Passing The Baton
I’ve been fortunate enough to receive the Baton for this incredible Blog Hop from the gifted author Elizabeth Hein. Thank you so much for tagging me on! I’m thrilled to be part of this exciting virtual and literary event, carry this Baton, and pass it on to three other fellow authors.
I read Elizabeth’s first novel Overlook which I highly recommend, especially if you enjoy well-written and inspiring contemporary women’s fiction, when it was published last year (see my Goodreads review). Elizabeth is now working on her third novel, The House (this is still a working title), because her second novel How To Climb the Eifel Tower, which I can’t wait to read, is about to be published very soon. Please check out her Blog and find her on Facebook and Goodreads.
Here are my answers to the five questions all the participants have answered:
What am I working on? – I’m working on The Eyre Hall Trilogy. The first novel in the Trilogy, All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be available on Amazon, very soon. I’m also finishing the second installment, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, which will be published this autumn. The final volume, May Moon at Eyre Hall will be out in spring, 2015.
How does my work differ from others in this genre? – All Hallows is a neo-Victorian Gothic Romance. It has all the classic elements in this kind of story: Eyre Hall itself is one of the characters in the novel, breathing life into the characters and events; it has a nasty villain; a helpless young girl; a young and impulsive hero; and there are supernatural elements, too. However, the novel will appeal to contemporary readers because it is fast paced, taking place over a ten-day period, and it is presented as a fragmented narrative driven by first person narration of the characters who are absorbed within the walls of Eyre Hall, which is an extension of Thornfield Hall. The heroine is not a young innocent girl, and the hero is not a powerful and rich Gothic hero. The character which brings the events together is the mature Jane Eyre Rochester, and the hero is a young and tormented valet. I have incorporated elements of the 20th century novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, which recreates the previously untold story of Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic. Bertha is, once more, one of the main characters in my novel, thanks to her daughter, Annette Mason.
Why do I write what I write? –
I write, and I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, because I need to express myself creatively. I love reading, and I can’t sing or paint or dance, so I write, mostly prose, but also poetry, mostly in English, but sometimes in Spanish.
I have loved Victorian literature since I was a young teenager and our English teacher, Sister Catherine, used to read to us on Friday afternoons. It was my favourite time of the week. I’ll never forget The Moonstone and The Lady in White. Then I read the novels by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, George Elliot, and Thomas Hardy, etc. I now spend a great deal of time rediscovering and rereading these great works, which have haunted my imagination since I was practically a child.
I enjoy writing about Victorian times. I appreciate the distance these novels allow me to place between myself and my writing. I abandon myself completely and enter another world when I write historical fiction. I find it almost as enjoyable as reading Victorian literature!
How does your writing process work? I honestly can’t pin-point where the initial idea for my novels springs from, but I’d say it’s a very complex creative process, in which what I’ve read, experienced, thought about, and felt, mingles and grows into an original entity of its own, which is usually an idea I need to express, or an argument I need to make. In this case, I wanted to surface the story between the lines in Jane Eyre, relying heavily on Jean Rhys’s recreation of Bertha Mason Rochester’s life in Wide Sargasso Sea. I wanted both women to meet and work together. As Bertha was dead, I created her daughter, Annette, whose life will be inexorably bound to Jane’s, in a surprising symbiosis.
When I write, I ‘see’ the characters and events in spurts and jot them down. Sometimes it’s just a conversation, or a short episode, which I elaborate on later. I prefer using my laptop because I write faster, and I can insert and delete more quickly and less messily. I go with the flow, and let the characters speak and act freely, and I think about them a lot. I go for long walks, or sit in the garden and think, and write without a specific plan. I often become so obsessed I dream about my characters. Gradually the novel begins to take shape, and the whole novel flashes through my mind. Then I plan, making careful hand-written notes. My plan is a guideline and changes often, but having one keeps me focused and working.
For this particular trilogy I’ve had to do a lot of groundwork and research before and while I was writing. As well as carefully rereading Jane Eyre and Wide Saggasso Sea, I’ve also gained general inspiration from Wuthering Heights, Hard Times, Oliver Twist, The Haunted Hotel, and Persuasion. I’ve enjoyed reading letters by the Bronte’s and Charles Dickens, and poems by the Brownings, and Tennyson. I wanted to write about the uses and effects of laudanum, so I read The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, which is invaluable first-hand experience of this popular 19th century drug. The long poem, Jenny, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was my inspiration for the character, Jenny Rosset. I also had to research practical daily matters such as Victorian funeral customs, cooking, clothes, and furniture, etc. I used Victorian books such as: Mrs. Beaton’s Housekeeping Book, and contemporary accounts such as, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.
The next stage in this relay is to pass the baton on to the next authors. I’d like to introduce you to Roberta Pearce, Katerina Baker, and Fran Clark, who will be posting their answers next week and passing on the Baton, too. These three authors have very different themes and styles, but they have produced enjoyable and well written novels. Roberta’s prose is precise and concise. She writes romantic novels with strong heroines. Here’s my review of A Bird Without Wings, while Katerina weaves intricate and contemporary plots into her romanticnarrative. Here’s my review of How I Became a $py. Fran is a fresh new literary voice, who has written a first inspiring novel on the immigrant experience, and interpersonal and family relations, Holding Paradise, which I’m reading at the moment. It is the fragmented story of mother and daughter, masterfully handled with flashbacks between London and the Caribbean. It’s a flowing and beautiful read so far, look out for the review I’ll be posting as soon as I finish reading. Please check out their blogs and keep your eyes open for their books.
Katerina Baker has always loved romance. Even before that story that flashed in front of her eyes on an empty trading floor, she’s been a believer that written words can move mountains. Her first novel, The Day I Became a $py, was born on the trading floor. She saw a flash of something . . . maybe a woman’s heel? A secret meeting being held on the staircase? An FBI agent posing as a mailman? Whatever it was, her mind was already busy forming an intricate explanation. She started writing, and her life would never be the same. For information on Katerina’s work, please visit her website: KaterinaBaker.com and her blog http://katerinabaker1.blogspot.com.es/
About Roberta Pearce
Roberta’s last novel, A Bird Without Wings, is enjoying glowing reviews while she procrastinates over final edits for her next novel, The Value of Vulnerability – a tale of a nice girl who makes the mistake of falling for a sociopath [that’s sociopath, not psychopath!]. In her spare time, she blogs about writing; her pedantry over formal style; and sometimes her own books. Her ebooks are available at online retailers, including Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Find her on Goodreads, follow her on Twitter, and friend her on Facebook!
Fran Clark was born and currently lives in West London. Her first novel, Holding Paradise, is published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Fran is studying for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University. A professional-singer songwriter and vocal coach, she recently released her second album of original songs. She is now working towards the completion of her second novel. Find out more about her on her webpage: www.franclark.co.uk and her Blog: http://franclark.blogspot.com.es/