In the summer of 2009, the 1911 census was made available online. A friend told me about it, and one evening I thought, hmm, I wonder if I can find my grandparents on that census? I decided to have a look for my mum’s father. He’d had an unusual surname, and I knew he’d been born in Worthing, so I thought I’d be in with a good chance of finding him.
That idle thought was the beginning of an obsession with genealogy. I found my grandfather easily, then began tracing back through the censuses and other records, as far as I could go. Over time this led me to not only find out loads about my family tree, but also to discover and meet distant relatives I hadn’t known about, and eventually to the inspiration for genealogy-based novels.
My first novel was based on some characters and events from my own family tree, but one problem I had with that one is that I felt too constrained by the truth, by my own research. My characters had to marry, give birth and die on the dates my ancestors had. They couldn’t be completely free. But of course writers love making stuff up, and I’m no different, so the obvious next step was to write a novel based on an entirely fictitious family tree. What if you’d researched your whole family tree and thought you knew your ancestry for the last couple of hundred years, but your ancestors had secrets they’d buried deeply? What if you really did find a skeleton in your family history closet?
And so began the story which became The Emerald Comb. It was a lot of fun to write. I outlined the two plots – the contemporary story and the 1840s story – and drew up an entire family tree spanning two centuries. Actually I had to draw up two trees – the ‘real’ one and the one my character Katie had discovered in her research. They’re not quite the same, as readers of the novel will discover.
My own genealogy research helped with this novel – I knew what you can find out online, and what processes researchers will go through. Katie’s not based on me, but I reckon if she was real and I met her we’d have lots to talk about!
The Emerald Comb explores the idea of identity. Just who do you think you are, and how important is it important to know your ancestry? Katie thinks it’s crucial, but her husband who was adopted, thinks not. Both of them change their beliefs during the course of the book.
Launched this week, and available to buy as an ebook from all outlets. Price is £3.79 at the time of writing. It’s been well received so far – I’ve had some wonderful early reviews!
For more blog posts related to this book, click on the book title at the top of the page!
My feet and the ground have been strangers to each other today as I’ve charged around the internet publicising The Emerald Comb. I’ve been featured on a few blogs already, with more to come later in the week, and another blog tour organised for late October. It’s lovely to see a few 5-star reviews already being posted! (Though Becca’s 5-cupcake review is the tastiest so far.)
I’m putting links to all Emerald Comb related blogs, interviews and reviews up on the Emerald Comb page at the top of the blog, so keep an eye on that for the latest!
Later this week I’ll post here about how I went from researching my own family tree to writing a genealogy-inspired novel…
I’m delighted to present the cover for my forthcoming timeslip novel, The Emerald Comb. This is to be published as an ebook by Carina UK on 22nd September. Eek, that’s about three weeks away!
Gorgeous picture, isn’t it? And here’s the blurb for the book:
One afternoon, Katie takes a drive to visit Kingsley House, the family home of her ancestors, the St Clairs. She falls in love the minute she sees it. It may be old and in desperate need of modernisation, but it is her link to the past and, having researched her family tree extensively, she feels a sense of belonging to the crumbling old estate.
When it suddenly comes up for sale, she cannot resist persuading her family to sell up and buy it, never telling them the truth of their connection with it. But soon the past collides with the present, as the house begins to reveal the secrets it has hidden for generations. Does Katie really want to discover what she has come from?
I can’t wait for this to be published – my first full-length novel. It’s all becoming very exciting as the publication date draws near!
Delighted to announce publication of my Regency romance novella, Mr Cavell’s Diamond. It’s currently only available as an ebook, but if it does well enough I’ll do a paperback version as well. I uploaded it last night, and was over the moon this morning when I found it had already gained a 5-star review on the American Amazon site. The reader must have bought it as soon as it was available and read it immediately. She or he is a fast reader (and no, it is not someone I know!)
Anyway, here are the links if you’d like to take a look.
Amazing what a free promotion will do. I decided some time back that I’d make my book, Ghost Stories and How to Write Them free over Halloween. A bit obvious, I suppose, but I’d never done a free promotion and this seemed like a good time.
So it is free from now till 2nd November, give or take a few hours (Amazon operates on Pacific Standard Time, whereas I’m more your Greenwich Mean Time kind of girl).
The promotion started earlier today, and already the book has been downloaded about 130 times across various Amazon sites, and is #1 in the .co.uk site for Writing guides, also #3 in Anthologies. I’ve even made it into the charts on the .com site for the first time ever (#31 in Anthologies). That’s all very pleasing. I’d love it to get into the top 100 free books, so please, away you go and download it if you haven’t already!
Why am I giving away my book? Well, for me self-publishing has been a bit of an experiment all along. I wanted to see how easy or hard it was, what sort of sales figures I could make, and get a bit of a first-hand insight into the effects of marketing. It’s been a fascinating journey – seeing how being featured on a new blog immediately leads to a smattering of sales, watching how both my books sales figures rise by the same amount as people seem to buy both at the same time. The free promotion is just the next stage – let’s see what happens to sales when I make one of my books free.
I’m hoping there might be two results of this promotion:
1. Some people who download the free book will read it, like it, tell their friends and write a review. All this may lead to more paid sales later on.
2. Some people who go to download the book will decide to buy my other book, Short Stories and How to Write Them (only £1.53!) while they are there.
Well, time will tell. I’m keeping records. Meanwhile, I need to keep publicising this promotion. Feel free to help spread the word by blogs, twitter, facebook or even (shock, horror!) word of mouth.
I’m delighted to announce publication of my second book, Short Stories and How to Write Them. Now available from Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
It’s part anthology and part How To, containing 14 of my stories plus discussion on various aspects of short story writing, including dialogue, story structure, characterisation, making time to write and many more topics.
Click on the image for a link to the book at Amazon.co.uk.