Wednesday, 23 October 2019

JAFF novels VS Jane Austen Originals.


Thoughts on how differently people interpret historical romance novels written by the likes of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, and how they interpret Regency based novels written by modern day authors. Jane wrote lighthearted romantic comedy of manner plots, and the Bronte sisters wrote dark romantic dramas. But today I’m focusing attention on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.



There were no rules in writing romance, nor was there a romance genre in olden times!

If you’ve ever read “Romance and Legend of Chivalry” by A. R. Moncrieff you would see how romance tales were a thing of poetic prose, 500 and more years past, which gradually developed into fairy tale romances of Knights and Fair Maidens derived from fact and mingled with fiction. It is easy to visualise the knight riding away to do battle the weeping maid waving from the battlements of a mediaeval castle, and will he return or is this the last time she will see him?

Or, take the white (good) knight jousting with the black knight (baddy), most often the latter is in lustful wont, the former in love with the same woman. The same old romances of legend are still written today in differing romance genres. The fairy tale Snow White and the Wicked Queen (step-mother) a rival in the Beauty Stakes, and no less dramatic in Pride and Prejudice between Elizabeth and Caroline, with Caroline longing to snare Darcy. (a mere snip of characters impressions from Snow White with a touch of Cinderella rags to riches is there in Jane Austen’s Bennet tome) Both are old tropes and each time as exciting as the author cares to make them and expand on them.




We can snatch almost any sequence from a fairy tale as read to us as children and find it in modern authors’ renditions of Regency romances a million times over. There were no rules in the chivalric novels for an HEA. King Arthur’s Guinevere loved Sir Lancelot, but neither could be together, their love was pure and untainted by sex, and shared at a discreet distance according to the chivalric Christian based tales, whereas who knows, they could have been lovers! Later novels depicted them as lovers, so you take your fairy tale characters as did Jane Austen and you play theatre manager with them and have them perform on stage to your script. And yet, around the globe similar if not identical fairy tales were accountable to the Greek classics, Persian classics et al.

Whereas the romance genre of today as developed in the 20th century rapidly acquired pseudo set rules, namely rules set in stone by Mills & Boon of the early years:

 The Begin  - boy meets girl and

The Middle – they’ve fallen in love, or deny they have to selves, or something arises to keep them apart – known as Contention. (Contention can range from parental disapproval, circumstances beyond their control re military/other, or to the fact one may not trust the other sufficiently and for numerous reasons. Basically the author chooses a plot structure or writes on a wing and prayer known as Panster or Pantser = by seat of pants).

The   End - contention resolved and the HEA – Happy Ever After is guaranteed

All well and good as basic templates for romance, but what of follow-on novels and prequels – before and after a couple are married?

Prequels give huge insight to the main protagonist/s, and provide information relevant to their previous existence.
Sequels depend greatly on excitement and thrills aplenty, but where is such to stem from, if the sequel is a merely a couple who have each other and all is rosy in the ongoing romantic closet. Unless something dramatic happens – an accident, fear of death, tragic consequences for the family, murder, mayhem with a spate of burglaries, kidnap, blackmail, otherwise, what is the author conveying if the plot merely revolves around a happy couple, other than the author has fallen in love with her characters and simply cannot let go of them.
Sequels  can and do lend opportunity to explore other characters from a previous book, and again scope is endless in how they progress to an HEA.


Caroline Bingley and Darcy

Fan Fiction is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around for a long while, but Jane Austen Fan Fiction has experienced an explosion of new and old talent authors treading the dangerous corridors of hallowed ground. Ms Austen reigns as far as die-hard fans of her works will tell you, and woe betide anyone who dares to alter her plots.

But Fan Fiction Variations are alternative Jane Austen makeovers. And why not, and books in this sub genre of JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) ranges from Regency era to modern reflections of her plots, and Time-Travel too.

So what to do when writing a JAFF sequel with Jane Austen’s characters? That is anyone’s guess and authors go in all sorts of directions. But as I said above, writing a book about a married couple when the honeymoon is at end requires a great deal of author imagination, because whilst Jane Austen provided fully-fledged characters and a plot template to work from, authors of sequels and prequels are flying alone with no laid out Austen plot. Imagination is key to creating the former life of a Jane Austen character based on the barest snips of information in the original novel, thus creation of an ongoing life experience of existing characters tests author ability to create a new environment. That is not an easy task, for there will always be those who will expect Jane Austen formal prose before all else, and other readers will prefer more modern less formal text and a more modern character attitude: irrespective of formal etiquette within the given historical era.

