Delphine Woods writes dark historical fiction, where people are rarely who they seem. She has a deep love for the Victorian period, and for women who are prepared to fight back in any way they can. She lives amidst the rolling hills of Shropshire and dreams of a life filled with far-stretching views and open fires, where she can toast her feet as she flicks through the pages of a Gothic mystery or a gripping thriller. Discover her other books on her website or Amazon page, and get two free historical novellas when you join her newsletter. … Woman on Ward 13 – New Release from Delphine Woods
Today, I am delighted to welcome into the Library fellow historical fiction author Carolyn Hughes. She has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
You are very welcome, Carolyn, please introduce yourself:
Hello, I’m Carolyn and I write historical fiction. (Sounds like we’re in a meeting for Writers Anonymous…) I’ve been writing all my adult life, but have come to publication only relatively recently when I am, alas, quite old! … A Conversation with Author Carolyn Hughes
Today I’m delighted to host Samantha Wilcoxson on her blog tour for her fabulous new release, Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl. I recall many years ago seeing a documentary about the girls who worked with radium. It was rather shocking, so I am delighted to see Samantha pick up the mantle to tell their story. The book is now on my Kindle and I am really looking forward to getting reacquainted with the story.
You are very welcome, Samantha, please introduce yourself: … Luminous: Blog Tour with Samantha Wilcoxson
@DavidsBookBlurg Review of Footprints in the Sand.
Today I’m going to be reviewing Footprints in the Sand (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 2) by Pam Lecky.
Here’s the blurb
Cairo 1887: A melting pot of jealousy, lust and revenge. Who will pay the ultimate price?
Lucy Lawrence throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of self-discovery to the land of the pharaohs.
Travelling to Cairo as the patron of the charming French Egyptologist, Armand Moreau, Lucy discovers an archaeological community plagued by professional rivalries and intrigue. It is soon apparent that the thriving black market in antiquities threatens Egypt’s precious heritage.
When the Egyptian Museum is burgled, Lucy is determined to solve the case, much to the annoyance of the local inspector of police, and the alarm of Mary, her maid. But when an archaeologist is found murdered in the Great Pyramid, Lucy is catapulted into the resulting maelstrom. Can she keep her wits…
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Hi Pam, and thanks for inviting me to come and talk about my new book. The Potential for Love. It is set in England in 1816, and is a love story with a difference. … New Release from Catherine Kullmann – The Potential for Love
It’s always a treat to hear about Anna’s books, so I am delighted today to bring you news of her latest which is released tomorrow. To whet your appetite, Anna is going to tell us all about the setting for The Highlander’s English Bride. Take it away, Anna!
This evening in the Library we have Tonya Mitchell who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
Thank you, Pam. I’m a great fan of your books. I’m thrilled to have found your Lucy Lawrence series.
Thank you! You are very welcome Tonya, please introduce yourself:
I received my BA in journalism from Indiana University. My short fiction has appeared in The Copperfield Review, Words Undone, and The Front Porch Review, as well as in various anthologies, including Furtive Dalliance, Welcome to Elsewhere, and Glimmer and Other Stories and Poems, for which I won the Cinnamon Press award in fiction.
I am a self-professed Anglophile and I am obsessed with all things relating to the Victorian period. I am a member of the Historical Novel Society North America and reside in Cincinnati, Ohio with my husband and three wildly energetic sons. A Feigned Madness is my first novel.
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
I read voraciously as a child. There was never a time I wasn’t reading something. When I was eight-years-old, I told my mom I wanted to write a book. I had no idea what I wanted to write, mind you, I just knew I wanted to write books. I cherish To Kill a Mockingbird to this day. I still remember the first time I read it, the colour of the couch, the way the sun shone through the window. But it wasn’t until I read Jane Eyre in high school that I really started gravitating to historical fiction. History fascinates me in ways few other things do. It’s so intriguing, because as a reader I’d think: Wow, things were really like this? How did these people cope? How did they survive? I love seeing characters in those tight spaces, battling it out with the cultural beliefs, social mores, and injustices of their time—particularly women, who had so little power. I think I became a lover of all things British when I started reading—devouring actually—Agatha Christie novels. The combination of mystery inside, oftentimes, an English manor house hooked me every time. And who doesn’t love Miss Marple?
Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?
