I’m honoured to have been invited to join the “My Writing Process” blogging tour.

Golden Birch Juliet Greenwood 16th April 2014

First I have to express my gratitude to writer and reviewer, Edith Ó Nualláin for inviting me to participate in the ‘My Writing Process’ blogging tour. You can find out more about Edith on her thoughtful and insightful blog ‘In a Room of My Own’ http://inaroomofmyown.wordpress.com/. To follow the tour backwards, you can also click on the blog of poet Tania Pryputniewicz http://poetrymom.blogspot.co.uk/, who tagged Edith.

Next I need to answer 4 questions on my writing process, and finally tag the writers who will carry on the tour on their own blogs on May 5th 2014.


My Writing Process:

1) What am I working on? I’m currently working on two different projects, under my two different writing identities.


As ‘Heather Pardoe’ I’m writing a serial for ‘The People’s Friend’. It’s set in Victorian times amongst the paddle steamers of sailing beneath the medieval castle and walls of Conwy in North Wales. I’m just getting to the last episode and my heroine is currently in mortal peril ….

As Juliet Greenwood I’m working on my next novel. Although it is not a sequel to ‘We That Are Left’, published by Honno Press in February 2014, it follows on in time, being set mainly in the 1920s in the period immediately after the Great War. It follows the adventures of two very different women and a crime that sends them halfway around the world. One of them is also currently in mortal peril …

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? My novels and serials are historicals, based in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. I feel my unique calling card is that my stories have the romance and family relationships of a family saga, but each with the strong streak of a thriller at its heart. My heroines have to find themselves through the twists and turns of their adventures – and the reader is never quite sure where the story is going to go next. My settings are also unique, being mainly set in Cornwall, and the less familiar, but no less beautiful and romantic landscape of Snowdonia and the island of Anglesey. And then there is the sensuality the landscape, the gardening, the cooking, and the recipes…

With the Kindle edition

3) Why do I write what I do? I love the freedom and the slight exoticism of the past. I enjoy writing about the end of the 19th century, the beginning of the 20th century, and the 1920s, as I find in many ways this period reflects our own, being one of huge technological and social change, with old certainties being swept away, and new freedoms (especially for women) being fought for and gained. I find this particularly so of WW1 and 1920s, which were such a period of change, reeling with the shock of the war. Although the recent recession can’t be compared to the horrors of the trenches, it still shares that sense of shock, of the unthinkable happening, and a more uncertain world, both physically and morally. But with much nicer frocks. I feel it’s no coincidence that ‘Downton Abbey’ has been such a hit, following a family through this period.

4) How does my writing process work? At the moment I’m trying to get back into a rhythm, after concentrated for the past couple of months on the launch of ‘We That Are Left’, which was book of the month for March for Waterstones Wales, The Welsh Books Council and The National Museums of Wales. I’ve been longing to get back to concentrating on writing, although it always seems to take an age after a period away.

P1010158With the serial, I’m writing it bit by bit, so when the magazine says ‘yes’ to an installment, I immediately set off on the next one. As it’s all been mapped out ahead, I know where I’m going, so I can simply enjoy the writing process.

With the novel – well, that’s harder. I’m working my way back into a first draft and I’m at the point where doubt has set in and I’m convinced it’s rubbish. Which of course it is. That’s what a first draft is about. Characters change age, sex and hair colour at will, and go off into all sorts of directions no matter how often you tell them to get their backsides back here this instant and follow orders. So at the moment I’m ignoring the doubts, ploughing on grimly and reminding myself that this is part of the process. This is the structure, the framework on which the final story will come together. The trick I find is to not read over it, not look back and not get distracted until the first draft is done.

After that I am found on long dog walks in the dawn, muttering to myself as I sort out what I really want, absorb the changes that have Gwynfynydd goldmine showing workingshappened despite me, and as often as not changing who ‘did’ it, as being too obvious. Then I go back to the first draft, tear it all apart, put it back together – and the first sight of the book that will emerge is there. All ready for the process to start all over again, and again, nipping, twitching, tweaking and wholesale slashing and burning until finally it is ready for the editing process.

