Thursday, 20 June 2013

Places that inspired my writing 3

When writing THE LOVEDAY SERIES obviously most of my inspiration came from places in Cornwall but the place outside of that wonderful county that gave me the most information and inspiration for the Loveday shipyard Trevowan Hard was based on my many visits to the New Forest and the fabulous museum at Bucklers Hard near Beaulieu.  If you amalgamate the picture of the model of ships being built and the picture below of the shipwrights cottages spreading down to the river iy would be very much the image I used for the Loveday shipyard on the inlet of the River Fowey. 

When creating the village of Penruan it became a mixture of the fishing villages of Polperro, Mevagissy and Port Isaac. The picture below is of Polperro and I love the museum of smuggling here that also gave me so much information about life in 18th century Cornwall.

As the estate of Trevowan and the Loveday shipyard were near to Fowey many of the scenes in the novels were set in Fowey (picture above) and it is another beautiful place that conveys the atmosphere and history of Cornwall. It is on the estuary of the River Fowey.

Truro is the County Town of Cornwall and again was a place that the Lovedays would have often visited and features in the novels.
          And doesn't this picture make you feel that you have stepped back in time. It is of Charlestown and on every visit I was lucky enough to see one of the tall ships moored at its quay.  Again it is a place full of historical interest and atmosphere and a great favourite of mine.  As its location near to St Austell - and also close to where my fictional setting of Penruan - it features in at least two of the Loveday books.            
    For me this picture of Bodmin moor is th emost evocative of  all the untamed wildness and mystery of Cornwall.  And I used Bodmin Moor to dramatic effect in several of scenes in the Loveday series.     I hope these last three blogs on the inspiration behind some of my novels have helped to bring them alive to my readers - especially to those living abroad.  They are all worthy of a great day out if you are looking for your own inspiration or  just seeking a day out full of atmosphere and nostalgia.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Places that inspired my writing 2

These are some of the places that inspired me when I was researching TRAITORS AND PLAYERS and PRINCES AND PLAYERS which are books 3 and 4 of the Angel Players series and set during the years of the English Civil war through to the restoration of Charles II, the plague and great fire of London.

This is a picture of the oldest part of Arundel Castle and a regular haunt of mine as it is only a few miles from my home home.  The castle is the home of Duke of Norfolk and is rich centuries of history.  Living so close to it I had to include Arundel in the Angel series as the main home of Maressa Angel and I had to write about the seige of Arundel in Traitors and Players during the English civil war and how it would have affected the lives of the Angel family.

A few miles away from Arundel is Chichester.  Chichester featured as the main home of Thomas Angel and is in many of the scenes.  This is a picture of the unusual market cross and the seige of Chichester is related in Traitors and Players involving more members of the Angel family. 

York and Oxford were important garrison towns for the Royalists and both are two of my favourites places to visit and absorb the historical atmosphere.

The third picture is of The Commandery at Worcester - a must see museum for those interested in the civil war.  And Worcester is another wonderful historic city and often the Sealed Knot stage events and battles about the English Civil War in Worcester.

Again London features strongly in Princes and Players and with so many museums to chose from one of my favourites and not quite so well known as the British Museum is the museum of London on London Wall.

These places mentioned really bring history alive for me and make my research entertaining and fun and also importantly give the family a great day out with lots for them to find of interest.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Places that inspired my writing 1

Writing historical novels obviously involves a great deal of research but I have not done all of it shut away in record offices or reference libraries.  I love getting out to experience the places where real people lived or explore museums where I can combine filling my notebooks with historical data and have a great day out. 

With the summer and holidays spreading ahead here is a list of my favourite places that inspired me when writing ROGUES AND PLAYERS and KNAVES AND PLAYERS the two Elizabethan novels in the ANGEL PLAYERS SERIES.

1. The Weald and Downland Museum Chichester Sussex.  Living in Sussex I regularly visit here as the houses on display cover 600 years of British history and their rural life exhibitions are great fun.  Above is a picture of Bayleaf  a type of house that would have been lived in during the 15th/16th century.  You can walk all round the houses and really experience how everyday life would have been lived by the Elizabethans on a rural level.  Below is another setting to be explored and enjoyed.  These are all original huse than have been rescued and rebuilt by the Museum. The city of Chichester itself was a setting for Rogues and Players.

 2. Straford on Avon the birthplace of Shakespeare is a great place and full of atmosphere with many Tudor attractions.

3.  The Globe theatre London.  A fantastic reconstruction of an Elizabethan playhouse and a fascinating museum.  Not far for them their in Southwark is the Clink Museum about prison life in olden times.

4. Mary Rose at Portsmouth.  I have not yet been to the new exhibition here but it is next on my list to visit. I visited the original exhibition several times. The Mary Rose was Henry VIII's flagship that sank near   Portsmouth and to see the preserved timbers and artefacts from the wreck is a real insight into naval life in Tudor times.  Nelson's flagship The Victory is also closeby so it is a great day out with lots to see.

5. Hever Castle Kent.  The birthplace of Anne Boleyn and combine it with a medieval jousting day and you have another atmospheric and fun day.

6. Hampton Court outskirts of London.  The great Tudor Palace filled with history. An inspiration to all historical writers and lovers of history.

7. Knole in Kent and Hardwick Hall in the Midlands. Two more Elizabethan houses that made a great day out.

8.  A less well know manor is Parham House, Nr Storrington, Sussex.  This is one of my favourites as it not  a grand stately home and gives you a feel of how the lesser nobility would have lived.  Again this is close to where I live and is a great favourite of mine. Picture below.  Beautiful setting on the South Downs and it has been the inspiration as the manor house for several of my novels.

