Sunday, 26 November 2017

Autumn 2017

It has been some time since I updated my news. I am shocked by this, but time has flown by too quickly and it has been an eventful year which included three weeks in Japan.

Earlier in June I was in the US where I visited friends in Nashville. I then flew to Portland, Oregon where I spoke about medieval women at the American HNS Conference. Visiting Nashville was emotional as I had not been there in decades. I loved my tours of Plantation Houses and partying with friends. Nashville is utterly fabulous. It is an old world with lots of amazing music. The conference in Portland was a huge success and I enjoyed every minute of this excellent event, saw old friends in the writing community and made new ones.

Belle-meade Mansion, Nashville.

Pictures from Nashville- the last shows my friend, Brenda and myself.

In July I spoke at the RNA Conference at The Iron Bridge about Tapestry in Historical Fiction. I also had a delicious week in Umbria with my friend Liz Harris.

I have been in Greece this autumn too, where as well as hosting two Writers' Retreats I have been busy working on the next novel, three novels in fact. The first, The Silken Rose, is a novel about Ailenor of Provence, wife to Henry III. It begins with Ailenor as a young queen who is very much aware of her destiny as Queen of England.

The Launch. My friend Margaret in red and myself greeting guests.

Queen Ailenor was regarded by many English contemporaries as a 'she wolf' queen because she was foreign, considered extravagant and proud, and, worse, many of the war-lord English barons felt that she was influencing Henry too much. They did not like the arrival of her relatives from Savoy who were given significant positions at the English Court. They remembered how King John Henry's father lost Normandy and Poitou to France. Her sister was married to, Louis IX, the French King. Ailenor liked power and saw her Queen-ship as sacred. She determined that her children would inherit a great kingdom. The Queen from Provence outlived her husband by several decades and she outlived her daughter in law, Eleanor of Castile by some years too. They are both fascinating subjects as protagonists as is the thirteenth century itself, a period of great change, colour, great castles, battles here and in France, conflicts at Court, pageantry, an extravagant beautiful court that loved troubadour culture and stories of romance, a sophisticated court that prided itself as a centre of learning, and an England that saw many good harvests as well as the rise of fabulous Gothic architecture.

Ailenor of Provence 

The thirteenth century is known by historians as The Magnificent Century, a century when England became English, and nobles began to speak English rather than French. Ailenor observed much of it. The second novel in the series,  The Stone Rose covers the period of the second Barons War and the conflict between King and Barons. Simon de Montfort, married to the King's sister, led the rebellion against Henry. The Stone Rose will show this conflict. Ailenor recruited in France for Henry but in the end Simon de Montfort brought about changes in Parliament although he met his death at The Battle of Evesham and Henry regained control of his crown. Finally, The Damask Rose, the third book, in the trilogy tells the story of Eleanor of Castile and Edward 1. So, I am busy researching and writing. This Trilogy is not as yet promised to a publisher. I am agent hunting. I have been very happy with Accent Press and my novels are all still in the top fifty of amazon's biographical fiction charts. In fact they often are in the foremost twenty. The Woman in the Shadows held the coveted best seller sticker and number one spot for a month. It is high in the top ten as I write. Even so, it is possibly time for change and this may mean a change of publisher.

I have been promoting The Woman in the Shadows, my novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, published on 4th August. The book launch, held in Oxford's Waterstones was a wonderful event. You can find out more about the launch in my blog www.scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.

My personal news is that we had a wonderful trip home from Greece. We sailed from Patras to Venice where we spent an enjoyable couple of days visiting art exhibitions and churches. Our journey continued into the Tyrol, Munich, Heidelberg and Amsterdam. Finally two weeks later we crossed from The Hook of Holland to Harwich. It is lovely to be home. In the new year we have a trip planned to Argentina. Otherwise, I am writing.

Christmas is almost upon us already and I am pleased to say that our family has a new member this year. My son's first daughter was born in July. She is called Elysium.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May my writing life continue for many more years.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Winter 2017

Enter 2017.

This has been an exceptionally busy year so far. We had a very enjoyable Christmas season with family and friends here in our Oxfordshire village. After New Year we decided to snatch a week in our rented Greek Mani house. It was relaxing, a great escape after a hectic Christmas, but it was also bitterly cold despite having an open fire and a large calor gas heater glowing hotly at us all day long.

The Greek Mani in Winter

We have air con upstairs in our bedrooms which we can turn into central heating but instead I placed a storage heater in our bedroom which was effective. We enjoyed a few days in Athens before returning to England. There, the weather was a little warmer but then, of course, we were ensconced in a centrally heated hotel with our own little balcony and views of the Acropolis.


Before Christmas , I finished writing my fourth novel, a stand-alone early Tudor novel titled The Woman in the Shadows. The book tells Elizabeth Cromwell's story, looking at her husband, Thomas Cromwell's early career from her viewpoint. It is a portrait of a Tudor marriage, early Tudor London, the merchant class and daily life. Much research underpins this novel which reflects backwards into their lives from the position of a Midsummer's Day 1526. The book revisits this one day at various pertinent points as the novel progresses. Elizabeth died in 1528, and Thomas had not become, as yet involved in the King's Great Matter. I could just about permit myself to understand and like him! One has to think oneself into the neurosis of the period to get a chance of grasping these personalities fairly. I used facts where they exist, researched Tudor life extensively and invented where appropriate because so little is known about Elizabeth. She truly is the Woman in the Shadows. The novel will be published on 4th August. It has now reached the 'copy edit' stage.

The Women in the Shadows and Guilds

In February we visited Seville for my husband's birthday. Oranges littered the streets, the skies were blue and we were fortunate to enjoy lovely sun-shinny weather. We delighted in exploring, wandering through ancient streets, stopping in cafes, stumbling upon the biggest flea market that must exist in any city, visiting museums, enjoying beautiful food and exquisite flamenco.
An enormous flea-market in Seville

Alcazar, Seville


I began writing a new novel this winter. It is the first in a Trilogy, The Rose Trilogy, of which each book will stand alone. Its protagonists are medieval queens. The first, The Silken Rose, tells the story of Henry III's wife, Ailenor of Provence. We also meet Eleanor de Montfort, the king's sister and an embroiderer who works on beautiful Opus Anglicanum embroidery in gold and silver threads and sprinkled with pearls.

I wrote an article about this Opus work for the HNS Review magazine published in November 2016.

Opus Work, a book binding

This weekend, we are off on travels again, this time to Japan. Although I shall be in England during July and August, I shall be speaking on Medieval Women at the HNS American Conference in Portland in June, and also visiting some very old friends in Nashville. In case anyone is interested, I am speaking on integrating textiles and embroidery into Medieval and Tudor stories at the July RNA Conference.

I hope all my readers have a wonderful spring season and an enjoyable Easter break. Thank you to all who have reviewed my books. Your reviews, even a few lines on amazon and Goodreads, mean so much to authors.

All my books have gorgeous new covers