A Conversation with Author Tim Walker

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Tim Walker, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.

You are very welcome, Tim, please tell us about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me, Pam. I’m an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. I grew up in Liverpool where I began my working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After attaining a degree in Communication Studies, I moved to London where I worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO in educational book publishing development, I set up my own marketing and publishing business, launching, managing and editing a construction industry magazine and a business newspaper. A Conversation with Author Tim Walker

A Conversation with Author Brook Allen

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

You are very welcome, Brook, please introduce yourself:

Brook Allen

Hi, Pam! Thanks for hosting me. I am a writer of historical fiction and particularly love ancient history. That said, I read historical fiction from all periods and sub-genres. My husband and I live in rural Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains and are parents to two extremely well-read and well-heeled Labrador Retrievers who answer to the names Jak & Ali. I recently completed the Antonius Trilogy, three books telling the life story of Roman statesman and general, Marc Antony. It was a fantastic experience, traveling and following his footsteps in Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Turkey. And my first book in the trilogy (Antonius: Son of Rome) won an international award recently; a silver medal in the Reader’s Favorite Book Reviewer Awards for 2020. A Conversation with Author Brook Allen

A Conversation with Author Carolyn Hughes

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

Luminous: Blog Tour with Samantha Wilcoxson

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

Amelia Edwards: A Victorian Trailblazer

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).

Credit: Amelia Edwards

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.

Flinders Petrie

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?

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A Conversation with Olivier Bosman

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Olivier Bosman, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.

You are very welcome, Olivier, please introduce yourself:

My name is Olivier Bosman and I write the D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries. Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia.

I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various dvd collections!)

​I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theatre and wrote and produced a play called ´Death Takes a Lover´ (which has since been turned into the first D.S.Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim.

I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English .

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

I write Victorian mysteries. I love a good mystery. I like creating intrigue and suspense and keeping the readers hooked till the end, and I just love the past. If only I had a time machine, I’d be travelling throughout the ages, never to return to my own time again. My books are set in the late Victorian period, because I was inspired to write Gothic Victorian mysteries after reading Wilkie Collins. There is something irrepressibly appealing about dark gas-lit alleys, and sinister men in top hats, and shifty looking maids lurking in corridors, and enigmatic damsels with long dresses and hidden pasts.

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

I read all kinds books. Mysteries and literary fiction are my favourite. Combine the two and you get something like Alias Grace or The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; or The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. I’m currently going through all the Booker Prize nominees.

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

I’m self-published. I like the control it gives, and I get to set my own deadlines, which suits me well, because I’m a slow writer.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I’ve had an unusual upbringing. My parents are Dutch, but I was born in Colombia, where I lived until I was eleven. Then we moved to England, where I spent my teenage years. I haven’t stayed put since. I don’t feel like I belong in any particular country. I’m a foreigner everywhere I go, and this is reflected in my main character, John Billings, who was brought up in Madagascar by his missionary parents, and got stranded in England aged fourteen when both his parents died. He’s an alien in his own country which helps him see things from a different perspective. But it also means that, along with the fact that he is a homosexual and a Quaker, he is forever an outsider, which makes life hard for him.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The hardest part is writing the first draft. Getting the words down. If writing were like sculpting, then writing the first draft is akin to sitting on a muddy river bank scraping together the sticky clay and hauling the heavy load back to the workshop. Once the first draft is completed, the fun part starts, which is sculpting and shaping the mass of words into a thrilling little story.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I’m a morning person. If I don’t do any writing before lunch, it won’t get done. My mind ceases to work after lunch time.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’d be doing something that involved making up stories. Film making, or comic books, or composing songs. I can’t imaging not being able to tell stories.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries Boxset

Dimly lit cobblestone streets. Sinister looking men in top hats lurking in the fog.

The first three books in the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries Series have been bundled together to chill you to the bone. Detective Sergeant John Billings is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality. In these mysteries he will lead you on a thrilling journey into the darkest recesses of Victorian society.

viewbook.at/dsbillingsmysteries

https://www.olivierbosman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/olivier.bosman.author

 

A Conversation with Author John Bainbridge

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­one of my favourite authors, John Bainbridge, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.


