Getting to know Marilyn Pemberton #author #history #historical #fiction #biography #books

My guest today has a very interesting background before she tried her hand at writing fiction. Please welcome Marilyn Pemberton! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll learn more about the inspiration for her most recent book.

Marilyn Pemberton retired from being a full-time IT Project Manager in October 2019. During research for her PhD, Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer. Marilyn wrote her biography, Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012). There were still many gaps in her knowledge and she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – The Jewel Garden (Williams & Whiting, 2018). This novel was a semi-finalist in the Chanticleer 2019 International Goethe Book Award for post 1750s Historical Fiction.

Marilyn’s second novel, The Song of the Nightingale: a tale of two castrati, (The Conrad Press, 2019), was inspired by a program on Radio 3. It is a historical novel, set in 18th century Italy that tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. It is a story of passion, revenge, jealousy, love and redemption. It won the Fiction category of the 2020 International Rubery Book Award.

Marilyn is currently working on the second book of a trilogy that will tell of three generations of women who are story-tellers but who face sometimes insurmountable obstacles to getting their her-stories heard.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Marilyn: Having finished my English O-levels in  the late 1960s, the first thing I wrote that was not for work or my degrees was a book of little known fairy tales that I put together with a short introduction in 2010 (Enchanted Ideologies: A Collection of Rediscovered Nineteenth-Century English Moral Fairy Tales) when I was 56.I then wrote a biography of Mary de Morgan (Out of the Shadows: the life and works of Mary De Morgan), which was first published in 2012.  My first fictional book, which I suppose got me hooked on the writing of historical novels, was published in 2018, when I was 63. So I am very much a late starter.  I’m still not sure I consider myself as a writer, though.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Marilyn: When I knew I wanted to write a fictional book, The Jewel Garden, I was worried because I hadn’t written anything using my imagination for 40 years or more, so I joined a writing group in nearby Nuneaton. I used to read them bits of the novel and they were all very supportive, which helped my confidence no end. Ann Evans, the leader, also made us write short stories and poetry and to write in genres outside of our comfort zone, which I found immensely challenging but also very satisfying. Being part of a writing group made me realize that I did still have an imagination and that I could use it to write words that other people enjoyed.  I was in the group for about three years before The Jewel Garden was finally published.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Marilyn: To be honest I don’t think my writing style has been influenced by any author.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Marilyn: My obsession with Mary De Morgan! On completion of my PhD (as a very mature student) I had found so much about Mary De Morgan that I decided to write her biography. Then, because there were so many gaps in my knowledge about her, I decided to write a fictional account of her life. By now, I was well and truly hooked by the writing bug!

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Marilyn: I feel I am repeating myself here. The first book I had published was an academic collection of little-known fairy tales, followed by a biography. Then came the fiction books – all of which have been historical. I love to read crime but there is no way I could ever write it.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Marilyn: I love writing my novels. I love being lost in a world of centuries ago. Very occasionally I will write a poem if there is the right trigger, but I don’t consider myself a poet, although people have said my writing is poetic. I have absolutely no interest in writing a novel set in contemporary times.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Marilyn: Although I joined a writing group I don’t think it actually taught me how to write – but it did encourage me to write. I have never felt the need to read a ‘help yourself’ book on writing. I have been to a few writing conferences but I went more to hear from literary agents than to learn any skill.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Marilyn: How difficult, time-confusing and soul-destroying marketing is. Like most authors, I enjoy the writing, not the prostituting of oneself in order to tempt just one person to buy your book.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Marilyn: My interest in the telling and retelling of stories and the difficulties of women being heard is definitely as a result of my obsession with Mary De Morgan, who was a Victorian writer of fairy tales. The current trilogy I am writing is all about women telling tales in a world deaf to the female voice.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Marilyn: Having written the biography of Mary De Morgan, I realised that there were still some gaps in my knowledge, despite years of research: why did she never marry, why did she travel to Egypt, how did she become the directress of an Arab girls reformatory? So I decided to write a fictional account of her life, written in the first person by Hannah, a fictional character, who becomes a life-long friend of Mary. I address all the unanswered questions, using my imagination.

