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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Free review copies of JUBILEE redux

I still have some review copies left for anyone who'd like to have one and pen a quick review for Amazon and/or Goodreads (or anywhere else that you might think of).

Email me on

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Jubilee and Good Housekeeping

Jubilee a Good Housekeeping favourite

Jubilee is a Good Housekeeping favourite read for July 2010.

Review copies of JUBILEE

Jubilee seems to be here, a little ahead of schedule.

If you're a reasonably fast reader and could write a review for Amazon or Good Reads (Goodreads?) you might like a free review copy. If so, email me at grhelizATgmail. com.

Deborah Swift The Lady's Slipper

The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift

Deborah Swift and I are book twins, in that we each have a novel officially published on 4 June. To celebrate this link we are hosting an interview with one another on our blogs. Here's Deborah talking about her debut novel and how she went about creating it.


1660. The King is back, but memories of the Civil War still rankle. Artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid, determined to capture it for posterity, even if it means stealing it from recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid.

Geoffrey Fisk, Alice’s patron and a former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness.

When Alice is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk’s sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed.

Tell me a little bit about the process of writing The Lady's Slipper.
I guess I was a bit naive when I started The Lady's Slipper. I loved writing it, and thought I'd be able to lick the first draft into shape quite quickly, but the actual redrafting and editing phase took a long time after the initial draft. The actual crafting process came much more to the fore.I valued the editorial advice a lot. I think self-publishers miss out on that ability to dialogue with an editor. Also I guess I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and probably I could have gone on forever reworking and playing with it. The characters always have so much more to reveal than you bargain for! They grow under my scrutiny.

Every writer thinks their work is unique. What sort of a writing style do you think you have and what is the book you most wish you had written?
It is difficult for me to imagine myself next to other published writers as it is all so new, and I admire other writers so much. And I have yet to see The Lady's Slipper in a bookshop! But books I have wished I had written about the period of my novel are Restorationby Rose Tremain, and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Both are darker books than mine is,and both give a masterful evocation of the seventeenth century.

What is it about this particular period that draws you to it? When is your next novel or work-in-progress set?
I think it is just that it was a time of settling after the upheaval of the English Civil War, aptly called "the days of shaking" and the subsequent Puritan repression. Everything had been thrown up in the air - the monarchy, religion, english justice. And the country was still waiting to see what might come of it all. Everyone was vulnerable to the rapidly changing environment, but new found freedom from Puritan rule made people a little wilder than they might otherwise have been. Allegiances shifted from day to day. It was also a time of great social and scientific experiment.
I am working on another book linked to the first through one of the characters. It is set in Restoration London. It is taking longer than the first to write because of the research. London life is extremely well-documented, and I don't want to make any glaring errors.Sometimes I curse Pepys!

What inspires you to write? Is it an idea, a character, a theme, or something else?
I like roots in something specific - an object for example, or in the case of The Lady's Slipper, a flower. (Oh dear, just noticed the unwitting pun, all this orchid mania is obviously getting to me.)Then I let ideas gather around that. It builds up in layers. I am a great fan of the spider diagram type of arrangement, and also quite fluid and scruffy notebooks. And real history. One of the seventeenth century houses I visited was lost on a bet in a game of cards, and then won back. The Ace of Spades (the winning card) is carved on everything, even the chimney pots. You couldn't make that up, so it makes an appearance in the next book. But once I get going, its the characters themselves and their situation that inspire me, they demand a journey and an ending.

Thank you, Deborah!

Jubilee in the blogsphere and over the airwaves

Jubilee in the blogsphere and over the airwaves

A link to my interview with Deborah Swift (see below) on her blog, and to the Mostly Books blog. Mostly Books' Mark Thornton discussed Jubilee on BBC Radio Oxford last week.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010