Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview: Juliet Greenwood

Today on the RNA blog we are thrilled to have Karen King interviewing author Juliet Greenwood about her writing life and latest novel The White Camellia. Huge thanks to Karen for asking so many interesting questions and to Juliet for allowing us to take a glimpse into her world.

Your new book, The White Camellia, is published today, 15th September. Can you tell us something about it?

The novel is set around a ladies’ tearoom in Covent Garden in 1909 called ‘The White Camellia’, and a dilapidated old mansion in Cornwall. It’s about a woman who has taken the perfect revenge on the family who destroyed her own – but revenge is never that simple, and now she must find a way of living with herself and the consequences of what she has done. There’s love, mystery and danger, and a Cornish mine promising riches, but with a terrible secret held in its depths…

I see you write historical novels, what is the most interesting fact you’ve discovered during your research?

Definitely the revolutionary role of ladies’ tearooms in the fight not only for the vote, but also for so many of the rights for education, work and independence that we take for granted – and the freedom they gave by providing the first public loos for women! (it really is the little things that count)

How much planning do you do before you start to write?

My stories always contain a mystery, with plenty of twists and turns, and intertwined lives along the way. They are also set against a historical background, so I need to make sure the story doesn’t clash with any historical events.  This means I need to do quite a bit of planning before I start. But I don’t like to be rigid, because so much can change once the characters start to take on a life of their own, and so many new possibilities appear. I also don’t want anyone to guess – so I stay open to any fiendish twists that might appear!

Do you work in long-hand first or write straight onto the computer?

When I first start a book, I start long-hand for the first few pages. It’s my way of finding myself in. It means I don’t go in cold when I start on the computer – there’s nothing like the stare of the blank screen! Once I start, however, I type straight onto my ancient Mac laptop, which I love, and is far too creaky for anything else. I save everything in a paranoid fashion, I’m terrifying of every machine I own crashing. I write straight through the first draft without stopping. Characters appear out of thin air, vanish, and change sex with abandon. It’s getting the bones down and getting to know the characters – there are always several further drafts to go until the story goes to my editor, and the final refining work begins.

How important do you think it is to have an agent?

I think agents are very important. They negotiate with the market, have their fingers on the pulse, and are also the first line of the editing process. When you are starting out, however, there are plenty of magazines and publishers who don’t require an agent, which is a good way of developing yourself as a writer, finding your niche, and giving yourself a chance to become an attractive client. Most writers are in this for the long haul, very few are an instant success. Like wine, the mature ones are the best!

Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?

I love Facebook for the friendships and the sense of community, and because I’m always taking plenty of photographs it great to share. At the same time I enjoy the quick-fire conversations of Twitter, which can be great fun, and I find it’s possible to have a much wider reach – very important when you have a small publisher.

How do you relax when not writing?

I live amongst the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia, so I love walking my dog in the hills and on the beaches – and meeting friends for afternoon tea within the shadow of a medieval castle or so, of course! I also have a large garden, with a polytunnel holding a grapevine. I love gardening – and also letting it grow wild and sitting amongst the lavender, deep in a book.

What’s next for author, Juliet Greenwood?

I’m finishing my next book, set in the grimy underworld of Victorian London, and there’s also another brewing, so there’s lots of exciting research planned – but that’s top secret!
Watch this space …

The White Camellia

1909. Cornwall.  Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart?

Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope
is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse?
When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tressillion’s long buried secrets.

About Juliet Greenwood

Juliet Greenwood is a UK historical novelist published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Cornwall, London and Wales in Victorian and Edwardian times, reaching #4 in the UK Amazon Kindle store. Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia and has a passion for history, in particular the experiences of women, which are often overlooked or forgotten. She loves gardening and walking, and exploring the upstairs and downstairs of old country houses.


Thanks for taking the time to chat to us here on the RNA blog. It is always fascinating to peek into the lives of fellow writers and here about their work. Good luck with The White Camelia!

About our interviewer Karen King

Karen writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. She also writes YA and children’s books and is a writing tutor.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

If you would like to be interviewed for the RNA blog please contact us
This post was set up by Virginia Heath

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Focus on: The Flying Ducks

Today we welcome Jean Fullerton with the first of her Chapter interviews. Jean has taken over from Natalie Kleinman who did a magnificent job interviewing the RNA Chapters over the past couple of years. Over to you Jean.

