– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘To The Fair Land’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land (SilverWood Books, 2012, reissued 2021), an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.
Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (SilverWood Books, 2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016, and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019 and is also an IndieBrag Medallion honoree, recipient of Chill With a Books Premium Readers’ Award, and a joint Discovering Diamonds Book of the Month. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.
In 2013, Lucienne published The Bristol Suffragettes (SilverWood Books), a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.
A thrilling eighteenth-century mystery about a map, an author, and a vicious killer.
In 1789 struggling writer Ben Dearlove rescues a woman from a furious Covent Garden mob. The woman is ill and in her delirium cries out the name “Miranda”. Weeks later an anonymous novel about the voyage of the Miranda to the fabled Great Southern Continent causes a sensation. Ben decides to find the author everyone is talking about. He is sure the woman can help him – but she has disappeared.
It is soon clear that Ben is involved in something more dangerous than the search for a reclusive writer. Who is the woman and what is she running from? Who is following Ben? And what is the Admiralty trying to hide? Before he can discover the shocking truth Ben has to get out of prison, catch a thief, and bring a murderer to justice.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog and for your very interesting questions!
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I live in Bristol, England and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I scribbled stories as a child, but like a lot of other writers I learned as I grew older that telling people “I want to be a writer” was more likely to attract muttering about “proper jobs” than sympathy, let alone practical advice. So, I tried to put away childish things but they have a way of refusing to be put away and eventually I was writing again and loving it more than ever. However, the journey to actually finding the courage to write and publish a novel was a long one and I’ve got my fair share of “bottom drawer” novels.
I’d always been interested in the literature of the eighteenth century and in 2006 I studied for an MA in English Literature with the Open University specialising in eighteenth-century writing. It was after completing that that I started to write historical fiction set in the period, including To The Fair Land and the Dan Foster Mysteries.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Oh, I loved reading when I was a child and I still do. One of my favourite books which I read over and over again was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Other books I have read many, many times include The Little Grey Men by BB, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone by T H White, the Narnia books by C S Lewis, and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
My favourite grown-up book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. As I mentioned, I also enjoy eighteenth-century literature, especially the work of Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley.
Other favourites include Mikhail Bulgakov, especially The Master and Margarita, Rebecca West, Winifred Holtby, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. I like a good, classic detective story, especially Dorothy L Sayers’s books.
Favourite contemporary historical novelists include Sarah Waters – my favourite is Affinity but they are all so good – and Martine Bailey (starting with An Appetite for Violets).
I also enjoy reading fantasy – my favourite fantasy author is Robin Hobb – particularly the Farseer Trilogy. I love William Morris’s fantasy books (and his poetry). I’ve also recently discovered Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding Mistborn series.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Goodness, there are so many wonderful writers who would have a lot to teach me, but if I had to choose one it would be Robin Hobb. I’d love to talk to her about how she makes her characters so compelling.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d like to have tea with Dorothy L Sayers’s Harriet Vane (from the Lord Peter Wimsey novels). Tea because we could both wear lovely tea dresses and eat cake, and Harriet Vane because she inspires me as a writer of detective fiction and a woman who was determined to live on her own terms.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
No, not unless you count drinking lots of tea.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Some ideas I come across when I’m doing historical research, for example a reference to an incident, an individual or a group of people might pique my interest. It’s often something that’s been overlooked, or people who haven’t had much written about them, or a different way of looking at a familiar story. I’m also influenced by place and often find that visiting somewhere can give me an idea for a story as I imagine the people who might once have lived there, or something that might have happened there.
I don’t think anyone needs to be worried that I’ll “put them in a book”. Occasionally I might base a particular trait or detail of a character on someone I’ve met but I’m not a “roman a clef” style writer. Obviously in historical fiction it is often necessary to refer to real people – you can’t have someone other than George III on the throne for instance – but I don’t tend to make them major characters. Where I have used real people, I base my depiction of them on as much research as possible, or I rely on the fact there isn’t actually very much known about them. In the end, though, I believe that these depictions of real people are as much fictional constructs as an entirely made up character. “My” George III will only be my idea of him; another writer may see him differently or emphasise different aspects of his character as they perceive it.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I am a plotter, but a plot always has room for manoeuvre. Sometimes things that look like good ideas in theory don’t work so well in practice, or as I’m writing I see a better way of doing something, or I realise that the order of events isn’t right, and so on.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Read, learn, practise!
Read – read as much as you can. Study your genre, but also go outside it as much as possible. Wonderful stories, characters and writing aren’t confined to any one genre.
Learn – there are so many courses, workshops, events and talks you can attend, many of them on line and many of them free. There are also “how to” books for every aspect of writing – plotting, characterisation, research etc – and every genre. You’ll soon find the ones that offer the best advice for you. Some of my favourites are Story by Robert McGee, Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction by Emma Darwin, and Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande. I am constantly turning to and rereading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way – not so much a book on the skill and craft of writing but a source of encouragement and inspiration.
There are also many good blogs. I’d particularly recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors, which makes much of its advice available to non-members (https://selfpublishingadvice.org/about/) and covers everything from the craft and skill of writing to the business of publishing. Emma Darwin’s This Itch of Writing (https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/) is excellent. Many agents also have good blogs, for example Rachelle Gardner https://rachellegardner.com/ But there are so many, you just need to look around and find one that is useful to you.
If there’s an organisation for your genre, then join it if you possibly can. For example, for historical fiction there is the Historical Novel Society (https://historicalnovelsociety.org/about-us/).
Practise – just keep writing! And you don’t need to dive straight into a novel – you can write short stories, flash fiction, blogs, write articles for a local or specialised press – whatever interests you.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’m currently working on the fourth Dan Foster Mystery, as well as a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Price (née Browne), and a co-authoring project on a book about the suffragette movement. I also have an idea for a new mystery series I’d like to do, but that will be a bit off in the future while I juggle these other projects.
I also have far too many “little” projects I want to do – blogs and articles I want to write, talks I want to try out, new skills I’d like to learn. I will simply have to live to be a hundred to fit it all in!
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
In 1789 Ben Dearlove is an ambitious young writer who is trying to find the anonymous author of a best-selling book about a fictitious voyage to the South Seas. He has no idea that his quest will lead him and those he loves into danger. In this brief scene, he has returned to his father’s apothecary shop in Bristol late one night…
The lamp over the apothecary’s porch was unlit. Good, his father had obeyed him and gone to the Shackletons’. Ben put his key in the lock. The door yielded to his slight pressure. He pushed it wide, his heart thudding with sudden fear. The shop smelt of ginger, cinnamon and bark – familiar scents, but very strong. He leaned over the threshold and listened. Nothing moved. He was sure that the house was empty, but went in on tiptoe anyway. Near the counter a shard of glass broke beneath his foot. He caught his breath, stood still and waited. Nothing.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Lucienne Boyce.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!