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Archive for the ‘Heather Pardoe’ Category

As I now live in beautiful Snowdonia, in North Wales, I always feel a bit sad that conventional wisdom states that no one wants to read stories set in Wales. So I’m delighted that my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, currently has a historical serial set in Llandudno, just up the coast from me, and famous for its connection with Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland.

‘Together We Stand’, currently being serialised in ‘The People’s Friend’, the longest running weekly women’s magazine, is a serial that I (or rather Heather) had great fun writing, with a suffrage ladies’ tearoom, an intriguing inheritance and a touch of low-down skullduggery reaching back to the Crimean War.

The view from the pier

It’s funny where your ideas come from as a writer. I’d been toying with the idea of the picture wagon (an early mobile photographic studio that has been used by one of the first war journalist in the Crimean war) on and off for years. When I trained as a photographer in London, it was (I have to confess) before the days of digital, when we used studio cameras that had changed very little from 1904, when the serial is set, and it was darkrooms and chemicals and never being quite sure what you had taken until the print began to develop in front of your eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my digital SLR, and I never go anywhere without my little compact camera in my bag, and I wouldn’t go back to using those eczema-inducing chemicals if you paid me. But it has left me with a fascination of just how such unwieldy cameras were used. So it’s no coincidence that Tanni, the heroine of ‘Together We Stand’ is left an inheritance that encourages her set to up as a studio photographer, just as Bea, the heroine of my novel ‘The White Camellia’ becomes one of the first female photojournalists, covering the campaigns of the suffrage movement in London.

Unlike Bea, Tanni doesn’t have to dodge the police when using her camera, as 1904 was before the more militant campaigns began. But she does have her own brush with danger, and an unknown foe who is determined to prevent her from succeeding, all against the backdrop of Llandudno and the Great Orme, which I had great fun in researching.

The other inspiration for ‘Together We Stand’ was a night I spent in one of the old hotels on the edges of Llandudno, where I’ve placed the guesthouse in the story. The hotel was old and atmospheric, and from my tiny room at the top I had a view of the bay. I’m usually dashing round Llandudno, or taking my dog for a walk round the Orme, so it was a real treat to simply be able to wander around in the evening, and parade along the pier, searching out the locations (including the pier) that play a vital role in ‘Together We Stand’. That night, there was a stunning full moon over the bay – a truly magical memory!

The view from my room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now I’ve set historical serials in Coed y Brenin, famous for its cycling trails and its goldmine, in Conwy, famous for its medieval town wall and castle, and in Llandudno. Time, I think, to start looking for another great Welsh location.

Mind you, I had a wonderful time last year in picturesque Tenby

 

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Finding the Snowdon Lily

Today, I would like to introduce my good friend Heather Pardoe, who writes serials and short stories, and is now published by Endeavour Press.

Heather’s first book with Endeavour, ‘Finding the Snowdon Lily’, (if you are in the US click HERE) is a historical adventure sent on and around Snowdon during the great Victorian fern-collecting craze (yes, there really was such a thing) is published today.

Dolbadarn Castle with Snowdon behind

I was going to celebrate the occasion by interviewing her, only this might be a little predicable, as, er, (as most of you will already know), she is, in fact, me.

I’ve written before about the pros and cons of writing under two names for the Novelistas Ink Blog http://novelistasink.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/serials-or-novels-that-is-question-by.html Over the past few months I’ve been in even more of a whirl between my two identities. I’ve been writing the next serial and editing further books for Endeavour as Heather, while at the same time bashing away at the new book as Juliet, trying to get as much done as possible before the edits land for the novel out with Honno next year.

And yes, I have ended Daughter of Conwy 4 smallup talking to myself! Luckily, my four-legged secretary and research assistant takes such things in her stride.

Today, however, I’m going to celebrate as Heather. There I was, taking it all in my stride, telling myself, just another Heather adventure out there – but now it’s come to it, I’m just as excited as when a Juliet book comes out!

And so, what does Heather write? Well, much shorter books, for one. But they are also historical exciting adventures, inspired by the many wonderful women we generally don’t hear about, who never let a crinoline or corset get them down, but were off up mountains and outwitting villains with the best of them. And like her serials, they are set in Snowdonia – including on Snowdon itself.

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Climbing Snowdon in the mist

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Reaching the summit

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The cloud clears – this is what Catrin would have seen from the top!

So this evening Heather and I will be raising a glass of champagne (possibly of the homemade elderflower variety, it being a weekday, and having a hero to rescue from particularly dire straights) to ‘Finding the Snowdon Lily’ – and Heather Pardoe’s future writing career!

Heather’s website is HERE

You can follow her on Twitter HERE

And on Facebook HERE

 

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Western Mail smallBeing interviewed recently by ‘The Western Mail’ about historical fiction on TV made me really think about the whole process of writing historical fiction. The article was based around the serialisation of Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’. I love the description in Dove Grey Reader’s recent post of Hilary Mantel quoting David Starkey’s description of Thomas Cromwell as Alistair Campbell with an axe, and saying that although Wolf Hall is not an attempt to discuss today’s politics it still resonates.

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The Squatters Cottage in Blists Hill open air museum in Ironbridge. More my ancestral home than Wolf Hall …..

 

One of the reasons I love historical fiction is that it explains how we got here. It’s what I always loved about history. Nothing ever appears in isolation and it’s fascinating to trace back to the lives and attitudes of parents and grandparents and see where things come from. It’s surely why the TV series ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ is so popular.