You are very welcome, John, please introduce yourself.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Pam. I’m John Bainbridge. I’ve written books in three historical periods, and autobiographical works about my passion for walking in the British countryside

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

I write historical mystery thrillers about a Victorian crime fighter called William Quest, who is really a vigilante outside the law who fights against social injustices. I’ve written three Quest novels so far and have just begun the fourth. I’ve also written two novels about a character called Sean Miller, who fights the Nazis in the 1930s. My third series, now complete, is a tetralogy of novels about Robin Hood, The Chronicles of Robin Hood, which tries to root the famous outlaw in medieval reality.

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

I read books in all sorts of genres, non-fiction as well as fiction. My favourite authors are George Borrow, Daniel Defoe and John Buchan, but I also love pulp fiction authors. I usually read several books at the same time.

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

In the past I wrote a number of books for a conventional publisher, all non-fiction, but with the novels I chose to go Indie. I like the self-control and the better royalties. Though I’d be happy to consider any decent publishing deal in the future, I’d never want editorial interference with the way I write

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Probably John Buchan, who I can re-read over and over again. But there are so many writers who have influenced me in different ways. I like picaresque writers, and Daniel Defoe and George Borrow were also early influences, as was Shakespeare and Dickens. I still re-read writers I discovered in childhood, such as Arthur Ransome and Alan Garner.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I’ve worked in the past in journalism, where if you don’t do the work, you don’t make any money, so I just sit down and write. Having to pay the bills is a great source of inspiration. I hate doing all the administration that goes with the writing life.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I write first thing in the morning, usually up to 1000 words. Then I run out of steam. In my freelance journalism days, I used to work much longer hours, but not anymore. By the time I fnish my morning shift I’ve done enough.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’d be spending more time reading books and walking in the countryside. When I was young I wanted to be an actor or a film director. I think if I started again I’d be a lecturer in English Literature or social history, or an archaeologist. I never really had great ambitions to be a writer, I just always did it.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

It would be nice to go back to Victorian times, as I could understand the mechanics of living there and then. Much of what I like about the Victorian era is that we can still walk through places they would recognise. Look above awful modern shop fronts and you can still see buildings Victorians would recognise. And British social conditions and injustices seem to be heading back to the Victorian worst of worlds.

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?

Lavengro by George Borrow; John Macnab by John Buchan; Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe; A Complete Shakespeare; and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

My latest book is Dangerous Game, a Sean Miller thriller set on Dartmoor in 1937. Here’s the description:

“Sean Miller – a rogue of the first water; a former Army sniper, he seems unable to stay out of a fight. Sean Miller’s on his way back to fight in Spain when he’s diverted to Devon to undertake a mission for renegade members of the German Secret Service, trying to stop the Nazis plunging the world into war. A secret agent lies dead in a moorland river and the one man who can keep the peace is an assassin’s target. As the hunter becomes the hunted in an epic chase, Miller encounters his greatest enemy in a dangerous game of death across the lonely hills of Dartmoor.

A fast-paced action thriller by the author of Balmoral Kill and the William Quest adventures.”

My Amazon author page, which lists all my books, is at https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Bainbridge/e/B001K8BTHO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I have a writing and books blog at www.johnbainbridgewriter.wordpress.com

And write about walking and the countryside at www.walkingtheoldways.wordpress.com

 

A Conversation with Author Regina Clarke

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

You are very welcome, Regina, please introduce yourself:

Hi Pam—Thanks so much for having me in the Library! I’ve switched careers three times, but now spend my days writing—just a joy. First, I taught English Lit at a university and then worked as a corporate writer, which often meant moving house, which I’ve done to date (gads) eighteen times to three coasts and overseas. But it wasn’t until I left the corporate workplace behind (happily!), that time and space came into sync and I began to send my fiction out into this real world. That was in 2012, and since then my short stories have appeared in Thrice Fiction, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Subtle Fiction, Mad Scientist Journal, Over My Dead Body!, T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog, and NewMyths, among others. At one point I wanted to be a screenwriter and was a finalist in the Hollywood SCRIPTOID Screenwriter’s Feature Challenge for my script about a mother seeking the disabled child she had abandoned, in “Second Chances.” I began Indie publishing my standalone novels in 2014.