Which is when you brace yourself for it to be all torn apart again. I love the tweaking and the editing (even when the comments are eyewatering). It’s the perfecting stage when a book becomes a book, and when it finally begins to work the buzz is incredible. Better thank chocolate (although both wine and chocolate and endless coffee are a necessary part of the process).

I’m still working my way in there and cringing at what I’ve written. But give me a day or so and I’ll be caught up in the story, wherever it takes me, and regain my faith in the process. (Hopefully)

And the writers I tag to carry the torch onward are:

Chris Stovell

Chris lives and writes on the beautiful west Wales coast. She is proud to be part of the Choc Lit selection box with ‘Turning the Tide’ and ‘Move over Darling’, and ‘Follow a Star’, to be published in July 2014. She is also published by Honno Press.

You can find Chris at her blog: http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.stovell.9

Twitter: @chrisstovell

Kate Blackadder

Kate Blackadder has had around forty short stories published in magazines such as Woman’s Weekly and The People’s Friend. In 2008 she won the Muriel Spark Short Story Prize. Other stories have been in New Writing Scotland and long/short-listed for competitions such as the Jane Austen Short Story Award and the Scotsman/Orange Short Story Prize. She has several stories on the Alfie Dog site http://www.alfiedog.com (including the Jane Austen Award story The Real Thing) and a short story, Sam Something, in the AlfieDog collection Came as ‘Me’, Left as ‘We’. Kate’s serial The Family at Farrshore was published in The People’s Friend in 2011 and is now available from libraries in a large-print edition and from www.thereadinghouse.co.uk.

You can find Kate at her blog: http://katewritesandreads.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kate.blackadder.96

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore is the author of ‘A Time for Silence‘, published by Honno Press, and runner up  for The People’s Book Prize

She read history at Aberystwyth university (and later, far more impressively, acquired a law degree by blood, sweat and tears, through the Open University). She now lives I just outside a North Pembrokeshire village where she runs a craft business and occasionally teaches family history. She is fascinated by  the far-reaching consequences of our actions rather than the thrill of the actions themselves. If crimes occur, it is their impact on individuals, on families and on communities that she seeks to examine, rather than the intricacies of forensic detection.

Thorne’s books are largely set in Pembrokeshire, the county of her mother’s family, and which is an endless resource of history, mystery and magic.

You can find Thorne at her blog: http://thornemoore.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thorne.moore.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThorneMoore


When I was first trying to get a feel for the world in 1914, I returned to the beautiful Glynllifon Estate, near Caernarfon. I hadn’t been there for years, and it was just as I remembered it, green and magical. The grounds had been created as a miniature world in themselves. There are woodland walks past rushing streams, a secret cave, and even a hermit’s grotto. It was easy to imagine the Victorian and Edwardian inhabitants of the grand house rambling through this secret, fantasy version of a wilderness, lying beneath the shadow of the vast, and in those days, dangerous and inaccessible wilderness, of the mountains of Snowdonia.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was catching up with the first episode of ‘The Crimson Field’ this week, I was reminded of Glynllifon. It was this protected, settled world that those three new VAD recruits, like so many of the young women on the front line, had left behind when they set off to face the horrors of the Great War. Okay, maybe not always so grand as Glynllifon, but the with the same opulence and order that had probably changed very little since medieval times. The same protected confidence that the world could be managed through money, status and force of will. The same pre-Raphaelite, daring-do, heroic idealism that had sent their brothers into the trenches to save the world.

The slate amphitheatre

Of course, there were other women, too. Many of them older women of intelligence, energy and ambition, who- like their Victorian mothers – were not content to stay idle and look decorous at dinner parties. These were the women who, behind closed doors and under the safe guise of ‘charity’, had set up, staffed and ran hospitals for the poor – fighting the legacy of extreme poverty and disease among so many of the inhabitants of a rich nation, that was only generally recognised when so many men were found to be unfit to fight.

It was this experience that took many of these women out to use their skills and experience on the front line, including setting up and running their own field hospitals, often in the face of prejudice and non-cooperation. When women first set up an women’s ambulance corps, they were simply laughed at.