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The bedroom of the Squatters Cottage

In my own family, the women have always been independent and determined to make their own living. If you look back, you can see that this stems from my grandmother who, in the 1920s, was left destitute with three small daughters when her husband attempted to find his fortune in the goldmines of Australia (and, like so many others, failed spectacularly). Her determination that her daughters should all get to grammar school, despite being working class, and gain a profession so that they would never have to depend on a man for an income is something that has resonated down the generations.

Grandmother Pardoe’s story still resonates more widely as well. Because she had no opportunity for education or training, or the welfare state to fall back on, her story is more extreme and the issues crystalised – but it is still the dilemma of any mother who finds herself on her own with small children and the attempt to both care for and provide for them.

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I love this pantry!

 

And I suppose part of what I love about historical fiction is the distance and the greater extremes that focus on dilemmas that still exist. The women I’m currently writing about in the early twentieth century are very different from me, but they are still part of the ongoing struggle to find financial independence and respect as a human being who is not defined by her sex. On one level, it feels like a different world. But on the other, as a young woman in the 1970s, many of the attitudes towards women working and being out on their own – and even the expectation that being a wife and mother was what women were for and they shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about anything else – were very much the same.

I loved the first part of ‘Wolf Hall’, and can’t wait to sit down to the next. And meanwhile, I’m returning with renewed enthusiasm to writing my story of women in the early twentieth century – and I think my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, named in honour of my indomitable grandmother, might have a story up her sleeve as well …

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How many stories have been told around this fireplace?

 

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Loving seeing a similar kitchen in my alter ego Heather Pardoe’s serial ‘Daughter of Conwy’

 

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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.

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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

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Now that’s a way to wake up a girl on a Monday morning! I’ve been tagged by the awesome Allie Wild: http://alliewilde.blogspot.com/. And now I’ve tagged three bloggers in return – just look below my random facts for their wonderfulness. (I’d love to tag lots more, but that might take all day.)

Right, I’ve fixed the coffee to get the brain awake, and down to business: ten random facts about me.

1. I’m almost-a-neighbour to a prince. Good place to start, eh? (Okay, Prince William and Kate live just across the water on the romantic island of Anglesey, but his helicopter flies over my cottage on the way to rescue damsels and other assorted walkers in distress, that’s good enough for me)

2. I have a dog. This is her as a puppy, looking all sweet and innocent. Hmmm ….. (she still strikes a good pose for the camera)

3. I once owned a Romahome (mini campervan) called Emily. Sadly departed this life through age and rust – but still the coolest thing on 4 wheels! Here’s to the memories …

4. My favourite book is still ‘Jane Eyre’. All independent-minded women who are not born rich and gorgeous, but know they are neither the poorer nor the lesser for the fact, unite. Can’t wait to see the new film.

5. I write under two names, which are both my own. I was born Heather Juliet, and since I was two weeks old I’ve been Juliet Heather. So I write novels as Juliet Greenwood, and for magazines as Heather Pardoe. The Pardoe is from my (slightly scary) grandmother.

6. I once stayed overnight at Portmeirion. I’m trying to think of a book to set there so I can stay there again. Magical!

7. I am the proud owner of a polytunnel. Growing salad and grapes.

8. I love Devon and Cornwall.

9. My favourite holiday destination in Europe is Venice.

10. I love coffee. And red wine. And gin. (The sloes are a cover story …)

And so to my tags:  Samantha Stacia, the amazing setter-up of the Blooming Late group on She Writes:  http://samantha-stacia.blogspot.com/

Gwendolyn Rhodes  http://rhodesidemusings.blogspot.com/ Check out the wisest post on aging gracefully.

Margaret James http://www.margaretjames.com/ Supportive writing tutor, and great give of information on all things writing related. And author of the un-put-downable ‘The Silver Locket’. I’m still attempting to catch up with sleep!

Go on, ladies! Tag. You’re it.

May you have just as much fun (and procrastination) as I did.

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I might be waiting, but my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, has a short story out this week! Hurrah!

‘The Apple Orchard’ is in September 3rd’s ‘The People’s Friend’ here in the UK. It wasn’t my usual way of working. Usually, you write the story, and it appears with a picture. For ‘The Apple Orchard’ I was asked if I would write the story for the picture.

I happily agreed to the suggestion, as I’ve done a couple like this before and really enjoyed the challenge. I have to confess, this one was my biggest challenge yet. You see, my usual stories tend to be about families and their dilemmas, along with children and teenagers learning a little about life. Love stories are not really my territory for this particular magazine.

This picture is definitely a love story.

Which was a nice idea, but a bit out of my comfort zone, and – being human – I didn’t want to fail miserably. I would never live it down.

Okay. Panic first. Then make a strong coffee and start with what is there. In the background there is a coastline. That looked like Devon or Cornwall to me. And the apple orchard? Well that came from one tiny detail. The apple in the man’s hand. A quick stint on Google, and I found that Devon is known for its apples. So it was Devon, then.

And the rest? Well that came from the body language. From the moment of two people sharing something, something exciting, maybe life-changing.

One dog walk later (most of my stories, short and long, are brewed during the daily dog walk), and the story had fallen into place. And so I sat down, with only a modest amount of my usual procrastination, and wrote it like the true professional I am.

And here it is.

And forget the Booker (for the moment, at least, ahem),  it still gives me a buzz to see myself in print and know that people – lots of people – are reading my stories.

You might say it’s not the same, because it’s not my name. But for the first two weeks of my life,  Heather was my name. And Pardoe? Well, that’s my mother’s mother. The one left behind when her husband went off to Australia to find his fortune in the goldmines. One hell of a woman, by all accounts.

But that’s another story…

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