Life includes creative friends and a brilliant, talkative, and very green eclectus parrot named Harry. Home (at last) is in the evocative and hauntingly beautiful Hudson River Valley. It pleases me no end to live not very far from where Rod Serling grew up and Jane Roberts encountered Seth.

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

I write in several genres, but have been most recently drawn as a writer to the cozy mystery. I’ve read them all my life but didn’t plan to write one—my usual realms are sci-fi, fantasy, and standard mystery. But I entered a cozy mystery short story contest at Reedsy last December, just for fun. And won their prize—which astonished me! They posted my story on Medium.com and I pinned the story to my Twitter page after that, but when people said I should make it into a book—I just didn’t see how. For months it wasn’t even on my radar.

Then in mid-April, thinking about what to write next, I got this sudden—it felt like a download of a cozy mystery book series, based on that short story—and the plot for Book 1, the cast of characters, including making the main character an amateur archaeologist, the expanded setting of the town and valley, even the red herrings—all of it was clear to me. And within a week I’d set up a reader’s group, created a closed group FB page, and begun writing—it was such a sudden thing. One of my readers asked if she could create a map for the town I’d invented, so I said absolutely and sent her my PowerPoint version with streets and shops and landscape (I am no artist…J ) and so Book 1 has a great map because of her. Now I’m working on the next book in the series, called Messenger Out of Time. It’s set near where I live in a real place, an abandoned state hospital/insane asylum that Ria learns might have been built over a Neolithic village.

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

I read many genres but for a good while I’ve been focused on reading cozy mysteries. I especially like the Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear that were recently recommended to me, and I have found them enthralling. I also like biography a lot, and alternate history.

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

A long time ago I had some nonfiction traditionally published, but since 2014 I have Indie-published all my books. It is SO incredible and wonderful that writers have this option, this new world to create in, thanks to the platforms out there.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Oh, so hard to narrow it down. So many grand influences teaching me and reminding me of this creative force. I guess I’d best name the ones I look at as bringing happiness over and over again—Ray Bradbury, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, Jane Roberts (her Seth books), Stephen Donaldson’s first trilogy, the Venerable Bede, Edgar Cayce, and no question, the Star Trek universe.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

It has, a lot. I was born in England, though I grew up in the U.S. I had an ancestral background in England—I even found my name in a 12th-century charter (of course, it was the male Reginald Clarke, not Regina Clarke, who got mentioned in those days). I’ve visited England often and find there such evocative sense of my roots and of course, the mysterious landscapes of ancient monoliths, especially in Wiltshire and Northumberland and West Riding, Yorkshire. In the U.S. which I’ve travelled through a lot, I have this sense of expansion and open spaces and a different kind of heritage, one shifted out of what Longfellow called “the forest primeval” in a poem, speaking of a New England at the time still mostly unexplored. I feel a deep affinity for all the cultures here, for the music, and the sense of a creativity that seems to exist in the land itself. Both England and the U.S. show up in my writing, one way or the other.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

That would be the element of logic—giving it a proper veneration in the plot! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to track turning points in Agatha Christie’s books to see how she worked it. And not just her—I do that with books by Carolyn Hart, Lynn Cahoon, and Kate Carlisle, among others, not to mention analyzing the plots of Murder, She Wrote, the television series. It helps me remember I really have to have it all make sense!

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

It wasn’t “write what you know,” it was “write what matters to you.” My intent is for the stories and books I write to bring others a good read, a respite from the frenetic pace we sometimes live, and most of all, a path into other ways of seeing.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I do—and discovered it is apparently embedded in me now. I write from 9:30 to 1 p.m., usually seven days a week. Afternoons for a couple of hours or in the late evening I’ll write my essays on Medium.com or edit my stories.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I suspect I’d be a scribe in a monastery somewhere in a past life! In this life? I’d be an archaeologist, hands down. I’ve spent a lot of my life exploring quarries as a teenager and digs and monoliths in England and here.