It was a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. This is a story of Hannah Russell’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found love with Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. But where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair.

Excerpt:

It had been 1882, when I was twenty two and Mary ten years older. By then I had known Mary for two years and had already fallen in love with her. I had wanted to give her something special for her birthday. Over a week of dreary, wet winter days, when Mary had been out of town visiting some distant relations, I created a watercolour garden for her. The flowers were all based on real ones, but I let my imagination run free and mixed winter jasmine with spring cherry blossom; summer delphiniums with autumn roses. The blooms ranged from alabaster to deep purple, and I added even more colour by painting exotic butterflies that balanced on the edge of the petals, looking as if the slightest breeze would blow them off the paper. I had the painting framed and I was pleased with the end result.

On the day of her birthday, February 24th, I invited her around to my house for tea. She arrived promptly at three o’clock and we chatted happily over bite-sized sandwiches, dainty cakes, an assortment of pastries and numerous cups of tea. She asked me what I had been doing whilst she was away and I suddenly felt rather shy. I handed her the painting, which I had wrapped in brown paper and waited nervously for her to open it. Mary, impatient as ever, tore off the paper, giggling excitedly like a small child rather than a thirty-two year old woman, but when the picture was revealed she suddenly went silent and her face paled.

Buy links: Amazon

I find it very interesting that Marilyn wrote a biography and a novel about the same person! I’ve thought about writing a biography of Martha Washington after penning the novel Becoming Lady Washington, but there are already two biographies about her so have not. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Marilyn!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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To Market, To Market in 1821 Huntsville #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

Sometimes research happens without any planning on my part. A couple of years ago I went to downtown Huntsville to visit the owner of a unique local bookstore. I merely wanted to introduce myself as a local author and ask him to carry my books in the store. But I came away with something much more useful and interesting!

Shaver’s Bookstore is located in the Railroad Station Antiques & Interiors store on the second floor. By the way, the antique store is in the historic Lombardo Building which is on the National Register of Historic Places, so I was happy to see what they had on display. Shaver’s carries an eclectic mix of titles, many from local or regional authors. However, most are nonfiction titles, so my fiction didn’t fit in like I had hoped.

My copy of Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823

While I was browsing, waiting for Mr. Shaver to finish helping a customer, I spotted a large sketch of Huntsville. The scene is of the downtown square in 1823, two years after the time period of my Fury Falls Inn historical supernatural fiction series. The sketch is the result of a historian researching the archives for descriptions of the buildings and streets of the city. There is actually an entire book, Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823, written by the historian, Sarah Huff Fisk, to accompany the sketch. What a gold mine! I love coming across sources in a kind of surprise offering from the universe. I hadn’t yet started writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1) so this was welcome information to have.

Naturally, I bought both the book and a copy of the sketch. I refer to them both as I write the stories in the Fury Falls Inn series. In fact, the third book which I’m in the process of writing, Desperate Reflections, includes a scene at a store downtown and the market place. Both required referral to the text and the image to make sure I had my facts correct and could have Cassie and Flint going to the right places to purchase cloth and then foods.

Closeup of the sketch of the artist’s conception of downtown Huntsville in 1823.

I learned from Ms. Fisk that, “The store directly south of the inn was designated ‘No. 5 Cheapside’ in all the ads placed by its 1820 and 1821 occupant, P. Yeatman & Co., who not only offered for sale ‘Salt, Stripe Linseys, and Leghorn Bonnets,’ but reminded the public (who in those years following the closing of so many banks must have been very confused as to what money was good, if any) that their store operated an:

EXCHANGE – The subscriber continues to exchange Tennessee and Huntsville notes, and to allow the highest premium for GOLD AND SILVER. Drafts on the Eastward, New Orleans, and Natchez Notes.

Yeatman’s was located in one of the row houses at the bottom right in the picture.

