Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Body in the Courtyard

(above portrait is of a young Catherine of Aragon)

Now that I’m no longer in between novels, I finally feel like things are back to normal.  Except that they aren’t.  Instead of working on my next teen fiction, I’m researching the early 1500s for the setting of my next series; a Tudor Murder Mystery series for adult readers under a pen name (which will be disclosed upon release of book 1).  The main character will be/is fictitious, but the story revolves around historic events, so although it’s a fiction, I absolutely must get the setting and history right.  Which means a lot of research, which I love doing.

I’ve always wanted to write a whodunit and I’ve always wanted to explore the Tudor era in more depth (the Masters degree was in Early Medieval Archaeology, so anything past Conquest was too late for me).  Now that I’m more engaged with the latter medieval, I find myself getting sucked into the era. The more I learn, the more I want to know.

Which brings us to 1513, the year my novel is set.  I knew a bit about the first wife of Henry VIII; that she was treated pretty roughly towards the end when his wandering eye took his interest (and hopes for a son) to Catherin’s lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn. I also knew she bore many children although only one survived (to become Queen Mary).  I didn’t know that she’d been assigned Regent for six months while Henry was away in France, that heavily pregnant, she donned full armour, rode north to address her troops who were due to invade Scotland.  England had been at war with Scotland for some time and she and her army won the war. Her child, however was born in October and lived only 52 days.  Small wonder, reading about what she’d been through. Catherine of Aragon was much more than just wife number 1.  She was the strength that the King depended on, trusted to run the country for him while he was away.  And that trust was not misplaced (now if only she could have trusted him).

But Catherine of Aragon is not my protagonist – she’s just part of the background tapestry of my setting. My main character is a young woman of no real consequence.  Her father is a Lord, her fiancĂ© is in France fighting along side King Henry, but her life is about to make some unexpected changes. Not only is her fiancĂ© reported fallen in the battlefield, but her parents ship her off to the countryside to care for a bedridden great aunt that she’s never heard of.  And then there is that body in the courtyard…

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Blood Tide's new launch!

It’s finally out in print and I can’t believe how wonderful it feels.  After years of rewrites, making small changes, edits and feedback from some very amazing readers, it’s pure concentrated love in triangle paperback form. Springbok Publications, my publisher for the book, has also sent me to my first e-launch.  I had no idea what to expect and I was sweating for the three hours before it started.  However, once live, it was good fun and I had the chance to engage with my readers and potential readers for a few hours.

Something someone asked me on the night was, ‘what made you want to write about slavery in 1733?’ Valid question.  It was a very convoluted answer.  The primary reason was that I felt Black History Month became a bit boring for teenagers at school.  It seemed to be the same list of names, dates and atrocities and I had the distinct feeling they’d become num to it all.  I wanted to engage these young adults with a new tale – a fictional tale using the elements of historic slavery with a character they could follow (and was new to them).

Of course, there was also that amazing charcoal sketch of a Caribbean woman at my grandmother’s house which inspired Amber’s mother, Precious.  This is her story too, although most of it is about Amber fighting her way to freedom alongside her fellow captors.  And, of course, who could resist the urge to write about pirates?

There was only one successful revolting slave ship in history, and that was the Amistat. Slaves on the ship managed to escape the hold, take the ship and live for a short time as pirates.  With several historic points as inspiration, I wove a tale that (hopefully) tempts newcomers to history, leaving them wanting to research their own histories and learn more.

Blood Tide is available now on Amazon, but should, in just a few weeks, be available to order from Waterstones and most bookstores.  For a signed copy, visit