Friday, February 7, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Marte Lundby Rekaa
Pia Fenton (writing as Christina Courtenay) writes historical novels, time slip and Young Adult contemporary romance. She’s half Swedish but has also lived in Japan and Switzerland. Pia is the RNA’s current Chair. Her third novel Highland Storms won the RoNA for Best Historical in 2012; her latest, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, is now published. It is a time slip novel set in Devon. The heroine’s life is turned upside down when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a portrait of a mysterious 18th century gentleman at an auction. Forbidden love, smugglers and romance!

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?I was visiting the National Gallery in London when I came across a painting by Anthony Van Dyck (my all-time favourite artist). It was a portrait of a man’s face and it was amazingly well painted, so much so that I felt he might be about to talk to me at any moment! When I moved, it was as if his eyes followed me, he was so real. That gave me the idea of having someone’s soul (or spirit) trapped in a painting and the rest of the story grew from there. I can’t honestly remember how long it took to write, but probably about six months.

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:  (not until March)
When promoting your books do you prefer radio interviews or blogging - and why?I much prefer blogging because it gives me time to think about my answers.  Whenever I do radio interviews I’m always terrified I’m going to say something really stupid and they either won’t or can’t edit it out. Also, sometimes you’re put on the spot and your mind just goes blank – a total nightmare!
How did you carry out your research?First of all, I went on holiday to Devon with my family to find suitable settings for my story. I ended up falling in love with Saltram House, a National Trust property near Plymouth, and decided the hero had to live in a house like that. I also loved the scenic Devon coastline and the various towns there. I read up on the life of Thomas Gainsborough, who features briefly in the book, and 19th century smugglers. And, because my heroine buys her painting at Sotheby’s auction house, I dragged my husband along to one of their auctions to see what it would be like. It was great fun (even though I didn’t buy anything)!
What is next in your writing life?I will soon be doing edits for the third book in my Kinross trilogy. It’s called Monsoon Mists and follows on from Trade Winds and Highland Storms. It’s mostly set in India and I’m looking forward to concluding this series. After that, I’ll be working on the third book in my other (Japanese themed) trilogy, which is provisionally called The Snow Ghost.
Quick fire questions:
A writing ritual? – Eat some chocolate, sit down, read through previous day’s work, write
Paperback or Kindle? – Paperback (although Kindle is handy for travelling)
Lark or Owl? – Definitely Owl – hate mornings!
Wine or chocolate? - Chocolate
Dog or cat? – Dogs (plural)
Corrie or Eastenders? – Neither

Thank you for sharing with us today, Pia. What is it about writers and chocolate?
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.
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Rosemary Gemmell said...

What a lovely interview. Love the sound of your new book, Pia - I'm often inspired in art galleries!

Anita Chapman said...

I love the sound of your new novel Pia!-off to download.x