As for the market, Ms. Fisk had a detailed section all about the Public Market House. She mentioned that Wednesdays and Saturdays were the usual market days, held in the 1817 building near the northwest corner of the courthouse. What might a shopper find at the market?

“Town residents in general welcomed the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables, fish, tame and wild fowls, lard, tallow, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, meal, honey, nuts, apples, pears, grapes, wild fruits or berries for preserving, freshly-butchered meat, wild game, and other items as the seasons changed.”

That’s quite a large variety, don’t you think? That list was very helpful for me because in Desperate Reflections there is a cooking competition and I needed to know what foods were available in the area in the early 19th century. In the picture, the market was located at the upper left in and around the two-story Market House.

It’s also fun to study the people and animals in the artist’s rendering of what life might have looked like back then. She included a great deal of details including the modes of transportation and games the kids played as well as the kinds of jobs and businesses.

Thanks in advance for your support and interest in my books. And as always, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Getting to know Erica Taylor #author #historical #regency #romance #fanfiction

Please help me welcome a fellow historical romance author, Erica Taylor! See if you can spot the similarities between our backgrounds…

Erica Taylor is a mother of two and military wife married to her high school sweetheart. Raised in the mountains of Colorado, she holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado. Erica has been writing stories since she can remember, picked up her first romance novel while on a beach vacation as a teenager, and fell in love with falling in love, with sexy heroes and the feisty women who challenge their lives.

Erica loves anything Harry Potter, Doctor Who, or Star Wars, can spend hours in Home Goods with a Starbucks and truly believes a cat makes a home. Erica can often be found writing during baseball practice or piano lessons and is not afraid to let dinner burn if it means getting the story out of her head.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Erica: I started writing fan fiction in high school and college and I feel like I never stopped! For me, writing historical romance is along the same lines as fan fiction— I love history and romance and playing in the regency world. 

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Erica: I worked less on writing skills and more on historical knowledge before becoming published. It wasn’t until after I’d signed my first publishing contract I discovered the world of writing craft and learned about pacing, tropes, character motivation, etc. 

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Erica: Julia Quinn, Gaelen Foley, Mary Balogh. 

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Erica: Writing in general, it was just the need to put words to paper. Writing historical romance started after I’d read a particularly bad story and I thought “I could do so much better.” And I hope I’ve done that. 

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Erica: Harry Potter fan fiction!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Erica: The escape and the fantasy of it. Figuring out how two people fall in love just as they are themselves. Plus I love the research involved!

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Erica: Craft lectures at conferences mostly. Other than just figuring it out as I went along. 

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Erica: All of the craft I learned after the fact!

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Erica: I’m inspired every time I pick up a book.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Erica: I liked the idea of two damaged, messy people finding each other and helping each other heal. It’s not a “love cures all” story, but more finding someone who gives you what you need when you didn’t even know you needed it. They aren’t whole and perfect by the end but together they are much stronger. There is also an element of saying goodbye to someone as they go off to war, and it’s probably the only thing in my books I’ve pulled from my actual life. 

Lady Norah Macalister is perfection: beauty, charm, grace, elegance—all a carefully constructed lie. No one would ever suspect her of anything scandalous, and no one is the wiser when a terrible secret threatens to destroy her.

Major Trevor Hayward has unraveled after a decade at war with Napoleon—or so everyone believes. When his cousin is murdered Trevor finds himself the prime suspect. Placed under house arrest at the home of his oldest friend, Trevor doubts those investigating his cousin’s murder will see past his marred reputation.

Refusing to accept her fate, Norah is determined to punish those who have wronged her. Her plan is ruthless, and she will see it through, even if she must manipulate those around her to avenge the wounds of her past. Norah is the most confounding woman Trevor has ever met, but he cannot deny, try as he might, that his best friend’s little sister is all grown up. When she is the only one who can prove his innocence, Trevor has little choice but to agree to her risky plot to destroy a mutual enemy.