Although, as Chapter Liaison I’ve been absolutely thrilled that there has been so many new cheers set up it gives me great pleasure to welcome one of the long established chapters The Flying Ducks on the RNA blog this month.

Can you tell us who you are?
We’re the Northern chapter is known as the Flying Ducks because at the time of our formation most
RNA activities happened down south to which we must “fly” from all points north.

How long has your chapter been running?
For the above reason it was suggested we form a Northern Chapter after the first regional conference at Stoneyhurst College circa 1997?

Has the chapter changed over the years?
The core membership has changed over the years with more members coming from the New Writers Scheme through to traditional publication and /or down the self published route.

How often do you meet?
We meet on the first Thursday of the month from September to December and from March to July.

Where is your regular meeting place?
We tried to accommodate the distances members travelled by meeting around Harrogate and eventually settled on The Smiths Arms Beckwithshaw. Other groups have branched off from this group nearer to home

Do you have many members attend your meetings?
We have a core of about 20-25 members with attendance around 15 at our meetings. It is not unusual for members to come from as far as Southport, Settle, Barnard Castle, Scarborough, York, Hull, Beverley and Huddersfield.

Do your meetings include a meal?
We order our own meal at the bar and then it is served all together at a long table in the restaurant.

Is your chapter open to non-members of the RNA?
Our Chapter is open to non- members of the RNA and former members, some of whom have changed genres. Guests and partners are welcome too. So many writers in the North live in isolated districts and like to join with us.

How long are your meetings?
We assemble for lunch at 12 -30pm and finish around 2-30 to 3 0pm. Many of us stay on to chat after that.

Can you give an outline of speakers/guests you’ve had in the past year?
We have had many guest speakers over the years: novelists, agents and visiting committee members but lately rely on the varied talents within the group such as Frances Brody, Jessica Blair, John Jackson, Val Wood, Freda Lightfoot and many more.

What do you have planned for the coming months?
Our first meeting after a break is always to have a “round robin” meet and greet session so members can tell us their news, introduce new attenders, discuss a possible programme for the rest of the “term’s “meetings. We are keen to use the talents of our group to lead us in discussions around publishing and writing. As members travel long distances we like to have something useful or inspiring to take back to our desks as well as a chance to catch up with Friends in the group.
Being one of the longest formed groups we have witnessed many changes to the RNA and its social activities but it is within this smaller gathering real issues can be thrashed out, problems shared and successes celebrated. A warm welcome to new members is always guaranteed.

Does your chapter have a website, Facebook page or Twitter account?
Our group shares a closed group email and a closed Facebook group page: The Flying Ducks

Who is the contact for new members? 
The contact for new members is Helene Wiggin/Leah Fleming Tel 01729 822550 or or by just requesting to join the online Facebook group to find out more about our meetings.

Thank you so much Helene for taking the time and trouble to answer my questions and I hope to be coming to see you again sometime in 2017.

Thank you Jean and Helene.
If your RNA chapter would like to be featured on the RNA blog please contact the team on

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chatting with Marie Laval

Today Ellie Holmes interviews busy author, Marie Laval.

Welcome, Marie. I read on your blog that you are originally from Lyon in France but currently living in Lancashire - what brought you to the UK and is the UK home now?
Would it sound very clichéd if I said that it was love that brought me to Bolton, to be
precise? Yet it is the truth.    Twenty-seven years later, I am still here, and we moved from Bolton to the beautiful (but very wet!) Rossendale Valley. For as long as I remember, I always had a fascination for England and everything English, and no one was surprised when I fell in love with an Englishman. I blame Agatha Christie, Wilkie Collins and Jane Austen!
When I was eighteen, I was so full of romantic notions about England that I registered as an au-pair and spent a few - miserable - weeks in Kent. I made my poor mother buy me a navy suit, a couple of white blouses and a pair of court shoes because I saw myself as a modern day Mary Poppins - the perfect nanny to two well-behaved children! Reality was very different, unfortunately. It wasn't a happy experience at all, and I escaped one morning at dawn by the garden gate, a few weeks only into the job!    
Luckily, I didn't let that bad experience stop me, and England is very much my home now.

