Today, I have a guest interview with fellow Choc Lit author Kirsty Ferry.
Kirsty is married with one son, lives in the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale Enchantment.
Her timeslip novel, Some Veil Did Fall, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, The Girl in the Painting in February 2016. The experience of signing Some Veil Did Fall in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far! Almost as exciting, in fact, as working in an office in a converted Georgian terraced house, and realising the place was pretty much haunted…
Kirsty has also had articles and short stories published in various places, including Peoples Friend, Ghost Voices, The Weekly News and It’s Fate and has written two other paranormal novels based in the north east – The Memory of Snow and Refuge.
I asked Kirsty some questions:-
Can you tell us about the two series you are currently writing?
The first series is called The Rossetti Mysteries, and is a trilogy starting with the Whitby-based Some Veil Did Fall. The books are each centred around concepts relating to the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, the rebellious art movement that began in Victorian times and continued well into the twentieth century. The movement was founded by people like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Millais, and a quick Google search will reveal some very famous paintings by these chaps which people might recognise, even without knowing anything about their history.
Some Veil Did Fall was inspired by Rossetti’s poetry and the idea of reincarnation and previous lives; The Girl in the Painting deals with the idea of the Brotherhood’s art, with portraits and artists models and a Victorian fantasist called Daisy who has, let’s say, her own version of the truth in her diary; and the third book, tentatively titled Sea Spell, deals with the photographic side of the Pre Raphaelite movement, specifically with the work of a lady called Julia Margaret Cameron, who was immensely famous. In this third book, I have a young Edwardian photographer coming to capture the last days of the Staithes Group of Artists on the North Yorkshire coast (they did exist, and I’ve seen some of their work and it’s amazing – very like the Impressionists. Think Monet or Turner in a Yorkshire fishing village and you’re there!), and the photographer falls for a woman who left her dreams of modelling for Cameron behind when she married and became a Lady.
Each book deals with a paranormal mystery and has a dual timeline from the modern day interlinking with the historical part of the books. Each book is linked through the characters as well, the sequels following on a couple of years after each previous one, so hopefully you will know the characters pretty well by the third book and will be rooting for Lissy to find her happy ever after. She’s spent the previous two novels being a sort of matchmaker, so I had to give her a chance in this one!
The second series, the Hartsford series, is kind of linked to the Rossetti books as well. For this series, I had to invent a sleepy Suffolk village which I think must be a lovely place to live! Hartsford Lacey is a stately home, now owned by Hal, who has to open it to the public to clear his father’s debts. Elodie, who crops up as a minor character in The Girl in the Painting, was born and bred in Hartsford and comes back to her childhood village to pick up her life, and one of the subsequent books in the series tells her story – with a few timeslips and Lacey ghosts to help her along. The novella that is coming out is, on the other hand, a contemporary story, and I’ve given that story over to Penny, who is Hal’s sister, and who has the mammoth task of arranging a Living History event at the Lacey. She thinks it’ll be easier than it is, so needs, shall we say, a bit of help from a chap whose family have links way back to the Lacey in the Second World War.
There are currently three books in the series, but the wonderful thing with inventing an old village and an old house is that it gives lots of scope for lots of different inhabitants to tell their stories. It could well be a place I drop into every so often to find out a story about one of the historical Hartsfords.
When do you write?
Whenever I can is the short answer! As with most writers, I have a day job as well; I also have a family and I’ve just finished a Masters Degree so it has been a case of slotting in time to write when possible. If that means sitting in the car with a laptop while my son is at guitar lessons, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been known to write in the waiting area at the swimming baths while his swimming club is on, in the school car park waiting to collect him from after-school activities and in quiet rooms at work in my lunch hour. I’ll pull the laptop out on an evening and work in front of the TV or in bed – whenever I have a spare minute, I suppose. The problem is, I’m really quite possessive over my writing and if my husband walks in I’ll hit the minimize button and glare at him until he’s left me alone.
I’ve always made sure that we have family time though at weekends and in school holidays; sometimes I think it might be nice to have the luxury of writing all day – then I think about missing out on sunny days and popping out for a coffee, or I imagine my lawn getting out of control and, worst of all, my bum trebling in size because I would just sit on it all day and eat chocolate to fuel me – and I think I must have the balance right somehow, because I do manage to squeeze it all in. Really, any pressure to write is just from myself and it’s good to know I can walk away and do something else without worrying about it.
What inspires you about the North East of England?
Ooh lots of things! The history, the houses, the gardens, the coast… I could go on. I wrote a book set on Hadrian’s Wall called The Memory of Snow, and it’s only based on a tiny, but very beautiful and special part of the Wall – a sacred well that the Romans worshipped at. But acred well says it all, really, doesn’t it? I’ve also written a rather darker book called Refuge based in part on Holy Island, because what is more disparate that demonic vampires living on such a Christian island? It’s quite uncomfortable to think about that and I don’t really publicise it because it feels a little wrong! Some Veil Did Fall is based at Whitby, because Goth Weekend is incredible and my hero, Jon, owns a photographic studio, where people like to get dressed up and have pictures taken whilst celebrating the legend of Dracula. But it doesn’t stop at the North East, really; Hartsford Lacey is inspired in part by Wallington Hall in Northumberland, with a mish mash of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire thrown in, and is situated on the Norfolk/Suffolk border – one of my favourite places. And the burned out house in Sea Spell, although situated near Staithes, is inspired partly by Seaton Delaval Hall, which is not too far from Whitley Bay and Tynemouth – but I’ve lifted it up and placed on a cliffside near Whitby. Also, with living in the North East, using local places is always a great excuse to go out and visit them to do some proper research. I think you only get a feel for a place if you know it well, and to me that always translates into your writing to make the settings and the stories believable.
You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk, catch her on her Facebook AuthorPage or follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry and you can buy her books here:-
Thank you for appearing on my blog, Kirsty. It’s always interesting to find out more about a fellow writer. Good luck with your books.
Don’t forget my competition from last week which closes on 4 September!