While Trevor and Norah collude and execute Norah’s plan, succumbing to the spark between them brings their secrets to light. Can they play with fire and not be burned? Or will the madness of their scheme be the downfall of them both?

Excerpt:

London, England
April 1815

​The first thing Lady Norah Macalister thought as the dark-haired man walked through her front door was, He doesn’t look insane.

Major Trevor Hayward did not notice her as he dropped his hat and gloves to the butler, giving Norah a moment to contemplate his arrival and what to do next. His appearance was untimely, as her companion was not someone Major Hayward would want to see. He looked ragged, Norah admitted silently, with dark circles under his deep brown eyes, and his hair needed a trim. It was not long to his shoulders, or cropped short, but a length in between, hanging over his ears and rather unkempt. His clothes were slightly ill fitting, the brown of his coat drooping over his shoulders. He appeared to have lost a stone or two in weight since she had seen him eight months prior, not that he’d remember seeing her then. The last time she had laid eyes on Major Hayward, he had gone quite mad; it was not a sight she would soon to forget.

The sharp intake of breath from Norah’s companion standing directly behind her drew his attention, and his gaze snapped to where the two ladies stood on the staircase.

For a long moment, Major Hayward stared at Norah, his gaze cold, before flickering to the person behind her. If possible, his gaze grew even colder, harder, his eyes narrowing as he recognized the woman standing behind Norah.

“What are you doing here?” Lady Laura Pythe demanded, exuding disdain.

Major Hayward seemed to share her disgust. “I should ask you the same thing, cousin.”

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There are some serious sparks flying in that opening to An Enchanting Madness! Thanks for sharing that teaser with us, Erica!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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Getting to know Sally Brandle #author #romance #suspense #contemporary #fiction #books #kindle

Let’s kick the new year off with a bit of suspense, shall we? Please welcome Sally Brandle to the interview hot seat! Here’s a bit about her background and then we’ll talk about the inspiration for her latest story.

Multi-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories. Sally left a career as an industrial baking instructor to bring to life stories motivating readers to trust their instincts. Her two rescue pups and kitty are her companions during long spells of writing. Afternoons are spent trail riding on her thirty-year-old Quarter Horse. The Hitman’s Mistake opens her Love Thrives in Emma Springs series of stories (without intimate scenes). Torn By Vengeance, Book 2, continues showcasing friendship, courageous women, and the men who deserve their love. The Targeted Pawn, Book 3, features a second chance for a life filled with love for humans and their furry friends.

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Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Sally: I began writing romantic suspense stories, which are my favorite books to read. After penning seven novels in my small-town Montana series, Love Thrives in Emma Springs, I wrote a couple of romantic suspense books with a science twist. Note to self: romances involving science breakthroughs aren’t topping the charts.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Sally: I enjoy crafting a female heroine facing challenges she can overcome by trusting her own gifts. Throw in rescue animals who help along the way and a motivated villain, and I’ll be busy pitting them against one another for months. I’m no shrinking violet. I succeeded for thirty years in a career dominated by men. I like to believe that my male characters are realistic. In the day job I learned a bit about how men think, react, and feel. I live with a husband and two adult sons, so the education continues.