You have beautiful, eye-catching covers. How much input do you have in your covers?
Thank you so much! I do love all my covers too. I have had quite a lot of input in them. I am quite sure my publisher found me quite difficult to work with at times, but it's hard to compromise when you imagine your characters in a certain way.
The cover for 'The Dream Catcher' is wonderfully atmospheric and perfectly captures the mood of the novel, which is set in the far North of Scotland in the heart of winter. Áccent Press have been very patient with me, and have indeed given me wonderful covers.

As a writer of both contemporary and historical romance which do you prefer and why?
If you had asked me that question last year, I would have answered without hesitation that I preferred historical romance. Things have changed a little now, because I have since then written more contemporary romance. The genres are different, the research process involved is different too, but at the end of the day I am writing a love story, and the most important, I think, is to show the conflict between the hero and the heroine and the triumph of love.

How do you go about the research for your historical novels?
I absolutely love research! There is nothing I enjoy more than finding anecdotes, little titbits of information, and quirky facts that lead me into a totally new direction. Being French, I am lucky to have access to material both in English and in French, so I have double the fun. I usually spend time looking at maps (I adore maps!) and photos or paintings of the settings. It is important to get the clothes right, as well as details such as uniforms for example.
In my debut historical romance Angel Heart, Hugo Saintclair, the hero, is a cuirassier captain. I found out that for part of the year cuirassiers had to wear a moustache, and I didn't like the idea at all, so I set the start of the novel at the time of the year when cuirassiers were allowed to shave their moustache...  

What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a word count target? Do you have a dedicated writing space?
I don't have any set routine, and no word count either. I write whenever I can, in the evenings after planning my lessons, cooking and cleaning, or in the morning at weekends when everybody is still asleep. Any minute I can grab is precious.
We moved house a few months ago, and after years of writing on the dining room table, I now have my own study. It feels like the ultimate luxury.

Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?
Facebook, definitely. I have made wonderful friends there, and some of them I am lucky to have met 'for real'- Helena  Fairfax, Sophie Claire, Sarah Mallory and Helen Pollard, to name but a few. I don't really understand Twitter and don't often venture there.  

How do relax when not writing?
To tell the truth, writing is for me the ultimate escape from daily life and the most relaxing activity I can think of. My writing time is always a wonderful treat, except perhaps when I get frustrated because I am stuck with a plotline or a character who refuses to talk to me!
I also love going for a walk. Living in the Rossendale Valley, I have great walks on my doorstep, even though I need a good rain coat and sturdy boots as it seems to rain more here than anywhere else.
I used to go running, but these past two years I have unfortunately let that slip. I have consequently put quite a lot of weight on and have become quite self-conscious about it. I tried yoga at my local sports centre last year and even though I did enjoy it, I was absolutely rubbish at it, so I decided to stick to walking. 

What’s next for author, Marie Laval?
I am writing a short Christmas novel set in the Lake District, which I hope will be the first of a series of stories set there. I spent a short holiday in Coniston last month and even though I had been there before, I was blown away by the beauty of the scenery and thought it would make a great setting for a series of romantic novels. As usual when I get an idea, I had to start writing straight away...
I am also editing a contemporary romantic suspense set in Scotland, and have two other projects on the go. One is a contemporary romantic suspense set in Paris for which I need to do more research - what a wonderful excuse for a mini-break there, isn't it? Another is a historical romance which I wrote years ago and which is set in late nineteenth century France. 

Thank you very  much for having me on the blog today! It's been wonderful.

Thank you for taking part, Marie, and good luck with your next book.

About Marie:
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in the beautiful Rossendale Valley and likes nothing more than dreaming up romance stories and handsome, brooding heroes. Her contemporary bestselling romance A spell in Provence, as well as her historical romances, Angel Heart, The Lion’s Embrace, and the Dancing for the Devil Trilogy are published by Áccent Press. She contributed to Letterbox Love Stories, a romantic anthology by international bestselling authors, which was released in July.


Can her love heal his haunted heart? - Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847. 
Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land. Discharged from the army, he is haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad. And he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn's ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable – a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life. 
Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master – the man she calls McGlum. Will she be reunited with Cameron McRae, the dazzlingly handsome aristocrat she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers, or will she risk her heart and her honour to help Bruce discover the truth about his past and solve the brutal murders committed on his land?

Thank you Ellie and Marie for such an interesting interview.

If you would like to be interviewed for the RNA blog please contact the team on