Interview – Historical Fiction Author – Barbara Gaskell Denvil

I’m a little bit excited, because this week on the blog I’m interviewing a fellow historical author – Barbara Gaskell Denvil! Barbara’s latest book ‘Fair Weather’ has just been released and she’s come over to have a chat about the book and her writing process.

Welcome Barbara!

  • To begin with, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thanks so much, Heather. I’ve been an author of sorts for most of my life, starting in
my teens publishing articles and short stories while working for publishers and television companies as a tutor, script writer and editor. However, I took a large break for domesticity and bringing up three daughters, two of whom are identical twins. Once my children were grown with lives of their own, I spent some years sailing the Mediterranean and living in several European countries while indulging my sense of adventure and learning, first hand, what romance is all about. Now I live in Australia, and write of medieval England while gazing out of my window at kangaroos, parrots and kookaburras. A considerable contrast – but my imagination soars from one to the other with no problems. It all adds to the joys of inspiration.

  •  Briefly, can you tell us what Fair Weather is about?

FW CoverMystery – history – dark magic – romance – and adventure! Fair Weather is set a little earlier than many of my other novels, going back to the reign of King John. It is a time-slip story with a large dose of the paranormal so the heroine, at first against her wishes but increasingly eager, is pulled from her modern comforts into the dangers of the past.  The storyline delves deeper and deeper into the threats and the mysteries, but as the plot develops the mysteries begin to unfold, and the principal male character shows himself as multi-faceted and far from average hero. This very unusual hero is one of my favourites but neither of my two heroines find him an easy companion. This book and its plot are multi-layered, and carries many twists…

  • What inspired you to write Fair Weather?

Vespasian Fairweather came marching into my head one dark and chilly evening, and introduced himself without permission. I found him immediately intriguing, challenging and compelling. This is actually a novel I first wrote back in 2004 when time-slip plots were rare! But I have polished since then – and I believe the book has grown a little. But for all that time, Vespasian has been with me. He’s not always the easiest companion, but I love having him around. He is charismatic and never predictable. So he has been my inspiration right from the start. Where he came from – well – I’m not sure!

  • I see you’ve written quite a bit of historical fiction. What drew you to this genre?

I suppose originally because it’s a genre I love to read, and I grew up with an adoration for Dorothy Dunnett, Shakespeare and Mary Renault. I became interested in researching the dark cramped and brutal life of the ordinary people during those long-past years. I also love fantasy – and I think both fantasy and historical fiction draw the reader into new worlds. Escapism of the deepest and most compelling kind. I adore wandering other dark roads in my mind and exploring what made people think and believe as they did. I am greatly interested in many important figures from the past (Richard III, Shakespeare, Rochester, Wellington and many more) but it is the huge heaving population of the poor that absorbs me, and how they coped with such difficulties. We are now what the past has made us, and I find that an absorbing puzzle to study.

  • Fair Weather is not strictly historical. Is this your first time-slip novel?

Yes, it is, and I have loved writing it. I believe the time-slip plot draws the reader into the past along with the characters, and that is always my aim in all my books, even when time-travel is not at all included. When I actually wrote Fair Weather back in 2004, time-slip was quite a rarity in books and I cannot remember a single book I had then read based on time travel, although now it is quite fashionable. My mother had recently died, and I think my mood was generally dark – and from there I slipped into the past myself.

  • I’ve had a peek at your website, and I’m intrigued by your story line. You mentioned that one of your main characters ‘Vespasian’ arrived fully formed and proceeded to dictate the story (I’ve experienced this myself!). Was there much research involved?

Yes, isn’t it a wonderful experience when a compelling character seems to come alive!

I have always loved researching the past and started with massive academic research on the Viking era when I was just 12 years old. So yes indeed, I researched the time period for Fair Weather with much passion, even though the plot of my novel is not based on historical events. Certainly the presentation of old London and the way of life at that time are all very accurate. Vespasian certainly strode through my head and wrote my book for me, but I still had to check that the facts were right. Now I have trouble with fading sight, and research is a problem. However, I will never write a historical fact without ensuring its accuracy.