Authors know they cannot please all readers, and whilst some will write to established fan base tastes, other authors will write with a broader perspective to wider readership, or write for the pleasure of experimentation in a new genre. We all start somewhere in our writing careers, and whether you’re with a publisher, whether you’re Indie, or whether you’re an old timer as I am and have published and Indie books under differing pseudonyms, you will know how tough the industry really is. But always, always, authors who love writing historical romances and love history, they will do their damn best to write an HR with historical input seamlessly interwoven to add that little essence of historical authenticity.

Jane Austen had no need to include historical fact to render her books historical in content simply because she was writing novels contemporary to her time. But when we are writing Regency novels we add aspects of a heroine’s outfit, or other in colourful description, because a book is not a movie, even though authors can make a book read as though rolling on screen with those very descriptions. A carriage is a carriage, yes, not necessarily. It can be any number of horse drawn vehicles, but it is always a conveyance, whether on two or four wheels. Does it have one horse, two, or four abreast, or two in tandem pushing that conveyance, and remember horses don’t pull they push when in harness.

I’ll use my own Pride and Prejudice as an example in stepping out with a mystery element, for when the old routine for the master of a vast country estate kicks in, and Mr Darcy’s Pemberley was in Jane Austen’s novel a sizable estate, how is an author to seek out something to render the novel more than a mere continuing love affair?

P. D. James, the great English crime novelist wrote a P and P sequel as a murder mystery Death Comes to Pemberley. I thoroughly enjoyed it, other readers trashed it, so no there is no accounting for personal tastes, and I did get the feeling from reading Amazon reviews an awful lot of authors who read it had no idea who P. D. James was, or that numerous TV series of her books have graced BBC and ITV for ions, as did Death Comes to Pemberley.

And so, I went out on a limb and depicted Elizabeth’s adjustment to life at Pemberley as a testing time for her. After all Elizabeth would initially be faced with a very different kind of life at Pemberley. Think back to how Jane Austen suddenly gave Elizabeth a vast empty house devoid of chattering siblings and an excitable mother in the last chapter. I thought hard about the experience of being presented with a remote house far from family and friends at a time when telephones didn’t exist, and letters had to be written, sent, and reply waited upon. Similar happened to me when first married, and the telephone was a lifeline! I therefore assumed the silence of Pemberley would be deafening for Elizabeth, and Darcy did have an estate to oversee, and God forbid his harbouring a secret which amounted to a belated wedding present.

Elizabeth is a character of curiosity in the original novel and she’s observant, and questions others motives, judges some worse than others, and can misconstrue things in a contrary manner. And when one pokes one’s nose into another’s private correspondence, well, it may not be good for one. In my novel curiosity gives rise to overt imagination on Elizabeth's part when she reads a letter not meant for her eyes - does Darcy have a mistress?  Remember cases of 21st century wives cutting up Saville row suits, keying or paint daubing hubby's swanky car when dejected by discovery her husband had a mistress? Of course you do. But in Regency England a wife was a chattel, her husband's property, and by law he could exact his conjugal rights by force, slap her arse, and any money or property she owned before marriage (Elizabeth Bennet had neither) it automatically became the property of her husband on marriage.

Elizabeth is suddenly in a strange house with no friends immediately to hand, and if she confronts Darcy over a letter she will be subject to accusation of prying into his private correspondence, and the potential for a row that may destroy what is or was a perfectly good marriage. Yes she dwells on her findings, but she is also beholden to her husband for the roof over her head, food on the table, and wifely allowance. Bide her time she must, and bite her tongue rather than admit to poking her nose into Darcy’s affairs, but as the blurb states, nothing is as it seems, “oh what a web of deceit is spun, when authors practice to deceive a heroine and readers alike with a mystery thread!” The novel actually, as someone else said, has a triple happy denouement, and it does.

So why do readers and viewers interpret books and movies differently, and how many are influenced by others opinions? Not surprisingly only one reader has grasped part of the context of my story - which is the underlying French Farce aspect and Comedy of Errors. Most readers could only think in terms of a squabbling married couple, which in the story they are not, but they do spar with words in competitive spirit, and Elizabeth’s prickly edge amuses Darcy. But why would a reader say it has an unhappy ending, when it has three happy endings? What is the purpose of that comment? I’m totally baffled by it.

The one thing Jane Austen told us about Elizabeth & Darcy = they sparked off one another, and despite love blossomed between them Darcy was not a man that would change over much in his set ways. Darcy was meticulous in everything he did, as Jane Austen tells us. Thus I had Darcy retaining copies of letters sent to others. Copies of letters sent was a well known practice in the past in how to keep up with what was said in previous letters and a means to allay repetition of same subject matter in follow-up correspondence to friends and family. And thank God many persons in the past did so, for those letters have proved invaluable to historians and authors alike. And Behold, for, at the beginning of the book Darcy reads through an old letter, an incriminating letter where he declares he suffered a moment of self doubt in proposal of marriage to Elizabeth, and worse, that he had made a second fool of himself. Elizabeth never sets eyes on that letter— else she may have shot him on arrival back at the house. The letter in question was written before he was actually wed to Elizabeth, during a spell of self doubt. But how many couples or individuals suffer pre-wedding fears and ponder their sanity, especially men?

