Posts Tagged ‘Margaret James’

Guest – Margaret James

Today I have the lovely Margaret James as my guest. She’s not only my friend, but also a fellow Choc Lit author, whose latest novel The Penny Bangle I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it’s the third novel in a trilogy, it can be read on its own, but I would urge you to read all three as they’re all wonderful! You can find my review of The Penny Bangle here.

Welcome to my blog, Margaret!

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Christina. I’m very happy to be here.

Your story is partly set in Dorset – what made you choose that as a location, and did you have any particular houses that you used as templates for Charton Minster?

When my children were little, we had lots of seaside holidays in Dorset, and we all became very fond of places like Lyme Regis, Charmouth, (plenty of opportunities for fossil hunting and maternal heart attacks as my children strayed too close to those crumbling cliffs), Swanage and Weymouth. The sun always seemed to shine and we always had a lovely time. One day, we drove past a beautiful honey-coloured mansion which looked as if it was deserted. I haven’t been able to find it since, and sometimes I wonder if I imagined it, but people who know Dorset will know exactly the kind of house I mean.

Some of your characters travel abroad, to places like Egypt and Italy – have you been there yourself or did you use eyewitness accounts to recreate these settings? If so, did you find that easy or difficult?

I love Italy and have been there many times. The last time was to Lucca, which is in Tuscany, a place where there was intense partisan activity during WW2 and which has many memorials to partisans who died defending their homeland. I’ve never been to Egypt, but I did lots of research into Africa during WW2 and found plenty of eyewitness accounts on line.

I love the fashions of bygone eras – do you like the styles of clothing from the 1940s? I really liked the descriptions of Daisy Denham’s glamorous outfits, you must have done a lot of research for that?

I do love the fashions of the 1940s and in a way I wish we still wore clothes like that, but what a performance getting dressed must have been! We’re so lucky to be able to live in jeans, if we so desire, and to have man-made fibres in our clothes. I can’t imagine life without a washing machine and I would hate to wear clothes which couldn’t be washed or cleaned, which was invariably the case until about fifty years ago. If you had washed a dress which had shoulder pads, stiffening of any kind and/or was made of anything but cotton or linen, you would probably have ruined it. The person who invented Lycra should be canonised.

Sometimes it’s the little touches that make a story even more memorable, would you agree? For example, I loved the scene with the puppy (I won’t give away exactly what happens, but that was very moving I thought.)

Thank you – I love the puppy, too. This scene picks up on something which happened in The Silver Locket and gives Rose a chance to make amends for letting down her childhood pet from all those years ago. I feel that in fiction small actions can reveal character as effectively as larger, more expansive and dramatic ones. The puppy incident reveals that Cassie is thoughtful, generous, imaginative and kind.

It’s difficult for us now to grasp just how much tragedy people went through during the war – while doing the research for this story, did anything you read make you cry or did you try to focus on the positive things, like the amazing spirit of everyone involved and the fact that ultimately good triumphed over evil?

Anyone researching WW2 will almost certainly tell you that it throws up some amazing stories, both life-affirming and depressing. It seems to have been an exciting or even thrilling time for many young people because it gave them the chance to have adventures, even though there were plenty of opportunities to be hurt or even killed. I feel the Allies must have been constantly buoyed up by knowing they were morally in the right. They were fighting against an evil regime which had to be defeated, and in this respect WW2 was unusual.

I came across many very moving stories of human sacrifice and heroism, and these made me wonder what I would have done if I’d been tested. I particularly admire the quiet, unrewarded heroism of mothers with small children who were left alone at home to cope with rationing, wartime employment, shortages of everything, blackouts, raids, constant day-to-day frustrations and not knowing from one moment to the next if the people they loved were alive or dead.

Absolutely, they were true heroines!  Many thanks, Margaret!

The Penny Bangle is available to buy on Amazon or The Book Depository.  The two prequels are The Silver Locket and The Golden Chain.

Today I have the lovely Margaret James as my guest. She’s not only my friend, but also a fellow Choc Lit author, whose latest novel The Penny Bangle I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it’s the third novel in a trilogy, it can be read on its own, but I would urge you to read all three as they’re all wonderful! You can find my review of The Penny Bangle here.

Welcome to my blog, Margaret!

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Christina.  I’m very happy to be here.
 
Your story is partly set in Dorset - what made you choose that as a location, and did you have any particular houses that you used as templates for the Charton Minster? 
 
