Thursday, 26 January 2017

Getting Started

A chilly wind’s prowling round the outside of the house today, tearing up anything that’s not firmly rooted and screeching through the thinnest of window gaps. I’m wearing three layers to stay warm; it’s taken both me and Tom the best part of three weeks to shake off one of the nastiest colds ever to strike so I’m doing my best to avoid a repeat performance. After the enforced slow start to the year, this is a flavour of what we’ve been up to.

We’re hoping that this year’s marmalade marathon will see us round to next January… but we say that every year.

Coming out of hibernation, we’ve been reminding ourselves of the fabulous beaches on our doorstep.

My next half marathon is only six weeks away so I’m gradually picking up the mileage. Last year, during the Poppit Sands Series, I met my awesome running buddy, Helen. We’re both busy women but try to do a long run together every couple of weeks. It’s great to have encouragement and support, especially on tough hill climbs.

I finally pressed ‘send’ on my latest novella - but not until it had been subject to Tom’s intense scrutiny… always a nerve-wracking time.

Now, I’m in the strange uncertain world of my next novel. Because of the way I work, always kicking off with a mental image, like a ‘still’ from a film, I spend a lot of time faffing around wondering who the heck these people are and where they’re going. However, my freelance feature work has taught me a lot about the evolution of every piece I write. After three novels, two novellas, numerous short stories, some poetry and a respectable body of feature articles, I’m hoping I’ve finally learned how to ride the highs and lows of the creative process. 12,000 words in, I know enough about the new novel to see that it’s a step away from my usual genre and I’m really excited to see how it will shape up. I’ve got started, now ‘all’ I have to do is keep going!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Guest Author: Victoria Cornwall

This week it's my great pleasure to welcome a guest, fellow Choc Lit author Victoria Cornwall, whose debut novel, The Thief's Daughter is out now. I'm reading it at the moment and can thoroughly recommend it.  Here's Victoria to tell you about her novel the inspiration behind it.

Victoria Cornwall
Inspiration for a novel comes from many sources, a passing conversation, a newspaper article, a photograph, even an obituary. I suspect if you asked ten authors what inspired them to write their book you would get ten different answers. For me, a novel often begins with a location, whether it is a house, place or room and my debut novel with Choc Lit, The Thief’s Daughter, was no different. Although at the time I was a little breathless and in need of a drink!

For many years I have attempted to walk the Cornish coastal path. Unfortunately, the lack of time, rather than a lack of desire, has meant I have only completed a quarter of the 296 miles so far. During one walking session, I came across a very narrow, oddly named inlet called Pepper Cove. Its name was a clue to its murky past, as in times gone by it had been used as a drop-off point for smuggled spices.

Victoria walking the Cornish coastal path

I wasn’t surprised that it had been used for smuggling. Smuggling was rife in many parts of England during the 18th and early 19th century, when taxes were high, the coastline was poorly guarded and poverty-stricken communities were driven to earn money in any way they could. Cornwall was no exception, and its numerous miles of coastline meant there were many landing places to take advantage of the disorganisation of the establishment. At one point, it was said that more goods were smuggled into England than arrived by legitimate routes.

Pepper Cove
Pepper Cove spurred me on to research more and the characters of Jenna and Jack slowly emerged when I learned the true extent of the smuggling trade and the environment that helped it to run out of control.

The Thief’s Daughter is set in 18th century debt ridden England. The Bloody Code threatens all with the hangman’s noose, whilst corrupt thief-takers thrive. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Jenna grew up in a family of thieves, but has always resolved to be good. However, when her brother, Silas, asks her to pay his creditors and secure his freedom from the debtor’s prison, Jenna feels unable to refuse and promises to help in any way she can.

Jack Penhale is drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre. As they discover each other’s secrets, they learn their lives are more entangled than they first thought.

As the line between housekeeper and employer becomes blurred, love and loyalty are tested to the limit, while her blood tie tries to tear them apart.

Twitter: @VickieCornwall