I decided one could either write a mushy extended post wedding love story (and nothing wrong with that) but once married if there's no contention as in the original Pride & Prejudice, and no build up to romance then Jane Austen's characters have lost that very spirit which made them who they were. Darcy was no great romantic, he blundered in his first proposal and insulted Elizabeth for a second time, and yet he as good as sleep walked into a marriage proposal by default of declaring his feelings had not changed. He didn't actually on that wintry walk ask Elizabeth "Will you marry me" but she assumed it was so and he went along with it as any man who is less than able to express himself to best advantage— unlike the smooth talking Wickham!



Sometimes I do wonder if readers actually grasp Jane Austen's wicked sense of mischief! And there is a lot of underlying mischief in Jane Austen's writings. She sometimes sets her characters up for heady heights of passion and then a crashing downfall, and another hero to the rescue, and I’ll wager you know which plot I’m referring to, yes, Sense and Sensibility. Whereas in P/P contention between Elizabeth & Darcy was stretched out with gradual sense of other, equally any nuance of romance was a fragile thread throughout.

In effect Jane Austen created two characters of similar personality, both outspoken; both opinionated; both given to quick and misguided judgement of others (Elizabeth nonetheless duly enchanted by Wickham initially, whilst her opinion of Lady Catherine is later justified). Darcy has Caroline in tow with Bingley, and clearly Caroline is acceptable and part of his small entourage, and Caroline assumes she will become Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy. Why did Caroline assume Darcy was interested in her? We don’t really know the answer to that question, because we don’t know if Darcy had prior given that impression. After all, he was fairly inept in communication with females, and Caroline was in his company prior to his visit to Hertfordshire?


Lady Catherine de Bourgh

In first impressions of Elizabeth he is rude about her appearance. This is instant “contention” and Caroline enhances Elizabeth’s faults and that of her family thereafter in blind belief it will be to her own benefit. Either way, Elizabeth and Darcy are at odds, and as we know tension builds as physical desires overwhelm Darcy the more he encounters Elizabeth – a natural enough response for any young man, and from physical desire love blossoms but he blunders with his ardent proposal by immediately insulting her. (blundering idiot)

But is it love Darcy feels for Elizabeth or raw physical desire at that point, hence his insult? He has an estate, he requires an heir, and one could assume his attitude to be that of “better a woman who sparked him to a raging furnace of desire than the sniping Caroline.” And yet, when one stops and thinks and compares Elizabeth and Caroline, they do have more in common than at first glance. They not only become rivals from Caroline’s perspective, Elizabeth is not immune to the fact Caroline dislikes her as much as she dislikes Caroline, nor can Elizabeth ignore the fact Caroline has Darcy at her elbow, or seemingly that is so, for wherever Bingley and Darcy are, so is Caroline. Both Elizabeth and Caroline have cutting tongues, as we witnessed in Elizabeth’s retort to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s insulting remarks. So in some respects one can see why Darcy may have been attracted to Caroline prior to meeting Elizabeth.

Nevertheless, infuriated by Darcy’s blundering and insulting proposal Elizabeth would have liked to tear his hair out and shred him, and yet, when she later sets eyes on Pemberley reality hits her in all that she could have had. Can she in all honesty, have prior forgiven him his insult at that point in time? Pretty damn unlikely in real life, methinks.

But then again, one has to look at the fact she is a product of her time, a time when marriages were not always the result of a love match! He is nonetheless handsome, and a man of substantial property income, which is not to be sniffed at nor snubbed, and she plays her cards to perfection as a markedly demure young lady caught snooping and duly flutters her eyelashes.

Darcy senses all is not lost, that Pemberley has achieved what he could not, and he would still prefer Elizabeth in his bed than Caroline. There you have it, he has to learn to hunt his prey, run it to ground and conquer the day, so he dreams up how, and decides introduction to his sister will show he is a caring man, and you know the rest. Elizabeth looks on him in a new light, but Wickham, dastardly Wickham intervenes by eloping with Lydia, and in turn tears Darcy and Elizabeth apart. Darcy’s ultimate good deed in paying Wickham to wed Lydia, and the purchase of a captaincy in the regular army, renders Darcy worthy of Elizabeth’s hand in marriage. And why not for who else is lining up to court Lizzie? No one. Thus, on that wintry walk Elizabeth swallows a dollop of humble pie in gratitude to Darcy’s purse, and his unstinting kindness to the Bennet household. Darcy in turn conveys for the first time heartfelt feelings, not a proposal of marriage, but could be construed as such if wanted and Elizabeth bites off his hand (metaphorically speaking). Even though her father views it an ill advised alliance, whatever Elizabeth wants her father agrees to, and Darcy did it right and proper by approaching the father in orderly fashion. The end.