Currently I’m finalizing edits on a book in a new genre—historical fiction or fictional memoir, with an authentic heroine. It begins in 1939 and is based on the incredible and romantic story of my Dutch American friend, Iris, who recently turned 97. She’s my nomination for the female poster child of the Greatest Generation. On Iris’s eighteenth birthday, 12/8/1941, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland declared war on Japan, setting in motion a series of events affecting her in a wonderful and then horrible manner. A movie scout once told me to connect a novel to a film, and what came to mind was a true version of a Jumanji film. Iris rode her horse in the jungle with a pet monkey, had a French Countess grandmother, and bicycled from a WWII Indonesian POW camp every day to give a high-ranking Japanese colonel a shot. Survival depended on her abilities to think fast and keep a positive outlook. Next year is the 80th Remembrance Day of Pearl Harbor and my plan is to publish The Sapphire Promise in 2021.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Sally: I’m continuing to learn the craft of writing through my editor, Sharon Roe. Eight years of conferences, classes, and wonderful beta readers and critique partners gave me a great start before I contracted my first book. Years ago, I paid for a workshop given by a successful author. He looked out at the hundred or so of us in attendance and made a declaration that stuck. To paraphrase, he mentioned that most of us were diligently taking notes. Ninety percent of us would never review the notes or put into practice the tips we would learn. I edit my books with my weaknesses in mind. My beta readers tell me each book I finish is better, and that keeps me striving to learn more.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Sally: All my books can be read independently. I’d written other books in the series when my dental hygienist insisted that I needed to finish the story of two characters who met in The Hitman’s Mistake. She was correct, so I got started. The incident affecting the heroine’s initial view of men in this story is based on what happened to a best friend and I when we were fifteen and naive. We often rode our bikes around an island where we’d see cute dudes parked in cars, looking to meet girls. A couple of slightly older guys invited us onto their jet boat, moored nearby, for a ride. The day was hot, and it sounded like fun. Decades later my friend and I can still recall the shock and horror when they cut the engine on the boat in the middle of the polluted river. In real life and the story, their vile intentions didn’t play out, but the emotional impact stuck. Writing it proved to be cathartic to me, and it set up a great dynamic with my heroine and a compassionate doctor.  

Look over your shoulder. He’s watching.

Corrin Patten is solidly on a path to make partner in a prestigious Seattle law firm when an ominous threat from her past turns deadly. She can handle circumstances necessitating a temporary move to the backwater town of Emma Springs, but its charming physician is another matter, as she’s issued a permanent moratorium on men.

Dr. Kyle Werner revels in trust from patients he regularly treats in a community he’s never wished to leave. Yet, Emma Springs lacks one thing, a woman to share his perfectly bucolic life. He’s read about pheromone attraction, but never experienced desire until meeting Corrin. They make an unbeatable team, but convincing her that his interest is sincere while they dissect layers of deceit requires the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Can they defeat the wealthy stalker bent on mistaken revenge against Corrin and destruction of the peaceful Montana setting?

If you thrive on tenacious heroines, sizzling attraction, and a shadowy villain with a grudge, you’ll love this prescription for thrills.

Excerpt:

Set up: Corrin’s arrived in Montana to find she’s just missed the friend she’d come to help. Kyle’s more than happy to assist her.

She dragged down the hem of her skirt, and stared out her side window. A silver car sped toward them from the right, traveling well over sixty.

The same kind of car from earlier. Corrin lowered the visor as a precaution and watched the lone driver as he sped past. Her pulse spiked.

Bloody hell. Paunch Guy from the airport again. She clutched her shaking hands in her lap.

“Where’s the fire?” Kyle shook his head, then met her eyes.

Those baby blues could sway any jury, on any count, any day.

“Miranda told me you became her rock, the friend who kept cool and collected. Are you certain you’re okay?” he asked.

The car faded into the distance. Only a stupid coincidence, but Kyle readily spotted her unease. She tore her eyes away. “You’re witnessing my frustration. I can’t believe I travelled here and missed Miranda. She must be terrified. I won’t relax until she’s safe.”

He glanced at her hands. “She’s being protected by a top FBI agent and my best friend. We grew up together like brothers. I’d trust Grant with my life.” He accelerated onto a two-lane paved road.

Relax your fingers and breathe, she instructed herself, and concentrated on empty pastures out the window.

She’d known country naivety, too. Her nose wrinkled at the memory of smelling cow manure on the trek home from school. ‘You’re not scheduled to testify against a mob boss. The agent better protect her or he answers to me.”

Buy links: AmazonUS

Thanks so much for sharing the inspiration for Torn by Vengeance, Sally! It looks like a compelling story, too.

Thanks for reading, folks! Happy New Year!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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