I was thinking of all those women, as I returned to the entrance of the Glynllifon estate, and how their lives were changed forever. The grand house is not a museum piece, the nearest you come to it is ‘Yr Iard’, the yard, which houses some of the tools belonging to the vast army of workers who built, maintained and fed this opulence. Theirs is also a story of lives changed forever.

It was this photograph, taken at harvest time 1913, that had me stopping in my tracks.



The last harvest of a world that, on the day the photograph was taken, must have seemed to have lasted forever, and would never end. The last harvest of a lost world. There were terrible injustices and inequalities in that world, and, as a woman, I have no hankering to live there – particularly as my ancestors would have been in the yard rather than the house, and my life would most probably have been one of daily physical drudgery and perilous childbearing, accompanied by the pain of watching many of my children die. But it was – and still is – haunting to look into the eyes of a lost world. And to know, as none of them could have ever foreseen in their darkest nightmares, the fields where the men would be by the time of the next harvest, and the courage and resilience those girls would need to do – as women always do – to pick up the pieces and forge a new world, one that would never be the same again.


Fancy a genuine taste of WW1? Well, almost!

P1000860   The Edwardians are famed for their lavish dinners, with numerous courses, almost all involving meat. Only the very poor (who couldn’t afford it), cranks, and slightly suspect socialists like George Bernard Shaw (of  Pygmalion fame), followed a vegetarian diet. I didn’t have to do much research on this, as my family were staunch followers of George Bernard, flying the flag of socialism and vegetarianism (along with pacifism) into the 1960s and beyond. Believe me, growing up in the 196os and 70s vegetarians were still viewed as pretty freakish – and don’t talk about any visits to France! I’ll never forget my first visit to Cranks pioneering veggie restaurant in Carnaby Street – it was a revelation!

And here it is!

My (almost) Edwardian kitchen, where the recipes were tried out (and tweaked)

I was intrigued at the articles that began appearing in Newspapers during the war, starting in about 1916, when the shortages really began to bite. WW1 was far more disorganised than WW2 when it came to rationing – which isn’t surprising when you consider that this was an entirely new kind of war, not fought far away on foreign shores. Zeppelins and U-boats brought the war home for the first time, making it a civilian war too. Many of the articles (when they were not discussing horse meat and the dire penalties for hoarding sugar) included recipes. This one is based on a recipe sent in by ‘a Cornish Lady’.


In true Edwardian style, the original was vast. Possibly to feed hungry land girls and schoolchildren children working on the land to keep the country fed. Okay, I cheated, I added cheese. I have to confess it was pretty tasteless with just a thin white sauce.  And I fried the leeks in butter and garlic rather than boiling them. But, though I say it myself – the results were delicious and satisfying. They were helped by the addition of the bread being delicious sourdough from my local micro-baker, Mick Hartley (as featured on BBCRadio 4 Food programme), which being wild yeast and brown organic flour was pretty authentic to the period too.

So here is the WW1 Meatless Meal, as discussed with Roy Noble during my interview on BBC Radio Wales last Sunday (still time to catch it, I start around 39.30). And Roy is quite right – it’s a variation on a Welsh Rarebit. With a Cornish Lady’s ingenuity, of course. I imagine it’s just the sort of thing that Elin, the heroine of  We That are Left, would have come up with to keep the workers in her walled kitchen garden fuelled up.


A ‘Meatless Meal’

Based on a 1918 recipe, but on more manageable lines and with the addition of cheese to improve tastiness.

Serves 2 or 4, depending on how hungry you are (but be warned, it is delicious!). Adjust the amounts (especially the cheese) to your own taste.

Chop three leeks. Fry gently in butter until soft. Add a clove of garlic and ten chopped mushrooms (add more if you like mushrooms).

In a saucepan melt two tablespoons of butter, slowly add one tablespoon of floor and stir for one minute. Then add approximately ½ pint (284 ml) milk slowly until you reach a consistency of double cream. Add approximately 4oz (113) grated cheese. Pour over 2 – 4 large pieces of toast. Place in a fireproof dish, scatter grated cheese on top and place under a hot grill until golden brown. Serve hot.


