– ‘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 ‘Heartbreak in the Valleys’ blogtour, organised by Book On The Bright Side.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and three pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a novel set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.
The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong
November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War.
Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.
But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.
In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?
A beautiful, emotional and heart-breaking saga set in the Welsh Valleys of the Great War that fans of Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin and Sheila Newbury will love.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve always wanted to be an author, from the time I was quite small. As an only child, I’d spend quite a lot of time creating worlds in my head and popluating them with characters, for whom I’d make up endless stories. Any ambititons I had to be a writer were put on hold for uni, teaching and bringing up a family. In 2006 when I discovered a creative writing class, run by Elaine Everest (who later became a well known saga author) I signed up. Soon I was being encouraged to send short stories to magazines, and that was the start of becoming a professional author.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I’d read anything and everything. I still have some of the Enid Blyton and Ladybird books on my shelves. In my late teens and twenties I discovered Catherine Cookson’s novels and read them all, along with the Brontës and George Eliot. Elizabeth Goudge’s ‘Herb of Grace’ (discovered in a charity shop many years ago), To Kill a Mockingbird (a school exam set book) and The Lord of the Rings are books I’ve read over and over. I also love books by Lisa Jewell and Freya North. And of course, I’m rather partial to sagas too. And crime. Quite a mixture really!
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Freya North, I think. Her novels are always full of fascinating characters, interesting settings and stories I can’t put down. I actually met Freya at a book event a few years back, though only to be a fan girl and tell her how much I enjoyed her books! She was lovely and I can imagine her being a good person to discuss writing matters with. I am lucky that I do actually have Elaine’s brain to pick, as we’re freinds and I still attend her classes.
If you could, which fictional character from someone else’s book would you like to invite for tea and why?
There are lots to choose from, but I might pick Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He was such a brave and honorable character, to challenge the ingrained prejudices of the time as he did. However, it would be interesting to find out (*spoiler alert ahead*!) why his attitude changed so much between that book and the long awaited follow-up, Go Set a Watchman!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I can’t say I do really! Unless lining up my notes and the research books around me before I start working is a habit. I suppose it is.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Some of my ideas come from real life. The seed for the main story in Heartbreak in the Valleys came from my great grandfather’s World War 1 military record. A serial I wrote for People’s Friend magazine was based on my parents’ romance in the 1950s. But much of what I write comes from snatches of overheard conversation, a news item or sometimes, seemingly, out of nowhere. I always carry a notebook with me, in case I’m inspired by something. As for people being worried, I once used someone who turned out not to be a good friend as a character, and made them a ‘baddy’ who got their comeuppance. It’s never seen the light of day, but was very cathartic.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I used to be much more of a panster than I am now. It suited me to begin with, but now find plotting a story out, the twists and turns and consequences, makes for a lot less editing in the end.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
First of all, don’t expect your first effort to be published – or you second, third or fourth. I’ve known new writers dash off a novel and be convinced a publisher will snap it up. It rarely happens. Writing is a skill that needs to be practised, like anything else.
Don’t be afraid of or offended by critiques and try to learn something from them. If you have a piece rejected, look at why that might have been, rather than just assuming what you’ve written is rubbish, or that their opinion is wrong.
Do attend a class or writing group if possible. The advice, feedback and support can be invaluable.
What are your futureplans as an author?
I have the second ‘Valley’ book coming out in the autumn. I’m not sure yet if there’ll be a third: we’ll see. I also have the start of another saga series written, set on the Sussex coast. I’m hoping to write that at some point in the future.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Anwen dragged herself across the garden with the bowl of potato peelings. She’d been in a despondent mood since her walk home, unable to shake off the feeling that the war would not end well for Idris. She reached the compost heap and emptied the potato peelings absent-mindedly onto it, observing the slope of Twyn Gobaith, where it rose up steeply beyond her garden, the grass a deep green from the recent rain. A sigh from deep within signalled her reluctance to return to the stifling house, despite the icy breeze.
She’d taken but two steps backwards when she was brought to a halt by the sight of a figure trudging over the brow of the hill. She squinted, shielding her eyes against the sun. The knapsack slung across his back gave the unusually tall carrier a pronounced stoop. It could only be a soldier on leave. Her heart raced. Normally a few of them came together from the Rhondda Pals, the battalion the young men here, in Dorcalon, had joined.
The figure stopped to lower his load, straightening his back and stretching. It couldn’t be, could it? No, it couldn’t be Idris; it was her vivid imagination, sparked by having him so much on her mind today.
A voice, just audible from where she stood, hollered from the scullery. ‘What the hell is it you’re doin’, girl!’ Her father. ‘Get in here now.’
She ignored the voice. It was Idris, her sweetheart, home on leave.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Francesca Capaldi.
Thank you very much for your interesting questions. They’ve certainly made me think!
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!