9. Victoria and Albert Museum.  Whenever I am in London I try to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It has a Tudor and Stuart gallery, rooms recreating varying periods in history and a must see costume gallery for historical fashion.  And of course The British Museum is another must visit.

10.  To round up a Top 10 I would add The National Portrait Gallery also in London at Trafalgar Square.  This has portraits of the Kings and Queens of England eight back to the earliest portraits of Richard II and of course London intself has so many inspiring places to visit. The Tower, The Cutty Sark, just walking through the parks or a trip along the river can take you back in time in your imagination.

There are many more historical sites and I will include some of these in later articles that inspired some of my other novels. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Introducing the London Life series

I have never lived further than an hour and a quarter train journey to London and as a child it has always been a place to raise my heartbeat.  At 16 my first job was in London and for 8 years before I left work to raise a family I worked in the city both near the Tower of London and St Pauls and loved visiting the ancient monuments.  Working in the City fired my love of history and when I married our first flat and house was in the East End.  This was where where my parents had been raised and also my husband's family.  So my childhood was filled with stories of London through the war and even back to Victoria's reign.  It's history from medieval times to the present day fascinated me.

The historian in me was drawn to the diversity of characters that London created.  I had loved writing the historical background of London when working on The Angel Players series set in Tudor and Stuart times and when it was time to start a new project I wanted to base it in London and bring the lives of Londoners forward to less distant days.

INNOCENCE BETRAYED and FATEFUL SHADOWS were set in the Victorian era. LOYALTY AND LIES is Edwardian, SIN NO MORE. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS and BAREFOOT ANGEL cover the 1920's through to the 50's.  Each is a story of a family split by secrets and past skeletons from the past that threaten the loved ones, happiness and lives of the main characters.  Lovers of thrillers will enjoy the complexity of the physical and psychology of the dramas to be overcome, and  throughout the page-turning conflict of good against evil, the more romantic will be uplifted by the courage and triumph of loyalty and love. 

These six novels were written after the historical drama of The Angel Players Series, and the psychological twist of the romantic suspense in The London Life novels made it a natural progression on their completion for me to write the Loveday novels. 

Writing is about mastering a genre and evolving to bring your readers something fresh and exciting with each project.  I am a passionate reader and my goal as a writer was to be an entertainer and bring alive a world of drama and adventure in an exciting setting with memorable and empathic characters. I write from my heart about stories I would love to read myself. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The popularity of the Tudors

The tudor age is one of the most exciting dynasties that ruled England.  The first Tudor Henry VII had a negligible claim to the throne when he returned from years of exile to raise an army against the last Plantagenet King Richard III at Bosworth.  To protect his throne he destroyed the reputation of Richard III who died at Bosworth and what of the lives of the young princes in the Tower !!! - Henry would have us believe they were murdered by Richard their uncle but which of them had the most to lose if their claim to the throne was greater than his.  Henry VII was not popular and the brilliant documentary last night on TV showed him as a man  who if he could noy rule by popularity he would rule by terror. Yet this ascethic, mean spirited and miserly King fathered the bombastic, charismatic Henry VIII and a more dramatic reign that changed not only our religion but the way of life of the people of England would be difficult to contest. 

Henry VIII was famous for his six wives and their untimely ends. The rhyme for remembering their fate being - divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived - but their fate also brought down great statesmen and their families.  And no wonder it is the background for many great novels, films and tv dramas. The heir to Henry was the sickly and short lived Edward VI and then an even more turbulent age began. Lady Jane Grey, a young girl was used by her family and declared Queen.  She ruled for 9 days before being overthrown by Henry's eldest daughter Mary. Jane Grey was beheaded and Mary ruled, with a single-mindedness of returning England to a Catholic state at the expenses of the lives of hundreds of heretics burned at the stake for supporting her father's religious changes.  And waiting in the wings and surviving plots against her life was the most powerful of all the Tudors, Elizabeth I.

This weekend tv gives us a documentary about English life under the Tudors, the replaying of The Tudors series and The Other Boleyn Girl which provides another slant on the enigmatic reign of Henry VIII.

The most well known actors for playing Henry VIII are Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keith Michell (top of last two photos).

I am rewatching the latest Tudors with Jonathan Rhys Meyers because the story is irrestistible but it is not my favourite portrayal.  It makes good viewing but the inaccuracies of some of the historical facts and the lack of authenticity of the costumes to make the actors more pretty or sexy has led to many a rant at the tv screen.  For me the BBC Henry VIII's six wives series was far superior. Keith Michell played Henry as the aging despot with chilling accuracy and made the manipulation by their families of his later sacrifical wives all the more shocking.

The BBC followed this great series with Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth and for all lovers of tudor history it is a box set worth investing in as her portrayal of the young Elizabeth through to her death remains vivid in my mind today from seeing it in the  1970's.

Other interesting films about the Tudors was Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love where the wonderful Judy Dench played Elizabeth.

I am sure that you have your own favourites. The two BBC series about Henry and Elizabeth inspired my own love of the drama and times of the Tudors and why I had to write about this period in ROGUES AND PLAYERS and KNAVES AND PLAYERS.  I hope that those readers who have read them will feel that I accurately portrayed the great queen and the turbulent times that the Elizabethan people lived in.