When my children were little, we had lots of seaside holidays in Dorset, and we all became very fond of places like Lyme Regis, Charmouth, (plenty of opportunities for fossil hunting and maternal heart attacks as my children strayed too close to those crumbling cliffs), Swanage and Weymouth. The sun always seemed to shine and we always had a lovely time.  One day, we drove past a beautiful honey-coloured mansion which looked as if it was deserted.  I haven’t been able to find it since, and sometimes I wonder if I imagined it, but people who know Dorset will know exactly the kind of house I mean.
 
Some of your characters travel abroad, to places like Egypt and Italy – have you been there yourself or did you use eyewitness accounts to recreate these settings?  If so, did you find that easy or difficult?
 
I love Italy and have been there many times.  The last time was to Lucca, which is in Tuscany, a place where there was intense partisan activity during WW2 and which has many memorials to partisans who died defending their homeland.  I’ve never been to Egypt, but I did lots of research into Africa during WW2 and found plenty of eyewitness accounts on line. 
 
I love the fashions of bygone eras - do you like the styles of clothing from the 1940s?  I really liked the descriptions of Daisy Denham's glamorous outfits, you must have done a lot of research for that?
 
I do love the fashions of the 1940s and in a way I wish we still wore clothes like that, but what a performance getting dressed must have been!  We’re so lucky to be able to live in jeans, if we so desire, and to have man-made fibres in our clothes.  I can’t imagine life without a washing machine and I would hate to wear clothes which couldn’t be washed or cleaned, which was invariably the case until about fifty years ago.  If you had washed a dress which had shoulder pads, stiffening of any kind and/or was made of anything but cotton or linen, you would probably have ruined it. The person who invented Lycra should be canonised. 
 
Sometimes it's the little touches that make a story even more memorable, would you agree?  For example, I loved the scene with the puppy (I won't give away exactly what happens, but that was very moving I thought.)
 
Thank you – I love the puppy, too.  This scene picks up on something which happened in The Silver Locket and gives Rose a chance to make amends for letting down her childhood pet from all those years ago.  I feel that in fiction small actions can reveal character as effectively as larger, more expansive and dramatic ones. The puppy incident reveals that Cassie is thoughtful, generous, imaginative and kind. 
 
It's difficult for us now to grasp just how much tragedy people went through during the war - while doing the research for this story, did anything you read make you cry or did you try to focus on the positive things, like the amazing spirit of everyone involved and the fact that ultimately good triumphed over evil?
 

Anyone researching WW2 will almost certainly tell you that it throws up some amazing stories, both life-affirming and depressing. It seems to have been an exciting or even thrilling time for many young people because it gave them the chance to have adventures, even though there were plenty of opportunities to be hurt or even killed. I feel the Allies must have been constantly buoyed up by knowing they were morally in the right. They were fighting against an evil regime which had to be defeated, and in this respect WW2 was unusual.

I came across many very moving stories of human sacrifice and heroism, and these made me wonder what I would have done if I’d been tested. I particularly admire the quiet, unrewarded heroism of mothers with small children who were left alone at home to cope with rationing, wartime employment, shortages of everything, blackouts, raids, constant day-to-day frustrations and not knowing from one moment to the next if the people they loved were alive or dead.

Many thanks, Margaret!

The Penny Bangle is available to buy on Amazon or The Book Depository.

Festival of Romance and other things

This summer is flying by very quickly and it’s time to look forward to the autumn, which promises to be great fun!  First, I have the RNA’s Regency Celebration to look forward to – a mixture of serious talks (eg. Dr Jennifer Kloester on Georgette Heyer and Her Life) and more frivolous activities, such as demonstrations of Regency Clothing and Dancing, as well as Parlour Games, a Regency Walk, Afternoon Tea, Quiz, a Competition, Book Stall and Author Signings.  This will be held at the Royal Overseas League, Park Place, off St. James’s Street, London SW1A 1LR (near Green Park tube station).

Then there is the Festival of Romance, a weekend at Hunton Park, near Watford.  There will be panels, debates, reading groups, a book fair, writing workshops, a fashion show (which I’m taking part in!), book awards and finally a ball!  If you’re a reader (or writer) of romance, this is something you won’t want to miss – hope to see you there!  Oh, and did I mention that Choc Lit are sponsoring a chocolate tasting?  What could be better?

Finally, this week the September issue of Writing Magazine came out and my lovely friend Margaret James has included some of my comments in one of her articles – thank you, Margaret!