Don’t you just love evaluating characters and why the author chose them and set them up for a rough ride to romance? Given the era and the fact war was raging on the Continent in Jane Austen’s time, the scope for JAFF novels is endless.  

Sunday, 1 September 2019

New Release The Last Betrayal


Back cover blurb:

Versailles depicts the very essence of King Louis XIV, but amidst secret executions, abductions, and imprisonments, two men have served Louis’ every whim, never questioning the why of it, now one of those men has imprisoned the other at the king’s command. Has Lady Fate or the hand of God provided a chance escape to King Louis’ former Intelligencer, and can revenge ever be sweet for king or commoner? With the past revisited and finally laid to rest, love blossoms as a new life beckons, and the lovers pray they can cross the border to safety. With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes a tidal wave of fear has swept across France, thus a secret society formed by Huguenot merchants from within safe havens abroad assists those in need. In the meanwhile a secret society in England to dethrone James II brings the merchants together as a united force to uphold the Protestant faith under the royal standard of William of Orange. War is nigh, and can a Frenchman be trusted as William’s spy extraordinaire?

Amazon UK       Amazon US

So chuffed to receive the Historical Readers' Award for this novel.
The Award Editorial Review:
What a thrill-packed spicy fan fiction sequel this is.
The background setting is France during the reign of Louis XIV. Dare it be said the author has either delved deep into research of her subject or has an uncanny familiarity with this period in history. The plight of the Huguenots and the ghastly consequences after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes is laid bare in this stylish sequel to the TV series Versailles. Fervour for the series in my house was met with ‘oh no, is that it?’ when a cruel cliff-hanger scene left devotees of Fabien Marchal in limbo and in horror there was no more episodes to come. There is no absolute proof it is Fabien in this novel, or is there? If not, was Fabien Marchal his full name and who was his father. All these questions have answers, and more. In any case, the hero’s dark side we witnessed from the TV series matches this hero who is plagued with memories. He is effectively damned by who he is and all that was undertaken in the name of the king. It is a common enough phrase to say the love of a good woman will sort him out, and that may be true if a poignant past would cease to torment him (a tissue box advisable). Then, when a spirited young woman tends to the needs of his horse her verve is somewhat refreshing to the jaded hero. She is then set to become his torment of a different kind when trusted into his care, and he is bound by sworn promise to deliver her to the care of her older brother. While the road to freedom is paved with many perils two familiar figures from the TV series are found en route and needy of help, and our hero rides to the rescue of royal blood. And so it goes all the way through this engaging novel with wonderful cameos very much in the vein of the Three Musketeers as the hero and heroine make of life thrown their way. All the while historical facts are interlaced with fiction as the hero tells us of his past in vivid colour. Interestingly the timeline begins in 1685 in France and ends in 1688 with a happy conclusion after the coronation in England of William and Mary of Orange. The Last Betrayal was recommended for the Historical Readers’ Award and is hereby granted the gold award, and goes without saying it is well written.

What inspired this novel!

After watching the BBC TV series Versailles, its historical accuracy was a little thin on the ground at times and the characters never aged as the years and decades passed them by. But poetic licence is always granted with movies. Whilst I do think fictional characters can take on associated roles with named persons from history, to actually replace or imply the famous person didn't exist and yet inspired the creation of a character seems a bit pointless and can alienate historical buffs! 

Throughout the series the producers and scriptwriter never really "highlighted" the fundamentals of who Fabien Marchal was and what he did was sort of tacked on for dramatic effect, and yet he was based on a real person of the era who did have a heart beneath his cold calculating exterior. 



It is said Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, Chief of all Police Forces, inspired the creation of Fabien Marchal. Gabriel was a visionary in  his own right, his profession was that of lawyer, judge, and not least the installing of street lights within Paris in great hopes it would deter criminals and assist in catching the devils. 

Why the scriptwriter simply chose to stomp on historical fact and instead fictionalised the character Fabien as a lone wolf, (more head of security at Versailles than Chief of Police), was a shame because Fabien never really played the role of chief and never called on The Guard of Paris or the soldiers of  Isle de France to fulfill duties to his command, as did Gabriel. Instead he rode occasionally in company of the King's Musketeers. So much more could have been achieved with Fabien, basically more substance to his character and who he was when off duty.


