A Conversation with Penny Hampson

Today in the Library we have Penny Hampson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Penny, please introduce yourself:

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Pam. It’s great to be able to chat. I’ll start by telling you a little about myself.

Penny Hampson

I came to writing rather late in life, having spent most of my adult years bringing up my family and then working as researcher in an academic library. It was only when I made the difficult decision to give up working full time to enable me to care for a close family member that I decided to write my first novel. I’d been juggling both caring and work for ten years and it was beginning to get too much.

Of course, being a historian meant my first book was going to be an historical novel. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, who were very helpful in critiquing my work and introducing me to other authors. A Gentleman’s Promise was eventually published in 2018. I’ve now written three historical novels, and one contemporary mystery/romance novel, with more to follow. I feel I’ve got a lot of catching up to do having started so late!

I live in Oxfordshire with my family, and when I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write historical and contemporary. All my stories contain a mystery and a romance. I love books that have a happy ending, or certainly a happy for now. Life today is challenging for everyone, so I like to think my stories offer an escape from these difficult times, and because I’m passionate about history, even my contemporary stories have an historical element.

I started writing historical romances, because I’m a great fan of Georgette Heyer, and I wanted to capture the sense of time and place that she so cleverly manages in her stories.

Although I’ve branched out into contemporary stories, I’m still aiming for a sense of place with my locations, but now I can have female characters who are not hemmed in by historical social restrictions. I’ve also enjoyed introducing a paranormal element, which allows me to bring in some history, because where do ghosts come from? The past, of course!

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

Yes, I love reading, though these days most of my reading is for research. I don’t get much time to indulge my leisure fiction reading, it usually consists of just half an hour before bedtime. I enjoy most genres, especially those with a mystery at the core, anything historical and preferably with a romance. With the change in my own writing direction, I’ve started reading more ‘dark’ fiction too, and enjoy Stephen King’s spooky stories.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m a hybrid author. My historical novels are all self-published, but The Unquiet Spirit, my first contemporary novel is with a publisher. It’s good having total control over one’s stories and how they look, but the costs of professional editing, proofing and covers are significant. These are costs which I consider to be essential before releasing my books.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

My times for writing usually occur in the afternoons, though I have been known to carry on until the early hours if I’m on a roll and nothing more urgent (like meals,etc) needs to be done.

I share a rather cramped office with my husband, so it can get a little difficult at times, especially when I am trying to write a tense, emotional scene and he is swearing at his computer (we both do that!). However, the good news is that I have been promised a study of my own; our spare bedroom will, hopefully in the not too distant future, be transformed into a super-duper writer’s workspace, with room for all my research books, maps, and other bits and pieces.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

I think that A Bachelor’s Pledge would make a good film, it has intrigue, adventure and romance, not to mention some fantastic locations set as it is in Cornwall and Bath. I can imagine James Norton as moody Phil Cullen and Maisie Williams as a determined Sophia Turner. Keeley Hawes would be fabulous as the scheming Ruth Newbody.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

What an intriguing question. I think if I was going to live the life of an historical figure for a day, I’d choose someone like Jane Austen. I’d love to be able to see inside her head and observe the world through her eyes. I love the pithy descriptions of characters that she does. She had a warm relationship with her sister, so I think that would be nice to experience. As someone who doesn’t have a sister I’d love to be able to share my thoughts with another female like Jane does with Cassandra. I’ve often wondered if the relationship between Lizzie Bennett and her sister Jane was based on Austen’s own experience. It would also be interesting to discover who she based the character of Mr Collins on!

Please tell us about your latest published work. .

Set in 1810, A Bachelor’s Pledge tells the story of Phil Cullen, a secret agent  and Sophia Turner, an orphan he rescues from a house of ill-repute.

Secret agent Phil Cullen is upset when he discovers that the young woman he rescued from Mrs Newbody’s establishment has absconded from his housekeeper’s care without a word. Thinking he has been deceived, he resolves to forget about her… something easier said than done.

Sophia Turner is horrified when she is duped into entering a notorious house of ill-repute. Then a handsome stranger comes to her aid. Desperate that no one learns of this scandalous episode, Sophia flees to the one friend she knows she can trust. With luck, she will never see her mysterious rescuer again.

Months later, Phil is on the trail of an elusive French agent and Sophia is a respectable lady’s companion when fate again intervenes, taking their lives on a collision course.

Traitors, spies, and shameful family secrets – will these bring Sophia and Phil together… or drive them apart?

Thanks again for having me as a guest on you blog, Pam. It’s been lovely chatting to you.

My pleasure, Penny.

***

If you’d like to know more about Penny and her work, check out her links below:

Links:

Blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penny_hampson

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Facebook Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonwriter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Penny_Hampson

Amazon Author Page (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Penny-Hampson/

Amazon Author Page (US): amazon.com/author/pennyhampson

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