I’m lucky enough to be traditionally published by a small press. My debut will be out this fall. I wanted to go the traditional route simply because I wanted to walk into a bookstore one day and see my book there. That’s been a dream for as long as I can remember. Getting published was a hard road for me, though. I had lots of fits and starts along the way, lots of imposter syndrome. I’d read an excellent book and think: How the hell can I do this? Who am I kidding? There have also been changes in the publishing industry that have made it harder to get published traditionally. The Big Five in the US tend to see debut authors as a huge risk, so if you don’t stand out from the get-go, and I mean stand out amongst the brilliant, already-successful authors with big followings, chances are you won’t get far. It’s very competitive.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
In a nutshell, the authors who were writing what I most wanted to read. After Jane Eyre, I began looking for other dark stories: Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker. At some point along the way, I figured out that gothic was really what I loved. From there, I went on to read Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood, and Laura Purcell. If there’s something dark and murky about it, something uber twisted, chances are I’m going to love it. What that says about my mental state, I’m not sure 😉
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
I think the hardest part is that horrible first draft. Facing the blank page is a monster to me. I know the first draft is supposed to be bad (there’s a reason writers call it the vomit draft), but it’s hard to write drivel and move on. But that’s what you have to do, keep writing badly until it’s down. It’s the next passes, the editing, that I prefer because I have something to work with I can make better. That’s not to say editing is easy, it’s just that I’d rather have something to improve than work from nothing. I like the research too, though sometimes keeping myself from going down rabbit holes is a struggle.
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
Proceed as if success is inevitable. I have it stuck to the wall in my office where I write to remind me. Oddly, it didn’t come from an author. It was a meme I think, but honestly, it helped. It’s what got me through all the highs and lows. It helped me keep my head down and working as I approached each milestone. There was some doubling-back of course, but it was all about forward momentum.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I have three teenage boys at home, so school hours are the best time for me. Things get a little chaotic after that. I also work late at night sometimes if things are flowing after everyone has gone to bed.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I’d probably be drinking too much coffee in Starbucks, lamenting that I should’ve become an author.
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
I’d go back to the Victorian period, probably to the 1880’s. It’s when my book takes place. It was such a fascinating time. At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, rooms were lit by candle and transportation was by horse; by the time she died, the world was ushering in electricity and automobiles. The industrial revolution was well underway, but the women’s movement—suffrage, gender equality, etc. was way behind. The dichotomy of that boggles. Reading and writing female protagonists from that era, women who wanted to break free of the mold men were so determined to keep them in, makes for such vivid storytelling. Plus, the clothes. To die for.
Please tell us about your debut novel.
She isn’t the madwoman with amnesia the doctors and inmates at Blackwell’s Asylum think she is.
In truth, she’s working undercover for the New York World. When the managing editor refuses to hire her because she’s a woman, Elizabeth strikes a deal: in exchange for a job, she’ll impersonate a lunatic to expose a local asylum’s abuses.
When she arrives at the asylum, Elizabeth realizes she must make a decision—is she there merely to bear witness, or to intervene on behalf of the abused inmates? Can she interfere without blowing her cover? As the superintendent of the asylum grows increasingly suspicious, Elizabeth knows her scheme—and her dream of becoming a journalist in New York—is in jeopardy.
A Feigned Madness is a meticulously researched, fictionalized account of the woman who would come to be known as daredevil reporter Nellie Bly. At a time of cutthroat journalism, when newspapers battled for readers at any cost, Bly emerged as one of the first to break through the gender barrier—a woman who would, through her daring exploits, forge a trail for women fighting for their place in the world.
Available: October 6th 2020
Pre-order book: https://www.cynren.com/catalog/a-feigned-madness)
Pre-order ebook: Amazon
If you would like to know more about Tonya and her work, please check out her links below:
Today in the Library we have Delphine Woods, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
You are very welcome, Delphine, please introduce yourself:
I’m a Shropshire based author of historical fiction. When I was a teenager, I had my heart set on becoming an actress, but after my first year at drama school, I decided the lifestyle wasn’t for me. I’m too much of a home bird! After wondering what to do for a while, I decided to join the Open University. I studied a variety of modules including creative writing, medicine through history, and children’s literature, and graduated in 2016.
Whilst studying and travelling Europe, I began writing novels. My first novel was a contemporary romance, and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the process (and knowing I could actually write a full novel), the genre didn’t ignite my passion. History is what I love – Victorian history in particular. After a couple of years writing and learning as much as I could about self-publishing, the first novel in my Convenient Women Collection went live in August 2019. There are now five books in the Collection, and I will be publishing the first book in a new, time-slip series soon.