Tygh Runyan as Fabien Marchal

Whatever one may think Fabien clocked up a huge following of female fans, or should that be Tygh Runyan has a huge fan base. I really liked the character and felt he was never fully fleshed, that his fictional status rendered him only part whole. Whereas the majority of the cast barring secondary fictional characters were infamous with in depth historical backgrounds.    
  
In keeping with his fictional role I've created a plausible past to fit with his fictional persona. There is a tragic twist and accountable to an incident when he became a prisoner of the Spanish. After all, I kept asking myself what in his past made him so cold and detached in nature but nothing was forthcoming as the series Versailles progressed. Equally I kept puzzling what truly impacted on him to finally turn him against his king and the king against him (?) because the scene that determined his downfall didn't make sense on its own. The whole point about fictional characters set against the backdrop of a period, thus becoming a part of the series structure, is the golden opportunity to reveal the cause of a character's make-up. 

There always has to be an underlying what drives them factor, and what weakness if any can be touched by another. He had an Achilles Heel, but what was it? Thus I hope I have portrayed his inner self - the reason why his cold persona is his defensive shield. And of course, historical fact has a huge part to play in this sensual Romantic Swashbuckling novel. Inevitably the hero encounters love, true love along the way, but can he lay his past to rest?  

Don't forget you can expand the image by clicking it. 

In the novel the hero is masquerading as other than self, and for good reason, because he's on the run and is an escapee from custody. Equally, events in his youth are revealed and that's what sequel novels are for, the fleshing out of characters who were short-changed (scant on personal details) and letting them shine in their own right. 

Historically, King Louis' revengeful streak knew no bounds, for Huguenots were on the run where able, all fleeing from persecution and seeking peace in other countries. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes proved to be a disaster for Louis, but all that is revealed within the book. 


Admiral Abraham Duquesne, Marquis du Bouchet

As many authors and scriptwriters claim poetic licence in books and movies, so have I with the creation of the hero's blood father. At a time when men had a mistress or many in their lifetimes, it is not absurd from reading the biography of Admiral Abraham Duquesne, Marquis du Bouchet (1610-1688) that he probably had a mistress, in particular prior to the birth of the hero. The admiral's life within the time-frame of the story reveals a family torn apart by the King's persecution of Huguenots, and the admiral was a Huguenot and his family did go their separate ways, thus he died alone whilst in retirement within Paris.   

Out of interest here are some pics dated the 17th century or early 18th century. All the places are featured in the novel. Oh, and did you know, Paris could be traversed from the old southern city wall to the northern gate in twenty minutes on foot. And where the greater Paris of today stands, once deep forests surrounded the city, the Forest of Versailles, The Forest of Fontainebleau (Biere) and others.
     
The Louvre in Paris of Louis' reign




Chateau de Vincennes where the hero was imprisoned.
The Bastille at the time was a military garrison. That's why the Man in the Mask (velvet or Iron) was transferred to the Royal Fort on the Island of St Marguerite.    





Oostende (now Ostende)



Den Haag (The Hague)


And there are illustrations within the paperback version of houses featured in the novel.   

And just as an aside, this is the watch presented to King Louis at coming of age (so it is claimed)

   
Book Release day September 30th

Amazon UK       Amazon US



Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Daniel Defoe - Political Pamphleteer, Rebel Soldier, Novelist.




What could Daniel Defoe possibly have in common with the Duke of Monmouth?
Well, quite a lot!

If you didn’t know before reading this, then let me introduce you to the rebel soldier “Defoe”, who was a staunch supporter of Monmouth’s cause to topple James Stuart (James II) from his throne. Yes indeed, Defoe fought in Monmouth’s rebel army. 

Unlike Monmouth, Defoe evaded capture (contrary to many Wiki accounts of Defoe’s life and supposed Kingly pardon) and made safe escape first to the Scilly Isles and secondary escape to the Low Countries. There Defoe lived in exile for several months and made many friends in Flanders (family ties/origin Flanders) and with Hollanders, as had Monmouth. But, when William of Orange ousted his father-in-law from the English throne, the invasion thus notably referred to as The Glorious Revolution, Defoe had prior returned as a spy, his travels abroad bringing him home after the terrors inflicted by Judge Jeffrey upon Hampshire, Dorset, and Somerset.

In self accounts of his own life, Defoe is sparing on detail to do with the Monmouth rebellion, though did say: whilst hiding in a churchyard from royalist soldiers who were hunting runaways from the Battle of Sedgemoor, he read the inscription on a tombstone: "Robinson Crusoe" which later became the novel, apparently inspired as much by his escape from English shores to the Scilly Isles and shipwreck off the island. Was this poetic licence and showmanship on his part, perhaps not, given the seriousness of those who fled the battlefield at Sedgemoor. 