WTAL at BBC Radio Wales

The WW1 Seed Cake I took along for my interview.

In The Spotlight Guest Blog Author Juliet Greenwood….

Juliet Greenwood:

In the spotlight on Debz Hobbs-Wyatt’s blog – plus an extract of the book to whet your appetite …..

Originally posted on WordzNerd Debz:

Today I am delighted to welcome to the spotlight fellow author from North Wales, the talented Juliet Greenwood … big round of applause please …

This Week Juliet Greenwood ...

In The Spotlight: Juliet Greenwood 

 Juliet with her latest novel ...

Introduce yourself:  Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first book/story published.I’ve always had my nose in a book, and I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

In my twenties I was in London aiming to live in a garret while writing the most stunning literary tome ever published. I got as far as the garret. I loved living in London and had a wonderful and inspiring time, and somewhere along the line I realised that I needed to live a bit before I could actually write anything that wasn’t pretentious drivel. So I moved to a little village in North Wales, and had a ragtag of different…

View original 3,075 more words

My interview with the lovely Roy Noble for ‘The Roy Noble Show’ on BBC Radio Wales is being aired on Mother’s Day, Sunday March 30th, between 10.30 am and 12.00 pm.

I’d only been interviewed on radio once before, so I was very nervous sitting in my little room in the BBC studios in Bangor, waiting for the voices from Cardiff to begin. But everyone was great, and Roy Noble put me instantly at my ease, so I have a feeling I chatted away like anything.


I shall be talking about my research for ‘We That are Left’, including the brave women of WW1 who kept life going at home, and also worked on the front line, driving ambulances and picking up the dead and the dying between battles. Along with the inspiration of my own mother’s terrifying journey on the day WW2 broke out, when, as a teenager, she had to make her way on her own across France in a desperate bid to get home, including being stalked by a German submarine as her ferry crossed the Channel …..

You can find the programme by clicking on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zq8yy

This is the WW1 poppy seed cake that I made for the staff of the BBC . Since I was in Bangor and it was vanishing fast by the time I left, I’m afraid I don’t think any of it quite made it down to the Cardiff studios! The recipe is the one I’ve posted earlier, and is also included amongst the recipes in the book.


WTAL at BBC Radio Wales

And this is me and my mum in more peaceful times, in our cottage in the hills in Snowdonia when I was a baby (my dad’s the one taking the photo, you can just see his shadow)Juliet and her mum at home in Snowdonia

Happy Mother’s Day!

large box still life2Today is the first day of spring. A time of celebration and of new beginnings.

And so to celebrate, there is a signed copy of ‘We That are Left’ to be won, along with a very unique box of raw chocolates, – the very first to be available from ‘Plant Based Alchemy’, who have created vegan, gluten free and sugar free versions of the recipes in ‘We That are Left’, not to mention the recipe for the amazing gluten and sugar free vegan chocolate cake for the launch.

Sorry, but I can only post out to UK entrants!

With the Kindle edition

The amazing vegan, gluten and sugar-free chocolate cake at the launch of ‘We That are Left’. Click on the photograph for the recipe.

The chocolates are the first commercial batch made by Plant Based Alchemy, made on the Spring Equinox to celebrate the first day of spring, at nearby Lammas, a pioneering  eco-village in West Wales, which is powered by renewables


Lammas, where the chocolates were made

This is a taste of the way they were made, and there will be plenty more information on the Plant Based Alchemy blog soon. The cacao butter looks delicious in itself, then there’s the addition of agave syrup, and finally the mixing …

(I’ve tried the prototypes – unforgettably different and delicious)

cacao butter

Cacao Butter

adding agave 

mixing chocolates

Mixing the Chocolates

Finally, the finished box – irresistible.

large box 4To have a chance to win the signed book and this very special box of chocolates, all you have to do is to add a comment to this post. The closing date is midnight on March 25th, in case you would like to give your prize as a perfect Mother’s Day present. Phoebe, the Author’s Secretary will then ceremoniously draw a name from a hat.


The Author’s Secretary at work …

(My attempt at the Rafflecopter giveaway has been abandoned!)



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