  • I’ve found research can be a bit of a black-hole – there is so much information out there. How did you know when you’d done enough?

Yes, it can be hard, but that black hole has never swallowed me up. I enjoy research and never stop, and it is endlessly valuable. You need a feel for the period, and an understanding of what life was like then. I have researched many periods of history without the slightest intention of setting a book in that time. The past has fascinated me most of my life and I am passionate about understanding the way we have grown from previous mistakes. I have a passionate sympathy for the terrible experiences the ordinary people suffered before we learned tolerance, before medical science understood disease and hygiene, and before a regard for equality was accepted. Battle was the most brutal business and yet people accepted the inevitability. Many fought willingly, but the suffering continued unabated through every reign. I will not turn away from the misery those poor souls faced in bygone eras, and I write of their lives with the utmost care. Now humanity is maturing beyond those past horrors, but we still have a lot to learn. That is what research means to me. I have never entered into any research purely as a short term exercise for one book alone.  I dream of these times, and feel as though I live there as I write my books.

  • What inspires you to write?

The whole world and everyone in it becomes my inspiration. The sunset over the hills, the dawn rising in soft pastels over the ocean, forests in the spring and open moors bleak in the barren winter. Every person I meet and every word they say inspires me. I get sudden ideas from dreams too. My dreams are vivid and compelling, and they remain with me long after I have woken. Some films have inspired me too, and books of course, for reading the work of others is perhaps the biggest inspiration of all. I also have my own memories, and after leading a very varied and interesting life, there is plenty to remember and plenty to inspire within those memories.

  • What is your next book about?

I am now writing a Tudor adventure. As usual it contains romance, adventure, crime and mystery, as well as a good deal of historical context. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are important characters within the book, but I follow my normal practice by bringing my own fictional characters into the foreground as the principal protagonists.  But the book is only about half way finished, and it will be some time before I choose to publish it. I insist on rewriting and polishing my work several times, and therefore finally publish my very best attempt at perfection. Well – nothing is ever perfect of course – but I can try.

  • What is your writing process? Do you have a daily routine? Do you plot your stories – or do you let them come to you as you write?

More or less a routine, and I try to write for many hours each day, depending on other duties such as marketing and keeping up with articles, and fascinating interviews such as this one. I love writing. I have no problem with writing for hours. I always start off with my basic plot and characters very firmly in my mind, but then as the book begins to develop, it takes on a life of its own and runs away with me. In the end I always feel as though it has written itself. Sometimes it feels so real that I think it has written me!

My leading characters leap into my head fully formed and demand that I give them the freedom to do whatever they wish. And that’s exactly what I do. I have written a crime mystery before, where I have changed the culprit half way through simply because the original character I had chosen as the guilty one, turned around and told me in no uncertain manner that he was innocent. Who can argue with a character stamping his feet inside your head?

  • Why did you decide to self-publish?

My traditional publishers (Simon & Schuster) treated me very well. My books sold well and I intended continuing in the traditional manner. But then I began to dream of taking back some of the control I had inevitably had to surrender to my publisher. I had no complaints, but most matters were no longer my choice and even the basic direction of my books was sometimes altered by them. Only one book a year is published traditionally of course, they chose covers, and with a small budget allotted (large budgets are kept strictly for the famous names and huge best-sellers) there was very little possibility for publicity or marketing. Eventually I decided that self-publishing would bring me vastly more pleasure, and renew all my freedoms., So that is what I chose.

Sadly there is still some stigma hanging over those who self-publish, as though they have all initially failed. This is most unjust. It may sometimes be true, of course, but usually it is not. I was offered the traditional path – accepted with pleasure – and then backed out. Self-publishing has become a great joy, although challenging – but it is the way I now wish to travel.