Defoe was a journalist of his time, noting and recording events and printing news sheets and pamphlets - a Pamphlateer who became a Musketeer in Monmouth's Rebel Army. 

Extra: Many of Monmouth’s supporters who evaded capture were known to the authorities but never found despite intense searches of houses by brutal means against existing occupants. Of those who escaped to the Scilly Isles and other island retreats and thought of themselves as safe and out of reach of the King’s hounds, were soon to learn the awful truth that the king’s vengeance had far from dissipated, even with the brutal finale of Monmouth’s decapitation. 

As naval ships were sighted on approach or anchored off-shore on those outlying islands so escapees were again forced into hiding or smuggled away in fishing boats to foreign shores. Defoe was in their number and with steel grit and determination he made it to the shores of Spain, took ship to  Oostende in Flanders (family ties/roots/origin) which was under Spanish rule, and slowly made his way to the Dutch held territories of the Low Countries.  

He returned to English shores as a spy for William Orange, and come the Glorious Revolution, Defoe rode to greet William ashore. He led a colourful life thereafter with literary merits, and as did so many more of his ilk he lived well, spent well, and died as near a pauper as man can when things go awry in financial matters. 


The most dreadful account of Judge Jeffreys enacting a despicable remit, was the sending of privates parts of notables "to the wives/mothers" of those who were hung drawn and quartered. A list of prisoners and their respective fates can be viewed here. 

Sunday, 30 June 2019

History is Infinitely Fascinating!

Taking the title of this post as guideline, how far can fiction tread on history and not impede or alter historical fact, and yet render history intriguing and thought provoking? 




I’m one of those authors who have it in mind historical detail (fact and rumour) is just as important for authors of Historical Romance as is it for hard-nosed authors of general Historical Fiction. If no authentic backdrop is apparent then how are readers to enjoy sense of time and place past? That's not to say huge sections of a book need be given to historical detail, that's the job of the characters who can reveal what they see, what they hear, and their knowledge of events as they unfold in their world. I also love it when author's provide family lineage, not as merely a family tree map, when again the characters themselves can afford greater depth aside from the main story. After all, what goes around can come around, and the past can reveal much about individual personalities and the outlook of elders and their respective influence on younger generations. Sometimes aspects of the past are shrouded until a key is found which will unlock elements that no one cared to talk about, or it was deemed no one would talk about after a particular event. The incident, whatever, may have been of little or greater consequence at the time, and over the years the telling can become distorted because a secret is never a secret if more than one person knows of that secret. And a dark secret is the underlying threat to the Dempsey family, because one man covets something the Duke of Leominster owns. Thus the crux at issue is what does a French marquis covet, the why of it, and why did he have an English duke assassinated (?) in book 1. 



Book 1

Amazon UK  ~  Amazon US 

In the novel “To Risk All for Love – The Dempsey Fortune” is where the demise of Louis Dempsey, Duke of Leominster heralds the beginning of a vendetta with roots as far back as three generations to King Louis XIV and the Grand Dauphin. Although the story revolves around the new young duke and his sister, and his sister is the leading light in the novel alongside her unusual hero, her brother unwittingly invites guests into their home who consist of French gamblers, and people masquerading as other than selves. The year is 1790 the era of the French revolution, and as events unfold mystery escalates, murders occur, and threat of death reaches a climax when all had thought the danger was at end and peace reigned once more until a letter dictates otherwise.




Book 2 

Amazon UK   ~ Amazon US 

Book 2 “To Tempt a Duke – The Dempsey Ring” the young duke is finally made aware of the Marquis de Chartre’s desired object which the French aristocrat believes will beget a greater object of desire. In the meanwhile the duke desires something that belongs to the marquis by absolute legal right, but there is no way they can strike a bargain and both gain their ultimate heart’s desire. Thus both plan counter moves to thwart the other’s ambitions, and whilst murders abound, and French spies are assisting the marquis in his endeavours, flames of romance burn hot, but who will concede defeat and win the day? There you have the baseline of the plot, but there’s so much more to the lineage of both men, and history itself came into its own as the tapestry of a tragic tale three generations past as the backdrop to the two books.



Grand Dauphin


In brief, the Grand Dauphin entered into a Morganatic marriage with Marie Émilie Thérèse de Joly, 'Mademoiselle de Choin' (2 August 1670 – 1732).
She was a French lady-in-waiting to King Louis XIV's morganatic wife, Madame de Maintenon. No children were, purportedly, born within the marriage of le Grand Dauphin and Marie Émilie, and yet there is evidence (Saint Simon chronicler) that Marie Émilie did give birth to one child, the rumour being the infant died shortly after birth, which was not unusual in the circumstance of (illegitimate royal infants) born to the French royal household by commoner wives.



