In the true tradition of every great series, just when you think it's over...it's not! The same goes for my series entitled My First Book, featuring some great local authors (& some not so local), who have taken time out to tell us about publishing their first book, and what's coming next. This blog is given to Luisa, a fellow member of the Cariad Chapter of the RNA, who has been a great support to me, and who I finally had the pleasure of meeting (In Real Life!) at my own book launch in February this year. Over to you Luisa!
Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in your blog, Angela. I enjoyed reading your first book, The Rose of Florence, and appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions about my first book, Goes Without Saying. Like you, I live in South Wales, in the UK. My books are all mainly set in Wales, and in different ways they explore themes connected to mental health and relationships. My first two books are contemporary women’s fiction, but the most recent is an historical novel, The Gilded Cage, published by Storm on 22nd June, 2023. All my books have a thread of romance, so I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association as well as the Society of Authors.
When did you publish your first book, and what started you writing?
I published Goes Without Saying independently in 2018, but I’d been working on it for a long time before that – several years, in fact. I had always enjoyed reading, and had several creative hobbies. As a child and teenager I loved writing, but as an adult I lost confidence and thought it somehow presumptuous to picture myself as an author. It seemed such an impossible dream to ever hold a book in my hand with my name on the cover.
I’ve loved writing since I was quite little. I remember feeling proud when I was five or six and my retelling of the story of Mary Jones walking 25 miles to Bala to get a Bible was printed in my Infants’ School magazine. It was much longer than anyone else’s from my class, because I enjoyed writing it so much. I wrote a lot as a child and teen, then hardly at all until I reached my late thirties; when my three children were young it was difficult to find the mental space to come up with stories. I made some attempts to start writing a book, but coming up with an entire plot that worked was difficult.
Still, one day, while looking at a rather expensive classic camper van at a Volkswagen festival, the germ of an idea began to grow. What if someone spent thousands of pounds on a camper van without telling his wife? And what if he went off on holiday in it without even discussing it with her? I started thinking about what could make this situation even worse (she’s heavily pregnant, and they already have two young children). I wondered whether this would break their marriage, and what it might take for her to forgive him (if forgiveness were even possible), and what might have led to him acting in such a way. The story grew in my head, and I came to love Megan and Tom. They feel like friends to me, and I’d love to write more about them in the future.
Tell us about that book.
Here is the blurb: “Most people run away from home when they’re in their rebellious teenage phase. But not you, Tom. You waited until you were a forty-year old father to do it.”
Tom Field promised his wife Megan he’d never leave her. So when she finds his note saying he’s gone away, she can’t help but wonder if that’s the only vow he’s broken.
Following him and his treasured camper van to the beautiful coast of North Devon, she has plenty of time to reflect on what’s gone wrong between them. Time to decide whether their marriage is worth saving.
But all too soon reality threatens to catch up with them. Can Tom make things right before it’s too late?
Goes Without Saying is a heart-warming story of love and a mid-life crisis.
Key to the story is that Megan is a feisty Welsh woman from a single-parent family and Tom’s background is very different, so there’s a lot of potential for comedy in their relationship. As well as laughs, the book also deals with some serious themes about family life, male mental health, and what it takes to get over the rough times in a relationship, but hopefully these are covered with a light touch. www.bit.ly/GoesWithoutSayingLAJ
What is your fondest memory of publishing your first book?
It’s impossible to decide whether the fondest memory is achieving my dream of holding that paperback copy in my hand for the first time, or getting the first five-star review from someone who didn’t know me so couldn’t be biased about the quality of my writing. Those were both exceptionally special moments, as I’m sure you’ll recognise from your own experience as an author!
(Angela: Yes, absolutely. Both priceless moments!)
Tell us about your latest book.
My new book, The Gilded Cage, is a very different story. It’s my first historical novel, again years in the making! It’s being published by Storm Publishing on 22nd June and as well as the eBook and paperback, this time there will also be an audiobook, which is very exciting.
The Gilded Cage is a much darker story which considers women’s roles, relationships, and the impact of sexual violence. There is a romantic element, but it’s primarily about Lady Rosamund Fitznorton’s development as she seeks to escape her miserable yet outwardly privileged life. It’s an emotional read, but ultimately uplifting.
Here’s the blurb: 1897. Rosamund bows her head and steps slowly down the aisle. The satin of her gown whispers against the stone floor and a single tear falls into the bunch of yellow roses twisted in her trembling hands. Despite rumours of his cruelty, Rosamund has no choice but to become this man’s second wife.
After her wedding, Rosamund finds herself trapped in Sir Lucien Fitznorton’s lonely country estate. As she wanders the chilly halls, made shadowy by drapes of heavy velvet, she longs for the lost comforts of her childhood home, where she was the beloved only daughter to a doting father, now buried miles away. As a young woman with no fortune of her own, only death can release her from this misery.
Until she meets Joseph, her husband’s gruffly handsome new chauffeur. With his mop of salt-and-pepper hair and lilting accent, Joseph is from another world. One of clambering children and tea at scrubbed kitchen tables, the hollow scratch of hunger and long hours of hard work. Despite their differences, they find themselves increasingly drawn to one other.
But Sir Lucien is not only cruel, he’s devious too, and soon Rosamund finds herself caught in a dangerous web of secrets and lies. Is Rosamund’s fragile marriage nothing but a golden cage, trapping her between two men who desire her… and to what end?
One holds her captive and the other offers a hope of escape… but who really holds the key to Rosamund’s gilded prison?
A gripping and emotional historical novel, fans of Lucinda Riley and Tracy Rees won’t be able to put this book down.
What advice would you give to new writers?
I’d advise new writers not to get hung up on perfection or to be afraid of the blank page. Don’t put yourself under pressure to share your work until you’re ready. Just keep going, and write the story you want to read.
Learn what you can along the way. Starting out, I was naïve about writing technique and learned a lot from bloggers. A brilliant little book which was very helpful is The Word Loss Diet, which taught techniques that transformed the quality of my writing.
These days there’s so much available on YouTube: people like David Gaughran, Bryan Cohen, Abbie Emmons and Alyssa Matesic are worth following for advice on writing, self-publishing, and approaching publishers or agents. You could also listen to podcasts such as The Creative Penn, The Self-Publishing Show, and Write Damn It!
Finally, connect with other authors. There are many social media groups for author. You could look for hashtags such as #WritingCommunity, #AuthorCommunity, or #AmWriting. Consider joining the Society of Authors, and communities for specific genres. If you’re not ready to join, follow them on Twitter. There may also be creative writing groups in your area. I wouldn’t have got this far without the support and generosity of some wonderful authors out there. We’re not in competition with each other, but rejoice in each other’s efforts and successes, and commiserate with disappointments. There’s so much to learn from those who’ve trodden the path before you.
Thank you so much for inviting me to contribute to your blog. It’s been an honour to be able to talk about my writing, and exciting to share details of my next book.
I love connecting with my readers, so feel free to get in touch via my social media links or my website, where you can download a free short story.
Thank you so much, Luisa. I've loved reading about your work and how your urge to write kept niggling at you. It was obviously worth waiting for. Now, I'm looking forward to reading The Gilded Cage.