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
I find it a little hard to define my genre. My books are gothic historical mystery-thrillers, with a dash of romance (although very few romantically happy endings occur). I love gothic texts, with wild landscapes and unstable minds, and these themes are prominent in many of my stories. Undoubtedly, there is a feminist slant to my work, and often I depict the horrific ways women have been treated in the past. I like to make my women fight back, in whatever way they can.
Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
Who doesn’t love a good book? Some books just grab you from the start and won’t let go. I am quite a slow reader, I can’t read a book in a day, but I know one has truly given me the bug when I can’t stop thinking about it.
I tend to stick to my favourite genres. Those are, of course, gothic and/or historical fiction, but it is nice to escape into some light-hearted romance once in a while. I’m not all doom and gloom! I also enjoy psychological thrillers and I am fascinated with the human mind and what makes people tick.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
My routine varies with each book and my state of mind. I used to like writing first thing in the morning, but that was before I had to keep up with emails. I tend to reply to emails and write newsletters when I first arrive at my work space. Late morning and early afternoon I write my novels, at the moment, anyway. I most definitely cannot write at night. I clock off no later than 6pm and cherish my peaceful evenings with my husband. The same goes for the weekend, although as any writer knows, the mind never really stops plotting and planning.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I have always thought I would like to be a psychologist. However, in reality, I’m not sure how good I would be. Working in a living museum has appealed to me too, as has becoming a dog trainer!
If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?
I actually had an actor in mind as I wrote The Promise Keeper. The main male character is called Tom Oliver, and I would want the beautiful Douglas Booth to play him. Tom has Douglas’ full lips, his dark hair, his chiselled jawline, and his brooding sense of danger. I didn’t have a specific actress in mind when I wrote Liz, the female lead, but I think Holliday Grainger would be a good fit because of her beauty and poise – I loved her as Lucrezia in The Borgias.
You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?
Firstly, there is no way on earth you would get me into that spaceship! I hate flying at the best of times, but, my five books would be … Gosh, this is hard! First up, it has to be Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, my all-time favourite novel which inspired me to write Victorian gothic novels. Second, I would chose Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase because even now, two years after reading it, I can still step into the larder or onto the cliff edge. Philippa Gregory’s The Queen’s Fool would be third. It has been years since I read this book, but the opening scene hooked me straight away, and I still think about bats flying amidst the orange trees at the Alhambra Palace. Fourth, Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White because Sugar is my favourite ever literary character, and Ramola Garai played her so well in the TV mini-series. Finally, I’m going to throw something lighter into the mix because Mars would be pretty hard work. I Love Capri by Belinda Jones is a summer rom-com which has been on my mother’s bookshelf for over a decade and has been flicked through too many times! We all need a bit of love and sunshine!
Please tell us about your latest published work.
The last book in my Convenient Women Collection is The Little Wife. Set in 1875 in an isolated Scottish castle, this book has murder, intrigue, sexual tension, and a fight for survival.
When Beatrice Brown’s husband is duty-bound to return to the ominous Dhuloch Castle, she has no choice but to leave her home and go with him. The journey to the Scottish Highlands is nerve-shattering for Beatrice, and life in such a desolate place is no better. All she wants is to go back to England, back to her old, boring life.
As she struggles to cope with the isolation and her husband’s cruel nature, Beatrice finds comfort in the only friendly face, the castle’s mistress, Clementine Montgomery. Soon, the two embark on a passionate affair. With Beatrice’s desires and vibrancy reawakened, she begins to wonder what her husband is hiding. Why did he flee the castle all those years ago?
Something evil lurks inside Dhuloch’s walls. It will not rest until it has blood.
Will Beatrice have the strength to uncover the truth before the castle claims its next victim?
Every book in this collection is a standalone and can be read in any order. If you want a taste of my work for free, join my newsletter and you will receive the Convenient Women Collection novella, The Butcher’s Wife, to whet your appetite.
If you would like to know more about Delphine and her work, please check out her links below:
Amelia Edwards was a fascinating woman who popped her head above the parapet of convention and made a real impact in her own lifetime. And this was an era when women were supposed to stay at home and not be noticed. Not only did she support herself with her writing, both as a novelist and journalist, but she fell in love with Egypt and the consequences were absolutely wonderful.