Marie Émilie Thérèse de Joly, 'Mademoiselle de Choin'

There is no absolute proof a girl or boy was born and died, and no proof there were other infants born and removed. Much of the Dauphin and Marie Émilie's life together has been veiled and remains relatively vague whilst much speculation abounds. Despite rumour, all children born at Versailles to his once favoured mistresses, and the king's legitimate offspring were taken away and reared elsewhere. Many of the illegitimate children were farmed out to other households to cause no future embarrassment to the royal house of Bourbon, barring those of his most favoured mistress Madame de Montespan. On that basis of farming out infants I took poetic licence and created a link to the Dempsey family and the marquis based on rumours that became rife in the years of Louis XIV's court and the Grand Dauphin.

Louis XIV

And so I rest my case for fiction being fiction and letting fiction play with historical rumour, in that there was indeed a child or children begotten from the Dauphin and Marie’s Morganatic marriage, but King Louis being Louis probably removed any possible threat to less than pure royal blood standing in line for succession to the throne. The Grand Dauphin did on several occasions rebel in wilful manner but his father of a devious nature did thwart the younger except in the instance of the morganatic marriage. After all, Louis XIV had entered into same with Madame de Maintenon.




And then there are the aside factors in which houses to use as the fictional residences alongside known royal residences etc. The name les Muids equates to Hogs Head. Hogs head is a weight measure for wine = 300L (66 imp gal. 79 US gal). I therefore named the Dempsey's French residence as Château les Muids, and the inspiration for their château was a beautiful abandoned one.  Unloved but beautiful inside and out. 


This is my fictional Dempsey residence in France
  


In real terms there is a Château les Muids by that name and it is a hotel now, not merely a family residence and it was only built in 1790.  Which really reflects the later architectural influence of the late 1700s instead of 17th century architecture (1600s).



You can visit this hotel



What of ship parts etc in novels?  The taff rail surrounding the poop deck. 




Who would have thought how important research is even for 
Historical Romance novels?
But it all comes down to author pride and the constant learning curve, hence history is infinitely fascinating!  

 





Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Writing a Series of Novels is tough work...


These novels are driven by romance within history, the history aspect of prime importance. This isn't about major battles or memorable skirmishes, the series is about families in time of war, rebellion, and how they live, survive, and where love and devotion is tested not only by family loyalties but loyalties to king and county. Although the English Civil Wars entailed several major battles, and numerous skirmishes, much of the fighting was splintered and local to specific places as the rival armies  traversed the country from north to south, and east to west. 



I have always derived immense pleasure from reading series novels. In fact I love ‘em and long ago I had it in mind to pen a series of four novels. Hence the English Civil Wars, Charles II’s attempt to wrest England from Cromwell’s clutches, the Restoration of Charles II and the Monmouth Rebellion sprang to life, and one portrait was the inspiration: 

Who is, she and what might her life have entailed?


The stories as a whole have been in my head since some thirty years ago after a ghostly apparition of a horse appeared in the courtyard of our house, or not. Perhaps in truth, what I experienced on that day, albeit within the house where I lived, was mere sense of a time past, and yet, the bridle of the horse was real to the touch. Even so, life itself and other publishing commitments (books in popular genres publishers wanted to publish for guaranteed returns on investment ) prevented this series coming to fruition. But at last, they are here, or at least, they're on Amazon. Since quitting mainstream publishing and going Indie in 2011 I've settled to writing for me and for readers who love romance and life-like history in equal measure not merely dressed up historical romances. 

By the way, for anyone who follows my blog posts or knows me well, they also know how the majority of my stories come about, and if you’d like to know for yourself you can find out by reading About Me. That said, the two houses in this series, in part reflect aspects of two houses, being one where I was born and the other in which I lived with my first husband. 

But, getting back to the subject matter, there’s nothing more frustrating than having read a book and wishing when the end is reached, that the story had carried on. Often I’ve wanted to know what happens to the lead characters post HEA, but more than that, to learn the fate of secondary characters. And there have been occasions when a prequel could have added to a series. Hence, I came to the conclusion there was scope for one of those little informative prequels to my series after I'd written book one and partway through book two. The second lead character in book one was determined to redeem his reputation a little and in doing so enlighten readers as to his earlier days of frustrations in the court of Charles I.  

And here it is.m behold the prequel Debt of Honour the forerunner to Book 1 

By Loyalty Divided. 


