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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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In The Spotlight Guest Blog Author Juliet Greenwood….

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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.

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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!

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Today I’m delighted to be the Author in the Spotlight on Brook Cottage Books

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And there’s a very exciting giveaway. Everyone who has a comment on the post has a chance to win a signed copy of We That Are Left. There will be not one but two lucky winners! This is hugely exciting for me too, because the physical copies haven’t actually arrived yet. Fingers crossed, and if all goes well, I’ll have my first sight of the book, and a copy in my hot little paws, at the beginning of next week. Which means whoever wins the signed copies will have the first ones I’ve ever seen.

So good luck everyone. And thank you JB for the lovely spot on Brook Cottage Books. Having had 10 days without any Internet after my phone socket was exploded by lightening (along with a good majority of my neighbours) this is the best way to come back!

To read the post you can click on the Brook Cottage Books image, or HERE

So now it all needs is the books.

I somehow have a feeling you’ll hear all about it ….. 🙂

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I’ve had a nice write-up in the local paper this week.

Bangor and Anglesey Mail 23rd October 2013

Okay, so the Bangor and Anglesey Mail isn’t exactly world wide coverage, but I know it’s some of the best publicity I can have. I’m always surprised at how many people have read (and remember!) even the smallest bit of information about me that finds its way in there.  I always think I lead this quiet, slightly eccentric, hermit life, quite forgetting I’ve lived and worked all over the North Wales coast for more than twenty years. In small communities like these, it’s surprising just how many people know me, or know of me.  And because I am local, I’m flying the flag for local pride, too. So even those who don’t know me are rooting for me.

I still have this faint (but excruciating) feeling that I’m boasting and everyone’s going to run a mile. But of course local papers love stories, and especially good news stories. It was something I learnt when I was running a small charity. It was easier then, because it wasn’t directly about me, but I’ve learnt to apply it to publicising my books. It’s a fair exchange. I send in an article, with a selection of photographs, the reporter has an easy life and something good to put in the paper. Plus you make sure you get all the facts right. Everyone is happy.

So hurrah for local reporters and local papers!

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And while I’m being shameless, if you would like to vote for Eden’s Garden in The People’s Book Prize, please vote here: 

Thank You!

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Today I’m being interviewed on Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog, talking about my new book We That Are Left, which was finished with the aid of  a Writers’ Bursary from Literature Wales. Plus the excitement of  being in the running for The People’s Book Prize with Eden’s Garden.

Thank you Carol for a great interview!

You can pop on over and read my interview here:

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Today I’m the Author Spotlight for Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog

It’s an amazing site packed full of information, tips, flash fiction and interviews with authors.I was excited to be interviewed, and you can find exactly what I said here. 

Morgen said she had a surprise for me – and what a surprise! Morgen had not only heard of my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, but she actually possessed a couple of her magazine stories. That gives any author’s heart a flutter!

Today, I’m sitting at my desk being Heather, writing short stories and working away at a serial I’m writing for a magazine set in the Welsh Gold Rush. And yes, there was one. But to find out more about that, you’ll have to wait for Heather Pardoe to work her magic.

In the meantime, this is the kind of stories Heather writes. Believe me, I’ve learnt many invaluable lessons writing for the given requirements of a magazine. I would never have made it as a published author of novels if it hadn’t been for the professional learning curve of writing as Heather Pardoe, both her stories and her rip-roaring (but not bodice ripping) pocket novels.

So many thanks to Morgen Bailey  and her writing blog – and  there’s plenty  of fascinating information to check out while you are there.

The writer’s learning curve is a long one and every little – or not so little – helps along the way.

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