Inclement weather during a hiking holiday in France, and a pioneering spirit, led Amelia to Egypt in the autumn of 1873. Mere chance, but it changed her life completely. Already an experienced travel writer, she took to the land of the pharaohs with a passion and wrote about her experiences in A Thousand Miles Up the Nile.
I came across the book by chance while undertaking research for my second Lucy Lawrence novel, Footprints in the Sand. I was astonished when I first read the book for it could have been written today. There was none of the stilted dryness you would expect from a Victorian writer but humour and a fascinating insight into Egypt’s heritage and its people. For anyone with an interest in Victorian women (who broke the mould!) or indeed Egyptology, I highly recommend investing in a copy. She even did the wonderful illustrations in the book (example below)!
Amelia was born in London in 1831, daughter of an ex-army officer and an Irish mother. She was educated at home and soon showed a talent for the written word. She produced her first full length novel in 1855 – My Brother’s Wife. Her poetry, stories and articles were published in magazines including Chamber’s Journal, Household Words and the Saturday Review and Morning Post. Her many novels proved popular.
By the time Amelia was 30, both her parents had passed away. Against the conventions of the time, she decided to go travelling (without the proper male escort!) and had the funds to do it because of her writing success. With a female companion, Lucy Renshawe, she set off, only hiring male servants or guides as required. Her first trip was to Belgium in 1862 and in June 1872 the pair explored the Dolomite Region of Northern Italy (Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys).
But over the winter of 1873-74, Amelia and Lucy sailed up the Nile to Abu Simbel. Unlike most travellers who saw Egypt as another pleasure-ground, Amelia was keenly aware of the underlying political and cultural problems of the country. To her shock, she witnessed the results of the highly lucrative and extensive illegal trade in antiquities. Sites were being pillaged and destroyed by all and sundry. All of this was happening in an unstable political climate with rivalry and tension between French and English explorers added to the mix. Saddened and disturbed by what she saw as the desecration of Egypt’s heritage, she returned to England determined to do something about it.
Amelia was convinced a more scientific approach was needed to preserve Egypt’s treasurers. She studied Egyptology and formed lasting friendships with the likes of Gaston Maspero, who would later become director general of excavations and antiquities for the Egyptian government, and one of the greatest Egyptologists, Flinders Petrie. Amelia promoted the founding of an Egyptological society, culminating in its first meeting in 1880 at the British Museum. Two years’ later, it became the Egypt Exploration Fund, its main purpose to study, conserve and protect ancient sites in Egypt. Amelia’s campaigning paid off, and soon they were able to fund the exploration work of Flinders Petrie in Egypt.
Subsequently, Amelia undertook grueling lecture tours and even gave up her successful novel writing to concentrate on all matters Egyptological. Eventually, her work earned her honorary degrees from several American universities and in honour of her work, she received an English civil list pension for “her services to literature and archaeology”.
In the early 1890s, Amelia’s health began to deteriorate, and in January 1892, Lucy Renshawe, the woman who had travelled with her and shared her home for nearly thirty years, died. A few months later, Amelia succumbed to influenza. She is buried at St. Mary the Virgin, Henbury, Bristol.
Amelia left a library and collection of Egyptian antiquities to University College London and a bequest to established the first English Chair in Egyptology. Fittingly, Flinders Petrie was the first appointed to the Edwards Chair in UCL.
I cannot deny that the Egypt described by Amelia in her book presented countless possibilities for mischief to a mystery writer. Her descriptions of Cairo and the many sites she visited, transported me back to Victorian Egypt like no dry contemporary source could do. My heroine, Lucy Lawrence, shared some of Miss Edwards’ qualities of curiosity and determination and so Footprints in the Sand quickly transformed from a vague plot idea to a novel.
Cairo, Autumn 1887: A melting pot of jealousy, lust and revenge. Who will pay the ultimate price?
Lucy Lawrence throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the land of the pharaohs.
Travelling to Cairo as the patron of the charming French Egyptologist, Armand Moreau, Lucy discovers a city teeming with professional rivalries, and a thriving black market in antiquities which threatens Egypt’s precious heritage.
When the Egyptian Museum is burgled, Lucy is determined to solve the case, much to the annoyance of the local inspector of police, and the alarm of Mary, her maid. But when an archaeologist is found murdered in the Great Pyramid, Lucy is catapulted into the resulting maelstrom. Can she keep her wits about her to avoid meeting a similar fate?