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

That’s a wonderful question—now I have stars in my eyes … I’d have Emily Blunt as Ria, Tom Welling as Gareth.

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

Merlin. Give almost anything for that. (Always better to say an “almost” when dealing with a real wizard…)

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

The Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago. I spend a lot of time studying and imagining that world. I feel as if I know it, somehow. It played a big part in my novel The Magic Hour, and when I wrote that book I was so immersed I lost track of time completely. I’d give my eyeteeth to get back to the year 4000 B.C. and wander through the Avebury stones, among others.

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?

What would I choose? Wow. I’d have to say The New Testament. The Complete Plays of Shakespeare in one volume. Ray Bradbury’s October Country and Dandelion Wine in one volume. Melville’s Moby Dick, and Jane Roberts’ Seth books—these three in one volume: Seth Speaks, The Nature of Personal Reality, and The Unknown Reality.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

HIDDEN IN STONE: On a cold March day, Ria Quinn, amateur archaeologist, arrives in Shokan Falls in upstate New York to claim an inheritance—but who was Aunt Harriet, her benefactor? No one she has ever heard of! Ria discovers there is a mysterious, prehistoric stone circle in the nearby woods that has an impossible connection to the girl’s boarding school her aunt attended thirty years before. Along with this, on her first day she finds a dead body in the snow, gets an anonymous call in the night, and encounters a set of quirky townspeople with too many secrets. How is she supposed to make sense of any of it? When a second victim is found, Ria wonders if she should just return to London, where until recently she had a lowly job as a film researcher with no dead bodies lying around, no real ones, anyway.

Yet against the sheriff’s orders that she stay clear of his work, Ria intends to find out who the killer is and what link the ancient stone circle has to her aunt’s past.

Hailey, the golden retriever who befriends her, is a joy to have near, reading Beowulf in Old English keeps her calm, and Ria finds the local sheriff more than easy on the eyes, even if he does find her irritating. Those things, together with the gorgeous and ancient Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges of the Hudson River Valley, already have a hold on her.

But Ria’s desire to get at the truth threatens someone in Shokan Falls, someone who is willing to put her life at risk.

Buy Link Amazon

LINKS:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/RiaQuinnMysteries/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/ReginaJoyceClarke/

Medium:

https://medium.com/@regina.clarke7

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/reginaclarkeauthor/

 

A Conversation with Author 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:

Hi, I’m Penny, and I came rather late to writing my own stories. After working in the Civil Service for several years I became a full time mum. With time on my hands when my oldest child started school, I decided to follow my love of history by studying with the Open University, where I graduated with honours, and then went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

A family move to a different part of the country led to landing my dream role, working with rare books and historical manuscripts in a world-renowned academic library. Nearly two decades later, I took early retirement to care for a family member, but this also meant I had some free time to do something I’d always dreamed of doing – writing my own stories.

Encouraged by family and friends, and with positive feedback from professional writers, I finally published my first historical romance novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, in July 2018. My second book, An Officer’s Vow, was released in February 2019.

I live in Oxfordshire with my family and when I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, travelling, and researching for my next book. I also enjoy a gin and tonic.

[Pam says: I recently read A Gentleman’s Promise, and really enjoyed it.]

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

I write romance. I love books that have a happy ending, or certainly a happy for now. Life today is challenging for many people, myself included, so I like to think my stories offer a bit of an escape to someone who is experiencing difficult times.

My intention was to write the sort of books that I enjoy reading when I’m feeling down – light and escapist, but based in a real historical landscape. I also wanted to create strong female characters, who, despite the restrictions imposed by society, were able to achieve their aims. Believe me, such women did exist in the past, their misfortune is that we are only just beginning to discover their stories

My first two books are set in England in 1810, shortly before Prince George became Regent, and when Napoleon was rampaging over Europe – turbulent times. I enjoy giving my characters a challenge and difficulties to overcome, and that period in history offered many challenges, particularly for females.

