’m likely walking Cozmo, our dog, or reading.  The rest of my time is spent trying to survive the murderous intentions of Minnesota’s weather.
Stephanie's book, The Scribe's Daughter, is available from Amazon Us, and Amazon UK as is her next book, The King's Daughter will be available from Amazon US and Amazon UK in September. 
Stephanie can be found on her website, Facebook and Twitter

About the The Reviewer: Sharon Bennett Connolly has been fascinated by history for over 30 years.
She has studied history at university and worked as a tour guide at several historic sites. She has lived in Paris and London before settling down back in a little village in her native Yorkshire, with husband James and their soon-to-be-teenage son.
Sharon has been writing a blog entitled 'History...the Interesting Bits' for a little over 2 years and has just finished her first non-fiction work, 'Heroines of the Medieval World'. The book looks at the lives of the women – some well known and some almost forgotten to history – who broke the mould; those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history. It is due to be published by Amberley on 15th September 2017. It is now available for pre-order from Amberley, Book Depository and  Amazon.
Sharon can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Diana talks to William Savage, author of the Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mysteries


Author’s interview – 2017. Diana talks to...William Savage

 

Hi William. I have not met you before so it will be a pleasure getting to know you and learning more about you and your writing. 


First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

Would you like me to give you a million pounds? Yes, please.

If your latest book “This Parody of Death” was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?

I would be very unlikely to let it happen. The written word lets the reader ‘see’ the characters as they best imagine them to be. Once a film/TV show is made, the character is fixed by someone else. A lively imagination is a vital human characteristic and should be encouraged whenever possible.

What made you choose this genre?

If imagination is a good part of what makes us human, curiosity is up there with it. Mysteries stimulate both. A good puzzle gets the brain working.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?

I read. Lots. I think even more. I can sit for hours with my eyes shut plotting — and sometimes snoring while I do it.

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?

No. I am very boring. This is it.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.

I was 69, so a late developer. I’ve always written non-fiction of one kind or another. Feeling bored with retirement, I thought I’d try a creative writing course. I hated it! Far too regimented and prescriptive. Being a contrary sort, I determined to do things my own way and see what happened. I’m now on my seventh book in two-and-half years.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?

Loathe it! You know it’s made from the scrapings from under the devil’s toenails?

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??

No, sorry.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?

I have been blessed with a ferocious ability to concentrate. Once committed to something, I don’t notice anything else.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?

Being retired, as I am! Work is grossly over-rated and that includes writing. It’s wonderful not to have to worry about the money side of things.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?

Tea, red.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?

I plan very carefully, then rarely follow the plan. I find the characters have minds of their own.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?

I do. I design and produce all my own paperbacks, including the covers, generally using Garamond or Caslon for the text and various display fonts elsewhere..

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?

Sorry, no idea. I have enough to do coping with the vast number of source documents that actually exist for ‘my’ period.

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?

Constantly. I go with them to see what will happen. Generally they know the way better than I do.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?

I research constantly and often take trips. I enjoy it and it makes sure I don’t drift away from the reality of the period I’m writing about. It also fuels my blog,“Pen and Pension”.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?

No. Real characters are like real events or the real culture and technology of the time. If they annoy you, choose another period.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?

No, never. That would seem to me dishonest and weak-kneed. All art thrives on discipline and difficulty. Nothing annoys me more than a ‘historical’ book or drama that gets the history wrong, whether deliberately or not. I have been known to hurl abuse at the TV and call down curses on sloppy or careless writers for the smallest mistake I notice. Born (and unrepentant) pedant!

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?

Hopefully I blur them all the time. I want my readers to feel what I have written is ‘real’ — at least while they are reading the book.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?

Not that I am aware of.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

Mysteries!

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?

Artisan gin or a large margarita.

Last but not least... favourite author?

Georges Simenon.

About William:

William started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had always lectured and written extensively on business topics, including three books, many articles and a successful leadership blog which garnered more than 5000 regular followers. He has no intention of letting his mind stagnate or his creativity wither. This means finding new sources of interest and inspiration.

Throughout his life, William has read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of his other loves is history, especially the local history of the many places where he has lived. It seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk. Four books have appeared so far and he is currently at work on a fifth.

William’s books are set between 1760 and around 1800. This was a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon. The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city. The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman-physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations nearer to the North Norfolk coast. Adam tries to build a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and a knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.

William has spent a good deal of his life travelling in Britain and overseas. After obtaining his degree at Cambridge, he set out on a business career, during which he lived in most parts of the UK, as well as spending eleven years in the USA. He has been a senior executive, an academic and a consultant to many multinational companies. Now he is more than content to write stories and run a new blog, devoted to the world of Georgian England, which you can find at http://www.penandpension.com. You can also follow him on Twitter as @penandpension.






© Diana Milne January 2017 © William Savage May 2017