 

  • What advice would you give to people just starting to write, or considering self-publishing?

I don’t think I am in a position to advise anyone really, as I am still learning what I want to do myself. I suppose I would advise any prospective author to take the idea seriously – never to give up – and to re-write, re-write, and re-write again. Many new authors finish a book quickly and assume that is good enough. In the following years they inevitably regret having rushed the process. I think a measure of perfection should be attempted through endless polishing before going out to face the public. Beta readers can be extremely helpful in this.

  • Do you have any website/social media links you’d like to share?

My Amazon author’s page,

www.amazon.com/Barbara-Gaskell-Denvil/e/B005M8E3ZS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

My website – and please do subscribe –

http://barbaragaskelldenvil.com/index.html

and my F/B author’s Page –

https://www.facebook.com/B.GaskellDenvil/?fref=ts

I should dearly like to meet you all on any or all of these sites.

 

– Fairweather is available now from Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Fair-Weather-Barbara-Gaskell-Denvil-ebook/dp/B01GBV40CU

and Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fair-Weather-Barbara-Gaskell-Denvil-ebook/dp/B01GBV40CU

 

– Thank you so much for having a chat with me today Barbara – I’m really looking forward to reading Fair Weather, and learning a bit more about Vespasian Fairweather and the heroines who accompany him in this story.

 

Barbara’s bio:

barbara 3Born in England, I grew up amongst artists and authors and started writing at a young age. I published numerous short stories and articles, and worked as an editor, book critic and reader for publishers and television companies. I broke off my literary career to spend many hot and colourful years sailing the Mediterranean and living in various different countries throughout the region.

When my partner died I needed a place of solace and came to live in rural Australia where I still live amongst the parrots and wallabies, writing constantly, for my solace has now become my passion.

With a delight in medieval history dating back to my youth, I now principally set my fiction in 15th century England. I also write fantasy, tending towards the dark and adult. Within these two genres, I now write full time.

http://barbaragaskelldenvil.com/index.html

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The Next Big Thing – Blog Hop

Wow! I’ve just been tagged in my very first blog hop!!  Thanks so much to LaVerne Clark for tagging me!

LaVerne writes Romance and has two brilliant e-books published. You can find more information about her and her books at her blog: http://www.laverneclark.blogspot.com.au/

 

There are blog hop rules:

****Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you

**** Post the rules for the blog hop

****Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog

****Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

 

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?  Red Sky

Where did the idea come from for the book?  I had committed to participate in Camp Nano, in June of this year, and was desperately searching for something to write about. There was a red sky one night, and the old phrase “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” came to me, and instantly I had a flash of inspiration – a group of characters and their history, and a vague idea of where they were headed.

What genre does your book fall under?  Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Honestly I have not even thought that far ahead? That will need some more thought…
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  One sentence synopsis… haven’t written one yet, so lets see what I come up with: How about. “As the only female Pirate Captain in the whole of the nine seas Morgan has had more struggles than most, but can she cope when weakling James is thrust into her crew as they set off in search of the Greybeard’s legendary treasure – their most dangerous adventure yet?” Does that make it sound like a children’s book? It’s not supposed to be a children’s book…
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I’m not sure I’m confident enough to self-publish just yet. This story is aimed for a novella competition coming up very soon, otherwise I will find somewhere else to submit it…

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  19 days to write just over 50,000 words.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I’m no good at comparing my work with others.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? Another tricky question! The inspiration just struck me, a few days before Nano started in June. I had been dreaming about mermaids a lot before hand, and knew my story should be about the sea, so when the pirate story idea came I knew I had to run with it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  The story features not only pirates and treasure, but also mermaids and to a lesser degree, magic.

 Thanks LaVerne for tagging me! 😀

Now – this is the point where I am supposed to tag 5 other bloggers – but most of the bloggers I know have already been tagged!! If you would like to join in let me know and I’ll tag you here! It’s a lot of fun!