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

Definitely! I used to read several books a week on my commute to work. These days I don’t get as much time, but I always manage to fit in some reading before going to sleep. I enjoy romance novels, of course, but I also love crime and mysteries, and trying to guess the culprit before their identity is finally revealed.

My favourite author is Jane Austen. I love her beautifully crafted novels, with their elegant prose, memorable characters, and intricate plots. Other authors that I enjoy reading are Georgette Heyer, for her wonderful Regency novels, Ian Rankin for his deft plotting and glorious sense of place (I so want to visit Edinburgh and see all the haunts of his fictional detective Rebus), and Kate Atkinson, who understands dialogue so well, and unfailingly comes up with unusual and gripping storylines.

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

I’m a self-published author. Although I received very positive feedback from several publishers, I was told there wasn’t much of a market for the type of stories I was writing. I therefore decided to take matters into my own hands and see for myself. I can only say that the publishers were wrong- there are lots of readers out there looking for well-written, feel-good stories.  I also enjoy being in full control of the whole process, from the professional cover design, to the look of the typesetting, and the marketing. I also ensure that my books are professionally edited and proofed – there is nothing worse than being pulled out of a story by a historical anachronism or a spelling mistake.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Georgette Heyer, without a doubt. I first read her books when I was a teenager, and discovered them again when I was looking for some escapism during a difficult period in my life. Historically accurate, intelligent, and well-written, her stories nonetheless are feel-good reads.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I would say so. Having always been interested in English history, I find travelling around the towns and cities of the UK an enormous source of inspiration for the settings of my stories. I live in Oxfordshire, so my first book was partly set there. I’ve used lots of real historical places in London, and my forthcoming book (also part of the Gentlemen Series) is set in Falmouth, Cornwall, a part of the world I love. Having said that, I wouldn’t rule out using foreign locations in future books. I’ve spent time in France and Italy, and recently visited Portugal for the first time. The Peninsular Wars are likely to feature in a future story.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it? Sometimes the plotting can prove problematic. I recently spent days working out how my female protagonist could plausibly escape from a certain situation without requiring superhuman powers. I got there in the end.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I’m just grateful for any time I get for myself and my writing. Sometimes I wake up early and try to write before the day catches up with me, other days I stay up late and squeeze the writing in before I get too tired.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I can’t think of anything else that I’d rather be doing. I enjoy creating characters, setting them challenges, and trying to work out ways they can resolve them. I think I’m in control, but somethimes a character surprises me and takes the story in a completely different direction to the one I’d originally intended. I’m passionate about history, so I enjoy all the research required too, I love learning new things.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

I would travel back to the Regency period, though I’d make sure I’d had all my vaccinations and a supply of antibiotics to take with me! I think life as a woman back then would be difficult – women didn’t have much say in how they lived their lives, so perhaps I’d go back disguised as a man.

The early 1800s were exciting and dangerous times – England was at war with Napoleon’s France, a war that continued until 1815, when he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. Society was changing too, with innovations in industry and agriculture making many people unable to earn a living. But if you were wealthy, life was very different. The top echelons of society were cosseted from most problems, with servants to see to their every need. It is no surprise that this was a period when the arts flourished – the rich spent their wealth on the finer things in life, such as beautiful homes, artwork, extravagant clothes, and jewelry.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

An Officer’s Vow

The future looks bleak to Major Nate Crawford. Depressed after being sent home from the Peninsular Campaign as unfit for service, he contemplates ending it all. Then an unexpected opportunity for adventure beckons in the shape of a delightfully intriguing runaway heiress. He will prove his worth as an officer and a gentleman by offering his help. He has a plan…

Lottie Benham is desperate. Her life is in danger and she needs a place of safety until her next birthday. The unexpected proposal from this attractive, but intimidating officer could be the answer to her prayers. Not normally a risk-taker, she decides to gamble all by placing her trust in this charismatic gentleman, who she suspects might be more in need of help than she.

But the best laid plans…

Caught up in conflict, danger, and deception, will Lottie and Nate survive to find the perfect solution to their problems?

Visit Penny’s website and blog at: http://pennyhampson.co.uk/

Follow Penny on Twitter at: @penny_hampson

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