Yep, it’s set within my favourite period of history The English Civil War. The backdrop setting is Somerset - Bristol/Bath and surrounding districts. Bristol at that time was the second most important city in England and several times it changed hands between Royalists and Parliamentarians throughout the Civil Wars. Yes, two wars, not one major conflict.




In By Loyalty Divided, the main characters are:
Morton Viscount Axebury, (rebel son of William Lord Gantry) who becomes a Captain of Horse in the Army of Parliament = New Model Army.
William Lord Gantry (Royalist Commander)
Anna Lady Maitcliffe – born within the confines of the royal court until Lord Gantry became her ward.

The plot is a love triangle, which inevitably leads to tragedy.

Secondary characters:
The Lady Georgina Mrs. Darnley (Parliamentarian) - his lordship’s sister 
Catherine Thornton and her brother 
Captain Thomas Thornton (Royalist). 
Prince Charles, 
Prince Rupert, 
Lord Wittlesham.   

The second novel in The Royal Series:



Toast of Clifton, needless to say Toast meaning hostess of note. This novel is also set within the West of England at the time of Charles II’s bid to regain the throne and crown of England.

Main characters:
Thomas Thornton
Elizabeth Mountjoy
Morton Lord Gantry
Anna Lady Gantry
  

Secondary Characters are Catherine Lady Wittlesham (nee Thornton), Lord Wittlesham, Charles II, Lord Wilmot and others.


Although Toast of Clifton is a story of intense and passionate love, past betrayal haunts the hero and when the chance to right a wrong comes his way he takes it, but to lose every thing including the love of his life is a high price to pay for heroism. For when the odds of being imprisoned and deported to the colonies is your lot, and your King is fleeing the enemy as well, who comes first: family or King?  

And then to Royal Secrets, in which  the eldest Thornton daughter, Justine, sets her heart on the second generation Viscount Axebury of whom her father thoroughly disapproves and not without cause. Battles of family loyalty ensue, not only within the Thornton and Gantry households, but at Court too. It can be dangerous to overhear royal secrets when plotting to rid a king of his queen are afoot, as Justine soon discovers and her life suddenly in peril.      





And then as the years pass the Gantry and Thornton children begin to take centre stage along with Lord Wittlesham's daughters. Old feuds, lust of youth, desires and recklessness are set to cause mayhem and heartbreak and many tears are shed as the young test the allegiance and loyalty of their elders during the heart-wrenching weeks of The Monmouth Rebellion!  

One of their number, Henry Gantry, is looked upon as a traitor to the Gantry family, his story is one of spies, emotional turmoil, and regrets aplenty. But he's a king's man and loyal to James II, whilst his brother and the Thornton's are loyal to the Duke of Monmouth. Family feuding aside, Henry soon faces the awful truth royal favour is as fickle as his wife's affections, and when he's confronted with love that knocks him sideways he's tormented by duty to king and crown and torn between the two women. Tragedy strikes a severe blow, and although Henry turns to kingly duties whilst grieving a great loss, it is a tuning point in his life, where sense of family suddenly means more to him than his king.         





Rebellion continues in Lady of the Tower - Monmouth's Legacy. 

The rebel in this case is Thomasina, the youngest of the Thornton family, who risks her own life by venturing to the battlefield where carnage prevails. Whilst in search for her brother-in-law in a selfless act of bravery on behalf of her sister, her mission is fraught with danger, more especially when she's caught and assumed to be robbing the dead!  Whilst love blossoms for Thomasina and Captain Owain Lascelles, the horror in the aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion unfolds, and Judge Jeffreys reign of terror throughout Hampshire, Dorset, and Somerset impacts on their lives, their families, and friends.       



And then, to come in about a year from now will be the release of:
 To Risk All in the Name of Treason. 

Set during the time of the Glorious Revolution (1688-1689), though "glorious" is a slightly overrated word for the toppling of a king who scarpered when senior army officers went over to the enemy. This is the story of Lady Georgina Gantry and Ira Wittlesham (junior).

Whilst Georgina takes on the role of spy within the Court of James II, as a lady to the Queen's bedchamber, Ira spies from within the king's personal court and within the salons of fellow officers of his majesty's lifeguards.  

But as history tells us, much deceit was already rife during the immediate aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion and the dreadful circumstances surrounding Judge Jeffreys bloody reign. Thus the run up to the coming of William of Orange to the throne of England, is depicted from 1685 when a plot to overthrow James II was seeded and grew into a secret club of army officers. Two of the most famous hedged their bets throughout in determination to be on the winning side thus they wore false faces at court as did several more courtiers and junior officers of their day, and the latter were the first to desert their lines in Salisbury and ride to greet William and join his forces.     

   

All the books are available via Amazon worldwide.





      
   https://youtu.be/Qs3xHAIoKa0