Affinity by LaVerne Clark – Review

Some of you may remember me posting an invite to the Online Release Party of the above book – Affinity by LaVerne Clark.

Here is my (very belated) review!

Affinity is a paranormal romance and I love that extra element to the story. It tells the story of Jenna, a woman of Japanese descent who has the ability to call creatures and take on their attributes at will. Her talent is hereditary, passed down through her father’s line.

As an adult Jenna has managed to hide the truth about herself, but when she uses her abilities to rescue a young boy she finds herself getting more attention than she hoped for from sexy policeman Nick. Nick is troubled by his work as a cop. When he meets Jenna he knows she is hiding something, and follows his instinct to find out what it is. Their relationship quickly blooms, but as Jenna’s ability suddenly evolves to include humans as well, Nick is scared off.

When Jenna’s heroic rescue is reported in all parts of the globe, a man with ulterior motives seeks to obtain control over Jenna and her abilities. When other attempts fail, he kidnaps Nick forcing Jenna to give herself up in order to save the man she loves.

This ebook is published by The Wild Rose Press, if you’d like to read Affinity go to the website and purchase a copy for yourself. And while you’re there – you can pick up LaVerne’s first ebook – ‘Guardian of the Jewel’. http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=841&zenid=a675f0743df82dabd40bb26bf09e201b

You’re Invited to Party!! :D

Introducing LaVerne Clark!

A very good friend of mine, LaVerne is having an online party on Wednesday 27th to celebrate the release of her 2nd e-book, Affinity! LaVerne writes suspense and light fantasy/paranormal romance set in New Zealand. Her first novel – Guardian of the Jewel is a great read and I am very much looking forward to reading this one!

So pop in to her blog at http://laverneclark.blogspot.com.au/ on Wednesday 27th June and join in the celebrations!!

In the wrong hands, Jenna Thomas’s legacy could be a curse—in her mind it already is.

As a child, a routine x-ray awakened an abnormality in Jenna’s DNA giving her the ability to “call” creatures and take on their attributes. Labeled a freak since then, Jenna’s learned to keep everyone at a distance. But all that changes the day she saves a young boy from drowning, and the story goes viral.

Nick Hawke, an off-duty policeman, witnesses part of the drama. Captivated by Jenna’s exotic beauty, he decides to investigate, not sure what to believe. Jenna puts his cynicism to the test—even as the attraction between them grows.

As word of her extraordinary rescue spreads, a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to control Jenna’s abilities draws near. With her feelings for Nick putting him in danger too, can Jenna risk everything to protect them both?

***

An excerpt of Affinity:

“Back off everyone, give us room,” boomed Nick with authority. Everyone took a step back. An attractive woman holding a microphone stepped into the created space. Her phony smile flashed teeth like a shark. Circling, she came in for the kill, her cameraman capturing the moment.

“Are you the lady who jumped in to save the boy? What made you do something so heroic? Witnesses say you were under for over ten minutes. How is this possible?”

The questions fired at her like a volley of bullets. Jenna flinched as each one hit its mark. She couldn’t answer honestly without sounding like a freak. So she said nothing, burying her head into Nick’s chest. His arms tightened around her. The subtle turning of his body shielded her from all those eyes.

He pitched his voice to address the crowd. “It’s been a traumatic event for everyone involved, and as you can imagine, it’s not over for us yet. We’ve no comment to make at this stage, so please, give us some time to come to terms with what’s happened. Thank you.”

“Could you at least give me a little snippet, Sergeant Hawke?” pouted the reporter, pushing her chest out and fluttering her lashes.

Jenna’s spine went rigid. A sick feeling of dread settled in the pit of her belly.

Police. Nick is a policeman. Dear God, I’m in trouble.

 Her head pounded and her hands shook. His arm tightened when she tried to pull away, holding her firmly in place. Any other person she could have fobbed off. Now she understood his aura of authority, his all-seeing gaze and concern at the thought of a child left alone in her car. He would be relentless uncovering the truth.